History of the Species in North Harris
North Harris is home to a large red deer population.
The deer in the Western Isles are thought to be some of the most genetically pure red deer in Scotland. Being isolated from the mainland population they have not come into contact with the introduced Sika deer which have spread through large areas of the mainland and hybridised with red deer. The origins of red deer on Harris are uncertain; it is thought that they are unlikely to have been able to swim out to colonise the islands of their own accord but it is not known when they were introduced.
North Harris Trust Deer Management Policy Statement
The red deer of North Harris are an important part of the local natural heritage. They have a significant impact on native habitats and species through their grazing and trampling effects and bring a range of opportunities through tourism, stalking and venison.
Although deer calves provide a food source for resident eagle populations, adult deer have no natural predators, and therefore active deer management is vital to prevent damaging economic and environmental impacts.
The North Harris Trust employs Wild Deer Best Practice methods and where possible works collaboratively with stakeholders, to manage deer populations in a way that ensures a benefit for all.
An updated Deer Management Plan has recently been published and can be found here:
Deer Management Activity
Culling is the primary management activity and deer counts are conducted on a regular basis to monitor numbers. Culling is carried out through a combination of private leases and the Harris Stalking Club.
Below is a map showing the North Harris Trust’s Deer Management Zones on the island.
Harris Stalking Club
From the early days of community ownership members of the community were keen to have the opportunity to stalk in North Harris. In order to involve the community in deer management the Trust facilitated the establishment of the Harris Stalking Club in 2004. The club is open to anyone living in Harris or the South Lochs area of Lewis and is run by its members as an unincorporated organisation.
The Club has been a considerable success and currently has over 25 members, all of whom are required to be trained to Deer Stalking Certificate Level 1. Members of the stalking club make a significant contribution to deer management in North Harris, directly through stalking, but also by assisting the Trust with other aspects of deer management when required through deer counts and monitoring as well as maintaining access routes which are essential to extraction of carcasses.
Local Sporting Estates
The Trust has a close relationship on deer management with the local sporting estates of Aline, Reasort, and Soval; as well as being our neighbors these estates hold leases for deer on the North Harris Estate. All of these estates also provide other opportunities for sport fishing and shooting nearby.
Watching Deer on Harris
North Harris is a spectacular place to watch deer and the more remote glens at Crabhadail, Uladail and Langadail provide the best opportunities. In July you could be lucky enough to see the young calves when they start following their mothers, and in October the rut is a spectacle not to be missed; when stags are fighting to mate with hinds and their roars can be heard echoing around the corries and glens.
If you are heading out in the hills please follow our guidance for hill walkers during the stalking season which runs from 1st July – 15th February each year.