[Warning: Cup of tea or beverage of choice required.....long one!]
So Sunday morning after the sleeplessness came fast
already packed all I had to do was stick rifles in car and hoof it round to my friend's place as we had booked an early ferry to allow for some activities on the Sunday after arrival
Eventless journey and ferry over
pair of us madly scanning hills on the drive from ferry to cottage...not advisable whilst driving!
Unpacked in record time,
Targets found, range finder found, ammo, bipod, etc etc
We swiftly set off for a drive to one of several test sites...as we did the bloody mist and rain starts rolling in from the North West
We park up and watch as it gets steadily worse...
"Bollox I say, going out anyway!"
I stomp off to put out boards at 100 and 200 determined to achieve something since we arrived early.
We elect to do one rifle at a time and take a minimal amount of gear out of the car at once to at least save the drying effort required
We have two .270's and a .300WM between us
two shots for each rifle, one at 100, one at 200 just to check zero
all bang on at 100
His, mine and the 300 left to right
Nasty wind from the left shows itself with a inch drift at 200
I also want to resent the zero and have a real drop number for the 300wm with target turrets having ordinarily zeroed an inch high and just held over...moving to the dark side...
all goes to plan
Day 1 - West to Sou'Westerly, bloody warm for September
The S4 goes into utility vehicle mode, sprouts a tow bar and has the quad hitched up.
Local shepherd doesn't think it will get up the track as it is a little lower and has more horses than normal.
Rubbish. goes anywhere!
The options in this wind are simple.
Big Glen running North South, we come in from the North and hang a right into the wind.
Several corries and glens run directly into the wind up to the summits along a long ridge.
We work our way in knowing that in this wind and on a fairly bright warm day we are in for a long walk as the stags will be up high.
A freak squall comes in behind us but doesn't touch us, presenting a rare opportunity of a double rainbow that seems only yards away...(where is my shovel!?)
2hrs of walking, stopping, spying presents us with a huge expanse of land opening up in front of us.
We see a party of stags in the far distance below the skyline at around 5-6 miles with a full birdeye view of any route we may want to take to get into them!
Bugger - only option to get anywhere near that lot would be break right, go over the summit and come across the wind to come back over the ridge in the hope that they had a) not winded us, b) not buggered off!
between us and the summit on the right is a lot of dead ground
chance of a smaller party or lone stag in there is moderate to high.
We set off slowly stopping and spying at each and every hummock, knoll and crest
Billy-no-mates chewing cud spotted about 400 yds away from a crest
perfect stag for the cull numbers
4-5 years old
poor head of 6 points
average body weight
No way in from here so we drop back and right upwind
next knoll along opens into a gully, if he looks to his left he can see down the gully.
We drop into it and move slowly along and behind the next knoll nearest him
Standing behind the knoll out of view deliberating on what next I step on the dog! She yelps!
We look over the knoll through the grass....
He is still there but a bit more aware now,
Looking generally our direction but the wind is saving us with noise cover and making sound carry less likely
I manage to range him through the grass
we need to move
crawling time I am afraid.
Hands and kneed we gradually round the left hand edge of the knoll, there is about 12" of dead ground.
not enough space for two blokes and a dog
I am up for it.
Dog handed over I slide off on my belly with regular bino looks
He is well aware there is something afoot and is standing face on looking out way now.
pressure is on as this is the only one we have seen within any range of us and the clock is ticking
finally make some ground to the left hand edge of another little knoll.
nowhere to go now. its now or never
recently converted this rifle to take a hooky ebay Versapod which is on test as I have yet to use it
its mounted and I really like the way it self sets as you push a rifle forward through grass.
I am up on the pod, comfortable, steady, breathing is back to normal, no if you would be so good as to turn sideways there's a good chap!
(note to self, set focus on centre spot!)
I range him while I am comfy
208yds..(secretly feeling smug that I put that target out at 200 yesterday)
using my new found drop details I set the elevation on the turret
5m....he is still stone cold face on, eyeballing whatever he thinks he sees
10m.....no change. Dog is getting fidgety and I hear remonstrations to control her and keep her out of sight!
15m...He gets a bit fidgety too, could go either left or right here, my guess if left into the wind.
He complies and turns, still slightly facing downhill, would like a bit less angle to his body at this range
He shakes, takes two more steps left and is as square as I am going to get him.
safety off and I feel recoil. no recollection of that actual trigger break, just one movement, hear the strike and as he turns up the hill I see a visible exit hole on the right hand side of his chest, he makes it about 10 steps and reels backwards down the hill to rest about 10yds from where he was standing.
Sense of relief and calm after all the excitement.
Collecting all the debris of bins, bags, sticks and sleeves, we stand up and the dog is finally released much to her excitement.
The dog is a 10m old cocker, never seen a deer or been on the hill to this extent.
sent on ahead for some nose training she quickly picks up the scent from where he was standing but is a little too scatty to stick with it!
Back and forth she finally picks up what I guess is a blood trail and then as we are walking she sees him.
