I was due up to our little syndicates ground on Saturday. I had to postpone to Sunday as a partridge day got rearranged. As promised I joined up with 2 of the fellas Saturday evening. A few beverages were consumed and each of our beats agreed for the next morning. We have both red and roe on the ground but I was yet to even see a wild red anywhere let alone on our bit. I was to find the back road in and wait on a track where plenty of fresh sign had been seen on Saturday.
I was in position before first light and duly kept a watch on the track for over an hour. Nothing to see. It took me another hour and a half to stalk along the track through the forestry to reach the piece of open hill we have above it. I felt like I stalked well but apart from a noise which may have been a deer moving away, there was again nothing.
When I had been waiting I had all but convinced myself that I could hear stags roaring at the top of the hill and I had to force myself to stay in position. When I did reach the clearing there was again nothing to see. I plonked myself on a rock and rang the missus to let her know I was still alive. As we started to chat (about 8.15am now) I saw something white moving out of the forestry quite a distance away (arrow1). My immediate reaction was "bloody hell theres someone walking up here". I raised the glasses and it was a stag!!! His face standing out vividly against the heather. I promptly hung up. I was able to crawl forward about 40 yards to get to a flat rock to shoot from. Having done so I could no longer use my range finding binos as they were ringing wet!!
The stag was moving steadily along a ridge without much concern and I estimated that it was within range. After a momentary panic about the bipod length I got the shot away. (arrow2) The beast lurched and then proceeded to trot up the hill. My heart was in my mouth. It passed over another small rise and dissappeared. As I worried about wether it was down I saw its head rise and fall a couple of times. Happy he was down I then rang the wife back. She doesnt like to know the details of my stalking but it really amused me that she didnt even notice how deep and ragged my breathing had become in the few minutes between us speaking the first and second time.
After a 10 minute interval I went out to my animal. It was further back than expected and I was struck by how beautiful he was. 10 points too! I later pinged the range at about 230m and the animal dropped about 300m from the shot position (arrow3)
My friends had heard the shot and rang. They said I should leave the drag til they joined me but that was going to be a while. I gralloched him, the bullet had hit him low but passed straight through the lower chamber of the heart. I had deliberatley taken a front leg shot as I wanted him down and I was very pleased with the result, the low impact I think was attributable to distance. He had done about 70m uphill with a smashed front leg and no heart!!I then managed to get him about 300m back toward the track end before they arrived. When they got to me I reallly dont think I could have moved him another inch. 3 of us very quickly got him into the vehicle.
I feel so lucky to have chanced upon this animal and even luckier that he is my first stag. Larder weight was 150lb and the head is away at the taxidermist now. I have to say I was so surprised by the result it probably took 3 or 4 hours for it to sink in and I'm still smiling now.