I'M NO STRANGER to unusual stalking situations, but this is definitely the first time I've had whortleberries in my pants. I am crawling down a 50-degree slope right behind my guide, Niall Rowantree. Right on my heels is gillie Steven Grant, 18, dragging the padded rifle case behind him. We are low-crawling through the heather or gorse or whatever the hell you call the wet, tundralike stuff covering the Scottish highlands, trying to keep from getting busted by the dozens of red deer scattered across this mountainside. I don't know about the others, but I'm doing more sliding than crawling. To stop, I have to stiffen my arms and shove them into the ground before me while flexing my toes to vertical and dragging them like anchors. Meanwhile, the farther we travel in this manner, the more vegetation finds its way into my clothes. Every time Niall (pronounced "Neal") stops to assess our progress and the disposition of the surrounding deer, we rear-end one another with all the precision of the Three Stooges trying to burgle a house. I use these occasions to retrieve handfuls of herbage from my pants. We are sneaking on a big red stag, an 8-pointer, lying on a bench several hundred yards below us. At least I think he's still below us. The weather was glorious this morning, when we were glassing the hills from the road below. Since then, curtains of mist and pattering rain have begun moving through from the southwest, reducing visibility to 80 yards.