A week or so a go I rang my friend Mark ( Cervushunter ) to see if he was coming up for his annual trip on the Muntjac, I ended up getting of the phone and have to explain to the missus that I was going away stalking again
Mark had accepted my invite but said its about time we came down to him and he had a lot of deer showing at the moment grazing more grass than the sheep.
So Saturday Andy and I were leaving snowy Herefordshire and flying down the M5 for a snowless but equally bitter cold Exmoor.
We arrived and checked in to the travel lodge before being collected by Mark and Giles and out stalking.
I headed off with Giles to a beautiful sheltered coombe and sat down at the top of the valley to see what moved and Andy headed off with Mark.
After a while I was scanning the woodland on the opposite side of the valley and spotted five deer three hinds a calf and a spiker, unfortunately they were just off our ground and they wandered off away from us.
Sat at the top of the valley we still caught a bit of the bitter East wind and after a while we were very cold despite the many layers, so thought we would check out some other areas where Mark said the reds had been feeding.
Unfortunately I think the deer had more sense and had kept to the sheltered areas and we returned to meet up with Mark and Andy who had blanked and not even seen a deer despite the huge amount of freshly used racks heading onto the fields.
Next morning we had an early start and as we headed up on to the higher ground we were greeted by freezing fog. Andy headed off with Giles to one area and Mark and I another.
We abandoned the warmth of the truck and headed along the top edge of Marks ground where the deer had been coming off the moor to feed in the fields.
After a few hundred yards Mark froze and spotted a stag looking our way over a wall obviously he had heard something but he hadn't seen us and relaxed walked away slowly followed by a spiker.
As soon as they were out of sight we made up the ground using the very convenient wall and I crawled up the wall to look along the field. The two deer were slowly walking away looking like they were going to exit the field back on to the moor further down.
I tracked the two deer in the scope and the first to turn was the stag and as soon as he did I sent the 150grn partition on its way, the stag ran back into the field about 30 yards and collapsed.
What followed was something I had never seen before the spiker returned to the fallen stag pawing at him and pushing him with his head. We couldn't shoot as the stag had run into the mist and I was unable to see if it was a safe back stop.
Again and again the spiker returned to the stag and tried to get him up. Eventually the mist cleared for a few second revealing a lot more backstop than we had thought and I brought the proceedings to and end dropping the spiker not many yards from the stag. Quite strange almost made me feel a bit guilty
We had a photo session and cleaned the two beasts before dragging them up the field and over the wall onto a track to where we could load them into the truck. Mark showed me a great way for two of you to easily lift a large deer and although very effective I did check around to make sure no one had a camera while I was behind the deer in the "wheel barrow" position
We met up with Andy and Giles and the had a successful stalk seeing a large group of animals and after a stalk Andy took a young stag.
We even had a cheesiest grin competition
So a fantastic trip to Exmoor as always many thanks Mark and Giles and I look forward to trying to repay the kindness when you visit us in a few weeks.