Yesterday I got up at 0500. Now for some this will not be remarkable but for me to rise from my bed at such an hour on a day off is a big event.
It was about the only day I might get a chance at rutting sika and so I decided to make the best of it and with sunrise about 0800 I needed to be on the road not long after 0500. So far I'd see no sign of much rutting but was hopeful that yesterday was the day.
I parked up in the middle of the forest with a fairly stiff breeze blowing and within seconds of getting out of the car a sika stag let out a scream at what seemed like 6 feet from my ear. It didn't take long to change my underwear and soon I was heading up the track by the light of the moon towards my intended area to stalk. This disturbed the sika that had called and he ran across the track in front of me - too dark to shoot and still a little before legal shooting time anyhow though in truth it only took him a second to clear the track and vanish into the trees. Oh well, maybe it was a good sign for the day ahead.
Despite my best efforts I didn't see anything on my morning stalk and although the wind appeared, by the clouds, to be steady in the west down in the forest it was switching direction every minute or so.
Time for breakfast and so I wandered back to the car in broad daylight with no concern for wind, or noise, or cover and, of course, it was at this point that a little stag walked out of the trees in front of me. Clearly he'd seen me before I spotted him and so after a quick look he was gone. As it was there was no backstop and so I couldn't have shot him but in the time it took him to vanish I wouldn't have got the rifle off my back anyhow.
I spent the morning stalking a bit and also scouting the ground. There is an area I know that sometimes has good numbers of deer on it but extraction would be difficult. It is on a hill and dragging up the hill would be impossible but I concluded it might be possible to drag down and so scouted out a route. After all that climbing hills lunch seemed a good idea and so I parked up in my traditional lunch site and before I'd even turned the engine off I spotted what looked like a fox run out onto the ride ahead of me. I got the binos up to find that it was a good sika stag but he looked small because he was further away than I thought. I bailed out of the car with the rifle and into the ditch, in my shirt.
Did I mention that it rained? Well, it rained. In fact it didn't take time to rain and it is a long time since I've seen so much water fall. It started raining at 0830 and I'm posting this message from an ark I've been forced to build.
So, there I was, lying in the ditch in just my shirt with my rifle and, well, the stag just vanished. Maybe he saw or heard me get out of the car or maybe the shifty wind did for me but I got a soaking for nothing. Of course it wasn't enough just to rain on me - during the day the temperature had been dropping and it was now sleet that was falling with the temperature sitting at just 2 degrees for the rest of the day. Miserable.
After lunch I decided to move to another area and as I rounded a corner in the car there was a hind and small spiker stag standing about 150 yards ahead. I knew it was possible the stag, being young, might stand and watch to see if he could figure things out. So, out I bailed once more, in my shirt in the rain, with rifle and short sticks. I threw the rifle up on the sticks and with the lie of the land wished I'd brought taller sticks. However, I thought I was in with a chance and both the wee stag and hind were still standing so only a matter of getting him in the scope when...
A huge stag jumped out of the ditch nearby the wee stag and keeping his back to me he, and his friends, all ran into the trees. If he had stood even for 5 seconds I would have had him but, sika being sika, there was no way such a big stag was going to stand even for a second when it thought something wasn't right. If he hadn't of appeared than I'm certain the wee stag would have stood long enough for me to get a shot but when all around him was running away there is no way he was going to hang about either.
With that I packed up and went home - 5 sika stags in one day including a huge one and not a single shot indicated to me that luck wasn't looking my way and it was best to get home before the flood waters blocked my escape. Did I mention it rained?