Some of you may remember a recent post, where ‘Max’ offered some potential gold medal CWD bucks for £500 each? I was one of the first of many to jump on his case and even suggested he should “wear a mask”! Anyway, it turns out that his financial gains were for a very admirable cause which is another story.
What followed surprised me somewhat and restored my faith in human nature. After a few more posts, PM’s and a couple of phone calls, Max offered me the chance to drive up and see some CWD and shoot one for ‘Free’!
Shooting trophy animals is not really my thing, but I welcomed the opportunity to go and watch some and possibly shoot a cull animal. The first trip arranged fell through due to bad weather and one of my children projectile vomiting all through the night! I finally made it up there yesterday for what turned out to be an educational outing.
We headed out onto the estate in Max’s truck and soon spotted a large and probable medal CWD buck out on a field stood side-on with a good backstop. Max said I could shoot it but it didn’t seem quite right to jump out of a vehicle and ‘bowl-over’ the first one I’d ever seen! I politely declined the offer and elected to watch it for a while. I asked Max if we could look around for a bit, and if I was to shoot one I would prefer to stalk it on foot. We soon spotted another large buck which I stalked back to later but he was stood on the brow of probably the only hill in Norfolk! He soon wandered off over the hill, and we set off to stalk around some woodland dykes. The area is only 50 miles away from where I live in Suffolk but the landscape up on the Norfolk Broads is so different from anywhere I had stalked before. Chinese Water Deer were never going to be disappointed with this area!
We stalked up on another feeding by the edge of a dyke about 130m from us and Max suggested I crawl forward to a five-bar gate and shoot it. He needed to remove another 6 animals before the end of Feb so it seemed too good an offer to refuse, especially seeing as this was the only species in the uk that I haven't culled. It looked like either a young buck or a doe, but being only the third one I had ever seen, I must admit I wasn’t entirely sure! It held its back to me for what seemed an eternity before eventually turning side on. I could see it was about to go into cover so placed the sight just behind the front shoulder and quickly squeezed off the shot. A satisfying “Thwack” and the animal jumping forward into cover convinced me that ‘all was well’. I walked back to Max and he explained that he thought I had missed it as he had watched it jump the dyke and run off strongly down a ride with its head held high. A tidal wave of self doubt passed over me leaving me with a cold sinking feeling which I have thankfully only felt a couple of times before.
I was convinced I had hit it though, and we moved forward to check for signs. We got to the near edge of the dyke – nothing! My stomach was now somewhere in my boots! We crossed the dyke to look for slots and what we found cheered me up no end! A large spray of light coloured blood, hair, and a sizeable chunk of white lung! My cold sinking feeling had now been replaced with a warm fluffy one with a hint of ‘smugness’! We knew where it had headed so only a matter of time now and no doubt a good blood trail to follow. What we found was surprising – nothing! No blood? We searched for ages and I eventually spotted a small spot of blood on a reed next to a railway sleeper bridge over the next dyke in the direction we thought it had gone. This was backed up by a clump of hair by a small tree stump along the other side of the dyke so we were definitely on the trail. Sadly we had left the trained German wire-haired pointer behind as we didn’t think we would need it! Big mistake! An extensive search soon convinced us that we did need it and Max’s wife kindly delivered it to us! Obviously we knew what had happened and could give the dog a head start. We led him to the point where it was hit to give him a sniff of what we were looking for, and then led him down where the animal had been last seen and pointed the pointer in the right direction . He worked the woodland well but didn’t seem to pick up a trail? He was having a lovely time pointing and flushing woodcock and pheasants but couldn’t seem to find the trail which we had even taken him to. We started to make up a host of excuses on the dogs’ behalf. The ‘cover was too thick’, ‘other deer scent’, ‘game birds’, ‘he hasn’t settled yet’ etc…
We spent ages searching and found nothing! We were more than happy that it would be dead and finally had no other option than to move on.
My warm fluffy feeling had now subsided some time ago.
We stalked around another wood block but I could sense we were both not really enjoying things so much and had unfinished business further back!
The stalk ended and we decided to go back and have “one-last-look”.
Thankfully, our stalk had meant we approached the point where the animal had been standing from the other direction. If only we had looked the other side of the tree where the animal was stood we might have seen the “red motorway” of blood leading off in the other direction! The dog needed no prompting and headed off. 20 metres along the ride it took a right turn. Another 70 metres down the next ride under a fallen tree lay the CWD doe stone dead. The bullet had entered at exactly the point of aim and expanded on a rib. It exited slightly further back through a three inch hole!
With our moods lifted, we headed home for a delicious “Full English” breakfast which Max’s wife had ready for us. A wife that delivers dogs and then cooks a big fry-up at that time on a Sunday morning has to be one in a million?!
So what caused two experienced stalkers to get things so wrong?
We think that the animal that was seen running off was another that we hadn’t previously seen. The tiny spot of blood by the bridge probably wasn’t, and the hair was old – maybe by an animal using the stump as a scratching post? We assumed we knew what had happened, convinced ourselves, and then the dog!!
How such a small animal (a young Doe) took such a hit and made it that far is beyond belief really.
This was not the work of a .22 centre fire before you ask! This was a 100grain Nostler Ballistic tip from a 25.06 travelling at about 3300 fps! Both lungs were completely destroyed and the liver hanging out of the 3 inch exit hole. The heart was intact though.
I’ve posted this article to highlight the fact that things aren’t always as they seem! Never assume – always check. Even if you think you might have missed – go and check!
One thing is for certain. You are never too old or experienced to learn when it comes to deer stalking!
This was a great morning out for me with a mixture of emotions!
A big ‘Thank you’ to Max for inviting me up, and to his wife for dog delivery and a fine breakfast!
It’s funny how a post like that ends up forming a new friendship but that's what is great about this Forum.