Bring your wet weather gear!!
This was the phrase I kept being told for the up and coming trip to Ireland.
Early November saw me landing at Dublin airport for a 4 day trip to stalk sika. I had never seen or heard these deer so I was looking forward to many firsts.
I was met by one of my hosts, Glen of Imaal. I was going to meet my other host , Glendine in a couple of days.
Ross,GOI,picked my up and we had a look round Dublin before picking up enrich who was flying in from Oslo.
We went for a quick pint but the pub was shut and the sun was shining. Not what I was expecting
We picked up Enrico and a quick couple of pints in the Stags head pub in Dublin. Yes the black stuff does taste different over there. They must export the crap stuff
We had a 40-50 min drive to Roundwood where we were going to be staying. I quick stop off on the way over the mountains and our first sika were spotted and heard. Wow. Deer everywhere. It was wetting the appetite for the days ahead.
A meal and a few more pints of the black stuff and bed was calling ready for an early start.
Ross was picking us up and we were meeting his friend Roy who was going to be guiding myself and Enrico was going to be with Ross.
The weather had turned to the stuff we were expecting. Low cloud and drizzle was the order of the day.
Roy and I were going to be stalking mainly forest and clear fell with some open patches, the low cloud was making it tough going with only a couple sika seen on some clear fell but no shot presented.
We meet back up with Ross and Enrico who had seen a couple of nice stags but no shot again.
We had a late breakfast in a pub which was an experiance. Great food and a very friendly local who loved her dancing, and thanks to my new stalking friends she was under the impression I was a ballroom dancer. Scared wasn't the word. :-)
the afternoon saw us on another patch of forestry which went onto open hill. When I say hill it was a hill.
We stalked through the forest and bumped of couple of hinds with calves. We got to the edge of the forest where we spotted a hind and calve on the hill about 350m away. We sat and worked out a route to get into them, we made a start but then we got busted. They made their way up the face of the hill until they were just below the skyline. Roy at this point mentioned that to get to them was an hour solid climbing uphill and as time was getting on we headed back into the forest.
We got about 300m into the forest when Roy spotted a loan calve. Up on the 'Wicklow sticks' and the 6.5 did the rest. A follow up shot was required due to the first shot being a little far back.
My first sika. :-)
we made our way back to the cars and met up with Ross and Enrico.
Back to the pub for dinner and a few more pints.
The next morning saw myself being guided by Ross in a different forest block. A difficult stalk followed as the wind kept changing all the time. Having not stalked forestry blocks is was surprised how much the wind can change direction down a straight ride. We heard a stag whistling down in the forest so stalked into him but he didn't show. Mature forest with moss all underneath. Amazing to stalk in.
Back to the pub for altar breakfast and we were to met our second host Glendine.
We set off to stalk Glendines forestry blocks and hill. I was to be guided by Gledines friend Stephen.
We headed off to stalk along the forestry edge, we had made some 500+m and turned right into an open fire break. There was a hind and calf feeding out. So rifle up against a tree and squeezed the shot off and the calf dropped to the shot at 80m. Sika two down. I gralloched the calf and hung it in a tree to collect later.
We continued to stalk the forest edge over a ridge where we were going to set up and wait for last light.
After about 30min and nice pricket popped out of the forest and started to graze. He moved ,to every known position apart from the broadside one I was after. When he did he had a nice 4" fence post in the way of a boiler room shot. Then turned and went into the forest.
We waited for a few more mins when a hind and calve came out this time closer but she saw us and new something wasn't right and didn't hang about. Light was now gone so we headed back to the calve and made for the vehicles.
Oh yes. A meal and a few more pints that night. Can you see a pattern emerging here :-)
Our last morning saw myself with Glendine to stalk the forest and small rides.
the weather was no living up to expectations. Very wet, very very wet.
We looked over some open ground and then headed down into the forest to check out a clear area where stags were known to reside. Unfortunately they were not signing off the same hymme sheet this morning.
So we backtracked and made it to a small crossroads in the forest wher Glendine spotted a hand and calve on the ride about 80-100m.
Up on the quad sticks and placed the crosshair on the point of the craves shoulder. Dropped to the shot. Sika three down.
Gralloch done and then the drag back up the forest and onto the track. The track was now like a river due to the amount of rain which was coming off the hill.
I was now very glad I bought a Swazi tahr Xp for this trip. The best thing I've bought recently. Kept the worst of the Irish weather out. :-)
back to the truck and off back to the pub. Breakfast and pack the bags for the trip home.
When I weighed my luggage in at checkin I worked out that I had bought home 6kgs of Irish weather in my clothing :-) :-). I was glad I bought a dry bag for this.
I can not thank my hosts enough for their hospitality and friendship.
Great stalking, great scenery and great company.
Enrico it was great to meet you eventually and spend a great trip hunting and drinking, boy this guy can drink Guinness. ;-) ;-)
looking forward to you hosting you guys in the near future.
I will upload some photos and hopefully it will make up for the slightly short write up.