After reading so many of your interesting write ups I thought it was only fair that I give something back to the forum that I have learnt so much from. (plus family and friends are bored hearing about it now!!)
So this is the story of my first trip out stalking.....are we sitting comfortably children?
The stalking trip itself was a present from my parents for my 25th back in April which we actually brought off the wild trout trust auction.
We decided with Howard Day of outside days to arrange the two stalks over a Sunday evening and a Monday morning for the last bank holiday weekend in May. Two months passed very slowly with the final week being one of the longest ever!! With work especially not being too happy as I spent most of my time on the SD!
Howard picked my dad and I up from the local station in his landy and took us up to the edge of one of the local woods and after a few sighting shots gave us a quick briefing on the plan of attack for the evening. We stalked around the fields to give us the best angle of attack into the woods which we than worked our way through nice and slowly following the rides and paths.
It was at this point I got my first sighting of a wild deer....not the roe that we were after but a snorting muntjac that crossed about 40 yards in front of us, completely oblivious to our presence. Howard at this point leans back and asks if I want to have a shot....obviously pure confusion from me, a barrage of questions about scaring the roe off and finding the magazine not properly inserted into the rifle all meant the munti was probably in the next county before I was anywhere near ready to take a shot.
Right calm down.....back on task.
What did truly amaze me was the amount of wildlife you see and get very close too when stalking, rabbits, hares, squirrels and even a fledgling tawny owl seamed to not mind our presence in their domain. Almost like they knew we were not there for them….the roe continued to be elusive though. We did catch sight of a couple of doe’s bouncing away through some undergrowth in the distance but no bucks.
Then all of a sudden and obviously when we least expected it out between two parts of the forest trots a lovely buck. All parties stop and look at each other…..like a bloody Mexican stand-off……the only sound was my heart beating so loud it sounded like it was about to explode…..hours pass....or was it minutes…...until in a manor almost taking the piss out of us for being caught so far out in the open he just strutted off into the undergrowth. Bugger.
After another few hours and some very close calls, a notable one with a huge old boy which was apparently a very strong gold and well out of the old budget the night started to draw in. Not before giving us one last glimmer of hope, a buck and a doe grazing in one of the broad bean fields some distance away. We attempted to cut through the undergrowth but in the failing light we would have made less noise if we drove a tractor up to them so it was a slow plain sight stalk up in which we got about 150 yards off but with the lack of light we decided to call it a day. Right off to bed fresh for tomorrow….(after a kebab on the way to the hotel)
3.30am….. not a time I see very often unless I am slurring my words and stumbling home with a skin full, but the excitement meant I had very little sleep anyway. Back in the landy trundling along on the way to spend the first few hours in a high seat with me peering hopefully out of the window landy’s windows. I spot a solitary head poking of one of the bean fields. With a quick check from Howard and the confirmation on a good cull buck we continued inconspicuously past in the landy until out of sight. We stalked back with the hope that he was out of the field by the time we got there and willing to present us with a clear shot. As we rounded the edge of the undergrowth we both spot the buck, stood about six feet from the trees and certain escape….. browsing happily…..
With complete contrast to the muntjac incident complete calm washed over me…..I quietly set up the sticks….got comfortable behind the rifle and waited for the deer to raise his head and it was all over. Cherry popped. The buck went about 20 yards and ploughed into a bush before he was informed that it was all over. Howard reckoned it was about 120 – 140 yards and as I’m a bit of a perfectionist the bullet was a couple of inches further forward than perfect but the .243 still did a nice number on the heart and lungs. He turned out to be a nice little 4 year old 6 pointer still with some scraps of velvet on his antlers.
All in all it turned out to be the interesting and exciting weekend that I had hoped for. Even without the icing on the cake of my buck my Dad and I would have come away very happy. Howard really tried his hardest to get us a shot the whole time and he was still as visibly excited about doing so as we were. If you ever get a chance to go stalking with him I most defiantly recommend it!! You can find him at outsidedays.com.
So where do I go from here??!! I have well and truly got the bug…… Unfortunately in Fulham where I live there is not a lot of deer trotting about so no chance of a permission. I suppose I start scraping the money together for the next outing, then it’s the question of more Roe or one of our other elusive species………oh god.
Well I have written an essay as it turns out, apologies if I bore you all but I got a little carried away!!