Tamara Colchester

Writer and forager

Photo: Jussi Virkkumaa

My work aims to bring people into deeper relationship with the natural world through the ancient practices of foraging and tracking (hunting and gathering). As part of my research into tracking (and beyond it hunting) I have spent the last three years in Scotland, learning from deer stalkers here on the open hill. Most of my research has been centred on a Hebridean island called Rum, a place with a rich and complex history, and that now operates the longest-running red deer research project in the world. Over the course of these years, I have gathered many oral recordings during the rut – the time of year in which male stags become sexually active, engaging in spectacular mating displays. I hope to use my time at Saari to work with these recordings, told by the stalkers in their own words, to tell the story of the relationship between deer, trees and the open hill, and what life is like for a modern Scottish hunter.


Tamara Colchester is a writer and forager interested in the paths between the symbiotic worlds of plants, animals and the separated human. She is currently pondering the usefulness of writing as a mode of exploring engagement with other living beings and is more than a little concerned that it is always going to be a method at war with the content. She hopes not and is spending as much time as possible away from the computer learning to read the world by following animal, mushroom and plant trails, seeing where they take her.

Last year she founded the organisation Plant Listening. Working with the ancient way of the hunter-gatherer, they use the practical skills of tracking and foraging to reintroduce people to their natural environment, helping them to rebuild a dynamic connection with the natural world.

She has co-written a film called Tawai – A Voice from the Forest, that explores the wisdom still held in the rapidly declining old-growth forests of the world. Her first book explored the ancestral patterns within her family system, and her second is set in Scotland and explores the dynamics between predator and prey, and the paradoxical idea that hunters are those who love animals the most. She has also collaborated with Hermione Spriggs on a piece for The Serving Library.