Last weekend I had the pleasure of being invited to go stalking on the land Willie_gunn covers after Roe Bucks or Muntjac Does, and as a novice jumped at the opportunity with both hands.
Willie_gunn kindly responded to a cheeky post I had put up offering some wild brown trout fishing in Wales in exchange for an opportunity to get into stalking. As you may see by his nom de plume he is a keen fisherman though with a preference for Salmon so did not wish to take me up on the fishing, however he Very kindly offered me a weekend in June.
Well next stop was getting my FAC lost then found by the local Police and then having to explain that as I load my own 20 rounds of Expanding ammo wasn’t going to work as I reload . They eventually helped me out by giving me a suitable FAC to take to the field, But I only had 3 range days to develop a suitable load. The next thanks goes to the help and suggestions from the reloading section of the site. Just 2 variations in my powder and I had an accurate 243 Win with 85 HPBT to take to the field (Well I thought I had it accurate).
Well the day arrived and on the Friday evening and after squaring my kit away we went over the plan of attack whilst looking at an OS map of the areas available. We then went off to meet up with Andrew (Who I am sure will be joining us on SD very shortly) who controls the stalking on the land and test my zero. Well 3 shots all 2” High and 1” Left! As kindly pointed out by my new spotter. I Must have knocked the rifle that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Quick twist of turrets and next 3 all bang on (Thank God). Then into the field, with a set of spare bins as the green horn had left his behind!
Within 30 minutes of arriving on the land the land of stalking we saw a Roe Doe, a Muntjac Buck, and a Fallow Dow! The stalk progressed on the same lines with plenty of beasts but all in need of a sex change If they were to be taken home. Then there was a Muntjac Doe but she was on the skyline so no back drop and when she did move down off the skyline she as no more than 50 yards away and spotted us and fled. We continued stalking and on the way back to the car spotted a buck but he had spotted us as well, he had 2 ways to go 1 into my line of fire with a safe back drop and the other to freedom, fortunately For Him he choose freedom barking as he bounded. That ended an excellent 1st stalk and we meet up with Andrew and his client who had come close but no cigar also. A swift beer and a laugh then back to Pippa’s excellent cooking and then retreat up the large wooden hill.
3 Hours later it was back up and at it. We had a look at a different area and took up a high seat position over a field knee deep in deer breakfast. I have yet to gain full deer vision but Willie_gunn spotted in the murk of twilight the outline of the top of 3 roe backs. The light started to rise and the shapes did indeed take the form of 2 Does and a Buck tough to far out and in partial cover and between the limbs of the Oak we were in we waited and they started to follow the retreating shadows back towards us and a kid materialised out of the long grass, then another buck appeared at the far end but as the sun came up they moved out of range literally just yards from braking cover. We moved on and again bumped into numerous Roe does, and on the way back to the car we had to negotiate a tree and as I went over I came within 25 yards of a Muntjac buck that was not in velvet but the position was precarious and I ended the stare off by moving on. One more buck spotted us and then it was time for lunch and rest.
Back up and at it on the Saturday evening in Box Wood and spotted a doe and kid amongst the jungle. There is a certain pleasure in watching them when they don’t spot you and seeing the two together gently browsing was great. As great as that was what was better was that Willie_gunn spotted another Buck behind a peasant feeder (Must get those x-ray eyes). As I waited watching him eating and relaxing I marked the distance and waited for him to slowly move left or right for the shot, But he wasn’t playing ball, he must have picked up our scent or something behind us spooked him as he bolted right into the middle of the track we were on looking straight at us and before I could move position and take the shot he was gone ( Few expletives ran through my mind) and so we moved on. We spotted another Muntjac buck and lots of Roe does then returned home for another great dinner from Pippa and a few hours sleep.
Sunday morning and we were in the field by 4.15 and had a brief look in a few fields spotted 1 buck and several does in a field but the wind turned against us and the Buck did not become a suitable shot. We moved on through Box Wood again but on a different angle of attack (Keep the buggers guessing) and spotted several roe does all would have been perfect shots if they had been bucks and moved on. We edged through a field and spotted movement behind a bush that was being grazed from by a Roe. We couldn’t make out the sex but I steadied the rifle on the sticks and waited safety on just in case, but no it appeared as a doe. However before I came off the sticks at the far end of the field a Muntjac doe and her kid (kid large enough to leave orphaned) can trundling down the middle of the field in plain view! I moved targets and followed her in the sights but despite whistles shouts and clicks she kept on moving But eventually she stopped, I placed the cross hairs on the heart, exhaled, steadied finger on trigger 1, 2, 3..The kid darted behind mum (Must be a trainee body guard) and she was off again only realising we were there at about40 yards and gone. We pushed on seeing plenty more does and then back to Andrews for a cracking breakfast supplied by Sally & Pippa washed down with bucks fizz and a good dollop of ribbing from Andrew.
You must forgive the length of this article But believe me it could have been much much longer as the experience lives strong in my mind. Though I never did take a shot the experience was invaluable to me. I can fully understand why the land is booked solid with little chance of people getting on unless someone dies as it is 1st class, and congratulations must be given to Andrew, Willie_gunn and the retained stalkers for maintain such a superb deer estate. A big thanks to Willie_gunn for helping me getting into stalking and on the ground as I have said invaluable experience, no matter how many books a man reads or courses a man goes on getting out there for 1st hand experience is critical. Thanks also to Pippa, Andrew (looking out for him in introductions any time now ;-), Sally and Fallow.
I have now learnt the 3rd rule of Deer!