Biggest hairy thing she has seen and she investigates with horizontal back legs to reverse quick smart if it moves!
As we look around we see another small stag that was a bit further on giving the legs off into the wind
Carcase inspected, holes on both sides where they should be.
Decent body condition, smallish head, perfect for the list
On investigation the bullet has shed its core which exited and the jacket made short work of the top of the heart and most of the lungs
very swift despatch
some time for scenery shots...
We drag him down to a suitable spot that the quad will get to without hassle and make our way back to the car the dog thoroughly enjoying its freedom having been leashed for most of the day
One manjob to make the return jorney and collect so I settle into the car for a seat.
While I am sitting there looking over a large expanse of land with large rocks protruding out of all sorts of places and a meandering burn I have an epiphany!
lets do some more range work to get the drop details for longer distances!!
nice little flat spot above the quarry the car is parked in
I stand up and can see where the burn turns and presents a 6ft splash of water with a 2ft high dark peat bank behind it
lovely, that'll do nicely
Ranged at 358yds
Breaking out the phone this time I use the bulletdrop app I have loaded and it says 5 MOA for 350
Aiming at the centre of the bank the shot goes a little low,
I give it 5.5 and loose off another one.
That one is on the money! very happy
I spend a bit of time messing with the data to get the known range drops I have to line up
I have the MV, the G1 BC, so I make the assumption that my zero range I set may be a little off.
tweaking it to 115 and then 125yds instead of 100 and all the numbers I know now to be accurate show up!
only one way to find out...
Hmmmm.... what to shoot next ...
Big rock face with an obvious round one with a vertical face presents itself..
App says 9.5
Shot sent, back on the rock to see impact.
Bang on the money!!
Big puff of powdered rock and bullet in the scope
Big echo comes back a second or so later
really want to stretch its legs further but nothing of consequence on the glen floor much past 550.
Save that for another day.
Day 2 - seems even warmer tan yesterday, Wind has turned completely and is coming out of the North North East.
About face for angle of entry and we head round to the other side of the ground to approach the same ridge from the directly opposite angle
With a quick spy of the hill from the road we can see two groups of stags, two groups of hinds and a stag with a few hinds of his own.
We need to get higher and downwind of the parties of stags on the left hand face
Beautiful day and we sweat out way up some serious mountain goat territory climbing up through a ravine
only item happy with this is the Duracell Cocker!
we stumble onto a party of hinds and decide to park up for a while to
a) catch our breath,
b) hang our coats/shirts etc out to dry in the breeze and
c) have lunch
dog uses me like a meercat to get a better view.
but what a view
even brought lunch for the dog although she doesn't appreciate the crockery!
I stand to peek through the grass to see what the party of hinds are doing.
Bugger, still there!
We move off to out left deeper into the burn we have been following up to the summit but eventually run out of dead ground.
after much deliberation we decide to move them.
We are splitting the wind between the hinds on our now right and the stags we want to get into on our left
hoping that they comply and foof off left into the open ground and not cut out path into the stags we advance!
Picking up the pace to give clear intent to our direction they duly comply and piss off round to the right.
We want to clear the open ground between us and the saddle infront in case the come round the back and decide to appear in front of us again, I pick up the pace.
We make the saddle that now gives us a clear view of the back side of the face we viewed from the road.
Long way off and below and to our right a dark shape is moving at speed.
The hinds have moved a monster black stag who is giving it full speed ahead down into the glen from yesterday
A real beauty, thick in neck and body with what looks like a nice even head with big thick antlers.
nice to see
So now we have to get up and over to our left and into the stags we saw from the road.
easier said than done.
this ground is basically a series of flats, each little rock face starts another "flat" and they are constantly interspersed with little gulleys and corries.
We move slowly and painstakingly up and over towards the summit on our left. as we reach one shoulder the left hand glen opens out beneath us.
We can see party after party of stags, hinds and away in the distance above where the car was parked yesterday a huge group of over 35 stags!
sadly not one of them is with 3 miles of us!
we move along and down into the wind in the hope that one of the little gulleys holds one of the groups we have seen from the road.
We see a small group running down below us long way off.
Perhaps they could see the solo stag or saw the hinds running in the distance.
Oh well, still plenty of opportunity.
My partner in crime moves off to the right of me along a rock face, as he does I move forward and catch the tips of a lot of antlers around 300yds away, i look left and he is walking into view!
I stop him with a faint hiss but it is too late, they are up and off along to our right and then left to follow the rest of the groups stretched out across the face of a the 7 or so miles of land infront of us.
That could be curtains for today, getting on for 330 now, not much day left for any heroics.
We find a rock to sit and spy the hill infront of us.
Lots of deer out there
recent forestry clearance has given the illusion of high numbers, in practice these deer were inside a mature plantation 6 months ago.
Good to see nevertheless.
We are on the roof of Scotland up here and the view in this weather is phenomenal!
We start the long walk home!
As we retrace our steps and spy the other side of the summit opening out into another glen I have another epiphany!
there is a splash of water in the distance.
