If some of you have been following my other thread you'll know that my son-in-law, a.k.a. Nimrod, has been getting himself ready for his first FAC application. He's held a SGC and shot on the family farm since he was legally entitled to but has never previously got around to getting involved with the deer that are becoming ever more numerous in our part of the valley.
As of today that has all changed!
We've been punching some pretty closely spaced holes in paper with the .308 and he's digested the Best Practice and DSC1 course book as well as spending a lot of time out with the binos looking and learning in my company.
As his interview with the FEO is booked for next week, today seemed like a good time to have a decent try for one of the local bucks so, with the weather, wind, and moon all seeming right we decided to go out at the not too early time of 5.30 for a bimble around this wonderful place where he lives:
After getting suited and booted we headed off around the corner of the farmhouse to glass the first field from the gate - to the right of the pic above - and I spotted that familiar russet colour in the hedgeline about 150 metres away. I kept quiet and waited until our tyro stalker piped up and indicated that he'd identified a buck feeding head down. Great, less than 50 metres from the car and we already had a possibility. As we quietly discussed the condition of the buck - it wasn't one either of us had seen before - a doe stepped out of the hedge about 20 metres away without eliciting any interest from him, so it looks like the rut hasn't yet kicked off down here.
After getting a good look at his head and spotting a malformation on the left antler, I made the decision that we would go for him if he presented for a shot. We all managed to get through the gate and into the field without being spotted - did I mention that Max my 4 month old Bavarian was with us? - and while Max and I stayed hidden under the shade of a large oak, Nimrod crept forward. About 30 metres away between us and the deer was the farm's springhead which was fenced to a height of about a metre and sporting a healthy crop of full height weeds. Using this as cover he slowly made his way into a shooting position while I watched him and the deer with bated breath.
Now, I've taken many clients, friends and others out stalking before but I have to admit that this was the most nerve wracking 10 minutes I've spent waiting for the buck to come into position and Nimrod to take the shot - I'm not sure if he had buck fever, but I certainly did! Our patience was soon enough rewarded though by the buck falling to the shot and the doe making off into the wood. As I could see out quarry lying motionless I went over to join our newly blooded hunter and briefly discuss to moments leading up him pulling the trigger and making sure he had made the right decisions.
A quick walk down to the buck, an eye reflex test later and unloading and making safe, and some heartfelt congratulations could be given. The buck was indeed a malform with an extra large tine coming from the left coronet, possibly caused by injury when in velvet, so a good cull buck and an excellent first trophy.
After some hands-on gralloching experience we recovered the carcase back to the car and even had time for a wander around the rest of the ground - seeing enough deer on the way to make the forthcoming rut a good one.
All in all a very successfull day.