Well folks, last weekend I boarded the SleazyJet flight from Geneva over to London Gatwick and headed to SikaMalc's place down in West Sussex to meet up with Pine Martin to chase some roe bucks.
The flight over was uneventful and the Swiss are very civilised and slick when it comes to checking in your firearm (no surprises there then).
Picked up the hire car and drove down to Malc's. Had a brew and a bit of a natter after Malc had dropped Tony off at a high seat, we the went and checked the zero on the rifle after being flown over. Headed over to the B&B, had a pub dinner and turned in for the 315 start.
We drove over to the ground and from the car park spied a roe in some scrub. We headed off on the necessary round-a-bout route to try and get onto it but it had cleared off. We waited on a wooded crest of a hill and a roe of some description crossed a corner of a field a looooong way away. No dice so we waited some more and what turned out to be a very small buck crossed back across the same corner of the field. Couldn't make a direct approach so waited for him to go in then headed on a circular route to get round the wind. Dropped down to where we hoped he would come out but no dice. Called it quits and headed back as it turned out at the right time.
Evening stalk was a high seat session and for this one Pine Martin was joining the party. The ladies came out and even had one old roe doe couched and intermittently browsing behind the seat for best part of 90mins but the gentlemen were conspicuous by their absence. Oh well, not a completely wasted evening, had the pleasure of meeting Joe.
Following morning came around and I was out with Malc again. Saw quite a few does then coming through a hedge... A BUCK! And what a buck it was too. A quick discussion about various things and we went on to stalk in, Malc reckoning "certain silver, if he's got the width at the base, he'll go gold". This buck was incredible. At ~300m we could see it was a good buck. We went back through the hedge, looped around, back through the hedge line at the top of the field. Buck was 80 m away. Sticks went up. I had to reposition but put the cross hairs on him. He was aware of us but not sure of the nature of the threat we posed. At this point I started having doubts. There he stood, iridescent russet, in excellent condition, good weight and with an awesome hat rack. At this point I started to have my doubts... Thought ran through my head "Never mind, safety off, let's go" safety came off, cross hairs hovering just nicely on his flank. He was framed beautifully in the scope, not much else around, just him, the cross hairs and this little dot. I took one breath to make sure all was steady and breathed out. Nothing. I couldn't shoot him, he was too good. Put the safety back on, mumbled something to Malc along the lines of "Can't, don't wanna, he's too good" we watched for not much longer before off he went. I followed Malc back through the hedge, maybe not physically shaking but certainly shaken. "No problem, lets go find something smaller" we set off and stalked through some fields encountering a doe that just kept turning broadside about 40m out from us in the hedgeline. Anyway, a little further on we watched an intersection of hedges and a doe with 2 gorgeous fawns still dappled came towards us down the edge of the field to about 50m. We saw one buck in the field beyond moving at some speed but didn't catch up with him and that was that.
So, an excellent but frustrating weekend but proof that it isn't just about shooting something. I let quite possibly the best deer I am ever likely to put my cross-hairs on walk. And I don't regret it a bit.
(PS the trip home was eventful but I shall put another thread up about that)