This week provided us with a very thought-provoking experience. It has made us think a lot about the cycle of life and the role we are allowed to play in it. We think living ‘on and off’ the land is all to do with respect for life, as well as respect for death.
A few days ago I shot my first roe deer (see previous blog post for background). I had been out stalking a few times previous but came back empty handed. However this week I got myself into a position where I knew it was now or never. After watching it through the scope of my rifle for about a minute, I pulled the trigger.
What happened afterwards is now a haze. The whole thing was over in about 10 seconds. But what I do know is that from the point of committing to the shot, the focus centred on ensuring a quick, respectful death. When it was all over we quietly gralloched it on the hill, removed its head, buried the lot and carried it home.
We have made a make shift larder in the croft house so on our return we skinned it, butchered it, bagged it and it all went into the freezer. It was really important for us to make sure that we used as much of the animal as we could and everything else would be returned to nature. After that we had a VERY large dram….
So in summary the whole ordeal was quite a new and humbling experience, and one that will happen again in the future. This is something we believe we have to do and is an integral part of our woodland establishment, croft management and land stewardship. The deer I killed lived a good life eating unimproved and untreated (pesticide or herbicide treated) grass, flowers and trees. Its meat will be full of natural goodness. If we can raise our livestock to have as good a life, eating vegetation rich in a mixture of flowers and grasses and a bit of rough grazing that is as good quality, well then our work here will be done.
So enough for now. Time to start preparing the venison for dinner tonight. Happy New Year one and all!