I have met some amazingly friendly people on this site and thanks to generosity of fellow stalkers have managed my first roe buck, first muntjac buck and several other deer, all special for various memories - as well as finding some good outfitters to pay for stalking. I struggle to find stalking of my own here in Lincolnshire so this keeps me going and keeps the itch scratched. One person who I owe particular thanks is Reuben, Buckaroo8, who not only takes me out and has reached me most of what I know is kind enough to put me up at his place now I have moved up from Cornwall to Lincolnshire.
This weekend I had a plan to return the favour with more than the usual bottle. I had a shark trip planned with Andy of Specialised Charters Cornwall and as the boat could take 2, I invited Reuben along as my guest.
The trip was planned and Reuben said to bring a rifle, we would get out for a buck whilst I was there. Time was tight (it was the first few days of 2 weeks off my wife had had from a long training course and put me on a 6 out of 10 dog house scale according to her when asked if she minded me going - odds I'll take!) so I planned to travel Saturday in time to stalk evening, fish Sunday with a stalk before or after depending on timings, stalk monday morning then head home.
I phoned the skipper Friday eve who confirmed that due to the weather we wouldn't be going out as it was too rough for his Warrior. A quick call to Reuben and he said to still come, so the trip was on but it was all taking again and no giving - which didn't sit comfortably but one day I'd return the favour. Travelling down Saturday the skipper called and said if I dipped my hand a little deeper he could take out the 32 footer he skippers out of Falmouth, Anglo Dawn. Happy with that, the trip was back on.
Saturday's trip was a nightmare, I left at 0815 and after various roadworks and accidents I got there at 1715! Ouch. Quick brew, chat plans and out we went stalking. After parking up and walking less than 20 metres we bumped a buck - bugger! We stalked round, but Reubs had an idea of where it went, so we hid up and he called with his cherrywood. Out the buck came, marching out to see what was going on... He started maybe 200m and got to maybe 60-70m, but to my novice eye never presented the perfect broadside we are taught - I left it to the last minute for him to turn, he never did and got away, passing down a hedgerow to a slot and not stopping. I was happy with my decision to leave him be (at least it proved I was not a deer murderer, it would have been an easy shot, but not necessarily a tidy one) but that didn't stop the disappointment and banter! Having messed this one up (or not, if you are on my side!) we moved grounds - long story short we saw 2 more, but they saw us before I got the rifle on sticks. A blank, but lots learnt and thats what it is about for me at the moment.
Next day was an early start to get to the boat for 0630. A steam out in the awesome Anglo Dawn saw us 13 miles off and rods out by 0800. 6 takes ensued, giving us blues of 50lb, 45b, 35b, 15b and a baby. Here are a few pics:
After a quick change, we were out stalking by 1930 on the place we called the buck, however we only saw one doe and that was on the way back to the car. This gave the last morning, this morning to get out. There were other plans afoot but the weather got in the way of this, so we tried for a last chance roebuck. Both very tired and the weather outside condusive to going back to bed, we dragged ourselves out, not overly optimistic. A quick look around a few meadows in the pouring rain soon got my head down and thoughts of another blank. Walking back to the start point, talking normally, to head to a wooded area, we were both stunned to see a buck on the hedgerow, not 20m from where we had just been 10 minutes earlier! Odd how this happens, but I'd like to think the deer gods were taking pity on me after leaving the buck on Saturday evening. It was a simple shot, maybe 75m off my quad sticks, slightly quarrtering. I pulled the shot maybe an inch or 2 forward than I would have liked, I definitely have ruined the near shoulder but I'll know when I skin him. Still, my third buck in the bag and confidence restored ready for next weeks Scottish Sika stalk!
Here he is, lovely just-6 pointer, antlers 16 and 17cm long and in fine condition:
It was so wet that my gear faired badly on the 7 hour drive home - my Howa rusted (sorted now) and my lovely new Derek Clifford quad sticks have warped, but I guess it'll make me remember this stalk even more!
Lessons learnt from this trip:
1. If shooting a new technique (calling for me in this instance) chat with the guide beforehand regards shot placement. It was only afterwards I was told a front on shot between the shoulder blades would have been acceptable.
2. Regardless of weather, go out! You have to be in it to win it and in the words of a member off here (thanks Dom), deer have to be somewhere!
3. Don't give in, stalk until the last moment, there may just be a deer feeling sorry for you and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice!
Thanks Reuben, an awesome weekend in great company! I hope in some way I have started to repay the favour!