(see article in 'Irish Country Sports and Country Life' Spring 2004)

Welcome to the wild and spectacular Island of Rum. Come and stalk the island's magnificent red deer in scenery unmatched anywhere, with experienced guides and using traditional highland ponies. Bookings are now being taken for the 2004 season and prospective clients are urged to book early for the deerstalking experience of a lifetime. Please refer to the terms and conditions following the general information.

The Isle of Rum, in the parish of the Small Isles, lies roughly 15 miles off the west coast of Scotland, directly to the south of the Isle of Skye and was for much of it's recorded history the hunting preserve of the Lords of the Isles. Stone dykes, forming deer traps high in the hills can still be seen, dating from these wild times when the deer were hunted in the ancient 'tainchel', whereby large numbers of beaters drove the deer to the aristocratic hunters armed with bows and cold steel and backed up by great hounds. These days are long gone and the red deer on Rum are now professionally managed, as elsewhere in the Scottish highlands, using methods more humane and less wasteful in manpower; as well as less exclusive.

In 1957 the island was bought from the last private owners for a nominal sum to become a publicly owned nature reserve, managed by the Nature Conservancy Council and since then much pioneering work on tree planting and research, particularly on red deer behaviour and management has been carried out and is still ongoing. Latterly, moving with the times, the island's current trustees, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have been obliged to think more broadly about the island's future, in line with the overall move towards Land Reform in Scotland. This has led to the pursuit of a more diverse and economically independent community on the island and to this end the Rum Deer Management Association was set up to carry out the deer culls in a way which would increase the value of the red deer herd as a resource - namely by bringing in paying guests. A pilot scheme whereby 6 stags were to be shot by paying guests, guided by the local stalker and ghillies, independent of SNH was carried out in the 2003 stag season and proved to be a success; it is hoped that this independent initiative will be allowed to grow in the future.

Kinloch Castle

Kinloch Castle

The island's red deer had long been wiped out to make way for cattle by the time the island was cleared of it's human population in the early 19th century for a sheepwalk, as was the case in much of the highlands and islands. Successive private owners, beginning with the Marquis of Salisbury, reintroduced red deer from the mainland and along with the introduction of various park stags, this has produced the deer herd on the island today. Rum's proven genetically pure red deer means that the island is acknowledged as an important red deer 'refugia', given the spread of Japanese Sika deer and their hybridisation on the mainland. As with most highland deer on open hill ground, those on Rum are considered small, though a 200lb stag seems quite big enough when being loaded on to a pony! Deer born and bred in the island's woodlands are considerably bigger than the hill deer. The judicious introduction of park blood by the island's 19th century private owners has resulted in very good heads, in comparison with many highland estates. Twelve-pointers (royals) and above are quite plentiful, making very good trophies, while a 'switch' head, that is a set of antlers with few or no branching points, so common on the mainland, is very rare indeed.

Head of stag shot by

Head of stag shot by
Dave Mc Cullough

Kinloch Castle was built by Sir George Bullough in the Edwardian era as a grandiose shooting lodge, and its very short heyday was in the years preceding the First World War. The building is now run by SNH as a combination museum and hostel and accommodation is available in a range of rooms, either catered or self-catering. Kinloch Castle recently featured in the BBC's 'Restoration' programme and funding is currently being sought by SNH to safeguard the building.

As well as stalking we can offer guided fishing for hill loch brown trout, with sea trout on the coast. Guided walks, photographic stalking etc. can all be catered for.

Stags taken off the hill in the traditional fashion

Stags taken off the hill in the traditional fashion

Rum Deer Management Association back in business

The RDMA is pleased to announce that it is back in business on the Scottish island of Rum. After five successful years of operation under a pilot private stalking enterprise accommodated by Scottish Natural Heritage from 2003 - 2008 it lost out last season to an off island bid for the deer culling concession. The RDMA has this year won back that concession in open competition and is quickly rebuilding it's customer base once more.

The RDMA is geared towards the creation of employment and income generation for the islanders and aims to capitalise on the rum deer heard as a sustainable economic resource. It will achieve this in partnership with SNH so that the deer herd is managed in balance with the internationally important habitats on Rum.

All carcase retrieval is by traditional and unique rum ponies which is the only practical option in Rums mountainous terrain.

Bookings have opened, Stags and special 5 day hind stalking packages are still available. Visit the RDMA website for details