While waiting to for my FAC variation for a deer legal rifle I decided to do some paid stalks to gain some experience as I'm new to stalking and have a lot to learn. I completed a DSC1 through BASC about two years ago, the course was run at Calton Moor Farm owned by Mike Dickinson, so I decided to ring Mike to arrange some stalking. The first couple of outings we drew a blank although we did see a number of reds, and you don't need to shoot anything to enjoy an outing because you can still learn a lot.
Last Wednesday I arrived at Mikes and we kitted up to off on a stalk. On arrival on the ground Mike decided we should stalk into a wood where we had seen some reds on a previous visit. We were heading for a place about half a mile into the wood where there were signs that they had been feeding on holly bushes. It took us about an hour to get there moving slowly stopping, listening, watching and then moving on a few more paces. There was plenty of indications of where the deer had moved through the wood on their way to the fields to feed. When we arrived at the spot I could see where they had nibbled back the bushes and shrubs, a good chance of seeing some then.
In position Mike said due to the wind direction, if any appeared they would either be on the track off to our right where we could see about 80 yards, or directly in front of us on a slope peppered with low bushes.
It was weird standing there, what was going through my mind were articles I'd read or stories I'd heard of deer that appear out of nowhere like apparitions. How could this be I was standing there and amid the silence and could hear and see every movement, be it bird or squirrel. I would surely see or hear anything before it got anywhere near to our position.
I was looking off to the right when Mike tapped me on the shoulder and pointed ahead of us, I thought he had heard a sound from that direction and was just getting my attention. Yep there it was a red hind had materialised from nowhere, without a sound or a movement apparently, to stand between two holly bushes, not 20 yards away broadside on. I heard a whisper "don't
move too quickly just raise the rifle aim and fire". Now wasn't the time to think on how quick is quickly, I lifted the rifle to my shoulder as quickly as I thought prudent and took aim and fired. The deer just turned and disappeared, I chambered another round in readiness. "She isn't going anywhere" Mikes voice came from behind, we waited a short time then went forward to where she had stood. Nothing there, we moved forward a few paces, and stopped to watch a caudal patch moving up the slope 50 yards away "oh B****r I thought. Stay still don't alarm it Mike said, as it walked on a few more yards to stand behind a couple of trees. I could only just see a bit of it between the trees. Mike could see more of it from where he was so I passed the rifle to him, but there were branches preventing him from getting a shot. we stood a couple of minutes during which time it made a couple barking calls, then it made made the the fatal mistake of stepping forward far enough
to allow a shot. It fell where it stood.
Job done!! I now learned the subtle difference between the words "she" and "it", Mike pointed about 5 yards in front where "she" had dropped and "it" was her calf which had walked off up slope to the trees. One for Mick, one for Mike "honours even", you can't be fairer than that.
Thats the easy bit done we've got to get these two out of here now came Mike voice, until then I hadn't thought about that. Remembering our slow passage into the wood it was obvious we couldn't get them out on a quad, so it was looking like we were doing it the hard way. Mike gralloched the two of them, and decided that we should walk back to the farm and ask if the farmer knew of a more accessible route in. No! it was fairly inaccessible, but he returned with us and helped, About and hour later and drenched in sweat we'd managed to get the two back to a fence where the truck could be brought in to load them.
Back at Calton Moor Mike made short work of unloading and hanging them on gambrels to complete the job. Each of them were then weighed, and hind and calf were 163lb and 114lb respectively, a good weight, or so I'm told. By this time it was 10:00 PM, I only had time to thank Mike once again, then jumped into the land rover and headed off home. Even the "where on earth have you been, Ive already eaten, you'll have to make yourself something" greeting couldn't dampen my spirits. I've been bitten by the bug and can't wait for the next outing.
A happy postscript to the day, next mornings post and my FAC arrived with a slot for a .308 and mod, and no mentoring condition.