My darling wife went to visit our bridesmaidís for the weekend in Scotland last month. Being in heavy training for the 3 Peaks Challenge I though this would work out nicely with some stalking and hill walking at the same time. The car was full to say the least with 2 children, toys, extra pillows, sleeping bags and my shooting kit etc.
Whilst the girls were catching up I arranged to go out early on Saturday morning for a stalk on the land I rent up there. Itís only about an hour away and everybody was happy with this arrangement.
The ugly bit.
To describe conditions as wet was windy was generous to say the least. It hammered it down from an hour before dawn until I got out of the car to get ready. It then got steadily worse as I then headed out across the meadow to the 180 acres of woodland.
I walked, I stopped, I looked, I waited and it rained. I sheltered, I hid but slowly but surely the waterproofs gave in and I was soaked through.
Unsurprisingly I had not seen a thing and after 4 hours of punishment I decided to go back to the car for breakfast and a hot chocolate. I unloaded my .243 and gave it a quick wipe down before getting out of the wet kit.
The Good bit.
I was just about to start the car engine to get a bit of warmth in the mobile when I noticed a strange movement just outside the car. The windows were now properly steamed up with the wet and my hot chocolate so when I wiped the window and saw it was a Roe doe not more than 5m away.
I was gob smacked that Iíd stalked all morning and not see a thing then in the comfort of my own car I could watch this beautiful creature in the comfort of a dry environment. Even more surprisingly was the next thing. An adult buck came from behind the car and started chasing the doe. Knowing that the gun was close to hand I reached back but then realised to my horror the bolt and ammo was in the boot. I gently opened the door went into the boot and found the bolt but for the life of me I couldnít find my magazine. Panic stations kicked it so I got one spare rounds and slipped it in chamber. The buck was now some 80m away in the meadow so I leant on the car for steadiness from the wind. It turned broadside and in a flash it dropped and the trip was a joyful, successful one rather than a horrible wet minger. I put my coat back on and headed out to in the meadow to pick up my quarry.
I donít know if the doe was being thankful or stupid but it ran up and stopped within 10 feet of me whilst I was gralloching the beast for about 30 seconds before slowly walking off up the path into the wood.
Using the antlers as a pivot I hung the buck from a willow to drain any excess blood before my journey home and went back to the car to finish of my hot chocolate and dry out again. The hot chocolate however was only luke warm so I poured the glass out of the window. Whilst the window was open and looked across the meadow and I thought I could see the doe again. Something was telling me however does donít have antlers then the penny dropped and to my astonishment I was looking at another buck slowly making its way down the path towards the meadow.
I steadied my thoughts to where the magazine was and told myself focus. It was on the gun case on the back seat so I slipped in and opened the car door. The wind had dropped slightly probably due to the weight of rain that was coming down and there was no way I could get anywhere nearer as there wasnít anything between us. I grabbed my wet jacket, opened the bipod up and lay down next to the car and positioned myself for the shot. He was now about 200m away and looking directly at me. He slowly turned as if he clocked me then stopped. It was now or never so I gave him a couple of inches for the wind and a couple of inches for height and pulled the trigger. It just stood still then did a little curtsy before dropping.
From walking around for 4 hours getting soaked to the skin and not seeing a thing I had now bagged 2 adult bucks in the process of having a hot chocolate, Happy Days!!
I then realised I had to fit my wife, 2 children, 2 deer, a load of wet clothes and all the other clothes into a Mondeo for a 350 mile journey back to Wales.
Whilst gralloching the second buck, I noticed it had quite a few ticks on it so I went back to the car to get 2 single quilt cover I use as a carriers. Itís cheap and stops the wifeís car getting too dirty.
The car was packed to perfection on the Sunday and I even had room for the kids. When we got home the deer fitted into the fridge and all was well.
The bad bit.
On the Monday I felt an itch on my right buttock and felt a foreign body there. I looked in the mirror and saw a tick. I was easily assessable and I removed the little critter. The next however there was a bit of redness around the bite I put some savlon on it and it went within a couple of days.
This all happened about a month ago and in the early hours of Monday morning I started having the worst headache of my life followed by neck, back ache and my body ached. I put 2+2 together and phoned doctor.
The doctor gave me that knowing look and she also concluded that it is probably Lymes Disease and started me off a strong dose of Doxycycline.
I am writing this from my bed feeling awful and bored senseless. I have cancel this weekendís stalking trip and my 3 Peaks challenge next weekend has also been put on hold until I recover. Hopefully it will not take too long.
The meat did eat well though!