Friday just gone saw me and two of my good friends visiting our stalking lease in Scotland. Now I have been stalking for some time now and always always forget to bring my camera! A write up has been long overdue so this trip I stuck a post it note on my bedroom door saying “take camera!” a night before we were due to leave.
Didn’t get much sleep Thursday night as I was getting kit together and was a little bit like a kid at Christmas.. tossing and turning in bed, thinking what the weekend would bring and what deer we would see on the ground as not one trip is ever the same as the other. That is what I love about stalking,you never know what may be round the corner.
Finally, what felt like an age morning broke through so loaded up the truck and headed off to pick my mate kev up and then off to Huddersfield to meet Andy to go up in his truck. We stopped off at our usual stop off Tebay for a quick brew and then set off again in hope to catch a evening stalk on the ground. The rain was hammering down. as we got of the M6 and got onto theA75 we were hopping that we would drive though it and it wouldn’t be too bad once weg ot to our patch.
Thankfully as we got into south Ayrshire the rain had stopped and bright spells of sunshine were poking through. There was a feelingin my gut that tonight would yield a beast. We all decided on which beats we would be doing that evening, I decided I would take a steady stalk though the wood up to a high seat and sit that last hour or so out. Rifle charged and safety on I was ready to set off.
Stalking though the wood I came to a sort of five way junction.Glassed a ride at 7oclock from where I was stood, couldn’t see anything just yet then out of no were a roe appears! The usual heart pumping starts, steadied my bins on the sticks to confirm sex and it was a doe just come out for a quick feed. Watched her for a few minutes then crept past here to try to not disturb her. I did try to take a picture though my bins but was hopeless at that and she was a long way off to take a pic with just the camera. Practise makes perfect so will try to get some good pics next time as I get just as much enjoyment stalking with a camera as I do with rifle.
On I went on the forest track, as the gradient of the track increases, to my left opens up into a big clearing, I edged slowly over to glass the clearing as this is a bit of a hotspot, there we go! A red with its head down feeding! But is it a hind or a stag? I am hoping to myself it’s a stag but think to my self I bet it isn’t! its just my luck for it to be a hind...but no! sh*t! It is a stag!! And a bloody massive 12 pointer at that!!! Now at this point my heart is really racing, I ease my sticks out and slowly take my rifle off my shoulder, riffle on sticks and target is acquired though scope. The stag at this point was in the left corner of the opening around 70 yards from me but is quartering away with its head down feeding, I really don’t want to take a shot in this position as I will write off a lot of venison, I lift my sticks upstill together with rifle on and edge myself so slowly round a bush and a bit higher up the track, at this point the stag is out of sight for around 30 seconds,I creep further up, concentrating on the left corner where I saw him, still can’tsee him! So I creep further still, where on earth is he I am thinking to myself?!! Then something catches my eye, the stag had walked out to around 150yards into the middle of the opening and now is directly in line with me! FU*CK!! I look up and our eyes lock, has been watching my every move and I have been caught out! He hasn’t run yet so I move my sticks and rifle in line but it’s too little, too late, he has seen enough and high tails into the wood on the opposite side if the clearing. A horrible heart sinking feeling sets in and I am kicking myself thinking how didn’t I see that big bugger in front of me! It was a big wake up call for me, Its all too easy to get caught up in your own pride thinking you’re a fantastic stalker but It made me realize that we are stalking these animals in their home turf, they have survival instincts bread into them which puts them one step ahead of us most of the time! I try not to get too wound up about it was as it was a great sight to see on its own merit.
I reach my high seat which is in the same clearing still hoping the stag may reappear however my efforts were futile. It’s going to be along night tonight thinking of what could have been!
Back at digs I get my head down ready for the morning, the plan is to get into the forest again and go on a long hike in search of some more stags, the forest is populated with a lot of hinds so I thought as the rut is closing in there may be a few stags knocking around looking for girlfriends.
Set off to start stalking up a ride in front of me and as I am going there is another open area to the left of me, I think to myself I don’t think there will be anything there but let’s have a look anyway. I glass the edge of the wood and hay presto! AnotherStag! Not as good as the one from last night but none the less a stag! Heat racing and adrenaline starts kick in I set the rifle up on the sticks and get the stag in my scope he’s a young 7 pointer and is quartering away from me at 150 yards.To avoid a repeat of last night I give him a whistle. The stag raises his head up and I put the cross hairs towards the upper part of his neck, safety off,deep breath and I gently squeeze the trigger. CRACK! The .270 releases the 130grain noslers Mike Dickenson helped me load! I hear the strike and the stag falls to the shot as the bullet hits home. Heart now in turbo mode I light up a fag and give it 5 minutes before I head over.
Reached the stag and tested the eye for a reflex, there was none. The reloads had done their job well and had hit precisely where I was aiming. Gralloch completed I call for backup from the other two so we can extract the beast as there was no quad this trip. Not a far drag to the track but far enough when you’re lugging a dead weight over tussocks and drainage ditches! Around 300 yards in total. I don’t usually keep the liver/heart and kidneys but Andy keeps them for his dog.
The remainder of the trip results in just does being seen with no bucks in sight. A good trip with a good beast at the end.
Thanks to kev and Andy for the extra muscle and thanks to mike Dickenson who helped with the load development. A great accurate round. Now I am off to bed as I only got in a bit agoand am shattered but felt compelled to do a write up otherwise I will never get round to it!