Along with staring down African buffalo, horsebacking into wild-sheep country, and bugling up a Rocky Mountain elk, the must-do list for every serious sportsman and woman should include shooting in the Scottish Highlands.
Luckily for American hunters without a Highland estate of their own, opportunities to experience this pinnacle of upland shooting are available on select properties across rural Scotland. Few are as rarified or as steeped in tradition as Tulchan Club & Estate, located about 60 miles south east of Inverness at the foot of towering massifs inside Cairngorms National Park.
This expansive 22,000-acre property anchors the banks along and the soaring uplands above the legendary River Spey, the birthplace of the two-handed style of big-river fly casting that bears its name. The Estate has four two mile fishing beats along the river, and fishing for Atlantic salmon and sea-run trout is available to both Club Members and non-members alike.
Hunting, however, is reserved for Tulchan Club Members, who are invited to stay in the Estate’s 120-year-old Victorian lodge and experience the sumptuous accommodations that have made this property the sporting destination for British kings, titans of industry, and other notables.
Tulchan’s guest book includes kings Edward VII and George V, as well as George VI, who visited here as Duke of York. American industrialists J.P. Morgan and William Vanderbilt shot and fished as guests of Tulchan’s original owner, and our own Teddy Roosevelt visited here in 1910, a stop on his celebrated post-presidency tour of pre-war Europe.
Tulchan has a unique sporting offering; few Speyside Estates can offer exceptional pheasant shooting, wild duck flighting, roe & red deer stalking & fishing. Work, both conservation and predator management that benefits a huge variety of wildlife as well as grouse, is being carried out to bring the grouse moor back and so in due course, grouse shooting will once again be available to Tulchan Club Members and the Estate’s sporting arsenal will be complete.
That immersion in and reverence for the landscape has defined Tulchan for more than a century, and modern manifestations of it include a holistic view of ecosystem management. The property is producing Aberdeen Angus beef for use on Estate as well as locally, private-label estate-curated honey, a highly productive Kitchen Garden as well as botanicals that are used in the newly released Tulchan Gin. Conservation practices extend to the uplands, where gamekeepers are working to manage and protect the moorland to ensure that native grouse and other birds are available for hunters through the next century.
In order to experience the full spectrum of sporting opportunities in Scotland, a hunter generally must either own outright or be the guest of a sporting estate. But at Tulchan, the available memberships allow members the full offerings of the property and allow them to “own” an Estate for the duration of their visit.
Tulchan remains one of the most exclusive of Scotland’s sporting properties, with only a limited number of annual memberships available, Members have access to the Lodge’s full suite of services, which includes a well-regarded farm-to-table menu based on seasonal fare from the property, a wine cellar of truly royal depth and breadth, use of the spa and two days of pheasant shooting for up to eight guns and 28 guests. If this sounds like the destination for an extended family reunion or gathering of your best shooting buddies, then you are getting a sense of both the intimacy and the grand scale of Tulchan.
“It is hard to give true justice to the magic of Tulchan in words, it has a way of getting into your bones” says Laura Irwin, the Estate Director. “We want our Members and guests to feel totally at home when they are here; to enjoy fabulous sport, extraordinary food sourced from the Estate, delicious wine and exceptional service.”
The estate’s fishing and visitation opportunities are both expansive and appealing as a way to experience the estate’s hospitality and sporting culture.
“You don’t have to be a member to come to the Estate,” says Irwin. “We absolutely encourage visitors to come and experience the Highlands, whether as a destination or as a base for exploration of the wider areas. Non-members are able to book holiday cottages and fishing.”
But in order to tick off that must-do list, perfecting your high-gun on towering pheasants or stalking a mighty red stag, membership of Tulchan is the gateway to legendary experiences.