I was due to be at Bunwell wood shoot for Saturday for a morning and evenings stalk as well as taking part in a butchery course during the day with Mark and Roger, and my guides for the stalking being Rob and Adrian as rob had a wedding to attend later that day.
I was at the farm for 4:30 where i met Rob who was to be my guide for the mornings stalk. I had already met Rob the week before where i attended a deer stalking and safety course at Bunwell. I jumped in his truck and we made our way out to our chosen beat which Rob explained was a narrow strip of woodland/shrubs with a grass opening in the middle where the deer often came to feed. As we arrived it was still dark and we quietly made our way down a narrow path to reach the high tower and set up before dawn. When we got in Rob explained that there were a series of deer paths crossing through as there were meadows on either side of the strip and the deer would have to come through to cross either side. There was a heavy mist out on the fields and it got to 6 without a sight of a deer, Rob explained that the mist was probably slowing down there movements so we waited a while longer and at about 6:30 Rob spots a fox come through at the top end of the strip and come out onto the grass, i asked if he wanted me to shoot it but he said it was up to me but would probably scare off any deer so i decided to leave it. Charlie disappeared into the under growth only to appear again coming out of some brambles 40 yards away, then made his way into some black thorn only to come out again 20 yards away. Rob quietly whispered he would be back in the morning for him.
10 min. later i caught out the corner of my eye a roe buck coming down one of the tracks into the grass to feed on the wheat that had been put down. Rob gave it a careful examination with the binos and said he was a big buck, and i could shoot it if i wanted but i left him as he was too big for my pockets. He only had front tines but had a lot of mass to his head, he was a very big roe and in perfect condition. He hung around for about 20min feeding and browsing and i enjoyed studying him through my new minox binos. He then made his way back out the way he had come.
10min. later i spotted the movement of a vixen on our left coming out of the undergrowth only 20 yards from us and she made her way around the back of us and out into the meadow. 10min later from the same place a roe buck appears only 10 yards away and rob says to me i can have him as he was a nice small 6 pointer. I had to readjust the rifle to be able to shoot out of Robs side of the high seat and had him perfectly lined up with Robs Schmidt and Bender scope mounted on a Remington 700 sps .243 but i was not happy to take the shot as there were too many branches in the way to get a clear shot on him so i said to Rob i would wait for him to move a couple more yards to the left for a clear shot. Sure enough he did, but as he came up the bank of the ditch he froze for a second then ran off. Rob said he may of winded us or seen us as he came up the bank just before the tower. Rod said we may well catch up with him on the way back to the truck out in the meadow.
With no luck in the high tower Rob said there was a rape field just on the other side of a meadow we could stalk round as the deer were often in there to get away from the flies and there was a grass opening at the top they would browse and sun in. We made our way out and half way along a ditch going across a meadow Rob spotted a roe buck browsing in the tree line about a 100 yards away perfectly broad side with a bank just behind him, but said we would have to stalk into him as there was a footpath between us and him we couldn't shoot across. I understood and we carefully made our way in onto the buck moving when he put his head down to feed. We eventually made it to a safe shooting position and i set up on the sticks but the buck was now on top of the bank so we could not shoot. Rob said wait for him to make his way down the bank and to the right then i could take him. We waited and sure enough he decided to come back down the bank and began to make his way right, only a few more steps and i would have had him in my sights. But then for no reason at all he decided to turn back and carry on left where we couldn't shoot, we tried to catch up on him by making our way left parallel to him but he had gone through a hedge onto someone else s land. I hadn't actually minded not getting a shot at him as the stalk in was a lot of fun and challenging.
We finally made it to the rape field and began to work our way around the bottom slowly and stopping every few steps to glass the field and just as we came round a corner to make our way round the side a buck and a doe suddenly jumped out and ran across into the next field. Rob said they must have winded us, but that it as unusual for them to be there as they were normally up the top on the grass. Anyway as we got to the top strip it soon became apparent why the roe were there, a dog walker was out off the footpath and had pushed them down this end. We carried on the stalk but with no success so made our way back to the truck.
I hadn't minded not getting a shot, because as i had said to Rob that it was the best stalk that i had been on seeing several deer and fox's and stalking in was great fun but luck not being on our side but that is why its called stalking.
When we got back to the farm i met up with Mark and the other taking part in the butchery course being run by Roger and told them all about what happened then we made our way to the chiller and butchery room where Roger showed us how to skin a carcass and butcher it into its varying joints to take home. I learnt a huge amount from Roger and Mark who were helping us along and now feel confident that i could do it on my own. When we had all finished we made our way back to the cottage where Roger cooked us all up some lunch out of the venison we had butchered and told us how to make a few recipes. I cannot thank Roger and Mark enough for the course, it was a brilliant way to spend the day in an enjoyable atmosphere and would recommend it to anyone.
