David Adam ..... Scottish creative artist ...... author of Wildsketch ..... social realist in Postcard from Brechin
Studio and Wildsketch journal
Studio and Wildsketch journal
The glen was a theatre cast into moody shadows by a foot-light Sun that peeped a dazzle o'er the highland hills, and the red coated actors could be heard, full of sound and fury, roaring out their wild rights to forge future generations. The audience was one, ticket-less soul with equal rights to observe the spectacle of the stag rut.
To creep into the theatre stalls between legs of lanky heather is a covert pleasure, and a risky one that flavours the blood with a primitive hunting thrill. The staggy principle actors are usually too furred up with their own loud recitals to notice any stalking audience, for that is left to the attentive and silent hinds whose ears prick at the slightest invasion of their shy privacy.
The dark hills move with delayed sound, for the bellowing roars like thunder and lightning come after the action. A chorus of hinds flee off-stage as possessive stags furiously lock antlers in a battle of strength to prove their worth and the hinds, it seems, tease the wanting jealousy out of the stags; flirty hinds.
The roaring cast has many solo performers who have no hind harem to govern over and these beasts vent lonely frustrations into the echoing void of the glen by wandering in and out of the moorland wings. No paid tickets are needed for this wilderness, no re-wilding is necessary here because this nature show has been running for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Stalking man is the Red Deer's only predator nowadays but, not so long ago, the Wolf made its presence felt in Scotland until its final demise and extinction from the land sometime during the seventeenth century. Wolves had been a pest to travellers in the highland wilderness with many folk being preyed upon, and shallow grave burials were being dug up for carrion.
James VI, king of Scotland, ordered that wolves be cleared from forests with organised hunts taking place three times a year in certain areas. Curiously, the trapping of wolves is recorded in old Scottish maps with the designation 'Wolf Pit' (research by Cludgy Macpherson). These deep pits were dug out of the land and are described as having a carrion baited plank of wood balanced half way over the void into which the beast fell while trying to retrieve the bait.
The reintroduction of the Wolf and Lynx to Scotland to control deer populations seems to be a bee in the bonnet for some re-wilding conservationists but that contradicts the practical findings of some highland sheep farmers when the effects of the reintroduction of the White-tailed Eagle is considered; a raptor that is reported to occasionally prey on lamb stocks and, like the Wolf, can be tempted by easy prey options.
In my opinion, fickle tempered stags are hard enough to avoid on the hills, let alone wolves, nevertheless, the hill names surrounding this glen reflect a history steeped in wolfy howling ..... Wolf Craig and Wolf Hill ..... who knows what the future will bring.