Well, I still haven’t fully unpacked from the trip, as it has taken till now to dry my rifle out !!
Still, the week had its highs and lows. Iet’s get the lows out of the way first.
The weather was less than ideal. Warm and VERY wet. Hotter than the soft south we had just left. The first morning I was back, I had to scrap a really hard frost from the car before going to work.
The lowland beats looked quite different . Less trees and more roads . The beat that we drew; the hill north of Cloud base down to Glenashdale, looked superb.
But the deer did not show. We spotted on stag in the racks at the south of the island, for about as long as it took to cross a rack in the forest. But that was it.
On the highs; we did manage to get onto the Arran estate, (due to some cancellations at a really good price ).
The day was to started leisurely, with an 08:30 rendezvous.
Plenty of time for a good breakfast.
Ours started a little later , after we pulled out of our digs and found we had a total flat on the front tyre !!!!
A frantic pit-crew stop got us under way a half our late.
We met our guide, Jamie, in the pouring rain( what a surprise ), outside the estate larder. No time to waste. Straight on the road again, up the Wire Road, to the beat.
This was my first time on the really open hill. It was fantastic.
We spent about 20 minutes spying the hill. We can see hinds high on the hill above us. A magnificent sight, that soon got our juices flowing.
The view from Brodick of Ben Nuis on the left and Goatfell on the right
Like four men in a boat , Into the 8x8 Arga, and off we went!
And like a boat it was. Sailing across the sea of saturated heather, effortlessly. They even said that if you plugged the drain holes in the back , you could take it across a lake.
We headed out onto the hill.
Soon we were aware that we were not alone. Groups of hinds, then stags , appeared over the horizon .
This all appeared too easy. So, I whispered into Jamie’s ear that we wanted to work for our beasts.
“ So, you want to walk do ye ?” he said.
How we were to regret this !!!
The Argo turned toward a massive rock face in the distance.
At the base, the Argo stopped. I knew what was coming.
Led by Jamie, hands in pockets as if he was on a Sunday stroll; we set off up the Crag of Ben Nuise .
Soon, Nige and I were flagging. We knew we were in presents of a mountain goat ! The climb took the best part of an hour. Punctuated by hail, sun wind and rain!
Half way up , we had to wait for the guide.
Like hell ! We needed oxygen !!
Jamie gave us that look you do when your wife says, “ it’s only a small job” , as we floundered behind him.
At the top of the first crag we stopped. Jamie took Nige round to spy on a couple of stags that were roaring on the far side.
Several minutes went by before they came back , only to say that after much calling they could not get the beasts close enough for a shot.
So, up we went. The wind swirled around , but as we were higher than the beasts , our sent trail did not seem to matter.
My legs were burning by now, not used to the incessant climb.
But the lure of the stags is unbelievable. We dug in.. Step after step. Calf breaking, step by step. Agony.
Finally we reached the next crag. Jamie shuffled forward to spy over the edge. He soon came back to say that a good beast was over the edge , happy in his wallow, with a few hinds in attendance .
Nige moved forward and we waited for the shot .
The crack of the .308, and the dull thud after, signalled a good hit.
We all scurried to the edge of the crag and looked down . Below , some 200 meters off, we could see the wallow and then , about 100 metres further on beyond that, next to a heart shaped rock , the rack of an 8 pointer. Laying dead .
Congratulations all round. Especially to Nige for a perfect heart shot.
After the messy bit , Jamie indicated that we( I ), would have to go higher to get my beast .
Higher ment a shear granet face.
By now the cloud had started to draw in. The top of he peak was now shrouded in mist. At first, I tried to keep up with Jamie. But my legs were not up to this relentless up hill climb. Soon I was training behind. The next time I looked up , I could see that Jamie had taken up a spying stance behind a large bolder overlooking the next corrie. He turned and started to silently bid me forward.
I covered the ground as quickly as I could. Looking over the rock we could see a stag on the far face, some 300 metres away. Below him was a group of hinds with a more slender 8point stag .
“Take the wee stag when ya ready .” said Jamie, as I fought to regulate my breathing and prepare the rifle.
The big stag , at the top of the carrie , was roaring his dominance for all to hear. But unfortunately he had either seen us or caught our sent in the swirling wind.
He took off , pulling the other stag and hinds over the top with him.
“Nye mind, “ said Jamie, “ wirl just go after him.”
How these near 20 stone beasts manage to ascend an almost shear face, at such speed, defies me. We climber up to the point where the deer had departed to, only to be met with another steep climbing into the mist.
Eventually the assent levelled out. We had reached the top.
I was now greeted with the fantastic view from the top of the peak. I had reached the top of Ben Nuis . The second highest peak on Arran .
No time to waste. We began the descent of the far side straight way. The mist now cleared and the roaring in the distant corrie soon made the pain in my legs fade away.
As we nipped and tucked behind and made the best use of the rock cover , I became aware that the ground was now opening up in front of us. Soon we were overlooking the huge west face of Ben Nuis . Below we could spy groups of hinds, with stags , for as far as we could see.
I was overwhelmed. So we just sat and glassed until it was too much to take. A big 14 pointer was just below us. Too big to take, as he would make good breeding stock. Something smaller was our target.
A frontal attack would have given our position away, so we had to traverse the ridge to come in at an angle .
As we covered ground, we used the roaring to guide our path to the spy point.
We were crawling now to keep our shapes off the skyline
As we approached the next crag , Jamie moved forward to have a look. He indicated that we were on !!
About 200 metres away below us , on open hill was a stag with about a dozen hinds in attendance.
“ He be a good’un ta take ,“ said Jamie. “ The hinds will move onto the big stag roond the corner . “
Enough said. I popped the bipod legs out and made ready on the nearest bit of granite that would aid a steady shot.
Wait till he turns broadside on. This seemed to take ages.
The scope was lined up on the edge of the shoulder and the shot was taken. The 30/06 coughed , but the shot hit well back. The stag went down , but was not dead. The shot had immobilised the stag, clipping near the spin. A second shot was needed . This too was well back, but hit the liver, resulting in death.
The stag was a 10 pointer. Going back, indicated by the fact that the crowns at the end of the antler did not have cups and estimated as a veteran of 10 years or more, on the hill.
Pictures were taken , but my thoughts were of the fact that the shots had not been perfect.
When we got back to the larder , and had dressed out the 130Kg ( hill weight ) beast , I was able to check the zero on the rifle. Having been test fired two days before, I was amazed to find that it was 26 clicks out to the left when checked.
We had been on some serious ground the previous days, and the rifle must have taken a serious knock. Even though I could not recollect when .
All in all this was a fantastic trip. Great friends and times to remember . Happy days.
Here are some of the views that make it so worth while