I was fortunate enough to be successful in my bid for a days stalking generously donated (and hosted) by Stone to the M&S auction.
But it transpired that Stone though had had a change of thought and decided to change the offer from a days stalking to a full weekend stalking . So in March I filled the car with everything needed for a couple of days away and headed south down to the Midlands. Needless to say I had a great time and Stone pulled out all the stops to get me a shot or two.
The plan was to try and put me onto each of the three species he has on his permission, Fallow, Roe and Muntjac. Unfortunately over the next two days the deer were not playing the game but I did see one or two, and not having any fallow or muntjac locally I do get a real buzz out of just seeing them, never mind getting a shot.
I met up with Stone on the Friday afternoon and we were then joined by Jonathon (243varmint) who was joining us for the evening. We were to shoot a large area of young plantation which was Stones best muntjac ground.
We dropped Jonathon off at gateway overlooking a grass paddock on the edge of the woodland and then drove back to the far boundary. As we did so we passed a young buck grazing on a ride so we drove on a later further and debussed. Stone told me if he was still there I would need to be quick as the buck would be aware something was amiss. I stalked back to the point where we had seen the little deer and he was still there, nicely broadside. I slowly raised the rifle to the sticks and tried to avoid any sudden movement but he was onto me and the muntjac buck was away into the trees in a flash. Not to be deterred we spent the final hour of the evening stalking the rides and clear areas of the plantation but saw no more deer but plenty of sign. After fifteen minutes we heard a rifle shot in the distance and then half an hour after that a second rifle shot, so Jonathon was getting some action.
Driving back to collect him a good heavy buck crossed the track just in front of the vehicle so that was two I'd seen so far. It transpired that he had shot a fox with his first shot and later from the same position shot a muntjac doe which had tried to cross the open ground of the paddock in the fading light. Jonathon was over the moon and the weekend had got off to a cracking start.
I got my chance on the Saturday morning on Stones fallow ground, we had just set off in the half light when I saw a muntjac pretty much in the middle of the field next to us. Through the bins it transpired there was actually a buck and doe. It looked like I had missed the opportunity for a shot when they started to move away but they u-turned and came back, Stone whistled, the buck stood perfect broadside and I took the shot off sticks at about 90 yards. The muntjac's reaction was not at all promising, it just ran off, head down tail up, into a copse about 60 yards further behind!!
Stone thought I had missed as he said he thought he heard the bullet strike a fence post immediately behind the deer. I was not so convinced and thought I had glimpsed a leg flapping as it sprinted off. Stone had seen no sign or reaction to shot so said we would leave the search until later as there was a road behind the copse. The rest of the stalk was uneventful apart from seeing another muntjac buck which was shootable except it was walking down a hedgeside with no backstop. To be honest I was gutted about the missed deer which put a downer on the rest of the stalking, all the doubts were creeping in and I was mortified at the thought of a winged deer.
We completed our circuit of that part of the farm and from the amount of fallow slots, tracks etc I was amazed we had not seen one of these deer. We collected Raff my Wirehaired Viz from the vehicle before returning to the place where I had shot at the muntjac.
We got our bearings again and walked over from my shooting position to the location of the muntjac when I shot. Stone and Sika soon found blood (wayhay!), lots of blood (double wayhay!!!) and oodles of nice pins in a compact area, we followed the slots and blood trail over the nice sandy soil to the copse and they led us straight to the buck dead in a ditch directly infront of the cover. At this point to put it mildly I was a bit chuffed . The bullet had struck a tad too low, took out the elbow and continued on through the lower part of the chest and through the heart, hence the good blood trail.
The afternoon was spent with a visit to the roe ground (blank)then back to the fallow ground from the morning. We saw two fallow does in a spinney at about 200 yards, due to the curve of the land the only option where we were was a standing shot which was not on. We ran through a couple of options to get closer and decided on a direct stalk in but our cover was poor, and we had hardly moved thirty yards when they saw us and slipped away after five minutes stood motionless looking at us. We continued on and staked out a wood edge with a rough paddock next to it, but nothing appeared as the light faded.
The last morning was an early visit back to the roe ground, but again no roe. We did see a couple of muntjac in the distance when we first arrived so after stalking the hedges for roe returned to where we first saw the those muntjac. We stalked down the edge of a spinney and both saw at the same time a buck just fifty yards off in the cover of a hedge bottom, he then obliged by walking out into the open field and standing broadside, except the only background was blue sky!!! He was a really good animal with prominent antlers even to the naked eye but with no backstop the shot was not on, from what he says it could well be the one Stone shot close by a week or so later, so he may have used up all his spare lives that day.
To round the morning off it was back to the fallow ground and Stone dropped me off at a highseat in some very well used woodland. No deer were to appear but I did get cracking views of a couple of nuthatch, a bird I had only seen once previously so that was a nice bonus. So ended a great weekend and thanks in so many ways to Stone.