Hi Folks - posted elsewhere, so apologies if you have read this before - it not, hope you enjoy!.......
.....Another morning alarm call - 05.15 am and I was yanked from a pleasant snooze. Lay for a few seconds trying to recall why I needed to leave the comfort of the quilt - to face the wind that sounded like to rip tiles off the roof. Ahhh..... yes, it was slowly coming back! Stalking. Sika. Last day of the hind season!
Half an hour later and with my stalking buddy piloting her Warrior down the road - we had a chance to plan our day on the hinds. Its only a small patch - but with herds up to eighty strong, there is room for a little culling!
A slow stalk revealed a small party of deer making their way towards the boundary fence. One paused and fell to an aimed shot from the .270. Gralloched and into the back of the pick up - it was off to the local gunshop/cafe for a breakfast and caffeine injection.
Back on the ground a couple hours later, our careful approach ruined a few times by the fickle winds swirling through the spruce plantation - we made our way down towards open ground where the hinds often feed during the afternoons.
Stalking thru the cover and bumping a hidden hind and follower - we eventually gained the open ground to find forty or so hinds, grazing nervously in the company of a few stags. Something was upsetting them to be sure - and they slowly made their way off into a gully and out of sight.
With that, the rapidly darkening skies unleased a blizzard of snow that within seconds dropped the visibility to a matter of only twenty yards or so. We took cover behind a couple mature spruce trees - when a parcel of ten hinds trotted slowly towards us - fleeing the storm and heading for the protection of the woods.
Two muffled shots later - and Jo and I had both scored and were faced with a couple more beasts to clean and breakdown for the gamedealer. We try and gralloch the carcasses a little distance from our regular 'killing ground' to hopefully avoid the animals becoming spooked and moving their routes away from open ground and easy shooting. The dragging commenced!
We have been using flat nylon dragstraps for some time - light, low bulk and strong - they have been modified to allow an improvised suspended gralloch. The new food hygiene regs (and the mucky swamp we shoot over) make suspending the carcass a better option when it comes to carcass preparation. The pic below shows how the hook on the end of the strap is noosed around a convenient tree or branch. Thanks to PeteL for the basis of the idea.
A welded ring is fastened with a slipknot as high as can be reached. When the strap is looped back through its self, a blunt S hook can be looped through the hock of the carcass. The pulley effect produced allows the beast to be pulled clear of the ground and the gralloch completed. Note that removing lower legs, freeing the anus and windpipe etc is more easily done before the beast is suspended!
A family member has located a source of heavy gauge polythene bags which are precisely deer sized. A bag can be easily slipped over the carcass once draining is completed - the pluck being dropped into the base of the bag at the same time. This allows for easy handling without covering yourself in gore. This is necessary as the approaches to the shoot do not permit the use of a 4wd - so manual extraction is needed until we happen to come across a suitable mechanical alternative.
During the rut, I have a knockdown deer cart I use to extract stags to the pickup. This is not really needed when dealing with the hinds and followers - so I employ the other option - a pack frame.
Picked this up out in Canada a couple years back - nothing more than a rigid frame with padded shoulder and hip straps, similar in design to the rucksacks from my childhood. The difference being a drop down luggage platform - that makes attaching a load very simple. The mighty drag strap finds yet another use!
Still being young (YES - 48 is still young!! ) and relatively fit - loads up to 100lb or so can easily be managed. The biggest beast taken that day weighed 86lb clean - and was transported without major difficulty. The difference made by getting the load high on your back and close to your body is remarkable. A real improvement over the comfort offered by a roesack!
All in all, a good day and a fine way to end the hind season! I'm always interested in ways of simplifying my stalking equipment - so if you use any kit or techniques that will be of interest - go ahead and post! We are all interested - and one thing about this game - you NEVER stop learning!