Wadashot kindly took a day out of his stalking weekend up in the borders to come along and have a walk around my patch with me on Sunday.
We met up at lunchtime, and by way of introduction I gave Wadashot a can of coke and he showed me a deer's head. Just the way it should be.
After a quick cuppa in my Father Ted caravan I took him on a tour of the place. My motivation was to pick his brains about deer in general and also have someone cast an expert eye over the ground and estimate the numbers of deer I have there as well a identify good spots for stalking.
We spent a fascinating hour or so touring the boundaries and spotting wildlife signs before getting down the fun part of the day - me demonstrating my lack of talent with a rifle.
It's actually quite challenging terrain and finding a clear flat 100 yrd safe area to zero wasn't that easy - but we managed it, and I did the jungle warfare bit up and down gullies to set up some targets.
I wasn't exactly making it easy on myself - new rifle, never fired it before, range of homeloads, unzeroed scope. But Wadashot donated his bipod and from a prone posistion half on an anthill and half sliding down a 45 degree slope underneath the bracken in the rain I took my first shot. In retropsect , that's would be how I'd be taking shots at deer so it's probably a good thing.
Big bang and astonishingly I hit the target - we decided that we'd forget about letting the barrel cool between shots, and with Wadashot spotting and calling out scope adjustments (he being the one in the comfy deckchair) I worked up through the loads and ended up with something like a half decent group more or less where it needed to be.
I also had a couple of shots with his Mannlicher 270, very nice - but we disciovered I like my scope 6 inches further forward than most normal people so I looked like a flamingo with a neck cramp getting lined up. Wadashot had a few shots for fun and we headed back to base to dry out and have a real man's tea - pot noodles and kitkats.
About 6.30pm we headed out for a stalk - a real stalk! I must admit I had more faith in my ability to make a mess of things than to get things right so the experience was my objective, not making a kill - but if the opportunity presented itslef I was happy to have a go. Wadashot brought his 270 along to ride shotgun in the event of me making a mess of things or finding a shot out my effective range/ability. Although excited, I was in no rush to shoot a deer, and certainly in no rush to send one away injured so I told Wadashot I was deferring to him in all things and that he'd be the one to say whether a shot was on or not.
We got to a point on the other side of Lowes Gully, and Wadashot spotted a buck immediately, about 400 yards off, it was just a head and it took me a few minutes to see it - and only then when a Doe got up and the two started playing chasy. We sat and watched for a while and Wadashot announced he was going to call the buck over.
I was sceptical - on the basis that if you have a woman, why leave her to look for another - but bucks obviously think like blokes i.e. one woman is never enough, and amazingly after 10 minutes or so he came trotting over. I couldnt believe it.
Wadashot then led us down the hill to get into position for a shot, using all of his expertise and years of experience to lead us right through the middle of every single gorse bush there was on the way down
Even with me crashing out of the bottom like a drunken elephant I saw through the trees that the buck was still on his way, and was now over the boundary onto our bit.
Now at this point, if Wadashot had taken the lead we would have had a shot, but I went first, and as we got nearer, instead of lying flat to peer through the trees (and probably have a shot on), I crept forwards to peer round them.
The buck saw something he didn't like (me) and took off. He must have been only 70 yards away.
We hid ourselves in the heather a little way back up the valley side and waited to see if he would reappear but no joy. We spent the final hour in the heather discussing life, the universe and everything, and it was very enjoyable. It was only when we got back I realised how wet and midge bitten I was.
In retrospect - I should have done the gentlemanly thing, Wadashot being my guest I really should have told him to take the shot from where we were - sorry about that. I get a bit competitive at times.
I certainly can't complain, because I know the opportunties exist there, and it will just be a matter of time before one comes good.
Without Wadashot I'd wouldn't have even seen the deer, and then his experience turned what I considered a no-hope siutation into one where we could have taken a deer.
Big thanks to Wadashot - you're great company, and put in a lot of work for my benefit. All you got back was a pot noodle, a kitkat, a can of coke and my incessant, inane jabbering.
We need to do this again soon.