Dear all, I was privileged enough to take my first deer (a cull roe) with Ian Farrington on Thursday evening. Getting down to Ianís great set up was the culmination of a couple of months of planning with me standing Ian up due to work commitments (Sorry!) At the first attempt. Anyway, Ian came recommended through the SD and I felt I really should stalk with him after standing him up so I ended up coming from Switzerland to stalk in Devon.
On Thursday morning at 4am UK time I got up and headed to Geneva airport, caught the plane to Heathrow, landed and picked up the hire car and sped SW down to Devon.
Arrived at Ianís place a (only a little late and with one phone call for directions), dropped the kit, had some coffee and headed out to Ianís range for a bit of training and practise using sticks. That was a bit of a revelation for me. Having shot rifles from prone at targets, using sticks has been a bit of a novelty and with limited opportunities to practise, the chance to plink away and have my technique critiqued with such skill was very welcome. Iím not saying Iíve by any means mastered the use of sticks but the improvement was massive and a testament to Ianís skill as an instructor.
After a marvelous early supper cooked by Jo (believe the hype people, the food is even better than the write-ups!), we headed out. After stalking over a couple of fields, we settled down to wait under a tree overlooking an area of recently replanted broadleaf.
After seeing fleeting glances of deer towards the back of the planting that didnít make for a good shot and with the light fading, we decided to slowly edge forward in the hope the angles would open out and weíd find the deer in a shootable position. As we crept forward we managed to spook a couple of jays and a couple of foxes but our luck held. As we rounded a thicket from the right, the deer appeared moving from left to right from a thicket ahead of us. We froze and the roe stopped broadside to us and looked inquisitively at us, but clearly not alarmed. Ian dropped down and put the sticks up. I stepped up and rested the rifle for a standing shot. Rifle in shoulder, back stop is there, eye relief looks good, breathe out, cross Ė hairs in the right spot to pin it through the shoulders as instructed, squeeze and shot away and deer falls over on the spot. Had a slight moment of panic as I thought or a moment Iíd spined it but head was down and no respiration so all seemed fine, a very relieved Scrummy standing behind the rifle. We give it a few minutes and approach and everything is as it should be. Ian does the gralloch as the light is fading and we head in for the evening.
Boots and saddles the following morning and out again. First field we try and it seems the deer were on the other side of the hedge to where we parked up as we stalk past numerous beds. We were doubly busted when the wing swung around to behind us taking our scent to the remaining portion of the field. Change of tack and over the road into another field. We spook a doe and two fauns just by the field gate. We edge around to a lip over which the field falls away on the other side. We crawl up and thereís a potential cull animal in the field margin. We get ready in the prone position waiting for the deer to stand up and give us a shot. We wait a long time more and Ian makes the call that we should try and force the situation. Ian progressively silhouetted himself against the skyline hoping that the beast would stand up and take a look. Well, the deer just starred and starred and starred some more without standing up. Then stood up, did a flying 180 through a gap in the hedge neither of us had realized was there and all I got was a russet streak through the cross hairs.
After that we called it quits, but it canít be a bad stalk when you get your sights on a deer for a good 15 mins and seen plenty of signs.
All in all an absolutely fantastic weekend. Many many thanks to Ian and Jo for looking after me so well and Iíd wholeheartedly recommend a trip down to stalk with Ian. Also, if youíre new to this stalking game as am I and want a bit of instruction, the time with Ian is very well worth it. I hope to get down there again soon.