Here's a short story that shows how very careful you have to be at times. A few years ago I was stalking in Sussex on a piece of ground that has a big valley with a stream running down the middle. The bottom third of the valley had been felled with some scrubby regrowth but the top two thirds were mixed mature conifers and deciduous trees and the valley was probably a mile from top to bottom. There were a lot of fallow, some roe, a few muntjac and one or two sika on the ground.
There were three of us, John and I and a guest and we set the guest in position on the right hand side of the valley, almost at the top, with instructions to shoot only at a fallow pricket on his side of the stream and only when the shot would be backstopped by ground on his side of the stream. The final instruction was for him to stay put whatever happened until one of us came to get him and that when this happened we would would approach him from behind and whistle before coming in.
John and I went down to the bottom of the valley and started slowly up the left hand side of the valley about 30 yards apart. The idea was that we would try to push something up towards the other guy but could also take a deer in a safe position if we saw one.
Dawn was just breaking and we slowly walked up keeping each other in view at all times. I had the stream 30 yards to my right and John was to my left. I knew that I could shoot straight ahead and on my side of the stream (provided the shot was backstopped) and John could shoot front and left.
If we lost sight of each other due to cover the understanding was that we would stop until the other came into view again, re-establish contact with a hand signal and then move on again. We agreed that when we reached the path that crossed in front of us just over half way up the valley we would come together and discuss tactics. John and I had done this before quite a few times and it worked well however it was the first time we'd been out with the other guy.
About an hour had passed and we were approaching the path when I lost sight of John. I knew that the path was about 20 yards ahead so I decided to move slowly up to the path and wait there for our agreed rendezvous knowing that John would do the same. By the time I arrived at the path it was almost fully light and I stood by a tree just off the path and waited for John to appear.
Although the path came across us at this point, prior to this it ran down the other side of the valley and turned at right angles to cross the stream and pass in front of us. John hadn't appeared yet but the agreement was to wait for each other and that's what I did. After a few minutes I heard something coming down the path to my right. I thought it might be a deer so I eased back behind the tree and waited.
Down the path came the guy that we had left at the top of the valley - I couldn't believe my eyes! I was in full camo with a face mask and he didn't see me until I virtually coughed in his ear and he nearly peed himself. I asked what the f*ck he thought he was doing and he said quite innocently that he had seen nothing got bored and decided to have a walk about. I asked whether or not he realised that John was in the cover a few yards further on thinking that he had a safe shot in front towards the path and, although John would never shoot unless he had a clearly identified target and safe background, he had taken a huge risk by walking across the front of us. As I spoke there was a shot and it transpired that John had taken a roe out to his left and thankfully safe.
We never took this guy out again but it just goes to show you can give the clearest briefing and instructions but there are still some who think they know better and create a danger for everybody. We had been absolutely clear that he should not move until we picked him up and yet he had thought it OK to go strolling around a wood in which he knew there were two guys with loaded rifles who thought that he was in a certain position over 400 yards away.
I'm sure that there will be some who criticise the whole strategy of the morning and you may well be right. John and I had no problem with how it worked as we were experienced with each other and did what we said we would do. We never used the tactic again no matter who the other guy(s) out was and when placing people in high seats or positions in the future we absolutely emphasised that when we said don't move we meant it and told this little story to make the point.
Some people are quite unbelievably stupid and thankfully a potentially fatal situation passed without incident.