I get a call on Friday of a good friend of mine who is booked to go on a plains game hunt in African in two weeks, “Mo you know I’m going to Africa in two weeks, well Iv sort of asked a mate if he wants to come and he’s said he’s up for it....” Ok I replied... “The only trouble is he hasn’t ever shot anything... not even a rabbit... would you be able to take him out to see if you can put him onto a red hind?”
I said not a problem, so long as he has had prior experience with a rifle and can put a decent group together. My mate assures me he has taken him out quite a few times and is a good shot.
Date is agreed for this afternoon, we meet up at the farm yard and I have a quick chat with Andy explaining how my rifles safety works and the do’s and don’ts.. And explain that if we get onto a deer and you are not 100% happy please let me know... everyone’s happy so I put a target up just to make sure he is ok with my rife, 3 shots all in the kill zone at 100 yards. Now I am happy we set off... I take the lead and get up to a vantage point.. Glassed the scrub and within 5 minutes I spot 4 reds, two mature hinds with two followers. One of the followers is not doing as well as the others and I am pretty sure it is one I have seen before and tried to take out only no back stops were available or the deer just didn’t present a shot. So this would be the cull animal for today. I explain to Andy what we are going to do and begin the stalk. We belly crawl along the bottom of a fence with only a thin piece of bramble along the fence to cover us up.. the deer are to our right directly inline with us, we try to stay as low as possible. Every two or three yards I stop to glass making sure out target is still there. We close in further..Heart beating.. I can only imagine how fast Andy’s heart is racing!
Ahead of us there’s a mound that looks like a good point to set up for a prone shot, after what feels like an eternity we get to the chosen spot 200yards from our selected target. Bipod out and rifle set up.. I ask Andy to chamber a round and apply the safety. At this point the deer are looking in our direction, they are not spooked and still relatively calm but they look as if they know something is up.
All of a sudden they get up.. maybe the wind has swirled.. The small follower is infront of one of the hinds so I tell Andy “as soon as you get a clear broad side shot.. take it” Watching in the bins I wait and wait for the crack... eventually it comes .. 130 grains reaches its destination with a confirmatory thud... I watch the deer as it jumped to the shot and it takes a few steps to the side and keels over. A perfect Heart/lung shot. Handshakes and smiles all around we wait 10 minutes whilst I have a fag.. and then approach the beast. I explain to Andy how this is done and how to check for the eye reflex.
The gralloch begins but first as this is Andy’s first beast He needs to be blooded! Blooding complete we extract the beast and load up into the truck.
I don’t know if any off you feel the same, but getting someone onto the first deer is just as good if not better than pulling the trigger yourself.. you know that memory will always be with them for the rest of their stalking career.