It is of course a difficult thing for me, (the writer) to try to keep you, (the reader), entertained with my on-going exploits and tales of daring do. Ensuring as I do that I pass on my pearls of worldly wisdom from my armchair from which I rarely stir. All those pies finally taking effect. But Shhhh, don’t tell anybody. Many people come from far and wide to sit at my feet and look up adoringly as I pontificate on the intricacies of the shooting world dispensing advice to those that need it by referring to the almanac “The idiots guide to dispensing hunting advice without looking stupid”.
Where was I? Oh yeah, exploits.
Not only because there aren’t an awful lot of them, (exploits, I mean not armchairs, just to clarify) well there are plenty but not necessarily deer related, and also sometimes they just are not that interesting to tell. Sometimes the whole story is “Went out, saw deer, shot deer, went home. The end.”
Sums it up. Well! Actually in my case it is more often “Went out, didn’t see deer, didn’t shoot deer, went home, the end.” And I think there are a few more like that on here as well.
But let’s face it if that is the best I can manage then really is there any point in telling the world. We all want some pizzazz, something that will garner our interest. There must be a tale in there somewhere. Many years ago I was at a bike rally (motorcycle darling, not push bike) and saw a journo for one of the bike mags. I shouted over to him,”Oi take my picture I want to be famous”. His reply was “Look interesting then”.
So much for looking clever, more like being a smart arse, I didn’t get my moment of fame. The words, “not photogenic” were once said to me.
Whilst wandering off the beaten track lets stray into the wilderness for a moment.
Those of you who enjoyed the good old days on motorbikes may remember such erstwhile magazines as the UJM, universal Japanese motorcycle and the UBG or used bike guide. I can see one or two people smiling here at the memories whilst the rest of you are looking confused and at least two people are going WTF has this got to do with stalking. Who knows? I’m just rambling. Anyway these magazines were basically people sending in stories about their motorbikes and or lives, how well they worked or DIDN’T in the case of some of them. Think 305 scorpion and its tendency to self-destruct.
Now some of the stories were fantastically entertaining and you would wish that the story was longer. Tales of people going off on roadtrips and what happened on the way. Unfortunately others might as well have been read from a workshop manual or from a certain shopping channel. “The tappet adjuster nut was loosened by a 3/8 whitworth spanner and then………… ZZZZzzzzzzzzz.
Back to cultured well worn paths.
Unless you are a natural writer (I am not, let me tell you) It can be difficult to put across the excitement of going out. The boredom of sitting in a highseat when the field is empty and devoid of life. The joy of sitting in a highseat when all around you are pheasants, deer, rabbits, partridge and loads of wildlife really, all out of range or season but it doesn’t matter because they are there and you can watch them going about their lives unaware that you are watching them. The sort of thing we would only see on country watch, but it is there right under your nose. The amount of crap that comes out of your ass when you are sitting there in the dark up a highseat and an owl appears from nowhere lands on a branch two feet from your nose. AAAAGGGHHH!
The difficulty of the stalk, the intake of breath when you spot the quarry, the adrenaline kicking in and you trying relax. The thump of the heart making the crosshairs jump about as you try to keep everything steady and not tremble. Taking five minutes to be sure, to be sure, to be sure, cos we don’t want to screw it up. It is ok for you who have shot more deer than I have had hot dinners, “Look there is a deer”. Aim and fire, one smooth action. But for me with my grand total of (checks my super spreadsheet) a few now, well it is not a large enough number that I can’t remember each one.
Anyway when it comes to storytelling I don’t think Tolkien has anything to worry about just yet.
Other times the story lends itself to be easily written and flows along to be an entertaining dirge or diatribe. Decide for yourself. I have to write bits, then add more bits, then come back a few days later, then rewrite it about 6 or 7 times. Eventually something resembling a tale will emerge and after critically pulling it to pieces again and again then correcting my atrocious spelling, then sending it off to the missus to see if she thinks it is ok I then rewrite it again so that we end up with something like the following. This piece has been something like 2 months in the making.
So you all better read this and post nice comments or I will come around to your house and poop in your tea.
