Getting up at 4.30 am after a few sherberts the night before I set off down to Dorset. Remarkably id had the presence of mind to get my kit & thermous ready before bed so i was packed up and gulping coffee whilst trundling down the A37 before it dawned on me I should have considered how sensible it was to be driving. I certainly didn't feel great but that wasn't unusual as I suffer from a low pain threshold when it comes to hangovers. With the throbbing sensation getting worse in my head I stopped off at the 24hr MacD's in Poundbury to get some stodge but when I couldn't even choke down a McMuffin I knew it was going to be a long day. Fighting the urge to sleep in the carpark I went to the ground, kitted up and made my way to the highseat.
Dawn birdsong and scent of damp foliage and douglas fir was great - the mist and drizzle made the dawn linger and I spotted a nice Roe buck nibbling the tops of some beech saplings that were poking out the 'protective' sleeves. He didn't pay me much attention but no doubt come April it'll be a different story.
Sat in the highseat I was acutely aware of how rough I was starting to feel. Periodic dry-retching and a knawing hunger was adding to my woes when I spotted movement way off to the left. The bins revealed a small group of sika about 170 meters away which were a job to make out - stalking in forestry is as frustraing as it is rewarding as at that distance there is a hell of a lot timber between you. Picking an individual out the group was hard work as they were in view one minute, obstructed the next or one infront of another. After 20 minutes or so they hadn't really moved and i'd selected a hind that was a little more distant from the others to avoid the risk of a Quigley. It was cat and mouse with the trees waiting for an unobstructed shot and when a chance finally came I took it. At the shot the group scattered and I struggled to pick my beast out, they paused briefly and I saw one looking a little peaky so I cycled the bolt ready to send an insurance shot knowing how tough these animals can be but sods law the spent casing pinged loudly off one of the metal highseat ladder rungs and after that they never looked back.
After a ten minutes spent meticuloulsy marking the strike spot I decended the seat where, dispite only being 15ft higher everything looked completely differet! No pins and no blood and where I thought there should be so I cast a wide circle and found her lying 30 meters or so further on.
I dragged her to cleaner area under an oak tree, the effort making me wobble a bit, an got cracking with the gralloch. Having recklessly splashed out on a new gralloching knife (£5.75) I went to scrape the flesh from the esophagus but it was so bloody sharp to sliced straight through it releasing a generous blob of ripe pea soup to my absolute delight.
Once I'd recovered from vomiting I tied the end with a piece ot webbing that was coming off my roesack and finished things off, leaving her angled on the bank to help drainage. I pussy'd out of carrying her back to the car and called the owner to come to the rescue in his 4WD. Great morning that nearly never happened.