Ranulph Finch: Stalker


I am working on a large highland estate that is very conservation orientated but still has some sport stalking and shooting. Reducing and maintaining deer numbers at a low density is the priority, with the aim of achieving habitat restoration. On a normal day I would start at 6am, but some days it is 4 in the morning. First thing I do is take my dogs out, then check all the vehicles are fuelled up before we meet up in the yard and head into the hills. My dogs do a great job, and they are really good company too.

You quite often get golden and sea eagles flying nearby and the whooshing sound their wings make is seriously impressive. There are also lots of buzzards, ravens, foxes, pine martens, red and black grouse, the occasional osprey, so it is pretty diverse up here. We have translocated red squirrels to repopulate woodland and released rehabilitated rescue otters, but the goal is to restore the landscapes such as forest and peatland, so we need to have less deer on the estate.

Over the next few years, the plan is to use ponies on the hills instead of vehicles as they have a much lower environmental footprint, and I am really looking forward to using my experience and knowledge in helping that to happen.

To do my job, I need to be patient, reliable and trustworthy, and although I spend a lot of time on my own on the hills, I communicate with the team by radio a lot, so have to be clear about what I am trying to say.

The best thing about working here is constantly being outside. I love my freedom, and although most people probably would not want to start work in the middle of the night and then be out all day in the rain, I love it and could not imagine doing anything else.