I had a days social stalking today with a couple of pals. The plan was excellent, stalking roe or reds on upper Donside, and a chance to play with my new quad bike and some top thermal imaging kit. However the day started badly, my landy 110 had a flat tyre, a proper split from off roading, it was going no place!
We swapped to Iains landy, hitched up the quad and headed off, too late really, as the sun was up, but we felt that the weather was so cold the deer would be mooching about in the morning sun for some time. On the 40 minute drive from the city we saw no deer, this was looking bas as all the usual spots were barren, and we began to wonder if we were too late. However the prospect of a morning on the hill with the lads was good anyway.
We drove onto the estate and immediately saw some does in a field, 600 yards away and below us, behind a forest Iain would stalk into them and hopefully make contact. Bruce and i stayed with the landy, and scanned all the surrounding ground with the thermal imager. Immediately we had a large number of heat traces on the opposite hill - another estate, but interesting. There was a lot of contacts, so we guessed rabbits, but they were larger, so a scan with the binnys was required. The hill was about 1200 meters away, possibly a little more so it was just for interest, but we soon noted that the contact was a herd of red deer, mooching back into the forest, and a couple of roe well below them. That is an incredible aid to vision!
Bruce and i chatted away, a good distance from Iain, who had disappeared from view, into a valley and forest below us. Bruce and i got bored, and decided to see if we could see the deer he was stalking, they were behind some spruce trees in a field. As we got into a position on the hill road to see the deer, we located them just as a rifle crack, followed by a whack was clearly heard, and a doe dropped. 3 others ran a short distance, and then stopped, wondering why their pal was now sleeping in the field! We wondered if another would drop, but soon saw Iain emerge from the forest. He clearly had a long drag ahead of him, so time to launch the quad.
it was easy to drive and after whizzing along an estate road, and through 3 fields i was on a heavy breathing Iain, dragging a deer up a hill. We quickly popped the roe onto the front rack, iain onto the back one and reduced a 30 minute drag to about 3 minutes - i love this thing!
We then decided to walk all the main paths through the estate, a short days walk. It is steep in places but within 5 minutes of leaving the thermal imager picked up a heat trace in long grass, exactly where he had watched a roe doe feeding for some months now. The imager is just an improvement to eyesight, and i knew the doe would be there, but it saw it before i did.
Sticks down, Bruce onto them and the doe was unaware of us 80 - 100 meters away. It was moving along slowly, probably quartering towards us. The deer suddenly stopped and looked into the distance below us, 1500 meters away a shepherd was rounding up his herd, and yelling at the dogs, so something, the doe trotted away, not far or fast. I expected it to stop over the next ridge, but binnys and a thermal imager could not see it. It had probably just lain down in the cold frost grass, and was showing no heat trace.
We continued on our way, with one in the bag anyway and quite happy. A slow walk, showed a few more deer, but none really take able and after picking up a trail camera i had left some time earlier we finished back at the landy and quad.
We decided to all have a go of it and i am delighted with it, it was able to go through what i could not walk through easily, and was quick and easy to use.
It will be invaluable for recovering reds, and distant roe. a good day out, very sociable and enjoyable