Just back from 5 days Sika Stag stalking in the Wicklow mountains with John Fenton. I posted an enquiry on here, a while back about sika stalking in Ireland and the unanimous response was to go with John Fenton, which I have no regrets about. So thanks for that feedback guys.
Itís safe to say that John Fenton is probably the most professional outfitter in the area and more importantly has all the permissions where the Sika are, pretty much tied up. I originally enquired about Sika stalking with a couple of other outfitters, who were easier to find on the internet, but letís suffice to say, I have subsequently heard accounts, which would cause me to have a lot less confidence in their ability to deliver, if you get my meaning.
We flew with Aer Lingus from Birmingham to Dublin and it never ceases to amaze me the differences between airline policies with regards to carriage of rifles and ammo. At one stage, we were actually asked to remove our rifles for inspection from the hard cases at the check-in desk in full view of the queuing public. Not surprisingly, a few people complained to the airline staff about us waving rifles about in this ďunsafeĒmanner.
So much for airline security. Itís a complete farce IMO anyway! Ps: make sure your ammo is in its original cardboard boxes inside a separate lockable metal container. Some airlines allow ammo in your checked in luggage. Others require it to travel separately boxed from the rifle.
Anyway back to the hunting. We booked a 5 day sika stag rut package(10 stalks) which included 3 stags and BnB accommodation at the Wicklow Heather Hotel in Laragh (near Glendalough). We had all our breakfasts and dinners at The Wicklow Heather restaurant and the food and service were exceptional IMO.Our very comfortable accommodation was a mile further up the road and they happily ferried us backwards and forwards, at no additional cost, whenever we pleased.
As I said John Fenton has the best Sika grounds in Wicklow and you will see plenty of deer and no shortage of opportunities to shoot. On my first successful outing when I managed to bag a good 8 point sika/red hybrid we spotted at least 10 shootable stags in one valley alone. Not to mention dodging all the numerous hinds whistling at us all the time.
We had plenty of options on where to go depending on weather conditions and hunters ability. John Fenton has a big following in Scandinavia and has high seats for older or less mobile stalkers. He also has a group of very experienced guides who know the area well and are able to offer quite challenging open hill stalking for fitter hunters.
All my three successful stalks were open hill stalks,requiring a good degree of skill in outwitting intervening hinds and sheep to get to our target animal. My last stalk with Mick Whelan (when I bagged my classic 8 point sika stag) was particularly memorable in that we had to change strategy and approach three times to account for wind change and to avoid alerting hinds between us and the stag.
I was after specific trophies and subsequently passed up many shootable 6 point stags. Bronze, silver and gold medals are there for the taking but it is very much a matter of luck as the big boys are often way out the back or only show up at last light. I guess they donít get to be old,by being stupid. I missed out on a good medal stag one evening with John when the stag just vanished into the vapour.
Normally calling stags is quite successful at this time of year but for some unknown reason, this year the rut does not appear to be in full swing and many of the bigger more mature stags would not respond to the whistle.
But all in all, a fantastic weeks stalking with Irelandís premier Sika outfitter. Thanks again to John Fenton and his crew.
Ps: he also offers a great deal on the hind cull for nontrophy hunters from Nov to Feb.
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