Just before the end of the year I was invited to try for a red with Monenut, and his good lady Margaret. I had my alarm set, but as usual on a stalking day I was awake before it went off. I left my home in Denham at 04.30, and I arrived up in Newmarket a bit early at 6.00, no traffic on the roads at all. Even the M25 was empty, what luxury! I enjoyed a quick brew with P before setting off to his ground.
Still not quite shooting light when we arrived, so had the chance to chat with my host about what we were going to do, and what I needed to be wearing. We set off to a place where reds often lie up. The wind was fresh and changeable, and kept us on our toes, as we moved through the wood. The reds were not at home, so we moved to another area. Moving from one spot to another very slowly so as not to disturb any one at home. We drew a blank at every "hot spot" and it was starting to look as though the reds were not even in the area. Finally at about ten o'clock the reds found us. Stalking through some very thick cover P heard something to our right. As he raised his binoculars all hell broke loose behind us. About a dozen reds which had scented us rose up from the cover and stood looking at us from about 25 yards. I brought up the Sauer to shoot freehand, but sods law prevailed. The only shootable deer was stood between the forked trunk of a large tree. The tree was only about ten feet from me. Unfortunately a further ten yards on there was a sapling which stood exactly up the front leg and shoulder, obscuring my only chance of a shot. I moved left and right, but in either direction my shot was blocked. After perhaps ten seconds the deer worked out exactly what was going on and vanished into the woods.
I was delighted to have even seen reds, but I could sense P's disappointment that there had been no shot for me. He need not have worried, I had enjoyed a wonderful morning in the woods with deer tracks everywhere. We returned to P's home where his wonderful wife had an amazing full breakfast waiting for us. The days are so short at this time of year, that after breakfast and another brew all three of us were back to the ground. P decided to drive around the area to see if we could spy some deer and avoid wasting time working through barren ground. Within a couple of minutes we spied five roe feeding in a field about 500 yards away. P reversed back and after checking the wind headed back the way we had come to put us in a better position to commence the stalk. In doing so we bumped another two roe. This ground really is thick with deer despite P shooting it hard for the last few years. I donned boots and we set off on foot. The group of deer were one side of a pretty full drainage ditch, we were on the other. We used available cover to move closer while keeping the wind on our shoulder. Finally P told me to move ahead and to take a shot if it was available. This proved impossible from the side of the ditch I was on due to me shooting left handed. I could see the deer, but not through the scope. I used my sticks to check the depth of water and finally had some luck. There was a fallen log laying submerged in the bottom of the ditch. I used it to get across and closed the bolt once safely on the other side. Half laying, half crouched due to the steepness of the ditch bank I got the cross hairs on the furthest doe from the hedge which ran along the side of the ditch. The short Stutzen barrel roared and the 7x64 round was on it's way. The doe dropped and I re-loaded just in case. P looked to be in a state of shell shock. Holding his ears and shaking his head as though it was full of bees. As soon as I was happy the deer was down for good, he joined me on my side of the ditch. No sooner had he done this than a second doe walked out to see what had happened to her mate. P said take her of you can, and so a second roar from the Sauer shattered the silence of the winter afternoon. This shot was a bit back and although the deer was down on her haunches, with P's immediate permission I sent a second shot on it's way to make certain. I was rather disappointed in my own performance, but P was most gracious, and said he was happy to see both animals down and secure. I paced over to the deer, and counted 175 as I went. A little more satisfied now as I hadn't shot a roe for seven years, and for me 175 yards off sticks with this rifle was a bit of a big ask. I would have preferred to have been carrying my little moderated .243 with a bipod fitted, but I had come for reds in woodland, and the 7x64 seemed a more appropriate tool. We never stop learning!
We gralloched both deer and dragged them back to the 4x4. We did take a look for reds for another half hour, and Margaret did stalk in to another roe which slipped away before she got the shot on. Eventually we had to give best to the failing light and head home.
Great thanks to Moneynut (P) and Margaret for a fabulous day out. Not what we planned, but a thoroughly enjoyable day for me non the less. There are some great people on this site, who are more than just generous. They open their homes as well as their permissions to people who are nothing more than friends of friends. I will be doing me utmost to repay their kindness as soon as I can.
Thanks also to the Stalking Directory, for without this forum this day simply would not have happened.
Happy new year to all,