I seem to have been under a cloud with my stalking just lately. I've frankly forgotten quite how many stalks I have made with nothing to show other than a better understanding of the deer and their habits. Several shots have been left in the chamber due to wrong sex for the season, wrong beast for the cull plan, no safe backstop or no clear line of sight to the animal. I must have been fast approaching double figures if not more since I pulled the trigger on a deer.
Happily I did manage to drop a good fat pricket on Sunday morning on my ground near Oxford. Not my best shot, but then again it was a quick snap decision, which i took. I arrived before first light and started off in a high seat which is not too far from a clear rutting stand for the Fallow. Other than a munty buck I saw nothing for the first hour or so. I decided to take a walk, and left the high seat. The wind was very light but shifting and eddying constantly. Stalking down a ride through the wood I saw some movement to my left, about forty yards in front of me. I saw it was a pricket and with no available cover dropped to my knee to look less human and more tree stump. The young buck looked straight up the ride at me, and I knew I had a very short window of opportunity to place the shot before he clocked me and ran. The sticks would have taken crucial seconds to deploy, so freehand it had to be. He was standing quartering on to me so I aimed slightly forward on the right shoulder, expecting an exit behind the left shoulder. There was no reaction to shot other than him bolting back the way he had come, scattering the group of eight other deer unseen by me. I was very perturbed at his lack of reaction from my 7x64 with a 170grn bullet. I waited a moment or two and then saw some saplings moving about fifty yards into the wood. Got to him pretty fast after that and after making sure he was dead went to get the Jimny. The bullet had hit where I had aimed, perhaps a bit low, but there was no exit wound, never a good sign.
On carrying out the graloch I found the bullet had passed into the shoulder and then backwards into the liver, damaging the stomach. Luckily they are feeding on acorns at the moment, so not messy at all.
Plenty of fat inside and weighed in the larder about seventy five pounds.
The other possibility is that I misjudged the angle of approach and he was more straight on to me than I thought. Never going to know now, but he's hanging in the larder so all is well.
Just posted this so those having a lean time might take some encouragement from my tale. It can be pretty bleak stalking week after week with nothing to show, not to mention driving miles and miles in pursuit of some meat for the freezer. This has been one of my longest blank periods, but it has made this humble pricket all the sweeter.