Yesterday I arranged for a New Years Eve stalk with Jim Riley (JimDGVM) on his grounds over in Chippenham. Being the top bloke that he is, he managed to fit me in after I cancelled a few days prior, so I was itching to go.
I arrived at around ten in the morning, with the ominous weather report of high winds and constant rain all day, we weren't too hopeful of getting a decent stalk in. Instead we prepared the muntjac trophy I had shoot a few months ago, being my first I thought it would be a good memento of the occasion! Choosing to do a full top jaw mount, no cutting to make it fit a shield, proved tricky for my first attempt but it turned out really well, despite me being a little slow at getting the snotty bits off and out of the skull (sorry Jim)
Through the course of the morning the weather proved unpredictable, with short light showers followed by periods of dry with wind. However when it came to around half two, and Jim asked if I wanted to take a chance how could I say no? You never know until you go! I took a chance on the weather and headed out soon after
We set off for a small ash wood with an enclosed high seat, which would prove comfortable and dry. The wood was fairly dense, and those of you who have been with Jim may know it well, full of thick shrub and an opening in front which the deer move through regularly. We stalked slowly into the wood, pausing every so often to check for those small glances of movement, giving away the otherwise well camouflaged roe and muntjac. Eventually we got to the high seat, clambered in and got comfortable. Within around ten minutes while scanning the ground out front, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a flick of white. Looking through the binos I could make out one roe doe slowly making her way through the shrub, pausing every so often. However, there was too much foliage for a clear shot so we waited it out to see what would happen. Unbeknownst to me, there was also a small muntjac buck browsing slightly behind the roe and even further in the brush which Jim had spotted. Both animals were happily grazing away and in no hurry at all, which meant all we could do was wait and hope they moved out into the open and a clear shot would present itself.
However, after around 40 minutes of watching and waiting, disaster struck. A dog walker, on part of the grounds they shouldn't be, with a whippet off the lead came hurtling down the outside of the wood. Both deer took off like Exocet missiles towards the other end of the wood, leaving both me and Jim rather annoyed! Needless to say that was the last we saw of any deer for the evening. Unfortunately, that's stalking and you cant factor in these things. Through the binos, Jim identified the culprit as a chap he knew well, and this wasn't the first time he had happened to be somewhere he isn't supposed to be!
We returned empty handed when we knew sooner or later a shot would have presented itself. Must again say thanks to Jim for the stalk and ill be returning again soon.