Nearly a year since my first stalk with Colin I returned this weekend. I decided to take a mate Chris who had never stalked before, but was keen to give it a go. His father had stalked for years but ill health prevented him from taking him himself.
Having traveled up Friday morning we arrived and got settled in our accommodation. To give Chris the best chance of getting on some deer I was happy for him to stalk the afternoon outing, which would, if he drew a blank give him a second chance on Saturday morning. We were close to the marsh's of the Solway firth on land that I didn't naturally associate with deer. I was observing so holding back 25-30 yards as we set off. After not very far both Colin and Chris seemed to be waiting for me, as I joined them, Colin informed me we had a problem. I looked at Chris who's boots (meindl's) had started to come apart at the sole with every step a resounding slap could be heard. A quick decision meant Chris would have to sit in a high seat whilst I took over the stalk. Five minutes later and Colin and I were still laughing but trying to compose ourselves.
We stalked on and after a short walk entered a wood on the edge of the shoreline. I was a little uncertain as to weather we would see any deer, but pressed on. Soon we started to see deer slots in the mud, this gave some hope that we might actually see deer. We slowly picked our way through, I noticed an Ivy bush which had been browsed around its base giving a flat underside, I asked Colin and he confirmed that it was indeed due to roe and that it was the sort of place where they might lay up. We carried on whilst trying to keep my steps as quiet as possible in the soft wet mud. The wood was of a wild nature completely different to the managed plantation type woodland I had stalked on my last visit, where the line of sight was so much shorter making the stalking more challenging, as due to the density we would be so much closer to our quarry. Eventually Colin suddenly set the sticks, this gave me a clue as to where he had seen the doe and sure enough I spotted her rump, I had to take a step forward in order to get into a suitable position, as I did so I instinctively new I didn't have a great deal of time. Her rear half obscured by a slightly leaning tree meant that I only had a narrow target area in order to avoid hitting the shoulder, I steadied my aim and squeezed the shot off. She fell on the spot, we waited a few minutes before moving towards her, to find that she had indeed died as humane death as possible.
Having seen Colin carry out the gralloch last year, I was keen this time to perform my own gralloch under his supervision. This I did and was surprised just how intuitive a process it is with just a little thought needed. Inspecting the Liver and lymph nodes showed that she was indeed in perfect health. At this point a Roe sack would have come in rather handy but instead we took turns in getting the deer out to where we could get the truck in.
On returning to Chris we found his second boot had indeed given up the ghost whilst walking the short distance to the high seat, and any hope of moving quietly was long gone as his boots clicked along the track much to our amusement. Thankfully he had a spare pair back at the cottage.
We returned to the area I had stalked last year, which I was confident had a good chance of holding deer. I dropped off in a vantage point whilst Chris and Colin continued with the morning stalk. The weather had been frosty overnight and the sky was as clear as ever I've seen, the sunrise over the Solway a sight to behold, and making it all the more magical. I waited on the look out for deer but I saw none, that doesn't mean there weren't any just that I didn't manage to see them. With a numb cold backside I heard Colin and Chris returning, "any joy?" I asked to which Chris replied "might have" his smile betraying any attempt at nonchalance. It transpired he had in fact got two in almost the same location I had taken my first almost a year previously.
Colin had once again delivered the goods and managed to get a young man his first deer despite the equipment setbacks. Both Chris and I are sure that we wouldn't have seen any of the deer in time on our own. I suspect I would have bumped mine before getting a shot off.
Thank you once again Colin for a cracking couple of outings.