Good evening everyone!
I thought that you may like to know that my brand new Steyr-Mannlicher 7mm-08 Stutzen has now proved its' worth in the field for the first time, and in quite some style. I woke up at 4.20am this morning, or rather my wife kicked me out of my slumber as she'd been awoken by my alarm whereas I stubbornly remained asleep, to catch the first train out to Banbury. I was not going to see a white lady upon a white horse, but to meet a very generous member of this forum who had invited me to spend a day stalking with him. I'd been stalking with this gentleman once last year, where I had completely failed to cover myself in glory by shooting his rifle cleanly over the back of a muntjac. Despite this, he very kindly wrote me a reference letter to send with my FAC application which was instrumental in securing everything I'd asked for from the Met. Anyway, because of the vagaries of both my life and his, we'd been unable to match diaries since last May until today.
The plan was to try and thin out the numbers of roe that were seriously damaging the trees on a farm. Honestly I'd never seen deer damage that bad, although admittedly I'm new to this game. But all the trees had had their bark stripped to about 80cm from the ground, including on some piles of cut logs. My host placed me on my own (a first) at the edge of a field with a rising bank providing a safe backstop ahead of me, under some trees, which having no leaves provided no shelter at all from the steady, miserable rain. Luckily, Gore-Tex did. He set off to walk around the field to see if he could creep up on some deer, the idea being that others would try and elude him by crossing the field in front of me. I set myself up in a sitting position with my rifle resting on my telescopic stalking sticks, essentially creating a big bipod. To try and gauge the distances, I aimed at a wooden telegraph pole towards the other end of the field, deciding that I could easily hit that, so I could realistically expect to hit a deer a little further out.
After perhaps twenty minutes, a large buck appeared at the far left of the field, perhaps 400m away, and proceeded to prance across the field towards me and the upper edge, stopping every so often for a second or two to survey the surroundings. He was a very good buck indeed with large antlers still in velvet, but off the menu, obviously. He was the joined by two smaller bucks, and all three crossed in front of me and vanished into the treeline on the right. Maybe twenty minutes later, I saw a doe emerge from the same hedge, this time well within my range. She was followed by another six, and one very young buck. They weren't spooked so I had a minute or so to have a look at them through my binoculars and make sure they were all does, and to choose one. They were moving across the field in stops and starts, so I had to make a choice. I settled on the second doe, placed the crosshairs behind her front leg at 150m and squeezed the trigger. Now I know you're supposed to hear the bullet strike and see it, but I just didn't. Maybe because I don't yet know how to recognise it. However, I know a deer falling over on the spot when I see one, and this one did. I checked through the binoculars that she was dead, and after perhaps five or ten seconds of half-hearted flailing, she stopped, and that was it. You'd think my heart would be beating like a drum, but it wasn't. No buck fever either. That's not to say I wasn't excited or pleased, it's just that those symptoms that you hear so much about didn't manifest themselves.
There was one strange thing about the dead doe though: the brown mass just under the crest of the mild slope really looked quite a lot bigger than I thought the deer I'd shot warranted. I didn't go forward as I'd been told to wait until my host joined me in case more deer turned up. Eventually though, he arrived saying that he'd heard the bullet strike (it must be a knack you acquire with experience) and congratulated me. To his eternal credit, when I'd messed up on the muntjac last year, he was genuinely disappointed for me, and his delight at my success was no less real. And so we went forward to look at this doe. As we came back onto the field through the same line of trees the deer had come from, we were aghast to see that the reason for the unusually huge appearance of this doe was that there was a second one lying stone dead just behind it! Now on the one hand, this was embarrassing. I never had any idea that it had been there. On the other hand, the Nosler BT bullet had gone cleanly through the first deer's chest and straight through the second one's neck, just under the Atlas joint, so it never knew what hit it. I am absolutely certain that there was only one deer in my sights when I decided to shoot, but in between the moment when I decided to do so and the moment the bullet actually struck, one of the does behind must have scurried forward quickly following the aforementioned sporadic pattern of movement and walked straight into the path of the bullet. Bad luck!
My host told me to take a picture of the two deer as they lay, as he didn't think I was particularly likely to see that again. However it suited him just fine as the farmer had been badgering him to reduce the roe numbers for a while, so there you go. All's well that ends well.
So thanks again very much to my mystery benefactor and his other half who made an almost complete stranger feel so welcome, and sorry to the dogs who were denied the chance to actually do any deer tracking. I'd also like to thank the people at Steyr-Mannlicher, Federal, Zeiss, Swaroski, South-West Railways and perhaps most important of all, Mister Gore, inventor of the eponymous Tex that stopped me from just being washed away and dissolved by the bone-penetrating rain.
Attachment 25969Attachment 25970