I just wanted to say a big thanks to Miffy for a great weekend. He kindly arranged for a small group of us lads to head up to Yorkshire for some Roe Buck stalking.
The rest of the lads arrived Friday afternoon and made haste but to no avail...not even a sign! After some grub (Miffy would make an excellent wife if anyone is looking!!) and a chat we bedded down at 11pm to be awoken at 3:30am in readiness for the following morning stalk.
With me stalking and Miffy providing guidance we headed eastward on the southern most block, coming to the end of the block and skirting around the eastern side downhill to start our stalk upwind along the base of the block. Upon coming across a clearing I clocked a Roe browsing in the open. Standing stock still it raised it's head...a doe! Whilst hoping to catch a buck in attendance we hoped to wait - but she wasn't having it and cleared off sharp'ish.
Miffy then stood and glasses the northern side of the valley where the forest edge meets the farmland. Some 800m away he spots a buck wondering up and down the fence looking to cross. "I'll stay here and guide you, you just pop over the river and stalk up to him" says Miffy...like crossing the river, and covering 800m uphill and down dale (mostly in sight of the buck) was just like playing hopscotch!! However, eager to bag my first I drop down into the valley bottom, cross the river, up the other side and start making a careful approach to an limestone escarpment in the dead ground now between the buck and I. He was still wandering up and down the fenceline and as I approached started heading away from me, I get back down into the dead ground and make to follow. We travel some distance down the valley until I see him turn and start to return. Crawling into position I await for his return. He stops about 120m from me broadside. Squeezing the trigger, the satisfying thump of a bullet hitting it's mark doesn't come back. Bugger!! He runs 20m and stands stock still looking at me. Having quickly cycled the next round in readiness I don't need to be told twice and put another round in his direction. Whilst the satisfying thump again does not come back, thankfully I now see him drop to the ground where he stood legs twitching. Finally!!
Miffy waves from the other side of the valley and makes his way over. Grinning we shake hands and approach my long awaited prize. Miffy takes a couple of photos and I'm absolutely made up - brilliant! 2.5 hour stalk, covering about 6km up until this point, but worth every minute! After performing the gralloch under Miffy's watchful eye I suggest that we take the carcass down to the road and then head back to the car for a quick retrieval. "No, no - I'll carry it whilst your stalking back" says Miffy! At this point I was aware we were probably still 4km from the car "It's OK" I say "I'm happy, lets leave this area for another day/stalker". "No, no - we're here to stalk so lets keep going" says Miffy!! So we stalked back, unfortunately not seeing another beast arriving back at the caravan about 9:30am - thoroughly ready for breakfast after our 6 hour, 10km stalk! And still Miffy cooks for the returning lads!!
Upon inspection I had my buck with the first round, albeit a little high, but talking to the lads later I learnt two important points to remember - around woodland valleys the thump report is not always heard, and that if you miss...they will be off without stopping!! However, better safe than sorry trying to find a potentially wounded deer!! The buck itself was approximately 18 months old and just started to come out of velvet - he was a lovely looking beast though and one I will remember for a very long time!
We headed into the nearest village to make some phone calls and visit the local pub...for which I also got a ribbing having left my wallet back at the van!! Enjoying the craic we then headed back in readiness for the afternoon stalk.
At 4pm we all head out, Miffy and I taking to the northern block - initially checking out an area of newly planted woodland where seats had been positioned given the damage the deer was starting to amass. Not being ones to sit for too long we stalked up to the most north edge of the block, then headed around the eastern perimeter again re-entering halfway down the block. We made our way back to the newly planted area and sat to wait.
As twilight started to come down a doe stepped out, obviously pregnant but limping heavily. She kept to the cover before entering the area of dead ground ahead - I crept out of the seat for a better view but she was bounding off before long barking triumphantly into the woodland.
We gathered back in the van at about 9:30pm and nobody else had had much luck either. Albeit weary from another nearly 6 hour 10km stalk I had to offer my apologies and head back southwards - landing in my bed at 2am. A very long day but thoroughly worthwhile!
I have finally got the carcass all butchered and the last of the mince done (need to check my mincer for future though!) and enjoyed the fillets last night - delicious!
SO - A BIG thank you to Miffy for organising a great weekend and getting me onto the deer, sterling job, well done and many thanks! Thanks to the lads too, great to meet you all and have a good laugh too.
Finally, a picture of me and my buck.