Well after much anticipation I headed off on Friday to see Malc for my very first stalk. I had arranged to get there for 12.00 so I could sight in the rifle and show Malc that I could put a group together as I hadn't shot a centre fire since leaving the Navy many moons ago. Malc had another stalker that day doing his DSC 2 so Ken would be my mentor for the day and everyone made me feel very welcome with plenty of tea and homemade cake.
After sighting in the 243 we set off later that afternoon in bright but freezing conditions. The snow on the ground made it impossible to walk quietly and we didn't see a thing on our first walk round the edge of the woods. Ken decided that we would be better sitting in a high seat so we headed back to the bothy and parked up. Before setting off for the high seat Ken had the insight to tell me to chamber a round as there was a possibility we might see something on the way.
We had not walked more than 50 yards when I saw something move to my left in the woods about 60 yards away (I'm not very good at judging range yet). At first I thought I was seeing things but there stood looking right at me was a fallow doe. I tried to stop myself shouting "there's one" and managed to point it out to Ken who confirmed it was a fallow doe. He told me to keep perfectly still which was not hard as I felt rooted to the spot. Then he said I should get the sticks ready VERY slowly. After what seemed like ages faffing with the sticks I finally managed to get them up and the rifle on top. The doe was still facing me looking directly at me and it seemed to take forever before she turned to her right and stood perfectly still side on. He told me to take the shot and I did. She jumped turned to her left walked about five faces and just stood there. Ken confirmed she was hit but he could also see another deer which had walked between a gap in the trees. As I moved my position to see the other deer I lost sight of the one I had shot and then the other deer walked off back into the woods.
We made our way to where the doe was when I has taken the shot and then to where she had stood before I lost sight of her. Not a sign of a deer anywhere ! No blood, no fur nothing. At this point all the elation I had been feeling only 30 seconds before started to ebb away fast. The more we searched the worse I started to feel and as the search got wider and wider and still no signs of the deer I started to feel sick. I knew I had hit the deer and the thought of loosing it was overwhelming and it was almost dark.
Then the cavalry arrived in the form of Malc and Tod the wonder dog (otherwise know as a Bavarian Deer Hound). I took him to where I has shot the deer and he let Tod off to do his thing. And boy did he do it well ! He was on the scent in seconds and despite not a drop of blood anywhere he was off. After what seemed like an eternity (probably on 45 seconds) Tod had found the doe. To say I was relieved was an understatement !!!!!!!!!
I Had shot it a little too far back and had hit the liver and she had run into the woods about 60 yards. I was keen to do everything myself as much as possible and Malc and Ken talked me through the gralloch which confirmed I had hit the liver. It was then up to me to drag the deer out of the woods and up to the larder. OMG I am unfit and had it not been for Tony helping me I would have still been there now. I was huffing and puffing and sweating like a pig but finally managed to get it to the larder.
They then talked me through the rest of the preparation which was a lesson all in itself before cleaning up and more tea. The deer is now hanging in my shed ready for butchering tomorrow.
I can't thank Malc & Ken enough for looking after me so well despite my being a complete beginner, but my biggest thanks of all goes to Tod the wonderdog who saved the day so brilliantly.
I never would of thought anyone could feel such elation, then sick as a dog before being elated again in such a short space of time. Either way it was an amazing experience and I can't wait to book some more days as soon as possible. Thanks again to everyone that helped that day you were all fantastic.