I have finally found time to write up the that got me my first UK deer, a good muntjac buck. I contacted Paul from Turvey Stalking who arranged to meet me one very dark morning the end of October in Bedfordshire. The land that Paul manages seemed to hold a lot of wildlife, deer included: muntjac reds and CWD. I had never had a chance at a muntjac so I was keen to try for one of these little guys. There was no big expectation as I just wanted my first UK deer and a carcass for culinary experimentation.
I packed up the gear and headed out with Paul in his Landrover to get further back into a more wooded area where we parked ourselves up a relatively high treestand for two. We got there in complete darkness that eventually gave way to a small clearing with a service road below. I was told the deer could come up the road and swing into the clearing, but there they were most like to show in the clearing directly. There was not that big an expanse to see so shots had be pretty quick if taken. The road below offered another possible shot but you had to be careful as it was just that wee bit too vertical, better to let an animal out into the clearing off the road.
Morning lit up little by little with the pheasants waking up, followed by rabbits. The adrenalin rush of hoping for that deer in the first thirty minutes gave way to a very quietly whispered but very entertaining conversation about shooting stories, life and more shooting stories. At first I thought we ought to be completely quiet, but my host knew his deer and said our whispering was fine. I realized we were really pretty high up too, nothing down there seemed to have any idea whatsoever we were there.
It got lighter and before you knew it the morning stalk was just about over without so much as an ear flick or anything seen by either of us. Then all of sudden there was a deer broadside but not standing still for more than a couple three seconds, a muntjac buck scenting the clearing. There was plenty of land behind him, it was a shot opportunity. I had left the illuminated reticle on the scope which gave me more confidence when I saw the red dot. But by this time and also calming down a jitter or too with a long breath, he had almost stepped out of the frame! Damn! Paul whistled and he spun around and started back into the clearing towards us 50m away. That was the chance. I could see he was pretty well face on but still quartering a bit so I took aim about where I thought the heart was and did not waste anytime in squeezing the trigger. The moderator worked well on the .308 as I could well hear a walloping hit. The animal sprung up about 4 feet in the air and hunched up. The fear was it had been gutshot. Oh no!
Getting down the tree stand after five minutes wait, there was the odd comment or two, “I was sure I hit it in the chest”. The site of impact showed nothing that seemed odd. But Paul found the critter back in the woods 30m or so stone dead. The bullet had split the heart in two but the shockwave of the bullet had continued right past the paunch luckily not splitting it open, but the proximity of the shot next to the paunch caused the notorious reaction and had drawn out some of the intestines plugging the exit wound, not one puncture of the gut though was found. It was great to be gralloching a deer again!
Not only was the buck a nice one, it even had a good head with each spike showing a bifurcation and both tusks were pristine. The animal was very healthy. Paul got the Landrover and we loaded up. A very eventful morning in the end. I loved every minute of it and would not hesitate to do it again.
Paul convinced me to get him mounted, I never thought I would do one, but this little deer was the first in in 15 years and the first UK deer so why not?!! He is off at the taxidermist right now. The venison has been wonderful.