Hi folks, its been a while since I've visited SD, so i've decided to post up a write up that I did recently on an Irish forum about the first real test for my black lab Tara. I'm based in Kildare, Ireland.
I decided late on Saturday evening that I'd get up on Sunday morning and go for a shot.
I've recently aquired the stalking if a private wood and surrounding farm land 15 mins from my door and, although I've seen a few animals up there the last couple of weeks I haven't actually shot anything.
I stepped out of the jeep just as dawn was breaking and made my up the hill. The grass was frosty, the wind in my face and I had a feeling I was going to be lucky.
I stalked over to the edge of a strip of a small pine plantation which has a raised hillock looking down over a large pasture, I had hoped that there may be animals grazing this pasture, but a thorough glass confirmed there wasn't. I backtracked on myself and climbed over a fence to stalk up the other edge of this small plantation which would lead me to the edge of the main wood.
Just as I stepped over the fence there was an alarm bark from a hind not 20 yards away from me and she skipped accross the field and into the wood. I thought my chances where scuppered. I rested the rifle on a fencing post and scanned the field. A pricket was standing side onto me, seemingly unaware of me, grazing. I couldn't believe my luck, why he didn't bolt when the hind barked I do not know.
I ranged him at 190 yards and decided to shoot him off the fence post I had the rifle rested on as the grass was long and I'd left my shooting sticks back in the jeep! He was still side on so I decided for a chest shot. The .243 broke the silence of the morning and the distinct thud of the bullet striking confirmed that I was on target. I watched to my despair as the pricket ran like nothing had happened, down towards the small plantation, I followed him through the scope, but lost him as he disappeared into a dip in the field.
I decided to wait it out for twenty minutes and let it brighten up. Smoked a fag and started crossing my fingers that my decision to sit and wait as opposed to trying to follow up had been the right one. I was confident enough that I'd chested him, so I persuaded myself to wait.
Eventually I headed over to where I shot him and looked for a trace of blood. I couldn't find anything, but my Labrador Tara was doing plenty of sniffing. I told her to "get on and find it", this would be the first time her tracking skills would be used for real.
She headed, head down for the young plantation, me following. After a good ten minutes sniffing around inside the young plantation she brought me, uttering encouragement, through to the other side and headed straight into heavy gorse.
I decided to wait outside the gorse. After a few minutes and no sign of Tara I tried to whistle her up, but no sign of her. I knew she was onto something then. I called her and she started barking and whimpering, something she never usually does, so I decided to beat my way into the gorse.
Low and behold she was in the middle if the gorse with a stone dead pricket by the neck, attempting, with no success, to pull him along! Some sight!
I got him out of the gorse eventually and Tara got a heart, a kidney and some liver as her reward, after all if she hadn't of found him I highly doubt I ever would have!
I'd shot the pricket slightly too far back, resulting in me destroying most of the liver, but obviously still giving him enough juice to run a fair distance before he expired.