I got back home yesterday afternoon from my first weekend out stalking with GAP180 so thought I would share the experience here! It was a fantastic weekend and I just wanted to publicly thank Paul and Al for such an enjoyable experience!
I arrived up in Hertforshire around 2pm on Friday afternoon to meet Paul who had very kindly agreed to be my guide and loaned me the use of his rifle (a lovely .25-06). I'd not shot this calibre before as I usually shoot either .22LR or .308 target rifle and this was a great rifle to shoot. It came into the shoulder nicely, had a very comfortable recoil and the .25-06 is a very flat shooting round as well.
After a few practice shots on the range (thanks Taff for letting me try your .308 as well!) and some refreshments in the clubhouse we headed out into the field, dropping Adam off at another high seat en route.
We had barely been in the high seat half an hour when a fallow buck popped his head out from behind a pheasant feeder about 100yds away. In scrabbling for the rifle I made enough noise for him to look over our way from behind the feeder and I wasnt sure if he was going to step out. A few seconds later he stepped forward a couple of paces, Paul called out to him, I took the shot and thankfully he dropped on the spot! To say it got my heart going would be an understatement!
On inspection the shot had gone slightly high, just over the heart, but the .25-06 had easily done the job. Paul showed me how to carry out the gralloch and we loaded him up into the truck and I waited for my heart rate to get down below 120bpm hehe! I couldnt have asked for any more than that for a first stalk out!
We headed back to the lodge after dark picking Adam up en route for some great dinner kindly prepared by Al and a few celebratory beers, and then to bed ready for the next day.
Up at 4.30am on a very brisk Saturday morning and out into a different high seat. No deer presented themselves on this occasion but it was great to just be outside watching the sun come up and seeing the landscape come alive.
We headed back to the lodge once the sun was well up to butcher the deer I'd taken the previous day - Definitely a learning experience and fortunately I didnt make mince out of it.
After some breakfast everyone ended up taking some chill-out time and recovering from the early start. I loaded up on caffeine and spent a good few hours putting the world to rights with John in the clubhouse!
We headed out to a different seat for the PM stalk looking out over wide rolling fields so I definitely got the use of the binos on this occasion! We spotted a couple of muntjac about 400yds away just before sun-down but nothing closer in.
On the way back to the lodge another munty decided to live life on the edge a bit by running out in front of the truck, had he been a second later in crossing the road we would have taken a deer that evening but not with the rifle!
Dinner and beers were quickly consumed back at the lodge, along with some quality banter, before everyone headed off to bed.
We were all up at 4.30am on Sunday and headed back out to the highseats around 5.15 to get settled in before dawn broke.
After an hour or so in the highseat Paul recieved word from Ollie that there were deer around the other side of the woods we were seated against, so we stalked around to the other side of the wood and took up position in another high seat.
We could hear the deer fighting in the woods and it was certainly an adrenalin pumping experience being so close and keeping your eyes peeled for any sightings!
After about half an hour in the second high seat another fallow buck wandered out of the woods about 60-70 yards away and began grazing. Remembering that I'd made a fair amount of noise on Friday I reached slowly for the rifle and took up a comfortable position to take the shot, trying to keep my heart and breathing under control.
The buck was standing almost facing us so we waited him out with the crosshairs on him. He slowly started to turn sideways on and once Paul judged that a safe shot could be taken he called out to the buck who popped his head up, and I took the shot.
This was definitely a much more composed shot on my account and I heard the thump as the round hit him. He made a break for the woods about 10 feet away and we heard him crash down into the undergrowth a second later.
After climbing down from the seat we walked over and saw where he'd fallen in the woods just out of sight in a hollow. I climbed under some low branches and down into the hollow to drag him out, then legged it back with Paul to get the truck. Then Taff and John (who had just arrived) kindly loaded him up into the truck when we arrived back.
The Sunday morning stalk was very successful all round as we had three fallow in the truck by the time we got back to the lodge! These were quickly gralloched and loaded into the chiller before we grabbed some breakfast and a much needed coffee.
After breakfast cars were loaded up for the trip home and we all said farewell, though I know some of the lads are back this weekend - Well jel doesnt even begin to cover it hehe!
I just want to say a massive thank you to Paul and Al, I had a brilliant weekend and a great first experience out stalking! Definitely been bitten by the bug now!
I also want to thank the other guys I met over the course of the weekend - Adam, both Johns, Trevor, Taff, Ollie and I know there were a couple more and I apologise if I've missed anyone, I'm terrible with names hehe! You all made this novice feel very welcome and it was great to be able to share the experience (plus some beers and banter) with like minded folks!
I'll definitely be back up soon!
First fallow buck!
Not a bad view hey!