I was fortunate to have placed the successful bid for a stalking trip up to Galloway which Mark 1 kindly offered in support of Moonraker68's fundraising efforts for the RNLI following the tragic and untimely departure of Pheasant Sniper's nephew.
Mark and I chatted to arrange the date, etc, and Mark asked if I minded his son coming along - absolutely not, I'm all for encouraging youngsters. It was obvious Mark was of the same frame of mind, as he was more than happy for my 14yr old son to come along for his first experience of deerstalking, and so a week last Friday saw 4 of us (plus dog!) piling into Mark's navara and hauling up the M6.....
We arrived at the cottage and settled in (ie opened a beer or three!), and set the alarm for 4am the following morning before retiring (and what a great cottage with a very cosy open fire ).
The following morning rolled around, and I think it was a shock to my lad's system to be woken up at 4 in the morning....still, fair play, he got up and dressed without a grumble.... It was raining and very overcast as we drove up to the stalking permission, so we stopped by the side of the road for 20 mins or so for the rain to blow over and for things to lighten. As we sat there chatting away, lo and behold not 45yds away out from under a tree stepped a roe doe looking singularly unconcerned.....we watched her mooch around for 10-15 minutes, and it was only as we opened the boot of the truck to make reday for the stalk that she made her way off. I took that to be a positive omen.....
We commenced our stalk, following a fenceline up towards a wall bordering a small burn, glassing as we went. It had stopped raining, but the going underfoot was soggy - it was this point that we found out that the waterproof membranes of my sons boots were knackered as his feet were wet. Still, look on the bright side: my boots were ok and so my feet were lovely and dry!! (....does that make me a bad father?!? ). We crossed the burn and followed a plantation edge round - u ntil Mark's lab stopped and started scenting, suggesting that there was possibly a deer in the wood. We stopped and watched, waited and glassed but couldn't detect anything so decided to proceed with caution. We crossed a field to drop down towards the next wall when we suddenly spotted a flash of orange....buck! The 2 boys behind us dropped to the floor and kept quiet (good lads!), we kept eyes on the young spiker buck and Mark readied his quad sticks in front of me (as an aside, I'd never used quads before, and it really was quite a revelation just how steady you could get on them).
The buck was drifting in and out of view behind the undulations of the field, but his direction was right so we just waited for him to drift over and give us a chance of a shot.....As he came to around 70yds away, something must have caught his eye as he suddenly turned towards us and started approaching us slowly - alert, but unsure. He came to around 65yds, and then started what could best be described as an 'Ali shuffle', twitching his neck left and right as he strained to establish what was in front of him. The shot was safe and so I took my opportunity before he broke, squeezing the trigger and watching him vanish from sight as he hit the floor following the impact of the .308 round. A rapid reload, and then we gave him a few minutes under observation. With no sign of movement, Mark cast his lab off, and she went straight over to the fallen buck. A quick eyeball test showed nil reaction - buck down. Closer examination showed a high chest entry that has exited just behind the right shoulder, and the buck was an asymmetrical spiker. Gralloch done, we headed home for a well-earnt breakfast.
The weather turned a little as the day wore on, but the plan was to sit in Mark's doe box so the rain outside was of no consequence. The doe box has been pictured on SD previously, but the photos don't do it justice!! It's just short of a little 'home sweet home' cross-stitch over the door . Eventually the rain let up and the sun peeked out; I was hoping that a buck may show itself to snatch those last few rays, but unfortunately this wasn't to be. As darkness fell, we called time and returned to the car.
No stalk on Sunday morning as I needed to head for home due to family commitments, but an enjoyable and successful weekend which my son also thoroughly enjoyed (despite his trench-foot.....).
A big thanks to Mark for donating the stalk, and a big thanks again to Moonraker68 for initiating the fundraising.
Job's a good 'un.
Attachment 18811Attachment 18812Attachment 18813Attachment 18814Attachment 18815Attachment 18816Attachment 18817