In the summer of 2012 my oldest daughter was informed she had been accepted for study abroad at Oxford University. At this time I began planning a family holiday to come over at the end of the Spring 2013 term. Most of this holiday was focused on family sight-seeing events, but I did begin to look at a "selfish" day or two for myself. In this process "The Croc" graciously filled me in with
I flew into London Stansted on Friday, and after fighting some horrible London Southside traffic found my way to West Sussex and Malcom's lease. Out the cottage door he came, offering a cup of tea and offering his opinion on all things deer related. (Insert picture). A bit later Seastalker showed up, and after introductions, we headed out to sight rifles. This was my first experience with a moderated rifle, and to say I was surprised would be an understatement (I think Sikamalc laughed at my ear plugging). We both shot to his satisfaction and I headed back to the B&B while Seastalker and Malc went out and tagged a nice roebuck (Seastalker can tell the story).
The next morning I rose at 0330, to misting rain and strong winds. My expectations were NOT high. Arriving at the cottage and having another cuppa, we both agreed that the wind was not good - but hunt we would. We arrived at the north side of Malcom's ground and walked a good bit without seeing a thing. After nearly an hour - our luck changed - a soaking wet buck came walking out nearly 200 yards away and we scurried to get some cover and try to close the distance. I managed to get the crosshairs on him, but between wind and distance, and his full frontal presentation, I just could not take the shot. As the buck walked into the woods Malcom informed me that was a silver medal buck, and a new one at that. After a short wait we stalked on.
Within 15 minutes we came to a small ride and came up on a roe doe with 2 yearlings (including a young buck with tiny pencil antlers) that Todd, the Bavarian Mountain Hound pointed. We watched these for a bit then eased up a few yards and had a monstrously tall buck walk out 50 yards away, clueless of our presence. I had crosshairs on him the entire time while Malcom and I discussed what a silver medal was (and what it cost - GULP). I respectfully (and regrettfully) declined the buck with such tall antlers and we stalked on.
We then came to another field and saw a doe and new fawn walk by. After a bit we both said this was a far better morning than either of would have bet on. We drove over to one other spot to check, and while the ground was covered with slots it looked more like a fallow herd yard rather than a roe hot spot. We went back to the cottage for a cuppa, planned lunch for a local pub, and called it good.
We met back up at 1800, and while the rain had stopped, the wind had actually picked up. Again, we expected the worse but gave it a go anyhow. Not 15 minutes into our stalk we stopped to glass and soon saw a pair of roe does walking across a field. Malcom suggested we hustle to a gap between fields, and get in front of them in case a buck was about.
As we came into the gap I had to forcibly grab Malcom's shoulder and whisper him to a stop. He was looking far out into the field, but right in the dark wood in front of us was yet ANOTHER medal buck (even I could tell this was good one without any input). I laid the rifle on his shoulder and whispered if I should take him. At 20 yards even a whisper was too loud and off he bounded, barking away.
This then allowed me to meet my 2nd and 3rd goals. My first was to a stalk the proper British way ("when in Rome..."). My 2nd goal was to hear the "bark" of a roe. Up to this point we had been so cautious that we managed to slide past nearly all the deer we had seen. This time though the jig was up. As the barking medal buck went bounding through the wood, he pushed another buck out. This was the "perfect" representative 6 point, coming out on the field 160 yards away, looking back in the wood trying to figure out what the commotion was. Malcom quickly set the sticks, I laid the Tikka down, found the buck in the crosshairs, and BOOM. Down he went. So, I present to you, myself and my first roe.
Malcom, my hat is off to you and Todd. I hope you remember me as fondly as you enjoy that Kentucky Bourbon, as I remember this hunt. Now, time to start saving up the money so I can go on a Red and Sika stalk in Scotland with you next year.