To My two nephews.
On the 6th of October I was asked to look after my two young nephews Andrewscot 11 and alexander 9. Any one who knows these two knows that they are the best of friends when they are apart and the worst of brothers when they are together; in short they compete for every thing. So the thought of having both at the same time was to say the least daunting.
So there I was at home with the two little darlings one in the family room playing wee battle of the skate boards II or some thing like that, and the other laid on the sofa watching some screaming buffoon with pick hair and more than enough metal in his face to make the new barrel for my rifle. What to do with them?
“Right” I said “its time for us to go” they both looked at me like I was a two headed gargoyle then they turned back to the screens in which they were previously hypnotized. It was clear that abrupt action was called for. I glided across the floor in one movement before either had chance to stop me and the switch was off.
Now I had their attention “if the two of you want to get back to what ever it was you were doing then you will have to come with me while I walk the dog.” With much dragging of heals and shuffling of feet an attempt was made to get ready. And we were off. We would walk the dog up an old disused rail way track, the track runs along the ground I have permission to shoot on. It’s a good walk and pretty interesting or so I thought, we weren’t half way when the wining started. “Can we go home”, “my feet hurt”, “im tired”. At that as if the dog knew it was time to do some thing his head went down and he was on to some thing. This amused the boys as they had not seen a pointer at work before.
We were coming up to a bend in the track and there is a 30foot south west embankment on one side, I pulled the oldest in close by the arm and said to the both of them “I often come up this way and more often than not there are deer on the embankment”. “So if your quiet and keep an eye out you just might see one.” It was as if on queue the dog’s nose went up in that way when they know there’s a sent but they can’t get enough air in to really be 100%. We all looked in the direction the dog was facing, and not 80 yards out were three roe.
Every one froze on the spot the dog had winded them long before we had seen them. I was able to get the boys to come in close to me, and whispered to them that the deer were in amongst the bushes up ahead, but they had already spotted them and were for want of a better description were in full combat mode. Crouching down doing something funny with their hands waving them around in front of their face. I was told that “this is what the army guys do when they are on a stealth mission so as not to make a noise by talking.”
Back to the deer we stood still as long as the dog could stand it, we tried to close the gap and stalked in to about 50 yards or so, the deer not too worried they where visible but only just. The gorse bushes were doing a grand job of hiding them letting us get a glimpse here or there, and then they would disappear from view and pop up ten yards further along. The look on the boy’s faces was so intense I wished I had my camera. This was bringing back some old memories.
As the deer walked off over the edge of the embankment and onto the ground where I have shooting permission, I got with in ear shot of the boys and I whispered to them “right boys did any one see any antlers?”
The youngest jumps up “no but one had big horns”.
“Ok guys, we have a choice, carry on walking the dog or back home and get the rifle”. They didn’t need to be asked again, it was double time back to the house.
Once back at the house they were a blur, I have never heard of them getting changed so fast and helping each other out, passing camouflage clothing, swapping jackets they were out side before me. I got the rifle ready packed the back pack and we were off, back all the way we had just come. There was no heal dragging, boot shuffling in fact the boys were starting to get in front and I had to start telling them to slow down.
We would enter the wood with the wind in our face and well down from where we had seen the three roe. The wood is made up of beach and rowan trees with a small steam running through it. As it was October the summers grass was beaten down with the wind and rain that we had during the first days of autumn. There was not much foliage on the trees, any branches and twigs were well dry and the three of us stomping through the wood normally would have pushed off any deer long before we would have got to them.
It had been nearly half an hour since we had last seen them, I told the boys that “they could be any were and to be as quite as possible.” I had been hunting in this wood for the last 8 years, and know the roe quite well. But I didn’t want he boys to know that. If any thing the stalking in, would be good practice for them. When we got with in 400 yards of the area where the roe had walked off I slowed the boys down and it was on. They went back in to “commando mode” or so it looked head down and arss up crawling in the dirt trying not to make a sound but in reality making more noise than a heard of wildebeest trying to cross the Serengeti.
