'Fancy a crack at a day on the reds?' came a voice down the phone. It was my mate Merlin from 'up north'.
This had been in the pipeline for a while now but due to timings, work and other commitments myself and merlin hadn't been able to get this trip on.
A date was now set for the 12th of feb.
Thursday night saw me heading up to Southport area to stay the night with merlin and his family ready for the drive up to Cumbria early the next morning. Suitably fed and watered the alarm was set for 6 ready to be on the road for 6.45.
We arrived at the farm at just after 9 to be greeted by Sean. A quick drive around to feed the sheep and spy the hills to what was about and a plan was hatched.
back to the truck to get our gear ready, 'oh bring plenty of ammo we need some in the chiller' said Sean.
This sounded like it was going to be a busy day.
We headed up the valley, to a small cluster of old farm buildings where we were going to start the stalk as there were quite a few deer in the bottom as well as the slopes all around.
No further than a 100m towards the small stream hiden in a dip, when we came across 8 deer in the hollow beofe us. Bloody hell that was quick.
Myself and Merlin crawled forward, as I was going to shoot first and Merlin pick another off given the chance.
Down on the bipod and pocked the muzzle through the reed type grass in front.
I picked out a hind that eventually turned broadside at about 150-170m up the bank, as they had sensed something wasn't quite right.
The 06 cracked , a good thump came back. She was off. as she turned I saw an exit wound of about 1.5" and a good trail coming out. She made it best part of 100m uphill before finally giving up.
My first red deer down.
Handshakes exchanged, deer sorted out. We were off again, this time merlin ws going to take the shot.
We spied deer further up the valley on some small plots of grass, we hid behind a stone wall and made up the distance so we could intersept them as they headed up the valley.
Merlin got down on the bipod ready for them, as if they read the script, the deer came into view. Crack went the 308 and another was on the ground, at the shot a group numbering about 20 came out of a dip to Merlins left. i was down on the bipod above and to the left of Merlin, one stopped, his second was down. Then a calve was now coming to where Merlins first one was down. A third shot and number three down!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bloody hell that was fast and furious.
A quick breather before we hatched phase 3 of todays plan.
Sean looked over the wall and said the deer had moved about 400-500m down the valley but have settled in a small field. We will wait here, you see if you can stalk down the stream and take another. Ok I looked at a possible route and closed the gap to about 250-300m and got settled down behind the rifle as the deer where making thier way back up the valley.
The lead hind cuaght a wiff on the air and took the rest off out of the field and down the valley. Bugger. Not all was lost as Sean had seen this and made his way back down the stone wall and see if he could turn them back.
I had now gone another 100m down the valley and was rested by a tree withe the rifle rested in V in the trunk to where the deer might head back. Sure enough from around the hill came the reds. One at the back stood long enough for her to drop to the shot. My second one down. The rest moved on again, pausing long enough for a shot at a calf, crack and it was off. I thought the shot was good but it was off. Bugger. I kept it in the scope and reliased it was hit but was not going to stop, pulled the shot. Double s**t. so I made the decision to take another shot. I saw it was hit again but it made off over a hill. So I relocated slightly higher up and I could see the deer moving out and over a wall. No sign of the one I'd hit. Sean came back and we gave it some time. We located the calf. Phew. No a good feeling but we found him in the end.
6 deer down and it wasn't even lunchtime.
A few pics of the valley from the bottom.
Sean made the decision, after we could see deer on the upper slopes sunning themselves while bedded down. Right we will go up and get above them. Drop down above them and take a couple more out. Simples. OMG
On the top. The views were breath taking. Snow on the higher tops. Prime photo opportunity
Photos done and Sean lead the way down to where the deer were bedded down.
We spotted them and crawled forward behind a rock and watched for a few minuets. Right we both crawled forward a few more yards. Bloody hell its getting a bit steep crawling forward. I dug my toes in hoping that i wasn't going to be joining the Olympic luge team :-)
We got settled and the deer were up on their feet.
I've got one broadside' i said. merlin said not yet. Ok . We both had a deer in our scopes. A double tap and I saw my beast tumble down over the edge. Merlins went over as well.
'Ok you two, you sort them out I'll meet you down the bottom'
So we headed down and causiously looked over the edge from when we last saw the deer. Two down not 50 m appart. This was in fact a RED letter day in more ways than one.
We dragged these down to the bottom and meet Saen with the other 6 beasts on the quad trailer. Back to the larder, where we said 'We will give you a hand' 'No it's fine I will sort them' said Sean. 'Bugger that' I said 'we shot them we will sort them out with you' So after lardering the 8 deer we got cleaned up and headed back to Merlin's house for a nice hot shower and a Chinese take away.
All I can do I say a massive thank you to Merlin for the 'day out in the hills' that I will remember for very very long time.
Thank you mate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hopefully the photos do justice to this fantastic part of our Great Britain.
Appologies for the first picture of my first red. I've put the wrong one up. I do have one with me smiling. I promise.