Its a bugger to range as there are no decent verticals
managed to get a reading of 950yds...the water is a bit further but down below us
I use my Mk1 Cosine calculator to wet finger a rough guestimate for the purpose of today's exercise..
am guessing a rough figure of 1000yds with a realistic actual distance of 950 taking into account vertical difference
as per the thread here.... Smile and dial! - Page 2
ran out of elevation at 22.75MOA (strangely I notice I have well over that going the other way on the scope )
even aiming high the first one lands low but is bang on the vertical reticule.
next one I try to pick a spot now knowing what holdover is needed roughly.
bang on where I want it vertically but this one has a bit of drift to the right
Still think its within 12-18" though.
To say I am delighted is an understatement!
shame we blanked but every cloud and all that!
this bloody climb down is playing buggery hell with my knees!
Day 3 - temperature has dropped a good 5-7 degrees! part of me is glad as I reckon I have been losing 3 litres in sweat most days!
Wind back out of the West
The mist and rain has moved in and the tops of the hills are not to be seen
Visibility is down to about 6-800 yds
Right then! Where are those stags we saw yesterday!!
We park in the same quarry as Day 1
as we work our way through the sheep fields and bracken I stop under a low hanging tree to spy the first ridge
No doubt the stags are down lower than yesterday in this weather but how low remains to be seen.
Crap! Very low!
Look carefully and you can see them!
600 yds from the car covering any real option of accessing the first gully in dead ground
We move slowly up through the bracken trees and stream watching them as they move left into the wind.
finally they move over the skyline and allow a bit of progress.
we trace the burn/gully which is running into the wind in the hope that when we come out a the top they will be ahead on our right.
We get there, slowly....They aren't to be seen!
Slowly we work right checking every knoll...no sign
did they see us and move off faster I wonder?
as we continue up the face to the left we see the large group from yesterday out on the ridge.
the weather is clearing now..double edged sword that, could do with some darker light and cloud cover as we are throwing 12ft shadows!
We work our way round to the shade side of a large knoll out of the wind
The wind is turning into the West North West and we are looking down on the ridge with a party of 30+ stags, some crackers in there but some dross that needs clearing out too
They are all lying down facing away and downhill to our left with the wind coming from behind them.
Their view of the bowl that opens out beneath them makes further progress extremely unlikeley without being seen.
Do-able with one stag and 2 eyes. Impossible with 30 and 60 eyes!
We decide to have lunch, its about 245 now, round here stags have a very obvious pattern of moving around at 3-4pm
possible they will get up and shift into the wind to our right giving us a better chance.
We have lunch and enjoy the view
Every now and then I stand to have a look.
Wind has moved round again and is coming out of the South South West blowing right up towards us now
They have all turned their heads to look our way with the wind coming from behind them.
Good for wind
Bad for being seen!
Like clockwork at around 320 they start getting restless
Big brute stands and starts pushing the smaller ones around
within 5 mins they are all up
Then a roar. First all week
Then a proper bit of head to head shoving.
They start moving right along the ridge they are on.
If we play this right they will move closer to us and we may have a shot before they move behind the knoll we are sheltering behind.
They are at about 450 yds now..pics through binos
We decide to drop down and to our left using the shoulder as cover as they move round to the right
very wet crawl this will be!
all pockets popped shut and everything snugged up for the 100 yd crawl
dog on a short leash
We have the sun out now and appear to be floodlit from the West
as we get into the belly of the dip we are crawling in I am stopped by my partner.
appears we have been having lunch on one side of the hill and this group of 12 stags were having lunch around the corner about 200 yds away!!!
at this point they look to be at around 80-100 yds but the grass we are looking through prevents a ranging
We now face a dilemma
keep low and keep going or try for a shot uphill with the sun directly into the scope at a smaller group who by now are a bit fidgetty having no doubt seen or heard something!
We are both up on bags, bipods.
Dog is tied to my foot and below the grassline
The highest stag is looking this way almost head on with his front legs below his rear
two more stags in the middle look good but are almost one behind the other
one on the skyline
some more barely in view as they stretch into dead ground down the slope
We are going for two
mad hand signals and whispering as to who is shooting what and which one first.
well here goes nothing, I am steady and watching for the shot
The unmoderated .270 reverberates around the glen and one of the middle stags drops to a neck shot
the one I am watching is straight off down the hill into dead ground
No second shot today as they round the shoulder and are off round the other side of the hill.
Success snatched from the jaws of being caught having lunch!
Dog is released and does a sterling job of picking up scent and is straight into the stag
much more confident today.
This one is going nowhere
gralloched and we have a break to admire the now sunny day
Short drag to get it in a quad accessible position and the hike to the car
Getting cold now.
Imagine to myself this is the cold snap that the stags need to really get going
Back at the car the hound gets her reward for a hard, wet, cold day.
Within an hour the rain and wind is howling in, thats more like the Scottish late September I know!!
Cracking three days and a reminder I must get fitter!