We set off from home at 4am to get to Monmouth before first light. We got there in good time and arrived at 6am to meet Darren who talked us through the land. Barry has 2 big pieces of land in Monmouth but unfortunately the local farmer had spread manure all over the fields surrounding one forest. Barry was bouncing about this because he knew that that particular piece of land is great for deer and there was a good chance they would be out in the open. Because of this we set off to another piece of land which in itself was ideal, a nice piece of forestry 3km long but around 400 yards deep.
We waited on the edge of the fields until we had enough light to start glassing around around the edges of the forest. 15 mins of glassing didn't reveal anything so we decided to head into the forest and start stalking along the rides checking the fire breaks as we worked our way along. We got to a large clearing situated in the centre of the forest and following some guidance from Barry decided to have 1 person sat waiting and one carry on to the other end of the forest. Ian sat it out and I carried on to the other end. After an hour of stalking and not seeing anything I arrived at the far end. There were plenty of fresh Fallow, Roe and even a few Muntjac slots on the wet ground so I knew they were around. I decided to head back to Ian so called to let him know I was on my way back. After 15 mins I got to a bend as I turned the bend there was a deer stood broadside to me in the middle of the track. I ducked out of site and slowly got up to glass it and check it out. It was Fallow doe...couldn't believe it. It was around 150 yards from me so I stalked closer to see if there was a buck knocking around. I got to 100 yards and sat waiting. it decided to come my way and out of the bushes came another.....Please be a buck..But it wasn't it was a young fawn and a doe at that!!! They trekked towards me so I reached into my bag and pulled out the camera, they were 50 yards in front and spotted me as I tried to get a picture of them and legged it....Heart pounding I set off back to Ian.
We had a chat, split up again and decided to stalk 2 pieces at the other end of the forest. Didn't see any deer but plenty of slots. We met Barry and Darren for some breakfast at 10:30am had a good chat about where the deer could be and then decided we would spend some time in the forest during the day maybe sit out and see if anything came by.
We headed back into the forest, Ian on one side me on the other. Kept in good comms for safety reasons. After a few hours of stalking both on the rides and deep in the forest I bumped a couple of Roe (One defo a Doe the other I only saw its rear but defo looked like a buck). Annoyed with myself but given more confidence that they were still around I pressed on. A couple of calls with Ian showed that he had seen plenty of evidence of deer but hadn't seen any. We met back up at 3pm and gave Barry a call. Barry suggested setting up outside of the forest in an ambush position because there was a pea crop on there and the deer had been seen feeding on it and crossing over during the week. We headed back to the field and got set up.
I've added a picture of the position. I was on the left side with the hedge around 110 yards to my left and the forest in front around 200 yards away. Ian was 300 yards to my right. I ranged each point so that I was clear on drop etc out to the further range of 200 yards. The field sloped up nicely in front of us so nice safe shots. We sat and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally 15 mins before dark and filled with disappointment that I hadn't has a chance of a shot at a buck....a deer appeared right in front apx 200 yards away in-between Ian and I. I glassed it and it looked like doe, it was dark and didn't have any white spots or marking on it and I couldn't see any sign of antlers. Ian was already glassing the forest when it came out and he had a better view of its front end. He could see it was a buck, a young pricket while I was still glassing it. It turned its head to me and I realised it was a buck. I got down on the bipod and got him in the scope. He was not in the best position for me. He was facing away to its left, with the elevation on top it would not have made a great shot. Ian was in a much better position, almost broad side...He lifted his head and then I heard the .243 crack, Ian ahd taken the shot at around the 200 yadrs mark off his knee, it ran forward for 10 yards or so then dropped. I was well pleased for Ian, his 3rd stalk and first deer. I rang him up straight away and started chatting with him and how I couldn't believe one had just come out...Then I clocked it, another had come out of the forest apx 60 yards left of the first...All I said was **** there's another and threw the phone down. I glassed it and could clearly see it was a buck, much lighter than the first and covered in white markings and 2 clear spikes. I got on the bipod, and he was side on to me. I drew a bead on the shoulder and held over 2 inches for the drop at 200 yards and let the 6.5 x 55 129g SST go. On contact the buck reared up with its front legs right up. It then ran towards me and then zig zagged back and to toward the forest around 25 yards. I kept an eye on it and watched it drop 10 yards in front of the forest. I had reloaded by now and was watching him through the scope. It didn't move for 5 mins. I called Ian and we decided to walk up to them. Eyes were checked, both were dead and shot well. Mine had hit 2 inches to the left of the shoulder but due to the slight angle towards me and the elevation up the field the bullet exited slightly higher and around 6 inches right and slightly high of the left shoulder. During the Gralloch it was clear I had missed the heart but had a clean shot of the lungs.
We carried out the Gralloch there in the field using head lamps and loaded them into the van. Barry met us and was very pleased with the result. I still cant get over it, I think it will be a long time before I experience anything like that with 15 mins left of light following a full on day. We walked miles during the day up and down through thick forest and along rides. We learnt a lot and got an unreal result at the end of the day.
All I can say is that our host was brilliant, feeling bad about the farmer spreading manure everywhere about an hour before dark having not seen or shot a buck Barry had offered us a great deal on a return stalk to give us a chance of a buck. He was as pleased as we were when I called to say we had 1 each.
Fantastic day, he's now hanging in the garage ready for the freezer.
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