Thursday evening I had a call from Scrummie in Geneva. "Would you like a weekend stalking in Sussex with me?" Well after my first idea that the man had gone mad as there must be better people to spend time with I said yes. So I sort of scrabbled around to put a bit of kit together for the trip. On Friday morning I was on my little shoot rota to fill up the feeders and check the pens, followed by carting the duck delivery to the ponds and releasing them. Well that that finished before lunch and I set off for Gatwick to pick up Scrumbag off his flight from Geneva. Well the trip down was a bit of fun trying to get round the worst of London traffic on a Friday evening, my phone rang while I was still on the M23 to say that he was through immigration. (They will let anybody into the country these days. ) I picked him up and we went off to Malc's to try the rifles. It was good to meet both Malc and Sandra.
Next morning we were up at 3:30 and off to Malc's, It was tipping it down and pretty dark so we had tea and met Ken. Ken was told that he had drawn the short straw and had to look after me. (It can't be much fun taking someone who moves across country like a drunken elephant stalking) He was very brave and hardly flinched at all. We set off in his Landy and got organised to start a bit of a look round. We were lucky enough to see a shootable buck at the bottom of a long slope and a good few hundred yards away. Slight problem was it was a huge field of set aside with very little cover. There was a large oak tree where there had been an old hedge so we moved down there and waited for a bit. The buck lay down so we thought we would move straight down towards it using a few sparse clumps of wild oats as cover. The plan seemed to be reasonable and we managed to get the range down to inside 200 yards. The buck stood up and was facing us directly which wasn't optimum if Malc wanted to sell the carcase so we tried to alter the agle by moving very slowly to our left to get a clean shot. Unfortunately we were trying to move when he looked up and was off, not too frightened but moving reasonably quickly. We moved down to a gap in the field and tried to follow the course but it wasn't seen again. We did see two does feeding in the next field so the buck hadn't spread too much alarm. We spent the next chunk of the morning trying to spot another buck but it wasn't to be.
We went back to the B & B and had a shower, went off to do a bit of essential shopping and had some lunch before a couple of hours shut eye before the afternoon stalk. I was off with Ken again and we went back to the same field. I saw a buck down in the same spot, but by the time I had walked back the Landy where Ken was locking up it had disappeared. We thought that we would go down the right side of the field and look along the series of shallow depressions in case it was lying down. We did this but there was no sign. We cut through the gate into the next fiel and there was another duck at the top of this field. (Those cheapo bins are T*P coated by the way so I suppose you have lost all interest Ken!) There was no backstop and the range was far to great for my dubious shooting skills so we went back into the first field so that we could stalk up using the high hedge as cover. The plan was good but by the time we got up there it had gone. Probably hopped the fence and into the high bracken but we weren't sure. We saw another doe in the field. We moved off uphill and through a wood bordering some filelds and bumped a doe with kid at foot but didn't see anything else. Ken then took me to spend a bit of time in a high seat as the evening drew in. When we got there we saw a very big fallow buck in the trees but it moved off before we could do anything about it. (Good thing maybe as it was way outside my price range.) I sat out for a while watching the evening draw in and watching a group of eight roe. Four does with dependent young at foot. Just a wonderful thing to watch. We packed up while the light was still probably shootable but tracking anything in the case of a wounding would be problematic and therefore not too ethical. We went back to the bothy for tea and I said goodbye to Ken. I had a wonderful day in great company with two good stalks even if I couldn't deliver so thanks again. Off back to bed and up at 3:45.
The next morning was better without rain but it was a bit threatening, so after tea Malc took me out and put me in a high seat before he went off with Mike. I settled down as the light improved full of high hopes. I had a great time watching the warblers and goldfinches feeding on the thistle seeds in between scanning round for something to try to improve Malc's cull figures. Unfortunately it wasn't to be as I didn't see anything shootable. Still if you are bored in such a wonderful place with nature all around you you need your head read!
Malc and Mike came around to collect me and we went back for tea breakfast and to help get Mike's two fallow into the chiller. After this it was off to the B & B to shower and change and I dropped Mike off at the airport and set off for North Wales. It rained a bit on the way up but otherwise it was uneventful.
I only have to thank Mike for the invitation, Malc and Ken for looking after we so well and Sandra is a star. I had a wonderful time and who knows I might be down again to spoil your weekends.
Very happy David.