“Setting the scene” (or finally, stopped waffling and getting on with the story)
In this instance TSS (That’s me) and his new intrepid companion “Captain Underpants” venture forth into the barren wasteland called Hisp-ermission (Cue dramatic music, Ride of the Valkyries might be a bit dramatic so let’s select ohhhh, how about the opening theme for Star Wars, although perhaps the opening for the Mikado may be more appropriate, after all, it was a comic opera) in search of food to stave off the evil pangs of hunger. Ok so we had grabbed a kebab from the van before we got on site but why ruin a good story.
Now this van is worthy of note and is a regular stop off point for me. I like kebabs. So much so that I don’t need copious amounts of alcohol before I order one. Anyway this guy does a mean Kebab wrap which is folded up to hold everything in then it is wrapped in paper and you peel the paper off and eat the kebab from the top a bit like an ice-cream cone. It is worthy of note that these should be eaten before you get on site when it is still bright rather than later when you are finished because by then it is dark and suddenly you wonder why the kebab is chewy and doesn’t taste as nice and realise that you hadn’t unwrapped the paper far enough below the kebab and well, …..paper and kebab are a bit, well, …………… chewy to say the least. Spit.
How you hanging in there buddy. You’ve got this far so you might as well continue.
So once again, trying not to digress too much and failing miserably. It was a lovely evening (That at least was true) the sun was smiling as it headed towards bed. (That means it was evening, I am using posh visualisation here.) There was no breeze worthy of note, I was wearing a t-shirt it was that nice. Trust me it has to be nice for me not to be wearing a fleece. I am the ice man. Went on holiday to Egypt once and when the sun went down I went off for my fleece. It was also far too nice to be sitting in a pub full of mingers, and that is only the blokes. (Is it just me or have others found their resistance to alcohol has reduced substantially since taking up shooting? I do a lot of bunny bashing (bet I mention that more than once) as well so it is usually well past closing time when I get tend to get back home so I am less likely to be able to go home lock everything up and get out for a pint. (Makes me a cheap date these days.)
So! The intention this evening was to play with the bunny population and the HMR was to be main weapon of choice. (22LR’s suck. Let’s see who takes that hook. . I also brought the 223 along as well, just in case Charlie made an appearance. I love my 223. It is as accurate as amn accurate thing could be. Would help if the person pulling the trigger was just as accurate but that is another story.
Ok, so you can see this is not turning out how you expected it but it is killing an hour of your time that could have been spent in front of the telly watching Eastenders so don’t complain.
If you are a follower of my incredibly “cough” entertaining and “cough” factual reading you will note that I have a propensity to, ahem, go off the point, (NO,REALLY?)
But only because I have remembered something important-ish. You have been warned, or you will have noticed already as you have read this far. Either that or your asleep in which case “WAKE UP, I’M NOT DOING THIS FOR MY OWN SAKE YOU KNOW!!”
So one of my things is to bemoan the lack of land, the lack of animals, the lack of skill (mine that is, but I moan a bit quieter about that), the distance I have to travel, my toe hurts and it is too cold/hot. In fact I think it would seem I moan a lot. Maybe after 25 years living in this country I have finally gone native.
So whilst I moan my way through life hoping that someone will read this and take sympathy and offer me 20,0000 acres of prime land overrun with every species that need culling and only 5 minutes from my back door, I shall continue to travel and enjoy meeting the people I come across and derive great satisfaction from just getting out and about. Although once you have finished and you are sitting there with twenty bunnies all waiting to be paunched then skinned then maybe some of the enjoyment takes a back seat. Also have you see the videos where the guy squeezes the bunny and the insides pop out? WOW, Great if you can do it, Paunched in 10 seconds. Wish I could do that; unfortunately I can’t so have to stick with the knife.
Look I’m getting there; I am still filling in time, expanding the story so to say, it’s a rubbish story.
Anyway so here I am moaning about the lack of beasts on the land but only a month ago I shot a young Roe buck and then once again the opportunity shows itself to have another go. Dammit, I will have to change my moan now. How can I moan about not having anything to shoot if they will continually appear and give me an opportunity?
Dammed if I do and dammed if I don’t.
It all began a number of weeks ago when I ventured forth in search of, well, a good read of my book actually, but a young buck sort of got in the way of my plans. Feel free to “READ ALL ABOUT IT, TSS FINALLY MANAGES TO GET HIMSELF A BUCK AND NOT MESS IT UP”. The story is located here. http://www.thestalkingdirectory.co.u...ube-and-FREEZE!!!
