Visitors to Scotland’s hills urged to head online for deer stalking information

20 September 2023

Read Gaelic version

With deer stalking activity increasing until 20th October, NatureScot encourages hill-goers to check the Heading for the Scottish Hills service to avoid disturbing essential deer management during this key period.

Managing the number of deer is vital for preventing nature loss and tackling the climate change crisis facing Scotland. Reducing deer impacts, such as overgrazing and trampling, will enable the recovery of upland habitats, resulting in a more diverse landscape that benefits biodiversity and absorbs more carbon.

As part of the response to the nature and climate crises, the Heading for the Scottish Hills service has expanded to cover both the red deer stag and hind stalking seasons.

People should now check for deer stalking information to help plan their routes if they are going to the Scottish hills any time between 1st July and 15th February. Using this service is particularly important during two key periods - from the 1st to 20th October and towards the end of the hind season, which ends on 15th February.

Part of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website, Heading for the Scottish Hills helps people find out where deer stalking is taking place, alongside other resources such as Walkhighlands. The pages advise where and when stalking happens on popular hills, provide details of who to contact for more information and include routes that are ‘always okay’.

NatureScot manages the service with the support of the National Access Forum and the Association of Deer Management Groups.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code also encourages people to pay close attention to signage on arrival and throughout their visit, follow reasonable advice from land managers on alternative routes and avoid crossing land where deer stalking is taking place.

Fiona Cuninghame, NatureScot Recreation, Access and Paths Officer, said:

“Our Heading for the Scottish Hills service is a great resource to help you enjoy your day out in the hills without disturbing deer stalking, as well as learning about your rights and responsibilities more generally under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.”

“Even if you head to the hills often, you should check the Heading for the Scottish Hills website regularly to get up-to-date information before you plan your route.”

Davie Black, Mountaineering Scotland Access Officer, said:

“Heading for the Scottish Hills is an important source of information to help plan walking routes that minimise the chance of disturbing stalking. We encourage all walkers to check the website, as many of us will be unaware that we could be causing issues for stalkers who are trying to reduce the impact of deer on the environment. If you have specific questions about your route, please contact the relevant estate.”

Tom Turnbull, Chairman of the Association of Deer Management Groups, said:

“Land managers welcome visitors to the hills, but in some circumstances disturbance can prevent successful deer management. With increasing pressure to achieve culls from Scottish Government in the light of the climate and biodiversity crisis, ADMG would like to encourage all visitors to check the Heading for the Hills website and take notice of any signage on the ground when taking responsible access. We would like to thank everyone who uses the website, which has seen increased usage in recent years and has received positive feedback from our members."

The Heading for the Scottish Hills service was first launched in 2015.