Went out for Reds this weekend in Argyll, despite the volatile weather. A bit cloudy, but 5 degrees C in the morning. On arrival at the hill, sun was breaking through and offering a welcome 10 to 15 degrees C. At 10 AM I set off.
I was having a look in the bino's, when suddenly I sensed a presence to my direct left, and lo-and-behold, a nice calf was trotting along slowly around 150m's out. I dropped and crawled to an edge where I could get clearance, and fired up the bipod. I observed it for 30 seconds, no herd around, no hind,,odd.. Then I noticed it walk a litlle slow and funny, it was a young stag with just two little bumps. Took the shot at around 135m, no wind, with my .243 and 100g Fed SP. Perfect H/L shot, staggered 3 yards, then tumbled. Upon inspection and gralloching, I noticed abnormally long hooves, which must have caused great discomfort and pain, which has led to its separation from the herd/Hind, not being able to 'keep up'. A great cull animal, and weighing in at around 50kg's
Then all hell broke lose Snow came in violent winds, and the hills were white within minutes...whiteout...GREAT 1hr later, soaking wet, gloves wet and fingers frozen, the snow cleared and visibility resumed. I disturbed a herd of Hinds with Calves, but had enough time to drop and get ready for a shot at around 100m's. However, the Butler Creek flip cover snapped off instead of opening nicely, make a horrible noise, and that was enough for the deer nevermind, it's only 11:30,,plenty of day left.
Then walked into a corrie type hollow area, must be perfect for shelter..and rightly so, a herd of around 50 deer where laying there, amongst them, around 12 big stags. They were around 250m out, so crawled through pure water to within 180m, and waited with the bipod and face net on for 30 minutes, whilst picking out a the runt, what looked to be a calf, no bigger than a roe deer, and in bad shape for the conditions...a good choice to cull I felt. Finally they started to move, the calf stood up, and bang, fired a round at H/L, but positioned 3" high to allow for the drop. Observed the hit, gut shot, no question How the hell did that happen, I KNOW I put the bullet in the right place, NO QUESTION about it.....Time was 13:30.
It turned, backside to me, and layed down, the others walked off. I fired two rounds at the neck, both misses..WTF!!!!! I could approach it to within 100m without disturbing it, sat down, took a breath,, and put another round in the H/L aread - game over. Then on observation, I noticed that even though it was in a depression/hollow area, between where I was, and the deer were, there was a band of wind blowing acress at 90 degrees,, around 15mph. Feeling deflated, as I take exceptional pride in my shot placement abilities, and feeling I had imparted unecessary pain on this beast, but still happy the outcome was quickly over, and succesful cull choice, given the situation. After gralloching, it weighed in at no more than 15kg's, and would have struggled for the rest of the winter if we had more snow/frost I think.
Then I fired a round at 200m's across a similar wind,,rightly, the bullet drifted 8 inches..what a stupid moron I had been...but aiming 8"'s in front, and 3" high at 180m based on a 'possible' band of wind at 75m's out, is a little too finnecky for me to be honest.
I have know decided to retire the .243 for reds, and use it just for Roe/Fox with my 87g's. A .308Win will be sourced for the Reds this spring/summer, with some real wind-bending abilities up to 200m...8"s at that distance is simply too unpredictable for my liking, so a larger calibre it is. Lesson learned, .243 with 100g SP's at up to 200m with cross winds = excessive drop (7.8") and drift (8" at 15 mph).
Anyway, all is well that ends well, drove back off the hill at 15:00 with two good cull animals, in the hail and sleet - 4 seasons in a day
An almost perfect day...but still, a great day indeed.