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Thread: The Arran Diaries

  1. #1

    The Arran Diaries

    Well before I start, let's be clear. There are no rumours to spread, no tales to tell out of school, no incidents to relate and no insinuations to be made. Both BASC and the FC put on a good show. With great help and support from Bob, Mike and Lewis, everything went to plan. Anyway, what happens in the field stays in the field, right.

    In all I think it was a cracking week. We had fantastic digs, ate well, drank heartily and slept like babes.

    But did we see deer?
    Yes. And sign of a lot more besides.

    But did we shoot anything?
    I'll get to that.

    The weather on Monday for the zeroing session was frankly horrid; a steady drizzle that really started to wear after a while. The zeroing did seem to take forever and it was well into the afternoon before we were done. We were given our beats by Bob along with useful tips and made off for a recce. In truth all a bit too late really but finding the entrances etc was useful.
    So no stalk to speak of as the mists closed in and we couldn't see a damn thing.

    Tuesday was as thick as a bag and like trying to look through an old fish tank. Low cloud had come in and visibility was zero. That was game over.

    Tuesday evening was better and we got out for a hike up to the tree line on the open hill. Having done our homework on the OS maps, the photo maps and GurgleEarth we were somewhat perplexed to find that the terrain didn't match our expectations; in that it was pretty unstalkable but ever hopeful we settled in.

    At 14.00 hrs in an epic spotting escapade, I spied a laid up stag on an opposite hillside at least a 1000m out; seconds later there were 2. Seconds after that there were none as a fighter plane flew over and scared them off.
    Dark came and not an ar5e.

    Wednesday we returned convinced that given the amount of sign, we'd score this time.
    Not an ar5e but a super morning nonetheless.

    During the day we recce'd another spot which was a carpet of **** and slots. So a stake out was planned. Again we sat until it was pitch.
    Not an a5se

    Thursday saw us on a new bit where frankly the slots were so thick that it looked as though half the islands sheep had been driven through it. I kid you not, but they weren't sheep.

    About ten minutes in, sitting in a sort of bowl I spotted a spiker above us on the lip. Sure enough Mum and calf were there too. But despite frantic manoeuvring we just could not develop a backstop. As much as I would love to have let the big .300 bark, you just can't take skyline shots. As they they were clearly moving on a mission we really had to let them go in favour of new quarry. Which took all of ten minutes. Across a felled area I spotted a small group in a thicket. Given the range at about 180m and the thickness of the brush it was very difficult to see what was what. But after some shuffling we got the crosshairs onto a hind standing behind a bush, but there was a nice clear spot just in front of her. Ready 3, 2, errr...

    We never got to 1 as just at that point she turned, gathered her friends and walked off through the thicket. We tried to follow on, literally walking in their steps but we didn't have quite their speed and agility. So that was a bust too.

    We returned that night following the old adage "go where you know there are deer"
    But, we stuck another zero. It turned extremely cold and dropped to about 3 degrees by dark.

    So nothing in the bag. All to play for then.

    Friday morning we were up well early innit. We were on the ground before any light in the sky, letting things settle. Despite all the planets aligning perfectly, we didn't see..... You get the picture.

    At the final wash up meeting it was clear that we'd all seen deer, all had chances but Lady Luck was in a bitch of a mood. Final score... Zero. But for a few tricks of fate including a Beagle on the loose - yes I did say a Beagle, we might have bagged half a dozen between us. But the weather was warm and the deer under no pressure to move. There was more movement evident in the mornings over the evenings in our view. And given the area available to these animals, our presence had possibly pushed them somewhere else unlike our own somewhat more captive beasts who turn up where they're supposed to.

    All in all, a very enjoyable week, if you like a weeks holiday with some stalking thrown in. Which we did, it's all an adventure and new memories.

    Arran is what you make it, and we made it a blast really. Self catering is the best way to go in my view as you get total freedom. It is a beautiful island and once we'd finished we drove the North end. Lochranza is simply stunning. We pulled up in the bay at the side of the road and as I opened the car door, I could see slots in the mud at the side of the road. As we glassed the opposite hill we saw hinds covering the heather like sheep. All around the top end, there were deer, deer, deer everywhere. Ahh we'll, another time. I shall be back and frankly that's the best endorsement anyone could give. Ok we didn't bag anything but as has been said so many times, if you think that Arran is like taking candy from a baby then think again. As a learning experience for a newbie, it's certainly REAL stalking make no mistake. Maybe as a more experienced solo stalker, you might find it a little frustrating, but given recent past history, you really can't blame anyone for being cautious. I'd hate to be stuck out in the boonies with no way to raise the alarm, which incidentally is why I carry a satellite phone. Something others would do well to consider.

    So there we go, that's the Arran Diaries for this series

    Chris and Duncan

  2. #2
    Great write up Chris. Glad you had a great time. It is a super scheme in my opinion and your account sums the experience up to the tee.

  3. #3
    +1 Weel done Chris. I cant wait im there on the 27th fingers crossed.

  4. #4
    Have to say, tempted to come back for a second crack!


  5. #5
    unlucky, im glad you had a good time theirs always next time !

  6. #6
    Deff all about luck I think. A pretty experienced crew on the ground this week, no one flubbering around in the trees scaring everything off.


  7. #7
    Very well written Chris. A delight to read and, more importantly a useful insight to anyone thinking about the Arran scheme.

  8. #8
    Neal don't just think about it - book it!

    I think what is nice about the scheme is that there's nothing hidden in there. You get what it says on the packet. Nothing more and nothing less. I'm looking at other shooting packages at the moment and some say, that the price is all in. All you have to find extra is .....

    I went boar shooting once and thought I'd paid everything up front. Yes I had, all except the license, tips, the accommodation, the evening meal, lunch, blah blah. Quite a stinger when you aren't expecting it.

    oh good, it's raining again. Never mind, just had ribeye in a blue cheese and mushroom sauce with a bottle of Tillington Hills cider and got the Bourne Legacy lined up on the DVD. Fire crackling and all bags packed. On the morning ferry which is fiver mins away. So all is good.


  9. #9
    Good write up, I am going up this weekend for last hind week. We went the year before for stags and missed out on a shot too, but saw lots of sign and deer too.

    They are not sitters, and they know what is up. So I am under no illusions. Still it is real hunting in the wider sense, and the chance to do should be cherished.

  10. #10
    Excellent. Well the very best of luck to you. Say hi to the team, Mike and Bob. And Lewis if he's there too. Clearly you know the gig. All I can offer is that the AM stalk is where the money is. Be there early doors and stick it out til around mid morning. Good luck in the evening, but we saw very little moving at all, right until lights out. I'd also say if you spot something, or see lots of sign, don't push it. They seemed very quick to move on if you disturbed the ground at all. I know that's counter intuitive, but they have so much space that they'll be over the boundary in a heartbeat. Use the quad tracks if you have any on your beat. They are like deer dual carriageways. Find one, stake it out and prep an ambush.

    Hey you have been before, I know, but this is what I'd be doing if I were coming with you this week.

    All the very best. Go get 'em. Oh and make sure you have a phone with Vodafone account. Even if it means getting a cheap SIM card.

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