Last October, my father sent me an article about stalking in Ireland. The seed was sown and a phone call was made to John "Sika" Fenton. Dates were agreed, a programme was put together, monies sent and licenses were organised.
I booked 2 stags over three days and took an option on a billy goat, should the opportunity present itself. I informed John that I would be bringing my wife or my father. As it was my father joined me in what were three great days as I got to see just how fit my father was, given that he is 73. I think it is fair to say that he has the stamina of a person half his age. The highlight for me was watching my father stalk and shoot his first Sika stag, in fact his first deer ever, under the careful and skilful eye of John. John got Dad into a great position after a difficult stalk in ackward terrain. The ground was a mixture of open hill and semi mountainous with Hinds acting as sentries with a sixth sense. Anyway his shot was taken and the stag staggered for 10 meters having been hit in the heart. Death was immediate. It was a beautiful 8 pointer and my father was very pleased.. I managed to film it and it has been replayed countless times!
I should add that this was his second attempt that morning; he had a misfire. The first stalk was very difficult as we had spied three stags in open hill with little by way of cover. When John got him into position his heart was racing and he had a misfire: he had his finger on the trigger when he shouldn`t have had. The bullet struck the undergrowth beneath the stag and the only damage was my fathers pride. Nevertheless he showed contrition, kept his head down and bucked up.
My stalk was somewhat simpler in that John got us me into a nice vantage point which gave us a great view of the valley beneath us. The wind was less than friendly but we were fortunate to see a a few stags follow a group of hinds who passed within 50 meters of us. The stags were 300 meters behind the hinds so it was a case of wait and see. As the stags got to within 200 meters of us I put a bead on the lead animal and was shocked to see that they are a lot smaller when you see them through a scope! As they got nearer, the wind was gusting and the stags deviated from the hind`s course. I told John that I was ready to shoot. Shot taken, the animal ran 50 meters before collapsing, again death was very quick.
John was pleased, I was pleased and my father could see why I have become a stalking addict. Shooting pheasant and duck which is what we had done previously paled in significanse to stalking. John took good care of us, knows his land and knows his deer. Wicklow Sika are special as the grounds are breathtaking. I look forward to my next visit and to seeing John again! I wish I could write a much longer article but suffice to say, watching your father shoot a deer on the open hill is truly wonderful and a great memory that I will cherish forever as he has now joined my brothers and me in joining a special society of stalkers.
Anyone considering a trip to Wicklow.......should contact John for a great stalking experience.