Just had an amazin day with Joe out on his grounds. After the long haired general sorted this out for my 40th, i drove up to Joe's on Friday evening from n yorks, as normal, friday traffic was a cow around Newcastle but hey ho! I was off stalking in the beautiful scottish countryside on the Saturday morning.
I met Joe at his place and met the family, no greater hospitality than at Joe's, a complete stranger to them and was instantly put at ease, brew in hand we started chatting about allsorts, what was to come, what areas we were going to go to, his past experiences. A truly knowledgeable man who loves his work. Eventually made it to bed around midnight, ready for a 5am start. Slept like a log but was still awake before the alarm in anticipation of what was to come. Up, brew, kit packed in the car, grabbed lunch from the fridge which Linda had made for us the night before, loaded Glen(deer dog) in the car who took up the whole rear seat but he seemed happy to stretch out and chill .
After an hours drive to the forest we were going to, i was told to get my kit ready to go. As i looked at where we were to be stalking, i couldn't believe the beauty of the place, coniferous forets, interspersed with cuttings and newly planted areas, hills, valleys and the backdrop of snow covered peaks. It was a frosty morning but the sun was starting to rise and burn off the frost. Bonus, we wouldn't be walking on cornflakes. Joe took me to several areas to see what was about, there was deer all over the place, but not close enough to take a shot.
Eventually we settled on a felled area with new growth coming through. Out came the binos for a scan around, i couldn't see a thing until i got a nudge from Joe, approx 150m away so well camouflaged in the backdrop of old dead grey trees stood a single roe, it was at this poing i regretted leaving the bipod off the rifle. I settled in an old stump, the frost stuck my jacket to it like velcro, looking through the scope i settled the crosshairs just behind the front leg slightly high, breathing sorted, hold breath, release shot, clear miss, dropped low, must have mis-judged distance across the gully, that was it, deer on it's toes, white tush waving good bye, only to be followed by another 3 in the same felled area all alarmed by the shot. Bugger!!!
After, slipping, sliding and generally falling through the clear fell we stumbled upon a clear meadow and spotted a group of 3 roe on a hillside about 500m away, slowly moving along the edge of the woods and along a fence line we got to about 300m from them, we sat and watched them through the glass for a while, a single doe was on high alert but the mother and yearling further up the hill were busy eating in the sun. We hopped over the fence so the angle was such that the only way the deer could see us was if we were stood up, slowly we moved up the hill and the doe lower down let out the alarm call, instant stop. Luckily for us, the 2 at the top of the hill paid no attention to the call and just carried on munching. After what seemed like an age of getting closer and closer, we got within about 100m, the yearling was on broadside, using Joe's shoulder for a support, the crosshairs lowered to the shoulder, shot released, good strike and dropped on the spot, big smiles all round. On inspection a near perfect shot, 1st of the day in the bag, now just to gralloch and carry it the uber distance back to the car via the swampy ground, tussock grass and wind fell woodland. A carry to remember with it over my shoulders, rifle on my back and ending up balls deep in a swamp, not my finest moment!!
A move to a different area where we saw 3 on the way in yielded another 2 but this time the stalk in was much easier as the road was right next to it, a 5min drive and we pulled up, a gentle stroll down the road and a quick glass round the hill showed the doe was still there, up a short embankment revealed she was in good order so off i went alone with Joe keeping eyes on, on top of the embankment was a small drainage ditch which presented plenty of cover from view as i edged along, stopping every few feet to glass the doe she was stock still, i stopped in line with her and peeked over the top, to my surprise there was a big buck not more than 30 yards to her left, i signalled to Joe there was a big buck, the shot was on for the doe, she didn't know what hit her, good reaction to the shot, jumped, ran 20 yards and down, the buck just trotted off in to the woods as if nothing had happened. I dragged her up the embankment and did the gralloch with Joe giving me pointers as i went, inspected the glands, perfect heart shot, she was in really good order, glad I didn't have far to drag this one as i'd have been hooped.
An amazing day, saw in excess of 20 deer throughout, great company and great hospitality, if you need to go out in the borders go out with Joe, amazing guy, chilled and very knowledgeable.
Thanks mate, I will definitely be coming back.