My first stalking confession follows;
I was out with John Yorkshire - Roe at the weekend. After a great day on various bits of John's ground we settled into a spot and waited for deer to make their way across the field in front of us.
Right on cue a nice doe appeared at last light. She stopped broadside on, about 80 yards in front of us. John gave me the nod and I made what I thought was a good shot to the boiler room. She reacted mildly and alot of hair blew off her far side. She ran back into the wood she'd come from but John said he thought it was a good bullet strike.
When we got to the shot site there was lots of hair about but not much blood. What blood there was seemed light coloured and not like it'd come from the boiler room. We followed what little trail there was to the edge of the wood and had a look. We couldn't see her and the light was going so I went back to the truck to get another torch. John began the search with his pointer, Breeze.
I was feeling pretty terrible at this point. It looked like a gut shot and there was no obvious explaination other than a c*ck up on my part. I'd checked the zero on the rifle the Wednesday before so I thought it had to be me. Thoughts of putting the rifle on Guntrader and packing the whole thing in went through my mind.
When I got back with the torch John was gralloching the doe. Breeze, had found her laid up further down the bank and John had despatched her with another shot. In all, probably about 5 minutes had elapsed from the first to the second shot, but it seemed like an age.
It was dark by this time but it was clear from the gralloch that the diaphram had been penetrated and part of the rumen had been ruptured. There wasn't huge amounts of green but enough to see. I was very deflated and quiet on the way home. However, I was extremely relieved that Breeze had found the doe so quickly and John had finished the job.
When we got back to John's we had a proper look at the carcass. The entry hole was about two inches low and back from the ideal spot, but still within the zone. If the bullet had passed through at right angles it would've taken the bottom of the heart away. The exit hole was further down the body. The doe had been at right angles when I fired so it looked like a combination of a less than perfect shot and a deflection.
I've learnt more from this than from the deer I've shot cleanly. The value of practicing has become clearer than ever before. I am very grateful to John, who was superb throughout the whole episode and has helped to restore my confidence. Most of all, I am very grateful to Breeze. The value of a well trained deer dog in the situation was imeasurable.
I've had a long hard think about what happened. I'm still into stalking, albeit my novice enthusiasm has been subdued a bit.