Well after 3 years without a holiday the wife and I left Northamptonshire for Scotland with her two German shepherds we headed for a cottage in Dumfries and Galloway . We arrived in one piece and found the cottage tucked next to a small forest with a small river and just crying out roe deer ....... Result .
I had stalking booked for the next morning so set about getting my kit ready for an early start and settled the dogs down as they aren't used to living in the house much .dawn arrived after a patchy sleep and I set off with sat nav the half hour trip to meet my guide .other stalkers were busy getting off to the guides syndicate ground and I had to get my ticket photo copied and insurance sorted Ect .. And we set off for the forests in search of a roe or two .
the going under foot was well very crunchy and the temp over night had dipped to -5 so it was a slow start .we had seen nothing and although I wasn't duly worried this seemed the normal as had been most of my previous Scottish experiences lots of woods not many deer lol .
anyways keep positive I thought and the sun was trying to warm things up so hopefully we could see deer beginning to move ! My guide was beginning to look a little worried but we persisted and got into position overlooking a small loch with the sun now radiating some heat ,we rested a while to let the sun take effect and my guide said he knew a little spot the deer liked and we headed toward the shore we both spotted the deer at the same time and froze .a roe doe lay down some way off soaking up the rays !
my guide whispered Did I fancy the shot as I was already folding down the bipod and he ranged it at 160 yards ,now for the doe to stand up ....... She did after 5 mins along with 2 other does that we're out of sight from me and the original doe eventually came broadside and I let the 308 150 gr do it's stuff .my guide said it was a good shot and I had already chambered another but the others weren't stopping .my guide and I walked down to the yearling doe and although I am not doing leval two we went through a leval two gralloch together which I did learn one or two things so that was good .so it just goes to show its not over till its over .we returned to base and I got off back to the cottage for brunch .I did return for an afternoon stalk but we didn't manage a shot although we did see a roe doe and several spooky fallow peering over a wall at us .
Now for what I will call probably one of the best guided days stalking I've ever enjoyed .
Although it was an hour from the cottage I drove across country to meet Colin aka SOLWAYSTALKER at an estate he looks after some 13,000 acres of forest and great big hills lol .
I was first at the estate office and met Colin and we promptly got off along a forest track in the estates 4x4 again a fresh morning -4 .we stopped at a layby and continued on foot immediately colin spotted several roe on the clear fell in Front of us ......he has eyes like a hawk I am sure he has zeiss contact lenses he didnt need binos I just couldnt get used to looking at clear fell as its not my usual type of ground and did struggle to see them at first but a doe stuck her head up from her couch and I saw her and promptly stuck a 120 gr 6.5 into her neck .
Colin asked if I'd like to gralloch her and I got stuck in wow what a start .several roe were still In the area and as we continued a few minutes up the track we spotted 4/5 well Colin did ! He encouraged me over the clear fell which is not what I am used to at all and I picked my way to a rise overlooking a small valley again my eyes just didn't seem to work and I really had to concentrate with Colin's help we picked out 4 does and a real nice buck who was busy standing broadside on a stump for ages like they do out of season ha ! I readied the bipod and picked a doe who eventually came broadside for a shot which was a fair way off for me but I felt very steady and Colin had made me feel so relaxed any nerves had petered away which is unusual for me in company .i squeezed off the 6.5 and Colin said it was good so again we walked no stumbled across the clear fell for me to gralloch again .wow. It's. Not 7.45 yet .We get back to the truck after I nearly get a wet foot in the drainage cutting and decide to have a look around some of the estate on the way back to the larder .
Colin has a great way about him as many who have stalked with him on here have testified and we had a good crack as we bounced along the track toward the house ,Colin said roe had been in the house gardens eating all and sundry and the gardener was not too pleased and as we rounded the bend in the drive sure enough 3 roe were tucking in to some bushes oh dear .we arrived at the larder and I stalked back to the far end of the garden to see the three totally unperturbed I had a good backstop and could only get on one doe a yearling and that was that another in the larder .
Good thing about Colin is he let's you get on with it and I enjoy the larder work so put the deer on gambrels and washed down .after a cuppa with the house keeper we went back to the office for another drink and a bite.
The estate is a real great place and the road networks lead to a patchwork of clear fell ,re plant and mature forest .there is also a range of what Colin called wee hills ..... These were very steep mountains to a softy southerner like me !
This is we're we would be heading after a bite to eat .i can recommend the local garage soup superb !
We headed off to the wee hills on the look out for a goat and we immediately spotted some red hinds up on the ridge / snow line ,away in the distance Were some goats but they all looked like Nannys and kids .we passed a memorial of a dead shepherd on the route which shows how serious the weather can get here not that looked like happening as the sun was shining And was so warm .colin spotted a billy closer to us but it looked much higher up to me ,he said it was just a wee climb and that I looked fit enough ! So off we went after the billy .well I took my time and huffed and puffed my way up the wee hill Only when we got to the top there was no billy to be seen ,it is deceptive when you get up high and had I lost my bearings ? We walked along a few yards and there was billy goat gruff so cocky me at that stage tried to free hand him at forty yards you guessed it I shot underneath the hairy beast ! I scrambled up the rise only to see him and his billy mate leg it off the side of the wee hill ! I set up again and this time they stopped to see what all the fuss was about and I dropped the billy .he tumbled down the hill and made it easier to reach and as I looked over the D/Galloway hills in the distance I really did feel on top of the world .
Desending the wee hill was the easy bit and as we came down in bright sunshine it was hard to invisage the guys getting the red stags down from them in the bad weather .the deer and goat must be so hard to live up there and as we came to the bottom of the slopes there was sign of them all around going into the trees for shelter .
I thoroughly enjoyed my outing with Colin and his tales of boar and stalking made a day in the wee hills a great day for my diary ,he is very layed back and allows you to get on with it at your pace he has really seen it and done it a thousand times and I would recommend a stalk with him no matter how experienced you are !
Many thanks for a great day and making my week in Scotland so memorable .
Ps pictures to follow as I broke my camera going up the hill but should be ok.