Mark then took a few of us who had stayed behind to see how to prepare a head to put on a shield which was Lucs first muntjac he had shot the night before. As this was going on it poured heavy with rain for about 20 mins and Mark suggested to save my money and not bother with the stalk later. Anyway at the end of the skull preparation the sun came out and it was suddenly bright again and Adrian was kind enough to say i could come out with him and wait for the fox's i had seen this morning. Mark also said that if a roe or muntjac came out i could take him if i wished and it would be a good experience for me to learn to identify a suitable cull animal and shoot it.
We were at the same high seat as the morning and at about 6 30 we heard some crashing in the undergrowth behind us making its way closer and about 5min later a muntjac doe appeared, she looked to be about a year old and we watched her for about 20min as she hung around to feed on the wheat and we waited and hoped she had a buck with her but none showed and she eventually made her way. Then at about 7 15 a muntjac doe and buck made there way and stopped on one of the tracks in, i looked to my left to see a muntjac doe just on our left below the high seat and told Adrian. I slowly raised my binos to study the buck and felt he was a suitable cull animal but as i lowered the binos slowly the doe on my left was now coming up the ditch were the roe buck had that morning and could see straight into the tower and caught a glimpse of the binos being lowered, she immediately ran out the back about 50 yards and let out a couple of barks. Straight away i thought thats it i have blown it and the buck and doe out on our right froze, i knew they were about to disapear but to my luck they carried on to feed after a quick scout of the area around them. They then disapeared into some brambles only to appear a few minutes later on the edge of the grass. The buck was only about a year old with only one antler showing a few millimeters and fangs just visable. I asked Adrian if he was happy for me to take him and he said he was if i was. The buck stood perfectly broad side but again i was not happy with the shot and there was some vegitation between the rifle and the engine room. i waited for him to move out with he did and presented a perfect broad side shot, i put the cross hairs just behind the shoulder only for him to then move infront of the doe so i couldnt take him. While this was going on there were now 2 more does on my left, 1 behind the high seat and 1 we heard comeing through the black thorn on the right. Finally the doe made her way out the back of the strip and the buck thankfully decided he was still hungary and decided to carry on feeding, but now he was facing us head on and i didnt want to take the shot for the risk of meat damage and blowing his guts out with the 75grain balistic tip. I continued to keep the scope on him for the next 10mins that he stood facing us, i became more and more nervous as this could be my first muntjac and there were now does all around us and i just had a feeling he would go off and follow one or one of the many pairs of eyes and ears would spot us. But to my relief he finaly quartered enough to present a suitable broad side shot, i took a couple of deep breaths to settle the nerves then put the cross hairs just behind the shoulder then boom, i squeesed off a round only to see the buck run straight towards us. Adrian said reload. I thought i had missed or worse gut shot him so i imidietly stood up and chambered another round ready to finish him off but Adrain said dont and then the buck came to a stop and wobbled, he put his front legs out to ballance himself, sat on his arse then fell over kicked once and layed there dead. MY FIRST MUNTJAC!!! I was shaking with excitment and had a massive grin stretching across my face. Adrain congratulated me and said to wait up in the tower for a bit to let the nerves settle and charlie might come investigate. 10 mins later we climbed down to get the buck and he lay there dead. The shot had gone in just behind the shoulder and looked to have taken out the heart. I went to the site of the shot and there was a strong consistant blood trail of deep red blood which strenghened my thinking. After a quick examination of the beast and a few pics Adrian hunt the buck over a branch in a tree behind us and bled him out. We returned to the high tower in the hope that charlie would show but with no luck we called it quits at the 8 30 and headed back to the farm. I texted Mark the good news and he met us at the larder and showed us how to do a level 2 groalach and after organ inspection the bullet had entered perfectly between the ribs and had taken out the right lung and the liver straight through, but the heart was still intact so i guess i was wrong in my theory! The ballistic tip did not break up on impact and exeted the other side between the ribs also, so there was no meat damge what so ever.
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I cannot thank Mark, Roger, Rob and Adrian enough! It was the best days shooting i have ever had and learnt more than i could have hoped. Mark i am sure you shall be seeing me again very soon and again thank you very much. I cannot recommend shooting with Mark enough, he is a top bloke and can cater for all your stalking needs, and the banter is also pretty good.