I was lucky enough to get a short-notice stalk booked with Colin on Saturday and had a really good day as usual. I've been out with Colin a few times before on his own ground by New Abbey but this time he persuaded me to take the option to stalk on the Forrest Estate which he assured me was cracking ground and doing really well this season.
To avoid a stupid-o'clock drive I'd headed down the night before and camped at the Ken Bridge Hotel and Colin picked me up there at 4:30 for the short drive to the estate. The first area of clear-fell we covered showed up 3 or 4 does but no bucks. Tried calling but that didn't seem to get any reaction... Back at the truck Colin had just stepped away for a leak when he spotted a red back in the tree line about 50 yards away. He waved me over and set up the sticks just as the deer lifted its head. It was a really good buck but in long grass with only head and neck clearly visible but I had a bit of a shake on and that wasn't the shot for me. The .308 could maybe have punched a shot through the grass but again not something I was confident to make a call on. Colin tried a few peeps on the call and a bark or two but he ignored that and after a minute or two moved off into the trees. By far the biggest buck I've had the scope on but no regrets!
Bit of a walk to calm the nerves and then at the next area of clear-fell a couple of goes on the call moved a buck from over 500 yards away. I got down prone with the bipod on a stump looking to where we'd last seen the buck coming in fast before dropping out of sight into a dip. He should have popped up again right in front of me but hadn't read the script and after a minute Colin hissed from behind me that he was to our left. He'd come over all cautious at the last minute and crept up on our flank. I swung the rifle round but he spotted the movement and bolted.
On the next patch Colin spotted a buck about 150 yards off. Sticks up and I could get him in the scope but too far for me so we stalked in a bit closer. He was on the move but unaware of us and moving across the hill side-on to us so I would definitely get a chance when he stopped. I've only had one shot before off sticks and I'm not massively confident but Colin was offering encouragement and when he next stopped to browse I took the shot which was good and after a short stagger he dropped. Not big, a small 4 pointer, but I wasn't complaining as I dragged him 200 yards across the clear fell to the roadway!
Colin was right about the estate. It's a great place and there are definitely plenty of deer. Maybe the next visit will be for stags........