It was all I could do to stop my self from laughing, “Ok boys, get up off the ground, all I want you to do is follow my steps as close as you can.” And they did indeed fall in behind. We stalked 100 yards past the spot where we had seen the roe, and nothing, I could see the disappointment in their eyes. I had taken the oldest Andrew-scot out before and although we had seen deer, we had not had any success. “I knew it” he said “just the same as last time.”
I picked up my binos and scanned the field hedge rows, nothing “heads up guys we v only just started” we continued to skirt around the edge of the wood about 20 yards in from the field fence line. We had gone about 600 yards more when we stopped again scanned ahead this time I picked up a deer shape on a ridge where two fences came together. It was too far to make out what sex it was, but as we had seen three together, odds were good that one would be a buck. I got the boys to have a look with the binos and the deer turned around and then we could see the white rump, I would be guessing but I would say it was around the 1000 yard range.
This got them going again with renewed enthusiasm started to follow, if any thing it was working better the wind was still in our face and the deer was far enough in to the field to be easily seen but still feel safe. When we got with in 200 yards or so the deer had disappeared from view, but knowing the ground it would not go too far as it had open fields on one side and a nasty bog on the other. I told the boys “if you spot him before me don't yell out, just pull my jacket tail, if they run don't jump up they might not go far, and a shot could be on.” If they harts weren’t starting to pump mine was.
There is a small trench in the wood I guess it was where a pipe line or drain was run at some point and it provide a great place to hide while stalking, as it runs 40 yards parallel to the fence line for about 150 – 200 yards and is about 2 and a ½ feet deep. We dropped in to the trench and started to make our way along it keeping our eyes pealed, the bottom of the trench was soft and mossy it never really gets to dry out, so it made quiet and easy going for the three of us to cover a lot of ground and still be partly hidden.
We had gotten about 60 yards along the trench when a movement caught my eye there was a big old elder berry bush half way between us and the fence line 20 yards or so. I signalled for the boys to get down and looked though my binos 50 yards the other side of the bush was a set of tines. I could not see the body just the tine tips, then a gentle tug on my jacket. The boys could see him too, I got down with them the view was much better at there height I gave each of them my binos for them to have a look, eyes the size of saucers.
“All right guys here we go, it’s on.” I whispered to them.
A quick second look it was better than I could have hoped the buck was coming towards the elder bush. I got the rifle ready set on the bipod up and chambered a round, the mound at the side of the trench was making the best bench I could of hope for. Another look the buck was thrashing the bush. “Ok boys once he’s finished having his fun he will follow the tree line back along the fence, the way we just came, when he gets to the big beach tree I will fire”. They both nodded “after I fire don't get up just wait and if he runs follow him with your eyes.”
The buck thrashed that old elder bush for 3 minutes and an ever lasting 24 seconds. The ground has a slight slope running up towards us, due to that and the bush all we could really see of him was his head and top of his shoulders. Then he just stopped, and started to walk away from the bush and up the tree line parallel to us, 60, 50, yards he cleared the bush and was in full view.
I turned to the boys “you see him” both nodded not a word, eyes the size of dinner plates. 40, 30 “he’s not going to stop” but it would be an easy full broad side shot, I barked at him he stopped at 25 yards. I just had a view from the corner of my eye as one of the boys put his hands over his ears; the buck took one more step I barked again.
He turned looked over to us and snap 100 .243 federal grains went his direction fast. He kicked out and tried to go forward. Despite the shot being bang on top of the hart both lungs and one front leg the buck was still able to cover 20 or so yards before coming to a stop staggering and gently collapsing to the ground. The look on sandy’s face, what can I say eyes the size of serving trays, Andrew Scots expression was one of bewilderment and satisfaction.
“ok guys this is when the work starts”, although we could see when the buck had fell, I wanted to teach them the next step, I asked them where the shot was on the beast they had and idea that it was in the front end some where, next I asked them where was the deer when the shot was taken. I had to take my hat off to them they were within 10 feet or so, we went to the shot sight and tried to find the start of the trail. Within 3 or 4 minuets they had found a couple of blood drops. I was very surprised of how little blood there was. I got them to follow the trail and once we found the beast I told them how to approach checking for respiratory movement, then taping the eye with a stick. Only when they were convinced it was dead should they go to handle it?
I think things got a bit boring at this point but soon livened up as I started the gralloch and the faces started to go green.