I suggest that you read that first as it is far more entertaining than this is likely to be.
So of course that is my once a year deer. So the likelihood of seeing something else is just not going to happen.
With this in mind I had decided that an evening rabbiting was on the cards. Drat, I already said that. Ok move on.
Now then I have known Captain Underpants for quite a while now. Good bloke and he knows how to fix my computer for beer. He is also somebody that you would be happy to sit with in the pub and have a chat with, discuss which model we would go out with if she actually came into our pub. The beauty of dreams. The fact that any women will most likely throw up if we so much as smiled at them is nothing to do with the price of eggs. For that matter I think you would see the tumbleweed rolling across the carpark and the piano stop playing if a model turned up at the local. Everybody would be that shocked. Hey that could be a basis for a movie. The Stony Horror Photograph Show? (It might take a few weeks but you might work it out eventually)
Here is another good digression. I actually once walked into a pub local to me (this is also true) and shouted, at the top of my voice,”
I HAVE SLEPT WITH EVERY WOMAN IN THIS PUB”,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, “Aren’t dreams wonderful”.
The landlord overheard this and nearly wet himself laughing. He still buys me a pint occasionally when he remembers that night. I might have been a bit squiffy at the time and had forgotten all about it. Ah those were the days.
Anyway Captain Underpants had an old springer, might have been something like a HW80 and I think it was about 20m years old. He also keeps chickens and with chickens come rats and he wanted to get something a bit newer and play with and I think I steered him down the NV route, or did he ask me about it? Um, can’t remember, anyway he built his own and wanted something more modern so I put him in touch with a friend who was selling a pcp which he liked so he had that but he also mentioned that he would love to come out rabbiting as he wanted to learn how to do it. Not sure why he thought he would learn anything from me but there you go. So I loaded the HMR and the 223 into the truck and off we went Friday after work. Now when I say loaded, I don’t mean loaded as in bullets into the chamber ect ect.. I know how much some people like to pick up on any little thing and type signed “Disgruntled of Wrexham”or similar. I mean loaded INTO the truck, right?
The intention was to have some bunnies in the evening then after a few hours dig out the NV and take some more and if Mr Foxy showed himself then the .223 would be able to say hello. I am happy to take Mr Fox with the HMR if conditions are right or it is necessary but prefer to have more punch if available. And a 53 grain Vmax tends to be very permanent.
So we did our lonnnnnnng drive to get on site. I parked up and I explained procedures to Captain Underpants.
Safety instructions first.
“If you point that barrel at me at any time whether there is a bullet up the spout or not I’ll smash your ####### head in”
“If you shoot at anything without me saying ok it is safe to shoot, I’ll smash your ####### head in”
If you do anything wrong that I forgot to mention but it is such common sense and I am stupidly assuming that you have some, I’ll smash your ####### head in
End of safety briefing.
To be fair he took it well.
So now it was time to set up in position for the bunnies. Now in one corner of the field where our story happens there is an old burnt out combine that makes an excellent highseat or highstand to be more precise. Basically you climb on top over the back then you can jump into the rear compartment and use the top of the combine body as a rest for the Bipod. It gives a good view and you can get comfortable as you are not lying on your belly. You have an excellent view down the hedgeline for about 180 yards where the rabbits often come out to play and also you can look over to the right and see across the whole field and you can see out about 300 yards to the furthest boundary. The only problem is that the top of the combine is made from very thin metal so if you move around it tends to go PER----TOING-OING-OING which scares the crap out of me never mind the bunnies.
Now in order to overcome the problem of noise I brought some wood sheets along with me which I was going to lay on the top of the combine to spread the load. So I climbed up and got Captain Underpants to pass them up to me and I laid them in position. With that done I had a look around as the rabbits hadn’t come out along the hedge row. Well the noise I was making you couldn’t really blame them.
You have a great vantage point over the whole field and as I looked off to the right I could see at the far end a number of rabbits out close together, typical.
That’s not a couple of bunnies. That’s a very large bunny, GOSH (Insert expletive of choice here cos gosh was definitely not the word I used).That looks like a muntie. And it is about 300 yards away ignoring us completely.
