My name's Adam - I've just registered and I'm doing what I'm told and posting here first!
I'm pretty new to deer stalking but I went on my first stalk in April and I think I'm hooked. I put some stuff about that in my profile, but basically I've been shooting (shotguns) for about 3 years and I've enjoyed every minute of it (ok - maybe a few bad days here and there). I started out shooting clays, but I've always wanted to hunt (but in the traditional sense, not in the horses / hounds way) since I was very young and I started doing that last season with some wildfowling and rough shooting. I'd been toying with the idea of trying stalking too for a while but was nervous about shooting larger animals, but I decided in March that I'd never know unless I tried, so I did. I booked an accompanied stalk through a friend of my RFD and enjoyed it very much, though it took a few days to think it over, process it a bit and get to that happy state. My wife and family were a bit "iffy" about the idea of me shooting Bambi & co. until I cooked them a tasty venison casserole with some of the first deer I brought home - since then they've been more supportive, shall we say...
Anyway - I don't see myself stopping stalking any time soon so I've booked myself onto a DSC1 E-learning CD / assessment thing in August (waiting for the CD to come through as I type) and after that I'll be applying for an FAC so that - hopefully - I'll be able to go off and hunt as / when I choose and it'll be a little less expensive each time. I'm thinking about the Weatherby Vanguard II as a stalking rifle (Sako / Tikka etc may be a bit out of my rather limited budget.) In the meantime, I'll continue to pursue the Holy Grail of permissions, but in my area of Cambs, there's not a lot to be had as pretty much all the land is syndicated and unavailable.
The instructions asked for experience of calibres: I've only shot a .243 so far, though I plan to apply for something a bit bigger when I go for my ticket as we've got Reds / Fallow in East Anglia and I plan to go after at least one of each at some point. At the moment it's a toss-up between 6.5x55mm, .270 and .308, depending on what the police will grant and what the estate I'll be going to mainly is cleared for (haven't yet found out). So far all three seem good in theory, but having asked for advice everyone says "apply for this because it's my favourite and the best because..." which doesn't lead easily to a firm conclusion. I suspect the best compromise between police concerns, land and other considerations will be the .270 but we'll have to see. I've lurked here a bit recently and looked at quite a lot of the "best calibre for stalking" threads on here - I'll be reviewing them all again in the next few months before I apply. I don't think I should ask for suggestions here in light of the number of threads I've seen, but if anyone has knowledge of Cambs police's flexibility with regard to first time FAC I'd appreciate a PM. I have their requirements in writing from the licensing manager and I'll be able to fulfil them all, a DSC1 pass allowing, so hopefully it should be up to me what I choose (I know - pigs might fly).
Other than that, not sure what else to say. I'm a bit worried about the doing the DSC1 thing: I know it's all theory and shooting and the first three shots I fired in about 10 years with a rifle came out in a 1.5" group (100yd), so I think I'll be ok there, but I've still got a lot to learn about deer ecology / management. My practical experience to underpin the theory or fill in the gaps is also very limited, so if anyone's got any tips, I'd appreciate hearing them. Hopefully when I get the CD from the BDS in the post, I'll be able to start absorbing all the information I need to know and feel better about it.
Outside of shooting, I enjoy playing keyboard instruments and doing a bit of singing, studying philosophy, ethics and ballistics and I (increasingly) enjoy cooking - it always tastes better if you've obtained it yourself! I'm also a regular member of the ShootingUK forums and a professional lurker on PigeonWatch which covers my interest in shotgun shooting, under the same username as this. I've just migrated to shooting a 28 bore (lovely, comfortable gauge) at clays (usually at Cambridge Gun Club) and hopefully I'll get in enough practice before next season to feel confident with it on game too.
I can't tell you whether I'm going to become a regular here, but I'll do my best to join in as I learn.