With all the rain and floods we have been experiencing recently it was really nice to wake up this morning to wonderful warm sunshine beaming through the bedroom window and practically no wind moving the trees. What a nice morning to wake up to after all the doom and gloom recently!
I decided to take advantage of this nice sunny morning so after my morning cuppa I took SWMBO her morning cuppa and told her I was going out stalking.
Mannlicher packed in it's slip, moderator, new knife, ammunition, etc packed in stalking bag, stalking clothes on and away I went.
I arrived at the permission to be greeted by the owners dogs out in the garden wanting me to spend some time saying "hello" to them. This done it was then a case of on with wellies, coat and hat, moderator screwed on rifle, magazine loaded and sticks set up and off I happily went.
First was a peek over the top to see if there was anything near to the feeder. All quiet there so it was over to the far the corner of the top paddock and carefully over the fence then quietly slip a round into the chamber, slip the safety catch on and carefully and gently start making my way down the banking into the woods. There was now very little wind, barely even a light breeze which I could have done being a little stronger, but beggars can't be choosers I thought so let's make the most of it!
The ground was saturated and there was a lot of dead branches and twigs on the ground which made stalking silently extremely difficult so the pace was extremely slow going.
Some ten minutes later in when I got down into the heart of the woods I spotted a little movement from a white rump. After watching carefully for a few minutes I was confident that it was one of the "old girls" (A Roe Doe) that was on my cull plan so now it really was "game on"! Unfortunately she was in a position where a shot simply was not possible even though she was totally oblivious to my presence as there was no safe back stop! This meant that I had to retreat very steadily and make my way slowly and quietly some two hundred yards in a large semi-circle to get into a position for a safe shot with a back stop - Not easy with saturated ground and dead twigs all over the place I can tell you and took me almost 20 minutes!
I eventually got myself in a position where I could just about make her out through the trees, there was a good safe back stop and she still wasn't aware that I was there.
I quietly and slowly started setting my rifle on the sticks with my heart doing it's usual pounding at a rate of what felt like twenty to the dozen (which it often does when I am about to take out a deer). Just as I was watching her through the scope and waiting for her to turn and offer the shot I wanted a young doe which I hadn't spotted earlier (Note to myself: Must remember to be even more observant in future) rather annoyingly realised that I was there was and made off. This let the "old girl" know that there was something not right so she started to walk away and into some deeper undergrowth where I lost sight of her for a while. Cursing my luck I had no option but to just stand there for ten minutes and hope that she would settle down and start feeding again.
Unfortunately this was not to be so it was a very very steady and slow game of cat and mouse with me making my way in the general direction she had gone while trying not to alert her (Or anything else in the area) to the danger.
I eventually did manage to locate her but once again she was not in a safe shootable position. I watched and waited for about ten minutes and then in order to try to get into a better position I stupidly and very carelessly stepped on a dead stick which snapped with a loud crack and that was that, she was away bounding away through the trees at top speed towards the top of the woods where a shot would have been out of the question.
I did eventually spot her once more but this time she was crossing the driveway on to the neighbours ground where I don't have permission, so I bid her farewell and decided to call it a morning in the knowledge that me and this "old girl" will almost certainly cross paths again.
Even though I did not get a shot off this was one of the hardest yet most pleasurable stalks I have ever had on this particular permission! With the bit of sunshine and blue skies after all the rain we have all had I thought I would share it with you, the warm sun on my back was a real added bonus and with that I have to admit that I wasn't too disappointed that I didn't get a shot away at "the old girl"!
The only thing that marred the morning slightly was the fact that I picked up a nail in one of my front tyres on the way home and had to fit the spare wheel on!
Not to worry, that's stalking for you, you can't win them all but you can certainly enjoy them!