My sponsored DSC1 and route to stalking PLUS puppy diary
First stalk! Part two
by, 13-04-2014 at 11:52 (2674 Views)
Read part one first!
Satisfied that I and the rifle could both do the business if a buck were to oblige later on, and with me feeling a lot more confident in my own ability, we drove back to the house. Teresa had put on a lovely stew and I gladly polished off two servings. I was definitely being well looked after.
After dinner we made a final check that we had everything we needed and with a glance at the weather and a check of the wind, Pete drove us out to the first stalk. With Pete leading the way with the Binos and me sticking close behind with the rifle we stalked into a wood, where Pete showed me there were slots allover the place. We stalked along the side of a pheasant pen, following a small track and seeing frequent slots in the soft ground. I tried my best to keep my footsteps quiet and my eyes out on stalks looking through the wood. The terrain changed as we left the pheasant pen, turning into conifer plantation in place of the natural woodlands, and before long we came to a rutted track. Moving along the track we broke out of the wood at a vantage point overlooking some fields.
Bad news: Fresh tyre tracks in the grass showed Pete that the farmer had been spreading fertiliser. The deer wouldn't come on the the field which had been so recently sprayed. We moved quickly back through the wood until we passed the point where we'd joined the track, and carefully stalked in the opposite direction. In thick cover, Pete spotted a roe just in time for it to dash off out of sight. We came out to a field, but the same farmer had obviously been busy and as far as the eye could see all of the fields bore the signs of recent fertilising.
With plenty of light left we sped back to the truck and drove to a different farm, leaving the Isuzu in a gateway and crossing an undisturbed field on foot. We came to a hedgerow where Pete had sited a high seat with a good view accross the next field to a band of woodland. Fighting through the hedge and then having to crawl in to the field to retrieve the wind-blown seat, we eventually got in position. Despite out disturbance, to our amazement there was already a deer feeding on the margin of the wood. My heart skipped a beat, and Pete brought up the binoculars for a better look. A mature doe.
It was still early, and with one deer on the ground already Pete knew others might follow. We scanned the edge of the woodland and watched the doe peacefully feeding, making her way along the field boundary to our left and eventually crossing behind us, in the direction we'd come from. My eyes were hyper-sensitive, the ground was teeming with pheasants and more than once we both got our hopes up at the sight of movement, only to be disappointed by seeing our feathered friends. I was beginning to think that even if we didn't see any more deer, I'd had a great time on the paper targets and having been able to watch the doe was a real treat.
Then I saw movement again. Off the the left was a pheasant pen, I had to check my eyes weren't playing tricks, but they weren't this time. A muntjac had appeared inside the pen. Quietly, I got Pete's attention and pointed. He brough up the binos, and almost together we whispered 'there's two!'. A buck a small buck and a large pregnant doe. My heart was racing again, but for now they weren't in a shootable position at all. In hushed tones, Pete told me that he'd never shot a muntjac on this ground, and he hadn't been expecting to see any, although he knew they were around. He said we'd leave the pregnant doe, but passing me the rile, told me to steady myself and be ready if a shot presented itself on the buck.
I took the rifle and shifted in the seat, resting my front hand on the rail I felt comfortable. I watched the crosshairs dance in time with my breathing, but found I could easily get them steady when I exhaled and pulled in tight to mu shoulder. Pete asked if I was happy, and checking once more that I was able to steady the crosshairs, I said yes.
We watched the two muntjac criss-cross, and then disappear one after the other into the wood, having never presented a shot. I relaxed and gave my eye a break from the scope, the thrill of seeing the deer was counteracting a little disappointment that they'd left as suddenly as they arrived.
We kept scanning the wood, again every running pheasant drew our eyes and, to me, every stump or shadow was starting to look like a deer.
Pete hissed. With my naked eye I couldn't see them, but in the binoculars he'd picked up the two muntjac again heading back out of the cover towards where I'd first spotted them. The buck was making a move towards a good shootable position. I brought the rifle back to position and found him in the scope. Now it was a waiting game. I followed him as he browsed and moved, seemingly not knowing where he was heading to. Slowly but surely he moved to the area where I knew I could shoot.
I heard Pete in my ear 'wait... wait... let him come out a bit'. I waited, and watched, keeping the scope on him. He was moving to my left and I had to shift position to keep him in sight with the rifle, leaning further and further as he came around. 'If he stops now, Simon' Pete whispered.
He did stop. I took up the first pressure, just in time for him to move off. B*****d! I hissed. I kept the sight on him, and he stopped again a short way on.
I took a deep breath, pulled the rifle tight to my shoulder and watched the crosshairs go steady just behind his shoulder.
With my attention so focussed I barely heard the shot, but with my hand supporting the rifle on the rail the recoil lifted the sight less than it had from the sticks, and in the bottom of my sight picture I saw the little buck bowled over and drop on the spot.
We waited a few minutes, but aside from a few kicks he wasn't moving. We walked to the carcass and saw the shot had gone slightly high, but had done its job perfectly, taking the top of the lungs and leaving a neat exit wound without too much meat damage.
As the photo probably shows, I'm over the moon!
Back at the house, Pete showed me his preferred method for the suspended gralloch and after a quick brew and a chat it was time for me to hit the road for the journey back. Pete was a great host, patient coach and knowledgeable guide. Not only did he help me get my first ever deer, but he taught me loads, and more than that, welcomed me into the stalking community. A big thanks goes out to Pete, and to Teresa for her excellent stew.
I'm definitly hooked now...