By all accounts Archie “Nooky” Clark was the right sort of poacher. At least that’s what they all said at his funeral.
You can never be quite sure about these things as on the whole no one wants to rock the boat when a colourful local character goes off to the happy hunting grounds.
So I have decided to buy the line that “Nooky” really only went poaching for the fun of it; a sort of John Macnab character spliced in with a bit of Robin Hood – dropping off a piece of venison or a salmon to the deserving poor or slipping the odd beast to a local hotel for a few quid.
But Archie, they all said at the funeral, wasn’t in it for the money. He was in it for the buzz. What he got up to at night, apart from poaching, was another matter.
“I gather he was a bit of a ladies’ man in his younger days,” said the church’s new German minister, Rev Tabea Baader, working out what everyone locally was too coy to tell her. The funeral was, like the hills in which Archie lived, epic and attended by both police and landowners.
But then Archie had never been convicted of poaching even if everyone knew. He travelled, as he had wished, from the church to the Loch Ness-side cemetery in the back of his son Colin’s black pickup truck.
On the lid of his coffin was carved a stag’s head and laid on top, the antlers of the last beast he shot alongside a wreath in the shape of a salmon.
Colin scattered a handful of Magnum .22 rounds in the grave so that his father could “go hunting in the hereafter”.
The wake went on for three, possibly four days. He had been carried from the church to the strains of Kenny Rogers’ hit The Gambler, his favourite tune.
Earlier, the stalker and gamekeepers’ anthem Loch Maree Islands – all about taking to the hills with a rifle – had been played by his brother-in-law, the button box accordionist and band leader Fergie MacDonald, a stalking companion of 40 years.
As a starving student in Glasgow Fergie had reputedly spent all his money on an accordion and was forced to poach the ducks in Kelvingrove Park. His version of Loch Maree Islands became a surprise Scottish hit in 1966, outselling both Andy Stewart and Callum Kennedy, the giants of the day.
“I stalked with Archie for almost 40 years and he was an expert – powerful and fit. He could carry an 18-stone stag on his back for a mile,” said Fergie. Archie was just 52 when he died of liver cancer. “He was no run-of-the-mill dad,” said Colin.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
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