Having recently scored a new bit of ground in Dorset I went to give it a once over on Monday having negotiated a couple of days off work. I arrived just after 10am to meet with the shepherd, calrify the boundries and catch up with the landowners who turned out to be very keen on a filling the freezer with venison. While we were talking three sika could be seen milling around in a small copse less than 100 meters away. Visability was patchy through the scrub and I had to restrain myself from being rude and grabbing my bins out the car to see if there was a stag or pricket with them.
Once we wrapped discussions up I didn't hang about having seen the sika leave the copse and vanish down the hedgerow so was over the electric fence quick-smart, hardly noticing the zap-zap of the wire on my inner thigh. Sika are a bit of an exotic change from the roe which generally populates my home county and I find stalking into them is an absolute ******* if you're not tuned in. They seem to be suspicious of everything and don't hang about, even at the boundry of a hedge which is the downfall of many roe pausing to have one last look.
I spotted the tell tale caudal patch of a sika through a sparse hedge which the sheep had taken their toll on which was two thirds up the next field against the hedgerow. With the wind in my face and using a pile of hedge thinnings as a shield I got to a position where I could fire through a hole in the hedge and settled down on the bipod. The deer I had spotted was a hind so I settled down to see if another of the group would emerge from the thick hedge which seemed to act as a road network for the deer which had no problem jumping the stock fence.
Patience was a virtue and a short while later a young pricket came into view around 100 meters up un the hedge side on the stock fence. This young fella was just what the freezer ordered and, knowing the fence would corral the beast should he take the shot well I decided to take him before he crossed into the open field as the angle gave me a clear line of sight down onto him. The shot was met by the meaty thump of a good chest contact and, almost as expected, he legged it up the hedge away from me.
I found the strike spot which was marked with a positive splash of claret and, judging from the soft, sedimentary mud in the ditch hoped to find him a few yards further on.... 50 meters later there he was. Don't be deceived by the pic - he was no lightweight!
After the gralloch I left him to drain and went to check out the bountry lines, & mentally note the gateways on the opposite side of the property. The sheep made a quiet approch tricky but, moving slowly seemed to keep them calm. I was moving through a hole in the hedge on my knees when twang and thump signalled the first of 5 sika to leap the stock fence bordering a thick scrub coppice and run diagonally accross the open field 50 odd meters in front of me. The last in the line was a stag and I had the bipod down a quick as a flash and got into a prone position following him in the scope. Then the strangest thing happened... whilst the others could run fast enough he suddenly stopped and looked at me, quatering slightly at around 80 meters. As if on queue a second or so later the 130 grainer connected with his 2nd vertibre and dropped like a stone.
He was a nice one to cull and his rack was a bit of a lop sided mess but the feelings of elation soon gave way when I faced up to the task ahead of dragging him back to the car which looked a good kilometer + away! The grass was lush and still a little damp with dew so he kept clean & slid nicely I was really blowing by the time I got back to the car. I had plenty of breathers though as the farmer seems to adopt the same approach to gate latching as they do back home!