So friday evening saw me drive from North Wales to stay with a friend in Bournemouth, for a weekends stalking with someone from Dorset. We met in a lay-by and drove to his ground. We stalked along a woodland and on the far side of the valley noticed a couple of stags already making their way for the cover of the woodland so with light upon us and it was clear that a bit of woodland stalking would be a good idea as the day had already 'begun'. Into the woods we went and a very slow creep through the woodland began, every little twig snapping sounded like a gun going off! It paid off as we came upon a group of 6 hinds who trotted on through the woods not sure of what had happened! As we came over the ride we suddenly came upon an 8 point very heavy stag with good heavy antlers. He was lip curled clearly testing the air to see how receptive the hinds were. The stag came walking down towards us then stopped with a tree in front of him, now 20 metres away! A 10 minute stand off saw him just stand there turning his head, suspecting something was wrong but what he didn't know. A few whistles on the sika call and he still just stared towards us! No shot presented and he just suddenly upped and trotted off leaving me absolutely gutted as I saw what may have been my only chance go off into the distance. As we dissected what we could have done differently we suddenly realised we were being watched and there he was, having circled back and crept towards us to check us out then realised what we were, this time he pronked off with a vengeance! That morning we kept seeing more stags in between woodlands on the fields but all in the distance and on missions to do something other than relax!
Two more stalks proved unsuccessful despite being lots of animals on the ground it just didn't happen, but that's stalking. After the sunday mornings stalk for a beast we could see skylined, we got back in the car to only see a large stag running like hell for the boundary clearly been sleeping the other side of the hedge from the truck! On Sunday after a kip in the car to catch up we met back at the farm, with lots of walkers everywhere! We waited until they had all disappeared and just stuck to the roads glassing from vantage points. On one drive past a small literally half an acre woodland right next to the farm managers cottage we spotted a hind then on driving past again an hour later a large stag was stood in there. No shot was possible so we just hung around a distance away and waited to see what he may do. Very nerve racking just waiting knowing he could do one of three things, come out our side, come out the other side (also ok) or go back into thicker woodland and not play at all! As we drove past one more time there he was out on the far field with a small group of hinds. Although they had been whistling on and off it was certainly not determined rutting. A quick stalk to a hedgerow and a shot put him on a slow run over the brow of the field where we found him down. The largest deer to come off the farm and one he had really been intending for himself. A cracking stag and one I will remember forever. And although he kept saying prior to going out that West Dorset stags are a lot smaller than in the east, the land was so much fun to stalk in and a new experience for me. I think he is a fantastic stag and will take pride of place as a full skull mount! The sika were so calm I could tell the ground had been rested to accommodate me and it was a pleasure to stalk with someone who truly knows stalking, his ground and his deer.
Couple of pics always go down well when I read articles on here, so here he is!
Now just CWD to go!