Glenco Stag

The temperatures were sub zero on Buchaille Etive Mor, in the valley of Glenco. The wind chill penetrated my layers of clothing and my fingers froze on the cold chrome of my camera.

I had seen this majestic stag on various occasions over a number of days and for me he encapsulated the beauty and the harshness of this rugged landscape.

Wildlife photography requires patience, long protracted stay’s in cold damp hides deprived of food and comfort, quite often without success. Masters of this form of photography are repeatedly disappointed but never dejected. Determined, they return day after day until finally they snare the hard won reward of the classic image they have etched in their minds eye.

I’d like to say that such determination led to my photograph of the Glenco Stag but that would be flexing the realms of truth to an absurd fiction.

My photographer friends and I sat at a blazing fire, in the comfort of armchair’s in The Kings Inn lounge overlooking Buchaell Mor, that cold winters day. We had indeed seen this stag, from a distance, some days earlier as we photographed the beauty of this Scottish Landscape.

The snowstorm came suddenly in the early afternoon and we retreated to the sanctuary of the Hotel. The Stag got closer and sought shelter from the storm. I grabbed my gear and braved the elements in an attempt to capture an image of this majestic animal. My friends watched and laughed at me through a Bay Window as they sipped their pints and I stumbled through the deep snow. I ventured a hundred yards or so from the hotel, The Stag continued towards me, more threatened by the storm then my presence.

The snow fell, the wind howled and the chill quickly got to my very bones.
The Stag got closer and closer. I fired off a number of shots before he bolted from my viewfinder.

I made a quick retreat to the warm Hotel fire as my friends doubled over with laughter at my antics and declared me ‘ certifiable mad’ for putting my nose outside the door.

They had their ‘Pints and Laugh’ but I got my shot.

In a nearby valley, on a bleak Scottish Mountain, a young hiker froze to death, taking shelter in a mountain bothy, that very winters night.

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