Sika in the snow part 2
After a restful night in an excellent B&B we set out for the morning stalk.
Temperatures could only be described as Baltic but a fresh fall of snow overnight at least made the ground less ‘crispy’
We saw a group of 3 sika hinds with an attendant mature stag but they were a good way off and, although they hadn’t see us, we couldn’t catch up with them.
We stalked until 10am then made our way back to the digs for a much needed breakfast.
I had taken my S&B scope with me to sit atop my rifle having bought it and then not had the time to change the meopta that was sitting on it.
I boresighted the scope then had three shots at 25 yds to set the l/r
I then has 4 shots at 100yds to check the elevation adjustment and, once happy, waited for the barrel to cool before firing two more at 100yds to confirm zero. We then set off for the afternoon stalk with the hope of christening the scope.
We set off from some newly cleared forest but the going was very difficult with many fallen trees across the rides and, with the amount of snow we’d had, very difficult walking (attested to when Howard disappeared up to his chest).
We saw lots of fresh tracks and scrapings on the rides so decided to split up with me taking the outside of the wood and following the moor and Howard taking my brother in law through the wood.
No sooner had I started to stalk away and I froze as a sika started to make its way across the clearing. Looking back and Howard was on his sticks with the rifle head down ready for the shot. He looked up then questioned the sikas parentage as it was a stag.
I continued on reaching the edge of the moor and turned left down the edge of the dense forest. If anything the going became worse with the snow in drifts up to my hips in places, this on top of lumpy heather and cleared felled ground.
After about 45mins and being close to a heart attack I just about gave up looking for deer and started to wonder whether they would need a helicopter to pick my body up.
I was coming up to a slight rise with a couple of scrubby birches on top and decided I would have a peek over the top of this vantage point. You guessed it, a sika calf was scraping at the ground between the forest fence and about 6ft out from the edge. I glassed the area looking for mum but didn’t see any others around. This was a very small calf, smaller than a roe, so I decided to take it as it would be unlikely to make it through the winter. Sticks set, rifle up and the new scope was christened. I then realised, even though it was a small calf, I’d have to drag it back to the road.
Obviously I made it back but thank goodness it was only a small animal, I don’t think I could have managed a full grown hind..
On the way back to the road I saw black grouse for the first time, pine martin and fox tracks in the snow, woodcock and snipe on a small burn.
After another restful night we stalked the following morning seeing lots of deer before taking stock and deciding to make our way home as the reports on the roads were looking decidedly dodgy.(my brother in law stalked to within about 60yds of a very impressive stag that was stretched up a tree eating lichen)
We set off at 1pm and made good time until we reached the M8 which was an ice rink. The A73 wasn’t much better. I couldn’t understand why people were crawling along or even stopped in the inside lane when the outside lane, although it had a covering of about 6” of snow, was perfectly passable. 4 wheel drive engaged and outside lane it was. After some time we came to what was causing the problem, a jack knifed tanker lorry. A landrover 90 was trying to pull the lorry back straight on the road but not having any luck so I drove around the lorry and landy, and hitched up to the landy. Dif lock and snow chains on and we managed to pull them both back onto the road to many happy faces all round. We were now at the front of the clear road ahead and made the usually 6.5hr journey home in 11hrs.
We ended up taking 2 hinds and 2 calfs back with us the largest hind weighing in at 62lb in the larder.
For those that like to know I was using a Tikka .243 stainless varmint with 100gr interlocks and an S&B 2.5-10x56 scope. None of the deer went more than 10-15yds from where they were shot.