Climbing off the combine as fast as I possibly could whilst trying not to make much noise and attract the munities attention I ran the 20 yards around the corner to where the truck was parked to get my binos, ran back round and up the combine steps to double check. Yup definitely a muntie. Run back down the steps and back round the corner to the truck (Lucky I am slightly fitish or I would be puffing my head off) to get the 223. Magazine in and run back around into the field. All this time Captain Underpants is stood smoking a rollie gazing into the distance in the general direction of the muntie who was hidden by the height of the grass.
“Pzzzt”. Nothing,” PZZZZT!!” Still nothing. “ OI, YA DEAF ****!”
“Eh? Oh, sorry, what?”
“Here” I tossed the binos to him. “Be back in a bit.” As I headed off down the field.
The stalk consisted of a 250 yard sneak bent over double over open ground keeping close to the hedge to the right of the field to offer me some back cover. But aside from that I was in plain view. Moving as fast as I could because the munties don’t seem to hang around long I needed to get closer. There is none of this highland crawl stuff. Most Munties seem to keep moving so if it is not at a distance that is shootable then you need to get it close enough quickly because he will be gone shortly after. (Well that has been my experience so far.)There was the occasion clump of grass that would help and offer a tiny bit of cover but it was a case of slowly slowly catchee muntie. (That was good that, did you see what I did there? I can tell you were impressed) Now normally I shoot from quadsticks but once again I had forgotten the damn things (left them at home) so it was going to have to be a prone shot using the rifle bipod.
In fact let’s digress for a moment and talk about bipods or even sticks in general. Now there are people out there who can hit a flea at 400 yards with a standing shot. I mean, there must be cos I have read the posts on this exalted forum. And these are great chaps. In fact a guy I know who was in the TA was telling me how he was able to get a 15mm group at 300 yards using iron sights on an SA80. Well done them. I admire their skill and dedication to practicing as you obviously cannot get that good without loads and loads of practice. I unfortunately live on planet earth and have to pay for my bullets and have never been able to fly without the aid of mechanical devices so do not have those skills and I flagellate myself with barbed wire nightly for my lack of skill. But enough about my sex life.
Of course there are those who say “spend more time on the range practicing” well that is fine if;
You have the time;
A range nearby;
And you don’t get bored stupid hitting paper after ½ an hour;
Oh and everything changes completely when you aim at a fox/deer. They don’t have a red cross with a pointer saying shoot here. They are not necessarily at that distance for which you are used to shooting and you are not necessarily in a position where you have had ten minutes to gain your inner karma chameleon and stop the buck fever from happening plus keep you breathing slow and rhythmic despite moving all fourteen and a half stone doubled over at a fast pace over a few hundred yards. No matter how fit you claim to be.
I think it is important to know your limits, know your rifles limits and stick within them. (I can’t see anybody disagreeing with that) I do know mine, most of the time, and so do. I am getting better but you have to remember that I only came back into shooting 3 years ago so I have a long time before I would think about longer range shots. I have had conversations with people who shoot foxes out about 500 yards. Damn you have to admire the skill of people who can actually do that. I worry about anything beyond 150 yards, well I worry about anything up to and over 100 yards J. I do prefer them to be at 100 or under. I’m pulling the trigger and so my rules apply. If I am not happy then I will leave it.
Back to the sticks. As currently 87.5% of my prey currently has been rabbits. (Guess who has been keeping a log on a spread sheet) add a few foxes and rats to the equation and you can hazard a guess of how big a percentage my deer shooting is. I have to do a lot of walking and with rabbits being so small if you lay in the ground to shoot from the rifle bipod there is probably a small tuft in the way or even a piece of grass and if you remember last year, ohhh seems so long ago, the ground was soggy, muddy and generally just not in a condition that you would want to lie on/in. Also you are low in the ground shooting flat, so not always ideal.
