A month or so ago I got an unexpected e mail from an ex collegue. Basically he was a member of deer stalking syndicate run by his brother and they were looking for a couple of replacements for members who had dropped out. I am already in one syndicate (roe only) so I was only patially interested but further correspondense revealed two thirds of the bag were Red, the remainder Roe, and Sika had also been sighted. Never having stalked Red I was quickly sold on the idea. Even though the ground was too far up into Scotland to check the ground over first I took him on his word and agreed to send a cheque.
After meeting with the brother who ran the syndicate I was given the required maps, letter of permission and keys and an explanation that as it was commercial forestry it was not about trophy hunting but about removing deer off the ground, with due regard for seasons etc, especially in the re planted areas. He said there were alot of deer on the ground but they could take some finding due to the dense tree cover, perserverance and patience were the key, oh and luck.
A week later at 3am I am driving up along the stone track which divides the lease from another syndicates gound. Nearing the top and the deer fence that separates the forest from the open hill there were two set of eyes reflecting back from a heather knoll, I rolled the car forward until stood just 60 yards away were a hind and a spiker, on my new stalking ground, red deer!!! I drove past them and they slipped away into the treeline. I tried to get some sleep but was pretty unsuccessful and as dawn was breaking I unlocked a gate in the fence to a path which, if my directions were correct, should lead me to a highseat overlooking a long ride.
The high seat was where it should have been and the ride was as described, I could see maybe half a mile each way, like a wide grass road through solid mature conifers it looked the business. Even in the half light I could see slots and some fresh fewmets, it even looked like one had been couched a few yards from the high seat. With the dog tied to a leg of the high seat and me safely perched above it was just now a case of waiting. I had been told it was a productive part of the forest and even if I did not get a shot there was a good possibility of seeing deer crossing the ride if I waited it out.
Twenty minutes later a glance to my left and there it is, its big, its red, and its got some twigs on its head. A Red Stag, in range!!! He wandered out from the sanctuary of the trees and and lowered his head to feed in the middle of the ride, almost perfect broadside and only 100m away. I moved round slowly and shouldered the rifle, terrified that the deer would slip away as quickly as he had appeared and hopeing desparately that my .243 was enough gun. A few deep breathes, cross hair just above the elbow, concentrate on squeezing the trigger and not pulling it....The rifle kicked and the deers chin hit the floor before he pushed himself forward with his powerful back legs, head still held low he dashed downhill into the trees...Crash..crash...crash..silence. I knew it was a good shot and I knew he was down. Five minutes in the seat to compose myself and then rilfe ready and dog on lead I went to the point of impact, the deep imprints of his hooves as he kicked off in the peaty soil indicated his position at the shot and the dog was pullig hard on the lead. I let him off and followed. Barely 10 yards under the canopy there he was, my prize, bundled up at the base of a tree and tangled in brash. A truly magnificent beast, two counts just to make sure and yes, a ...six pointer...three tines on each antler!!! A quick check to see if he was dead than I grabbed an antler and pulled. It does not move. okay, grab an antler in each hand and pull, still refuses to budge. Eventually leaning over to put all my body weight into it I succeed in dragging the beast the short distance uphill and onto the ride for photos and the gralloch. I soon had an attentive audience with a few thousand midges deciding to join the party! The gralloch was easy on such a big animal but was an unpleasant experience with the clouds of midges, thankyou for midge nets otherwise it would have been totally unbearable. I had some decent rope in the roesack just in case I was successful, I hooked each end over a pedicle and started the drag. Now I thought the gralloch would have made the job easier, and no doubt it did, but it was still hard hard work. Every tussock caught an antler and once he stopped moving it was the very devil to get it shifting again, and this was now on flattish land. Back at the highseat I dragged him under the shade and with two hundred more meters to go to the car decided to leave it whilst I explored further up the ride in the opposite direction. I was only 50 metres away from the highseat when two more red come out onto the ride and start grazing, both stags, about 300 meters away but seperated from me by a small but steep sided glen, extraction was going to be a nigtmare. So I was not at all disappointed when after stalking around and then up the glen to see the two deer had departed from the ride where I had seen them. I stalked further on more on an armed reconn that anything else and saw plenty of sign of both red and roe. So at least my cash was not wasted and there were deer on the ground, that part I was chuffed about obviously, but I found the place intimidating now, if I shot animals how the hell was I going to get them out? It is a big place with only a couple of decent tracks suitable for vehicles. I guess if singled handed then the only way would be for me to field butcher and pack out the carcasse, American style.
The dog doing his best impression of a dead deer....
I dragged the animal back to the car but hid it best I could in the trees. I stayed for the rest of the day and the next morning, seeing a total of nine red deer and three roe but with no more shots. Worried that the meat may attract unwanted attention or begin to turn I cut my trip short and after a bit of wrestling match managed to get the beast into the back of the car during a torrential downpour. Oh the things we do for fun!
Anybody want to sell a quad bike? and a winch, and a trailer, and a bigger car, and a bigger rifle....[img][/img]