Last friday i headed down to Dorset to assist the estate stalker with his sika hind cull. I've stalked here once before and although we saw loads of deer, they were always stags or else hinds in an unshootable position (skylined etc). So, i thought i would start the New Year off with a bang (pardon the pun) and see if my luck was any better.
I drove down on Friday afternoon and we quickly headed to the range to make sure everything was OK. We visited a local farm but saw nothing on the woodland edge. My guide said it wasn't the right place and we moved to another area. As we entered the heath we saw a hind and calf but they were determined not to stop. We continued on and came across a pricket. A shot off the sticks followed but the deer ran off into the gorse. Luckily we had a dog with us who did a fantastic job of finding it as it was now dark. This was my first ever sika and also the first deer with my new rifle!
We were up early the next morning and we came across a herd at first light. They were making their way back into the woods but i managed to shoot a calf before they disapeared. We continued stalking and came across a group of stags with a hind and calf in tow. I managed to shoot the calf off the sticks from about 100m.
Out we went in the afternoon. We stalked a woodland but only spooked a few stags lying up in the bracken. Suddenly I saw a roe doe peering round a tree with only her head and neck visible. The guide told me to shoot it in the neck so the rifle went up on the sticks and i fired. Off ran the doe - not the result i was expecting with a neck shot. We went to the spot were she was standing and found a huge blood trail. We followed this for about 200m before finding the doe, dead. The bullet was slightly low and missed the spine by millimetres. It had severed the arteries in the neck though - hence the blood.
As we still had light left the guide took us to some open fields where the sika have been living (odd isn't it). Anyway, we stalked the hedgerow and found a pricket alone in the field. I took the shot off the bipod at about 150m and after a 10m run the deer went down. You can see the hedge where i shot from in the background.
The next morning was very cold and we saw very little deer movement. We gave up early and went to warm up before lunch. We headed out in the afternoon but every stalk didn't work out as planned. First the keepers wife brought her dogs past our high seat, so we moved on, then the kids decided to shout and play near our 2nd location so we ended up leaving and going elsewhere.
It was too late to get to a seat so we stalked a woodland edge. We found 2 stags sitting in a field on their own. We stalked in for a closer look and found one was a magnificent 8 pointer - clearly not for me (the guide takes out clients for trophy sika). The other one wasn't so nice and the guide said; "if he stands, shoot him". I kept saying, are you sure as he looks like a decent stag! He then said "do you want him, or not?". He turned on his torch, the stags stood up and i took the shot. The shot went through both lungs but he still managed to run over 150m - these sika are tough animals!
So, my trip ended up with 6 deer in total. The stalking was paid for but a free stag at last light on the last day was an unbelievable bonus!
Happy New Year to you all.