Following up on the generous offer made by Mike at Jelen Deer, I wrangled 8 mates into coming along for the Newbie Stalks.
“£75 instead of £90, and the newbie goes free” was converted by me into “You pay half, and I’ll get you out to see what deer stalking is really about”.
As none of these guys had shot a centrefire before, the basic rules were that they had to put 3 rounds into a 4” circle – using the DSC1 zero target – before going anywhere near live quarry. If we were happy with that, then they got to go out with Keith of Jelen.
Stalk 1. The weather was very pleasant. It was warm in the sun, but very windy. Kerry shot 3 rounds into a 3” group, which was plenty good enough as the first round was 2” up and right from the others. Once in the field, he managed to disturb some Fallow after 100yds, but no chance of getting the rifle up in time. A group of 4 Roe does were seen later, but nothing would stand still long enough in the wind to be in a shootable position. He now has, and I quote “unfinished business”, so looking forward to getting back out later in the year.
Newbie 0 : Deer 1
Stalk 2: Again, Harry claimed he’d never shot a centrefire, but 3 rounds into a ¾” group got him a clip round the head for lying through his teeth! Still claiming he’d shot nothing more powerful than an air rifle at the fair, off he went with Keith… 200yds into the stalk, Harry was so gobsmacked to have 3 Fallow stood looking at him he forgot that he had a job to do, and with Keith hissing “SHOOT IT!” continued to gawp through the binos. Needless to say, off they trotted as did Harry and Keith to sit up against a tree overlooking a field where Roe were known to appear at last light from the opposite woods. Low and behold, as I get myself into a position to drop a Roe doe that is about 150yds away, there’s the familiar crack of moderated .243, and the bl**dy thing leaps backwards and hightails it back into the woods… Harry appears with a very large grin on his face, and having found the doe 10 yards inside the woods, it was gralloched by Keith. Unfortunately Mrs Harry had different ideas about what the outcome was to be, and he was told that it wasn’t in his best interests to purchase the carcass. Shame, as it was a great result for him on his first stalk but he’s committed to be come back having renegotiated at home!
Newbie 1 : Deer 1
Keith: 1 bottle of Glenmorangie
Stalk 3: Different land in Beaulieu for Nick’s stalk, and straight into a high seat he put 3 rounds into a 2” group. Again, more than acceptable. The weather wasn’t that great, as pretty chilly and a bit of wind. With Sika, Fallow, Roe and Muntjac we had high hopes, but this time out, absolutely nothing appeared. I had the fattest squirrel ranged at 18yds, but was afraid of putting off anything remotely deer-shaped by converting it into pink mist by lobbing a 6.5x55 at it. Peace reigned in Beaulieu – other than the ice cream van that had the volume whacked up to 11, in the vague hope of selling something that was probably warmer than the current air temperature! Don’t think that Nick will revisit.
Newbie 1 : Deer 2
Keith: 1 bottle of Glenmorangie
Stalk 4: David had shot rimfire at school, and had a natural eye for this. 3 rounds into 1.5” got him through the basic entry, and out he went to Keith. We’re back in Stockbridge for this stalk, and the weather was kind: Not too chilly, dry but overcast. I stalked onto a couple of Fallow whilst out, but they were well buried in the woods, and when they did move, it was at speed away from me, and onto neighbouring land. *RSE! David however, had much better luck, and from a high seat dropped a Roe doe at about 50yds with a clean heart & lung shot – the deer staggered a couple of paces and crumpled. She was gralloched by Keith in the field, before heading back to Jelen HQ to be hung in the chiller to go off to the game dealer to be butchered for David. As Mrs David is a veggie, he now has plenty of venison for him and his young boys to enjoy. David certainly plans to come out again later this year.
Newbie 2 : Deer 2
Keith: 1 bottle of Glenmorangie & 1 bottle of Bushmills
Stalk 5: Jonathan had never shot anything, anything until this point, so to put a Sauer .308 into his shoulder was possibly a little harsh… The first shot was a little nervous, but 2 shots later into the 4” circle, and Jonathan (and his backside) was lot happier. Off to a high seat they went – this time on land the other side of Stockbridge – in search of Fallow, Roe and Muntjac. Again, no deer seen by me (Note to self: change aftershave to “eau de biche”), but dropped a small vixen at 178yds with a nice chest shot. Anyway, it’s not about me… Jonathan and Keith had a couple of Roe bucks trot around under the yew trees before heading off, then suddenly a doe presented herself broadside on at about 15yds and that was that. Again, Keith gralloched the roe in the field, before heading back to Jelen HQ to hang her in the chiller. Jonathan took Harry’s deer as 1. It was already butchered, and 2. The timing was going to prove difficult to get his actual deer back to him. He’s perfectly happy, so I am too, as are Keith & Mike, and Jonathan will come back out later in the year.
Newbie 3 : Deer 2
Keith: 1 bottle of Glenmorangie, 1 bottle of Bushmills & 1 bottle of Jura
So we’re 5 stalks completed, with 3 good results, 2 now with venison in the freezer to show for their outing, and 4 that will certainly come back out at a later date. Keith has 3 bottles of single malt, and Mike has at least a couple that will come back out later in the year paying full whack. We might even convert one of those to get a bit more serious.
On the back of Mike’s generosity I have 5 mates that are already spreading their first-hand experiences of stalking. All positive, so will help with the general public perception.
I’m looking forward to the final 3 stalks now and seeing how they pan out but it’s proved to be very rewarding so far and if Mike repeats the offer, I'll try and line up a few more - hint, hint...