There is, according to a Spectator column published last month by Toby Young, a war being waged by the SNP and Greens. It is one “motivated by class envy" but "dressed up as a high-minded attempt to save the planet”.

The particular war he mentions is over sporting estates and deer management, and he seems to have found himself contemplating it whilst crawling on his stomach over wet moorland in pursuit of shooting his trophy stag. 

“Admittedly,” he writes, “I may not be the most convincing advocate on behalf of these majestic figures, given that I set out to kill one this morning. But the argument isn’t about whether the deer have to be managed, but whether they should exist at all.”

The column, if I’m honest, read a bit like a satire of some entitled aristocrat’s thoughts on discovering whilst visiting the Highlands, that the deer that they have always thought was theirs to shoot - albeit for a certain amount of money - were now to be regularly shot by, of all people, some workers.

Young, however, doesn’t use the word "workers", only "contractors"; his point, I suppose, being that contractors are not the same as the stalkers who are carriers of an older way of life now under threat.

I don’t deny this nor the fact that, as he says, stalking and country sports, as well as the hospitality sector around them, provide employment to thousands - though let's not exaggerate the sector's worth.  A 2016 report by Scottish Natural Heritage stated that “evidence gathered to date suggests that management of deer in Scotland results in a net monetary loss for both the private and public sectors”.

But Young is wrong to reduce the deer cull to a class war.  In a world where some of the wealthiest estate owners - Anders Povlsen, Paul Lister, Lisbet Rausing - are pioneering reducing deer numbers, it can’t be said this is about the posh sporting types versus the rewilding common people.

It also doesn't help that Young claims that “by hook or by crook”, nature-loving politicians “are determined to wipe out the deer population”.

Neither the Scottish Government nor environmentalists are out to wipe out the deer. The current target for deer numbers is 10 per kilometre square. Two per kilometre square has been achieved in Anders Povlsen's pioneering Glenfeshie estate. No one is talking about zero deer, even when they talk about zero tolerance.

And what’s worth reiterating is the fact that since 1990, the deer population has doubled, now reaching an estimated million. Last week it was reported that vehicle collisions with deer are at a record high.

Meanwhile, the deer are not being targeted for nothing. They represent a key threat to forest regeneration - and while they continue to roam in such numbers, nibbling away at young trees, Scottish woodland net zero targets will be missed and biodiversity will suffer.

The deer issue is hot right now. Legislative changes have recently come into force in Scotland. One is that it’s now permitted to use thermal imaging and night vision to hunt in the dark. Another is a reduction in minimum bullet weight to enable the use of lead-free ammunition.

The third is the controversial one. No longer is there any close season for male deer, and some stalkers and managers say this is pointless, since what impacts overall population growth most strongly is hind numbers, not stags.

The whole issue, of course, is upsetting. The idea of killing this many wild animals can seem akin to a massacre, and, unlike the other massacres that take place daily in our abattoirs, one that is more visible, out in the landscape in which locals live and work and tourists roam.

The cull also brings a target-driven approach that may seem almost as distasteful to those used to the etiquette of sportsmanship as the act of killing a stag "for sport" seems to others. It feels bureaucratic, perhaps even industrial.

But can we afford not to? As Chris Packham said last week: “Killing for conservation is essentially an oxymoron… but here we’ve got to think of the bigger picture. I know it may look like a wilderness, but this [the Highlands] is a manscape.” 

We know the kind of forest restoration and rewilding required to meet not just net zero targets, but also biodiversity goals, is not going to happen while there are so many deer. We also know that in some places like Mar Lodge and Glenfeshie, deer control has already worked and woodland regeneration has happened. 

A study looking into the culling of 1,000 deer a year in the Cairngorms found that it has led to an expansion of 164 hectares of native woodland annually. 

Deer stalking is an emotive issue. Strong feelings surround it - and all the more so when the debate gets framed as a bloody battle over who gets to kill our Monarch of the Glen. Let’s not distract by calling this a class war. That’s not the core driver. This is about finding the ethical way to control a species and sustain a rural economy.

It’s genuinely about saving the planet, not stopping the rich, or even Toby Young, having their fun.