Been up in Aberdeenshire for a few days on a peice of ground we stalk up there. The ground is lovely, its a converted Organic mixed farm that they planted and fenced in 2004, the roe have been in ever since, its mainly Sitka and larch, with a few hardwoods thrown in for good measure. We camped this time about 500m from the wood, so nice and handy-also adds a little extra fun! The deer have'nt really been shot over, and are out and about at all times in the day, so not as much need for the early morning as some other spots!
The first evening we were out for 5pm, the farmer has been kind enough to errect some highseats (3 potato boxes stacked up, luxury) in places that see alot of activity. Because there is two of us stalking we split the plantation into two blocks so we dont bump/shoot into each other. I took the "lower" block, and Dad took the "upper". There is one seat on the lower block and two on the upper. So I stalk in from the gate towards the seat, wind on my face and Im happy as larry. I reach the seat without seeing anything-but that doesnt really bother me because you rarely do on that approach. Up we go and Im glad of the Mars bar in my Swanndri pocket. Nothing much doing from the seat after half an hour or so (Im not a very good bushwhacker, I tend to get restless)
I start to stalk down the ride directly to the left of the seat, glassing as I go. Suddenly stop-a movement in the long grass a 150m away, not a deer but a hare. Thats all they want shooting here no foxes or crows just hares and deer. They are in the process of replanting 6000 trees and hares dont help much. So up go the sticks and rifle, twang, one hare in the bag. I stalk down and paunch him, then hock him on the fence tomorrows tea is sorted. On with the quest for a buck. Rounding the bottem corner nothing is doing so I walk to were an old stone wall splits the wood creating a ride and set myself just under a larch, one of the more mature trees, ad sit up for a while. This place is alive with pheasants, and I watch a big cock bird strutt his stuff on the wall, suddenly a yearling doe wanders out onto the ride, the wind is blowing from my left to right, and she is maybe 200m yards up from me, I watch her nibbling through my binoculars. Everything stops. A buck barks twice to my right, the doe looks towards the noise and I ready the rifle on its long bi-pod. A nice six pointer sticks his head out from behind a Sitka, I lower the gun and raise the binos. Today doesnt feel like his day. Maybe he knows its safe and he trotts out to join the doe. I leave them to it and back out of my little hollow. Ideally I would turn left, but the wind isnt right, so I hunt back the way I came, The tush of a doe bouncing up a row tells me I'm to noisy on the dead grass, and I stop and take account of myself. Its a lovely night. And I stalk back to the seat, picking up the hare as I go. I spend till last light in the seat, watching some deer 800-900m away accross the valley.
The next morning and Im up with the light - the tents advantage. I decide to take the camera (just to make life difficult). Dad stays in bed so I hd the run of the woods.
I stalked towards the upper block from the gate taking pictures as I went, and eventually stalked towards the "junction seat" where three rides meet, and looks over maybe 10 acres of hardwoods planted the year before last. I settle myself on the swivel office chair and start glassing the ride. Maybe half an hour has pasted and a Cock pheasant wanders out, I forget about the camera () and watch him through my binoculars. Im so fixed on the pheasant I miss a young cull buck wandering out from my left, suddenly I spot him and the heart gets going. Check him with the glasses, hes walking away from me now, maybe 45m and couting. It seems our buck is heading towards an old water trough, around 130m from the seat. I pick up the rifle from its corner of the tattie box. Flipping up the scope caps as I lift I rest the rifle on the top of the box and bring the stock into my shoulder. I see things diifferntly with cross hairs, they add purpose to my watching. He stops at the trough and takes a drink. Still in velvet and a younger beast, he looks chubby in his thick winter jacket. He turns from the trough and walkes towards the thick sitkas, my last chance. A call of "Morning" stops him broadside. That odd noise that I can never spell tells me the shot is good. He steps forward-then crumples. I sit and wait. Its an odd feeling for me, the minutes you wait to make sure he is dead before moving towards the beast. It reminds me of raptors using their wings to cover their prey after a succesful swoop. Open the bolt, catch the bullet as its spat out. Down the ladder I go. Chambering again as I walk towards my buck. Touching the eye with the sticks feels like a formallity, I know he is dead. The shot was good, just behind the shoulder, but maybe an inch or so too high for the text book. The gralloch and then carry him back to the camp. I didnt feel like shooting again that morning.
A visit to Sloans at Inverrurie at lunchtime. I can throughrally recomend the shop, they carry a good deal of equipment for the stalker, and its always nice to have a little nose at what you cant afford!
Back in the woods for 4pm, maybe too early by some peoples standards but I like to be out. I take the Lower beat again and hunt around for a while but eventually settle myself on the top of the stone wall - one of my favourite spots on this beat.
I lie prone in a ldepression in the ground and watch a money spider make his way up the bipod. A moderated shot goes off from behind me. Dads taken a nice young spiker off sticks while stalking the top corner. Nothing is happening and the wind is still, so I watch the horses in the far field. A doe walks out onto the ride - Camera up and take a few stills while I have the chance (sorry for the poor quality of the pics by the way-combining rifle and camera hunting isnt easy!) Some of the pictures are below and Im glad I put the 300mm lense on. No bucks seen that night. An early night after some Magners and hobnobs (a taste sensation I can throughrally recomend!).
Just seen how much I have written! I shall leave it there for now. Below are a few general pictures that I thought might be of interest to some.
Incidentally the spotting scope seen in the picture is a 20x50 Drawtube. I dont actualy take it out with me but it can prove very handy for looking up rows of trees from the other side of the valley that cannot be seen close up.