I spent a very enjoyable day down in Sussex with SikaMalc yesterday and thought I'd write up to share the experience!
After a very early 4am start to get down to the estate for 6am we headed out in the truck to some nearby forest land. After dropping Steve off at a high seat Malcolm and I went for a wander through the forest to see what we could find.
This was my first time woodland stalking with sticks and it was really educational to see how the pro's do things, as well as have the opportunity for some Q&A and pointers as we proceeded.
The day was particularly warm for this time of year and to be honest I was starting to regret wearing a jumper under my jacket!!
One of the very useful tips Malcolm gave me was walking one behind the other (rather than side by side) when on the move so that in the event an animal spots you it can only see one person rather than two!
The other great pointer was when you stop to glass an area to get the rifle up on the sticks so if you do spot something you're not then fumbling around to get the sticks out, the rifle set up... By which time you've made noise and the deer is off towards the horizon.
We did spot one fallow buck that was couched up about 40 yards away in thick cover, but he made a break for it when we were about level with him.
Malcolm showed me how to spot and identify tracks, vegetation damage from thrashing and deer runs through the foliage. Plenty of sign off activity everywhere we went but nothing we could take a shot at!
We headed back to the lodge for some breakfast kindly prepared by Malc and myriad cups of coffee to offset the early start! After some quality banter with the other guests and me taking the opportunity to pick peoples brains about anything I could thing of (caliber choice, what to do with a wounded deer, deer dogs, wind direction, you name it!) we headed back out into the woods and to a high seat after dropping Steve off at another high set.
It was another very quiet stalk and no deer presented themselves, but that is how the sport goes sometimes!! It was great to be out in the woods though, watching the dusk creeping in and keeping an eye out for any suitable beasts.
So even though we didn't get a beast on this occasion I learnt an absolute shed-load, had my first experience of close in woodland stalking and the field craft needed to carry out a successful stalk and had the opportunity to monopolize Malcolm's time with my incessant queries and cram as much into my brain as I could!
After returning from the PM stalk I headed off to beat the rush hour traffic home. Fortunately my sat-nav decided to take me via any and every rural road it could so I made pretty good progress until I hit the Home Counties car park that is Guildford hehe!
All round a hugely enjoyable and educational day with some top notch craic and I'm very much looking forward to my next trip down to Sussex in February next year! Thanks again Malcolm and I'll see you then!