I am going to complete a write up for all the the stalking days that I won in the auction that 'Basil' arranged for the Children's hospital.
The Scottish leg.....
Sika Stalking Jamross65
The first of my auction stalks was booked with Jamross65 (Brian) on Saturday 19th just gone. Now my trip up to Scotland had been tied in with taking the Mrs and little one up to see my mother who lives in Edinburgh (kill two birds with one stone ). We flew up by aeroplane so my suitcase consisted of boots, sticks and stalking clothes and not much else, infact all that took up my full baggage allowance anyway.
After a relaxed day on Friday in Edinburgh, On Saturday morning around 5.30 I borrowed my Mother's car and begun the hour's drive to Stobo to meet Brian.
After getting lost trying to get out of Edinburgh due to roadworks and my sat nav not working I somehow made my way to Stobo and arrived only ten minutes late, luckily Brian was also running late so I didnt feel to bad. We transferred my kit into Brians Land Rover and headed for the estate.
The landscape around Stobo was beautiful and I was excited at being able to explore it, although the size of the hills shocked me, and apparently these are not even big hills!!
We arrived on the estate and after driving through a few gates (which I opened/closed , infact I think I opened/closed gates about 100 times during the day ) we pulled over and after a safety chat the stalk begun.
After walking a short way we entered into a clearing through a small block of trees and after glassing the area we moved towards the right where Brian showed me a wallow that had previously been used. We saw lots of traces of deer so i hoped they would not be far away. As we walked back to head out of the field we bumped into a Sika hind about ten yards in front of us she stopped for a split second , stared at us and darted off across the field with another hind that had emerged from the trees (not even a look back). This was not going to be an easy stalk and this was backed up by Brian who went on to explain a lot to me about the behaviour of Sika deer.
We continued on, the ground starting to get quite wet and heavy in parts , the whole time I looked around amazed at all the views and wildlife I could see. As we came to the first hill ( a pretty steep one to me with lots of rocks) we spotted two Roe does feeding about half way up on the rocky path. They were not to be shot so we observed them for a while and then carried on up the hill with the does darting off into cover.
Struggling to keep my footing and breathing like a fish out of water we get near the top of this hill ..ah finally...but as we reach the brow I can see another even bigger hill just behind . Brian makes walking up this hill look easy, so not to lose face i dig deep and carry on , in fact im sure he was walking at half pace anyway. We get to the top and cut in through some trees and walk slowly down the road through the forest, ready incase a Sika shows itself.
No deer in this section but as we get further on and reach yet another hill even more traces of Sika are found. We climb up again and start to ascend further up the hill ,Stopped for a couple of pics (felt like a tourist) and then continued towards the top. Brian has some lovely ground here the views are truely amazing.
As we reached the top of the hill now we come into an area of clear fell there is literally deer **** all over this place and lots of damage to trees which were pointed out by Brian. He knows his stuff about Sika and his ground and I learnt a lot from him throughout the day. We sat down in an area Brian thought they would show carefully placing a bundle of dead braken on the "Witches Pi$$" (or something like that eh Brian?) slime on the moss/grass. After about ten minutes I spotted a Sika hind on the edge of a wooded area about to come into the clearing , then there were two. We sat and waited keeping very still hoping that they would come out into the opening. They came out then went back in a few times never really coming out fully (seemed unsure about something) eventually they disappeared back in to the woods.
It was'nt long before Brian was giving me the tap and signalling towards about 4-5 Sika deer that were slowly moving downhill feeding in the clearing we were covering. Due to the range we decided to get in a bit closer so moved up to higher ground using the cover of some trees to our left and slowly crept forward. As the deer came into our view we crawled a further 20 yards to get into position that would present a shot.
Bipod down, rifle loaded and deer in range.... I was just about to get set for the shot when the deer get spooked and the front few start to run off down the hill. The last hind was behind them and not moving as quickly so i had to get the shot off before she went. The ground was uneven so as I was getting in position my body was twisted and i didnt feel comfortable so didnt take the shot. I adjusted myself (shooting position that is ) and luckily she stopped again and presented me with the perfect broadside shot at about 120 yards, I took it this time and the sound was that of a good impact. The hind ran about 10 yards into the trees and we lost sight of her.
What a buzz shooting my first Sika but i still had that horrible feeling of 'was my shot placed well?' 'will we find the deer?' even though at the time i was confident where i put the .308 bullet and sure it had done the job.
We waited and then moved over towards when the impact took place ,Brian walked into the tress where the hind ran and called out "we wont need the dog" , immediately I felt relived , He came out with a nice Sika Hind and the shot was a good. Chuffed to say the least!
The Gralloch was completed , Brian showed me his was of doing this, it's interesting to see how most stalkers do it slightly differently and the journey down the big hill begins. I was going to drag the carcass down the hill my self but hey 'you dont keep a dog and bark yourself ' Thanks Brian!
The hind was taken to the larder and we decided to break for lunch, we popped into Peebles where Brian pointed out an excellent shop that sold "the best" pork pies..however they were closed for lunch surely that would be the best time for business , but this is Scotland I guess . Co-op sandwiches were the order of the day and went down a treat although the smell that Brian "blamed" on his dog was a little off-putting
The late afternoon/evening stalk saw us laying at the bottom of a ride that rose up at the back of the large hill we had earlier walked up, if only i'd have know earlier we could have driven up half of it!!!! We got into position just as Brian predicted we saw about 6-7 deer move across the ride however they we on the skyline so no safe shot could be taken. We continued to walk up the hill to the top bumping a few deer along the way but i was unable to get a shot opportunity. There were loads of deer around but the light was starting to fade. We called it a night and moved down the hill back to the Land Rover, all along the way back Brian continued to educate me about the deer.
I was shattered at this point and I had an amazing day, even if i had'nt shot the hind i would have left a happy man. I learnt a lot and i am very greatful to Brian for an excellent day and all the knowledge he shared with me.
Thanks again and i would love to come back for another stalk in the future.
Following Morning Roe stalk with Amanda16 write up to follow........