My sponsored DSC1 and route to stalking PLUS puppy diary

First stalk!

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Hi all,
A while back, Pete (Roedinator) very kindly offered me the chance to go out with him on his ground in Somerset in search of my first ever deer. Yesterday was the big day, waking up early I got my kit together (easy, as I haven't really got any kit yet aside from some outdoor clothing I already owned and a bargain jacket I bought from the classifieds on here!) and woke up my wife-taxi who was going to drive down and meet some friends whilst I was out 'playing'.
The weather on the drive down was looking ok, a bit of a breeze with bursts of sunshine breaking the cloud every now and then. I crossed my fingers for it to last as we got nearer to Pete's place, and luckily it did, staying more or less the same all day.
Around half past one I met Pete at home. He was a perfect host, welcoming this stranger in to his house with a brew and a chat about shooting, stalking and life in general. Before long we were outside with his FAC air rifle and Pete showed me his quad sticks. I'd never used sticks before and last time I used an air rifle I admit I didn't really have a clue, but Pete was a patient coach and it didn't take long for me to get the hang of the sticks. They're amazingly stable, although it took me a while to get them lined up properly. I soon got my first shots off at about 25 yards, putting in a group that probably wouldn't win any prizes, but seemed good enough for a first go (top right).
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Having had no idea whatsoever how my first shooting for years and my first ever shots from anything other than a prone position would turn out, I was happy enough.

Next up Pete showed me his ordinary garden cane type bipod sticks. They were still surprisingly stable, although I noticed I had to do a lot more work to steady each shot. I did like having easier side-to-side movement compared to the quad sticks, though.
Now on the bottom right target, I think you can guess which were my first two shots.
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Back inside, Pete showed me the Blaser that we'd be using later, demonstrating how the straight-pull bolt worked and showing me the safety, etc. We swapped the barrel as Pete had been testing some 30-06 loads, but wisely suggested .243 would suit a novice better.
After another quick brew and me admiring the 4-month-old lab, we loaded up the truck and drove out to some maize stubble on Pete's permission to check zero and give me a chance to get to grips with a 'proper' rifle. The Isuzu made light work of the rutted ground and took us to a nice sheltered spot, shooting down a slight incline with a solid backstop behind.
Using the bonnet as a rest Pete quickly got the zero sorted at a measured 109 yards according to his Leicas. Then it was over to me. I fidgeted around a fair bit, but quickly found a stable and comfortable position using the truck for support. Concentrating hard I took up the pressure and squeezed.
I was amazed how light the trigger pull was compared to the cadet rilfes I'd used before. I was almost taken by surprise when the first round fired with so little effort. I hadn't been sure what to expepect of the recoil either, but the moderated .243 was fine. The muzzle had moved more than I expected, but there was no 'kick' in the shoulder.
Two more rounds off the bonnet produced this:
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Again, no prizes to be won, but all well within the 'kill-zone' on a deer. We let the rifle cool and Pete set up the quad sticks. Again, it took a bit of fidgeting to get the rifle lined up right, but they provided a rock-steady rest for my next 3 round group.

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The Blaser was left to cool again, and I put in a final set of three shots. The first shot was low and right, the next two almost dead-on, with my accuracy improving on every shot taken.

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