I took the day off on Thursday last week to take advantage of Mark's mid-week offer on a morning and evening stalking session in the same day, so thought I'd say thanks and do a write up on here as it was a superb day out!
Met Mark at 6am a stones throw from one of his shoots on the downs, across a soggy field we ambled to make it to a tower he's built that overlooks three valleys - a T shaped mass of field surrounded by woods. I was hoping the gap in the rain would last as I had no desire to wonder around soggy for the rest of the day! A behemoth of a tower loomed out of the darkness, semi surrounded by tree and scrub. Mark shot up the ladder to open it all up, and I followed wondering what would be up there...
My last flat was less comfortable than this tower! Carpeted benches/windowsills, carpeted floor with swivel chairs on wheels, bag-rests on the windowsills, flip-up shutters offering 360 degrees of shooting into all three valleys! Happy days! Had it been raining I would have sat up there happily all day!
Mark explained the lay of the land and distances I'd be shooting at when it began to lighten up. First light revealed two roe feeding about 200yds away, unfortunately though they had their backs to us and were too far away in the half-light to sex them properly... they disappeared when it got lighter (b*gger!). I spotted a glimpse of what I thought was a muntjac shortly after and Mark explained there was a trail they used at the edge of the woods next to where I'd seen the deer.
We sat until it was fully light then climbed down and had a stalk around a wood that Mark said the deer used to cross between areas. We saw a doe run through but no bucks or muntjac, and the squelchy mud and waterproof clothing made stalking very hard work! No joy on that session so we retired for a bacon sarnie then I went to my car for a kip (4am starts aren't the norm for me!).
The afternoon/eve session saw us stalking up to various vantage points and waiting for an hour or so to see if anything would show, plenty of tracks about but no deer. Something was bothering the pheasant pen but we didn't catch a sight of the charlie we were sure was there (I'm as happy with a fox as I am a cull-buck), so we continued our stalk around back towards the tower where the day had started.
We got onto a path where Mark said there were often deer - I had the wind at my back so didn't hold much hope... a Doe promptly walked out in front of me! No Buck followed so we carried on back to the same valley we'd started. This time we sat high up in a wood, overlooking the valley with the tower in the middle. Mark produced two flapjacks and some water and we sat and waited.
After about half an hour the sun was starting to go down and Mark spotted a fox at about 300yds making its way accross the valley... "up to you" he said. I decided as I was only after cull bucks anyway and I wouldn't be taking the meat that I'd sooner have a shot than not. So, I waited until he was about 200yds away and took aim... he promply squatted for a No.2 and I decided I couldn't bring myself to shoot anything whilst it was taking a dump, so I waited a little longer and he began running across and towards us. At 100yds he paused broadside and I knocked him over (100gn .243 stops foxes pretty quick!).
Having had deer appear shortly after having shot a fox I waited a little longer scanning with the Bino's but nothing showed.
Predictably on the walk back a quick scan with the torch showed a few deer feeding, but I was pleased with my day and frankly being an unfit g*t these days I don't think after 10 hours stalking I could have mustered the energy to lug one back to the car anyway!
OK so I didn't shoot a deer, but I had a great day out on a really nice part of the downs, and Mark's a knowledgeable guy and interesting to talk to - I'd highly reccomend it to anyone wanting a day out shooting, there's certainly plenty of deer there and I only saw a fraction of Mark's land.
Also, the Tower has to be seen to be believed! Bring a flask, food, and your i-pad & earphones and you may as well be at home