I was on a training course at Land Rover, Gaydon, near Warwick, so I PM'd Stone to see if he fancied meeting for a beer (he hails from near my neck of the woods and we've been to the same pheasant shoot at the same time - without realising it!). Unfortunately, he couldn't make it for a beer, but said he was going out one night and invited me along.
I met him off the motorway and went to this ground. We parked up and got kitted out. It had been raining all day - the Gods must have been watching because it stopped half an hour before we met!
He had his camera and binos around his neck, saying it was only the camera he was shooting with, and offering me the chance to shoot. After getting the feel of the trigger, we set off up the farm track.
After walking around the headland of the first rape field, a roe had been 'bumped' on the other side of the hedge, so we headed to a place along the headland where we could glass a fair area of the rape. Stone in front, closely followed by Sika, his cracking little lab. After waiting for about 45 minutes with no sign, we headed off through a little spinney and walked another headland of a second rape field. As we approached a rise in the field, Sika started 'snuffling' heavily - obviously something was around.
As we approached the rise, we spotted a fallow doe and pricket about 250-300m away across the boundary.
Stone was taking photos, but Sika knew there was something closer by. We heard a sound in the wheat, through the hedge. As we heard it a pricket jumped through about 50-60m away and went into the rape.
Up went the sticks, next to Stone, rifle in place, waited for the shot... pulled the trigger and completely fluffed it! The pricket then came back towards us up the headland.
Sika, who 'has never seen a deer that close' obviously thought '****, he's bigger than me!' and hid behind the boss! Fortunately, the pricket went into the rape. Stone was barking at it and it stopped broadside, I pulled the trigger again and it went down.
I waited, made the rifle safe and tried to stop shaking! Handshakes were exchanged.
Now... Sika's turn. Stone set her in the right direction and she was onto him without hesitation. Stone kindly performed the grallach because I couldn't stop my hands from shaking. Photos were taken and off I set with an attempted drag through the rape. After Stone picked himself up from the floor with laughter, we both dragged him out and back to the vehicle.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank one of the gentlemen of the stalking world for his kind offer and guidance through my first fallow stalk. It is one that will remain with me for the rest of my life.
Once again Richard, you are a gent.