Left the good lady snoozing at the Mabie House Hotel and met Colin for a morning stalk on Saturday. After the awful weather all week the forecast had come good and it was a lovely clear but cold morning. Knowing Colin has some cracking ground I was feeling hopeful we'd have a good morning and see some deer!
After parking up we crossed a couple of fields and began stalking through a small strip of woodland. We spotted a deer a couple of fields distant but when we got a bit closer could see it was a doe. The wind was perfect though and with a tall hedgeline behind us we managed to stalk to within 100 yards of it. She clearly heard the odd sound but with no scent of us and not able to pick us out she soon relaxed again and started feeding towards us. She must have got to no more than 20 yards away before she crossed the wind and bounded away. Fantastic to see them so close and some good lessons to learn on the effects of wind, cover and careful movement.
From there we went on to another wood where Colin had previously seen a young buck that was getting chased out. We spotted another doe immediately but she sussed us and after 5 minutes staring at each other motionless we slowly moved on causing her to trot away, but quietly and not in the direction we were heading. The wood runs parallel to the estuary shore and a little further on we spotted a doe and a buck feeding between the treeline and the water. They were about 150-200 yards away but no chance of a shot through the trees so we slowly stalked on until we were parallel with them and Colin spotted a clear shot for me though the trees. He set out the sticks for me and I managed to find a really solid position on the sticks with my shoulder braced against the tree. The gap was perfect and I settled for a few seconds before taking the shot. I could only see the doe racing away along the shore but Colin said he had seen the buck make a short arcing run towards us before going down and after a short wait we walked forward to find him lying dead just short of the treeline.
That was my first shot off sticks and I have previously been a bit nervous about that position as opposed to prone off the bipod. However, I have had some good tips recently from our very own 6pointer (thanks Davie!) and the good stance for this shot, at what was fairly close range, meant I felt quite confident before and after the shot. Anyway, I was still pleased and relieved to see the shot was spot on.
Colin talked me through the more straightforward aspects of the gralloch which was another welcome first and also revealed the top of the heart was taken out by the shot. He was a pretty small buck, still in velvet and clearly never going to be a prime beast so a good one for Colin to see taken out and I was really happy with the outcome. Incidentally, if anyone regularly shoots deer in a more beautiful setting than this then they are very lucky!
Nothing else showed for the rest of the morning but I was really chuffed after another great outing with Colin and some more experience banked.
Colin, here's one you could use for promotional material. Think it catches your best side ...
... and, yes, I did offer to carry it!