Well I logged on expecting to read numerous reports of the Glorious 1st and not a sausage???
OK hears ours
DAG (Sothern England) met up at 5:45 for the beginning of Fallow Doe season.
A group of 18 stalkers in total including some of the trainees
Experienced stalkers were given a trainee to mentor and we set off for our local high seat positions. Sadly, the weather was very annoying. Lovely and warm for November but in East Sussex the fog was a nightmare. On arriving at the site Mr trainee and I walked to the high seat and right in front of us out of the mists loomed three fallow does. They were literally under the high seat. They held position but there was no shot from where we stood as the back stop was a thin row of trees, a field then a road
We held station & let them wander away in the hope they would not be spooked and would reappear later in our line of fire
Once up in the (rather snug for two) high seat we were pleased to see a gradual lifting of the fog and a reasonable 80-100m of viz down into the valley
Sadly our brief spell of visibility was not blessed by fallow and the fog rolled in and out reducing viz for periods down to an unshootable 20m
At 9am with a stiff bum and desperate for a pee I suggested we gave up. Climbing down the ladder changed our angle of view and we descended just in time to see a fallow doe scarper into the woods from no more than 80m in front of us
On the upside two rifle reports were heard and when we finally all met up we were pleased to find two trainees from the group had a deer in their sleds
One fine looking 30 odd K buck was a first ever for one of the lads which is always great to see
A suspended gralloch training class followed then we all set off for brunch
The fog had lifted a little by mid-day and the keen & fool hardy decided to stick it out for the evening
My dad (81) had expressed an interest in watching and I had booked one of the most comfortable high seats in a prime spot to try and make it a successful day for him.
At 1.00pm about a dozen remaining stalkers set off to their permissions and I met my dad and took him down to the back garden of a rather lovely house where the land sloped gently away from the seat down to a pond right on the edge of the woodlands. Itís a beautiful spot, a privilege to be able to shoot there and I hoped the old fella would enjoy it even if we hit a blank.
We had a slight issue in that it turns out was heís even more deaf than I am, so conversation in whispers wasn't possible This was later to prove a bigger problem.
A fallow buck crossed our path down by the pond and I explained to dad they were rather stinky at the moment so I would rather avoid shooting one. Then a bonfire that had been burning away nicely in an adjacent paddock suddenly decided to waft its smoke past us down to the prime deer spot
I was a little concerned the smoke would keep them all away and regretting not taking the buck whilst I could but I neednít have feared, as a small herd of deer crept out of the wood at the far end of the pond
I couldn't have asked for more. There were common fallow does, melenistic fallow, pure white fallow and a large buck, all in the same group
I let the herd emerge and thin out to avoid double hits and then chose a midsized doe.
Than dad said rather too loud "look at the size of that one son, it looks like a donkey"
All the deer stopped and looked up at us and I wasted no time in taking the shot. I'd normally have waited for the head shot but it was looking straight at me from a broadside position (not a head shot I like) so due to the potential for loss at any second, I quickly re-aimed for the heart and let go with the 308 just to be on the safe side
She dropped within 2m of where she stood and the others froze a second then trotted into the woods
Why didnít you go for the big one son? Asked my dad
Iíll show you in a min I replied
We walked back to the car and got the quad and rode down into the valley over to the pond and I winched her up a tree ready for the gralloch. One of my friends had asked for a venison heart but he was to be sadly disappointed as this one was pulverised. On the up side, the shot had gone between a rib on entry and merely blasted through one on exit, so the meet damage was minimal
Job done dad gave me a hand dragging the deer out and lifting it on to the bike.
ďOK I get why you didnít shoot the big oneĒ he said
Seems we had most of the luck as the mist rolled back in and the stalking day was cut short. One other fallow doe had been culled by a trainee so four in total which is a lot lower than we would expect from such a large group, but not too bad considering the conditions and we blooded two trainees so in that respect a great result.
Dad went home happy and he's meeting me next Saturday to collect the fillets for a dinner party for his friends. He was a top professional chef in his day, so I am sure it will be fantastic.
I'd like to be a fly on the wall to hear his version of the epic adventure