I had lain there listening to the rain amplified by the caravan roof for about an hour. A glance at the clock on my phone suggested I either get up now or forgot about it. Another five minuets… I made my mind up; it was definitely starting to ease.
Trying not to disturb “management” I found my way out of our tiny bedroom and into the kitchen/diner of the van and filled the kettle. I made a pot of tea and found some tired looking sliced bread with a view to making some toast. My mate Steve appeared from his room in a Deer Hunter “T” shirt and his underpants. “What-d-ja-think”? He asked.
I resisted a number of obvious replies, opened the caravan door and peered out. It had stopped raining; the wind was light and seemed to be coming from the northwest. It was quite warm and so it should be, September was still a week away.
“Get your kit, we’ll go,” I said ignoring the last piece of toast. Fifteen minutes later we where installed in Steve’s Birlingo and beetling down the A75 in the darkness.
“Where do you want to go when we get there” I inquired, He considered the question for a moment, “Not sure yet, lets see what the wind’s doin’”.
Soon we where parked in the usual spot at the start of the forestry track that snakes through our ground. I had got out of the vehicle and had secured the “CAUTION STALKING IN PROGRESS” sign to its post at the side of the track. I was on my way back when I heard the most appalling stream of inflective being issued from the back of the van. I thought, bloody hell what’s happened? Usual practice was silent running from this point in, but this was loud and serious, I though he’s shut his fingers in the bloody door at the very least!
I got to vehicle in seconds, “ What’s happened”! I gasped. “BLOODY WOMAN! CHRIST! BLOODY WOMAN…SHE’S TAKEN MY F***IN BOOTS OUT OF THE F***IN CAR I’VE ONLY GOT MY BAS***D SLIPPERS ON”!!
I was relieved at first, at least first aid was not required, the feeling of relief gave way to a sort of hybrid between annoyance and amusement, this giving way to profound sympathy for the “Bloody woman” involved; Steve’s girlfriend of three months Suzie.
“We can go back and get them I suggested”, with out much conviction. “Oh F**K That”! Was the response I expected and got. “It’ll be too late by the time we do that”, “F**K it”!
“OK, I volunteered, look we can drive down the track I can take the first high seat by the clear fell, you carry on park at the wood pile and take the seat by the burn, you only have to walk fifty yards. Should you get a buck whistle me up on the radio and I can nick over with the Roe sack” This, after some thought, he pronounced acceptable.
I watched the Birlingo disappear around to corner of the wood and clambered into the high seat. This was one of the first we had built and was a particular favourite in terms of comfort and position. I’d had some success from this seat in the past.
I began to spy the surrounding land in front of me. The masses of Roe bucks, slowly, in the growing light, began to resolve themselves into the tangle of brash and tree stumps that they actually where. I suppose it must have been about twenty minutes I had been sitting there pondering the nature of relationships and not checking your own kit. It could so easily have been me I thought and was smiling at the piss taking I’d escaped, when I saw them.
Not much more than a tad over a hundred yards from where I sat where two Red Stags. I flung the binos to my face in disbelief. We had seen Red deer sign off and on since we had the lease, and one of the lads had actually seen one! But this was too much. My heart was starting to do the fandango in my chest as I peered at what looked like a couple of Elk. I slowly started to exert some self-control and examined the beasts more closely. Neither of the stags had much of a head but I decided on the larger of the two, a five pointer in velvet and he was stood side on.
I exchanged the bins for the Sako and flicked up the scope covers. I went through that mental checklist that you always do. In season? Yep! Safe shot? Yep! Enough gun? 100 grn’s Yep!
The safety slid forward. I don’t actually remember the report just sight picture/trigger pull, the deer staggered forward a couple of paces and fell. I shucked the bolt and picked up the image of the deer getting up and following his mate over the ridge.
Bugger! I sat there in disbelief for a moment. Then the agreed interrogative two clicks on the radio brought me round. (Me) “Copy Steve”…. (Reply) “Have you shot that bloody fox? Over”, (Me) “Er no”, (Reply)“What then?” (Me)“A Red Stag I think, Over”….(Reply)…..”You think! Oh! Great!”
It took me a long time to extract myself from the seat and cross the intervening distance to the spot where I had last seen the stags, with my rifle at the ready position I carefully peeped over the ridge, the stag was on his side ten yards away still alive but not very, another Hornady in the neck ended the matter.
I reported in and was told, “I’m on my way”, I finished Gralloching the beast and glanced up to see this bloke picking his way across the clear fell like ballerina in a dog pound! Of course the slippers!
I waited till he reached me; he looked at the stag then the distant track then his sorry looking footwear and moaned quietly to himself….
By the time we got the beast safely back to the van parked under my high seat we where both knackered but still in a lot better condition than the slippers which looked as if they had been soaked in a bucket then put through a shredder!!
- The above is a true story but in the best tradition the names where changed etc etc.
- We took the stag to the Game dealer in Creetown and the four of us had a slap-up feed at the Port Logan Inn.
- I never forget to check for my boots.
- Sadly Steve and Suzie are no longer together.