My sponsored DSC1 and route to stalking PLUS puppy diary
Stalking with Wayne Davies
by, 27-07-2014 at 07:53 (2992 Views)
A few weeks back I went over to Wayne's place to pick up some skins and a few feet for my little pup. We had a bit of a chat and Wayne said it would be good if we could get out for a stalk some time - an unexpected and very kind offer! On Wednesday the PM came out of the blue from Wayne asking if I could make it over the weekend for a roe buck. My ecitement soared, of course that isn't the type of offer to be turned down, but typically for me I knew I was supposed to be at work. So with a couple of phone calls made and a favour or two called in I arranged to leave work early on Saturday and told Wayne I'd love to take him up on his generous offer.
Saturday passed by like treacle, but eventually the time came for me to leave and I made my way straight to Wayne's place, thanking the traffic gods that the M6, M42 and M5 were all flowing freely. A quick change of outfit for me, from motorbike gear to olive greens, and we were off in the truck with GSP Max for company.
On the way down we chatted and Wayne got an idea of my experience level (I.e, very little!), then we arrived and hatched a plan. A scan around from a couple of high vantage points revealed no deer that we could see, so after a quick familiarisation with the rifle and sticks we left the truck to startf our stalk. With me following Wayne's instruction to stay by his right shoulder, and Max taking his place on the left we began to stalk along the margins of a field of tall grass.
Without warning, a roe kid leaped from the grass a stones throw from us, and bolted through the hedge line. With the first deer of the evening now seen, my excitement began to build.
We reached a suitable spot and Wayne told me to get on the sticks, then he started calling. Eyes straining, I scanned the grass and the hedge lines, but after a few minutes nothing seemed interested in our calling so we headed back up hill, cursing the flies and the heat.
We negotiated an electric fence and stalked carefully across the next field, heading for a gap in the opposite hedge. As we drew near, I saw a suspicious shape in the grass on the other side of the hedge we were heading for. Wayne had seen it too.
I tucked in behind him and we carefully side stepped until the angle of the hedge hid us from view. Leaving Max, we edged forward, closing the distance. A doe was feeding on the field, but it wasn't until Wayne set up the sticks and said "get ready" that I realised she wasn't alone. A buck was also there, not as far out on the field and visible to me only through the hedge, for now.
Wayne pointed out where the safe backstop began and told me to go for it if the buck decided to move across. Then we started the waiting game. We were close. I don't know what the range was, but with my adrenaline starting to kick in, concentrating hard on keeping stock still and silent, it felt like we were on top of them.
My heart dropped, the buck had turned away and looked as if he might go back to the wood. Patience paid off though, he was soon making his way steadily into the safe shooting zone.
At this point I started to realise that I'd been making such an effort to keep still, I was actually getting cramp in one of my legs. I tried to fidget, which helped a little, but I didn't want to risk the extra movement and noise of moving my feet completely. Another lesson learned "get comfortable first". My mind was soon taken off this annoyance by the buck moving perfectly into the crosshairs. Wayne confirmed in a whisper what I was already thinking - he was too angled. I watched him move out of the sight picture, and put pressure on the sticks enough to bring the rifle back in line.
The buck had seen us. My cramp came back with a vengeance as I kept still, breathing slow and deep while he stared at me. Cautiously he moved on a little, in my ear I heard Wayne's voice:
"Take him if you're happy, on the point of the shoulder"
Heart thumping and leg aching I push the sticks, getting just enough twist to line up on the point I'd been given. The crosshairs rising and falling with my breathing, and my heart thudding, I steady my aching leg, breathe in, breathe out, hold...
The Blaser's light trigger had done its job, and in the sights I saw the buck drop on the spot.
"Reload" said Wayne, then he explained how clipping the spine could cause that dropping reaction, with the deer just stunned. Not the case here, we waited but it soon became clear this buck was going nowhere.
Moving the carcass out view of public footpath, we went back to bring the truck in closer, and after photos and some fooling around from Max Wayne gralloched the buck, showing me the lymph nodes which in this case were nice and healthy.
A good result, and it wasn't yet even half past eight! We headed back across the farm, and as we were driving I spotted what looked like a deer on a field quite far off. Then another running towards it. Through the binoculars, Wayne was able to confirm it was a buck chasing a doe. We left Max in the truck, and with me as the observer this time made our way to a vantage point to sit in the tall grass and try some more calling. From here we could see in a different direction two more deer, again some way off. Wayne called for a few minutes and I watched the buck chasing his doe (note to self, buy binoculars ASAP) in circles, but nothing was interested in the call. With the light starting to fade, one buck in the truck and a total of 7 sightings, we called it a day and headed back to Wayne's place.
In his larder (very impressive!) Wayne removed the head for me, which I'll now have a go at boiling out and mounting. It may not be medal standard, but it was my first roe buck from a very exciting stalk, and it deserves some wall space, I think! (wife isn't so sure. She said "are you giving that to Poppy [the pup]“
"No, I'm putting it on the wall!"
Anyway, just a short-ish ride back from Wayne's place to mine, I got home to find Poppy had been sulking all night waiting for me to get back. I can't wait until she's old enough to come out with me if the opportunity is ever there.
I have to say a huge thank you to Wayne, it really makes a difference to somebody like me who doesn't have easy aaccess to stalking to be offered a free opportunity for some experience and sport. I'm over the moon with my first roe buck, and my so far 100% success rate (it must be the quality of the guides I've had!)
Thanks the rest of you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. Pictures to follow as soon as I have them off Wayne.