I made a garden cane bipod then a tripod. The benefit of the tripod over the bipod, particularly in the bunny bashing world, was that out in the field I could hang my torch from the tripod and paunch the rabbits underneath. They were marginally slower to set up. I.e. Quarter of a second at most. It was a, get the knack sort of thing. I found I could head and neck shoot bunnies to 75 yards. Beyond that I was starting to miss. I do wobble a bit no matter what I try but as I shoot more I am getting better. I then got to try quad sticks at one of Malc’s training days (bit of name dropping there, I mingle with the best people doncha know) and was blown away by how stable they were. I went off and made a set of my own, again using the aforementioned garden cane and I found I was able to comfortably headshoot bunnies at 100 yards. Big difference to accuracy and confidence. Now unlike a lot of quadsticks that I see which are a pair of “X’s”. You insert rifle and point in the direction and as far as I can see there is no room for lateral movement and as deer do not tend to stand still, mine are slightly different and when set up you can track between 10 and 20 foot at 100 yards. Never actually measured so can cannot tell you exactly. But they work well, even better if you remember to take them with you. Yes they are definitely slower to erect. Add a few seconds over a bi pod so snap shooting is not going to work. But once they are up they work very well and with practice you can move the leg so you can swivel to any angle you need to be in.
Anyway horses for courses, they suit the ground I shoot over. And a number of my friends have started using them now because they were so impressed. But we shoot over a lot of open ground. Maybe not so good for woodland. But with the time spend using these and as my confidence has grown I am happier to use bipod and alternative positions. It is the good old practice thingie, and rats and rabbits make great practice for honing your skills.
Back to the stalk yet again.
The grass had been cut but it was rough and sprouting again so I was not going to be able to take a longer shot using the rifle bipod. I needed to close the gap to where the there was a separate patch of shorter grass at the end of the field that would afford me a good resting place with no greenery between me and my intended. There was a fallen tree that afforded me some protection for about 10 yards so I used that to gain some distance then the muntie was moving off to the left and by keeping an uncut clump of grass between us I managed to gain some more yards quickly. It was then a mixture of move, stop, wait till the muntie had its head down in the grass, move again, stop, wait till it turned its back. Move again. Using this method I was able to move fast to get closer to the suitable shooting point.
Just as I reached the point I wanted to be the Muntie disappeared down a small hollow where there is a pond that the farmer dug into there about 2 years ago. This gave me a chance to lay down check everything was correct and get into position and have a moment for the heart to calm down. It was now a case of wait for the muntie to show itself.
About 5 minutes later the muntie emerged from the back of the pond, it crossed into the edge of the trees and came out into view between two trees presenting an opportunity to take the shot. Bang and down she went. Reload. Perfect placement. I do always worry that I will screw up or have a flyer or something will go wrong so if the beast folds up then I am happy. Waited a bit, no movement. So far I have never had a problem but I have not shot that many. My tally is slowly going up. After going to inspect the muntie, eye test etc, yup definitely still dead. I went back to the truck so that I could collect the easy way. Ie bring it back in the truck to the other end of the field.
Now of course trying to look intelligent and professional with my companion who was helping out with “Wozat?” and “Why you doin dat?” And “Dat looks fugly?” I was also trying to remember what I had to do. Again! I am sure by the time I have gralloched a million squillion deer then it will come easy peasy but for now it is still a struggle.
See I have always been a lot better at learning by doing rather than by reading. I can sit down and read a book and by the time I come to the end of it I haven’t a clue about who was who and why they wanted to kill the king etc. Far better to stick me in the thick of it and tell me as I go on. The information seems to stick much better then. Hence a while ago I asked fellow members on here if they could take me out so I could perform a gralloch. And very nicely I was taken out by 2 members but we were unsuccessful in our efforts to attain anything and my domestic workload was such that I did not have the opportunity to badger, sorry ask, the nice members if they were free to take me out again. So my knowledge was where it was back then, although a few more videos down the line to help.
So with Captain Underpants looking over my shoulder I made the first incision. And off we go. To be fair I am not going to bore you with the details. I struggled my way through. But not as badly as previous. I managed not to look too much like an idiot and I ended up with a good heart shot muntie in the back of the truck so I am a happy man to have venison back in my freezer. I like Muntie for dinner. Stupidly enough I completely forgot to take a picture.
The rabbit shooting sort of goes out the window once you have got a deer but we did have a wander for a couple of hours and managed to take 6 in total. But the fields were actually devoid of bunnies. Did see a fox but he was over 300 yards away and wasn’t interested in coming in.
Well done on making it this far. You may now go for a lie down with an icepack whilst you wait my next musing. You’re ok, I haven’t managed to shoot anything for the last few weeks since so it will be a while yet before I get around to my next epic.