Mid November and the temperature gauge on the car told me it was 13 degrees centigrade on the long drive up to Peebles to stalk sika deer with Jamross.
I had been fortunate enough to win one of the lots in Basils auction and this was the first opportunity to follow up the chance of stalking a sika hind on the Stobo estate with Jamross who had so kindly offered the lot for the auction.
The evening before I had been out rabbit shooting on one of my permissions and noticed the full moon raising questions in my mind about how the sika would be reacting to having so much light available to them during the night.
At 1pm I arrived at the meeting point and let Bonnie, the GWP from hell, out for a pre stalk constitutional.
Taking in the surrounding countryside I could see areas of clear fell along with established woodland. A light southerly wind greeted me as I glassed the hill.
Jamross arrived and we transferred my gear to his landrover and set off, jamross explaining on the way where the sika had originated from in the local area and some of the features of the stalking ground. We were to stalk starting from a small loch directly up hill to a clearing over which we would have a good vantage point should anything decide to show.
On the way up the hill it was obvious that the area had a good deer population as there where lots of deer tracks and fresh crotties all over.
Bonnie, walking nicely to heel, gave strong indications a couple of times on the way up the hill and my optimism grew as the ground became, if possible, even more deer friendly.
Stalking along a fence line against the wood we stalked until we reached a vantage point with the wind in our face and sat down to await dusk
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As is the way with sika nothing showed until about 10-15 mins before dusk when, from the left, a sika hind slowly made its way from the tree line to a point about 20yds out. It was about 170yds away and stopped to look straight at us even though we hadnt moved. These deer are so switched on. I confrimed with Jamross that it was ok to shoot and quickly set myself up on a tree stump. The position was a little awkward but I felt comfortable about taking the shot and settled the dot of the scope on the engine room of the hind and pulled the trigger. There was a satisfying thwack as the bullet hit home and I was confident the shot was good, the hinds rear legs kicking out and lurching forward. The hind had different ideas and promptly took off as though nothing had happened disappearing into the side of the wood after running strongly downhill for about 80yds.
We waited a few minutes to allow the deer to stiffen up and then set off to the last point we had seen the deer. As we came up to the area it had run down Bonnie started to wind the scent so I let her off and she followed the scent directly to the very dead hind just inside the edge of the wood.
The shot placement was right on the money, 100gr softpoint .243 right through the chest, but this hind still made about 100yds before succumbing.
I donned my best deerstalker face camo for the money shot.
Not a tick to be seen on the carcass with good fat being layed down prior to the winter starting proper.
Thanks to Basil for organising the auction and to Jamross for being such a knowledgeable gent with access to such fantastic sika stalking ground. It was a pleasure to meet you and I look forward to another trip out soon.