After the last two stalks being assessed level two stalks with one remaining to go, I thought I'd give myself a bit of a break and just go out for a nice enjoyable stalk today.
I got up this morning at 6, hoping to be at the ground by around 7.20ish so I could have a cup of tea as the light came up.
I arrived as planned and parked up, but just looking around I wasn't too hopeful as the grass had a good bit of frost on it after a night with an average temp of -2C and a bit of fog lurking around the place.
I started the stalk with the normal route I take, passing through a couple of fields to reach the edge of a wood. It was like walking on cornflakes so once I got to the edge of the wood, I walked about 60 yards away up a hedge and just sat down on the roe sack hoping to catch the deer as they came out to enjoy the winter sun when it came up. The fog was actually non existent on this particular patch of the ground with very good visibility behind where I expected the deer to come out, but just looking 200 yards behind me, the fog was so thick it was like looking down on a cloud. Really nice scenery on a January morning.
I sat there until about 0900 and decided to carry on walking though the ground was still very crunchy. The sun had come up nicely but my toes were getting numb so I fancied the walk. I was heading back to the car to drive to another bit of ground when I spotted 2 fallow running across a field about 350 yards away. I'm not sure whether they had been spooked by the sound of my feet on the ground but after getting to the edge of the field they seemed pretty relaxed and weren't looking in my direction much.
I figured that the deer were heading back to the woods. By my deduction, trying to stalk on to them through the fields would be hopeless as they would hear me coming a long way away. I decided to take the longer and more patient option of going back into the wood the other side of where the deer were headed, hoping to stalk through the wood and meeting the deer somewhere in there. It was risky but on balance, probably the better option.
I headed back and entered the wood through the other side and started stalking slowly through it. It was about as noisy in the woods as it was on the grass fields too. However, I carried on, going as slowly and quietly as I could but no sign of deer in the woods. As I came towards the exit on the other side of the wood, I spotted a fallow doe about 80m away, completely relaxed. A quick look through the binoculars, and I spotted a little youngster trailing her. A few more seconds, and I could see a pricket trailing those two and as I watched through the bincoulars, several more started to come into view. My view here was limited by the trees in front of me with me being about 15 metres away from the wood-field boundary. However, there was a little gap about 2 metres wide through which I could see quite clearly, though a standing shot was not on as I feared a deflection of the branches. I stepped 5 or 6 slow steps forward and thought to myself that I could get a good clear line of fire if I was kneeling or sitting.
With the deer relaxed, and me relaxed, I took the roe sack off put it on the floor, adjusted the sticks down, sat down on the sack with my back to a tree; a solid shooting position. By this time there were about 15 deer in view, so I looked through the scope trying to select an animal. I saw young pricket which I fancied and waited for the the other deer in front of him to just step forward so I could get a shot off. Then, with the crosshairs on the just behind the shoulder, I squeezed the shot off the .308 and heard the reassuring thud strike the animal. A quick reload and back through the scope watching the animal. He was running back towards the wood but clearly wasn't going far, he dropped after about 20-25 yards. The other deer had also ran back a few yards, but then stopped to see what was going. The opportunity was there to take another one but I decided against it based on the fact that I'd already dropped an animal which was going in my roe sack with a good 750 metre walk back to the car, much of it uphill. I didn't fancy dragging another one back at the same time.
I approached the deer which had a bit of life left in him still and despatched him with the knife. Out of interest sake, I followed the blood trail back to where he was hit and there was a good solid blood trail going back about 20 yards. However, looking at the shot, it was about 2 inches further back than I would have liked. Gralloching the beast, some of the lung had been taken out and much of the liver which is presumably where the blood trail came from. The bullet had gone through rumen but hardly any contamination.
A quick picture, deer in the roe sack and a bloody hard walk back to the car. Needless to say, my fleec and jacket were hanging on the roe sack on the walk back. I estimated the carcass to weigh about 30kg and back at home it was just under at 29kg with the feet and head still on.
A nice January stalk with some great winter sun. Now back to a three week slog at work with no days off. Trigger finger will be itching. Got to use my newly acquired plasterer's bath too.