For a few weeks now (about 5 years) my Mrs has been having a bit of a moan about the amount of time I spend each weekend, traipsing about in muddy boots with an equally muddy dog and a gun of some description, so I promised her that soon, very soon, we would have a relaxing weekend break away somewhere together for a change. She suggested shopping in Paris or perhaps New York if funds would allow. I told her that I would arrange something as a surprise…… something romantic. So I began scanning the Deer Stalking Opportunities section of SD for some inspiration and before long I had some good ideas.
I decided to book a couple of stalks with ELMER FUDD (Barry) who is based in Monmouthshire and he recommended an excellent B&B for the accommodation so last Sunday morning we packed our bags and set off for Wales. I was booked for the PM stalk and the following morning so to keep the Mrs happy I dropped her off at Cribbs causeway shopping mall (Bristol) for an hours shopping on the way up! We got up to the B&B at about 4.30 and I quickly readied my stalking gear and went to meet Barry for the first stalk:
We began by having a walk around a few fields on the edge of a wood holding large numbers of Fallow but as we weren’t seeing enough sign that they had been using the fields so it was decided that we would make a quick move to a different area 5 minutes away where the Fallow had really been making a nuisance of themselves. We drove down a track and through a few gateways until we reached another large sloping grass field bordering thick woodland to our right. We set ourselves up behind the cover of a mass of brambles with a clear view of the field in front of us, the land lying in such a way that a shot could be fired at any target along the edge of the wood without obstruction. We had been very lucky with the weather so far and it had been a fine, sunny afternoon but it soon became quite chilly as the sunlight began to fade. Barry pointed out the gaps along the edge of the wood where the Fallow would usually appear and said to keep an eye out for them as deer were sure to appear in the next ten minutes…….and he was spot on, as about six or seven minutes later he gave me a nudge and whispered that he’d heard movement not far away and a minute or so after that a very cautious doe appeared from the trees closely followed by a much less cautious calf who skipped and jumped about playfully as if he’d been waiting all day to get out of the thick undergrowth to lark about in the open field. After a minute of us keeping as still as possible this pair slowly moved out away from the wood into the open field to feed. It was only a few minutes before the next one appeared, a young melanistic doe who walked out about sixty yards away and kept looking back toward the wood expecting more deer to follow….which they did, until eight deer had appeared, all would have made easy shots within 100yds but all were female! This group of does stayed together and gradually made their way across the field towards a patch of shrubs about 150yds away. Just as the light was starting to go a pair of foxes sprinted out into the field about 30yds in front of us playing tag, I quickly wound the scope down to x3power for the shot and pushed the safety off but the foxes had appeared so close that they noticed us and ran off to about 100yds…… Barry made a fox-like bark to stop them for a look back and I quickly picked one out in the scope but the foxes were so unexpected that I had somehow failed to push the safety all the way forward and the rifle went click instead of boom and the fox lived to see another day……..
That evening I took Mrs out for a quick meal and a pint at the nearby Indian restaurant then headed back to the B&B, set the alarm for 5.15 and was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
I awoke to find it raining steadily outside the window of our room but I was quickly out the door and in the truck on the way to the woods. It is a great feeling setting off for a stalk in the half-light of the early morning knowing that the deer will be on the move and that any number of bucks might be loitering about…..I set off along the forest track, stopping every so often for a good look amongst the trees and thick undergrowth, although the basic plan was to skirt along the edge of the wood and catch any bucks crossing the open track in front of me, coming off the grass fields to the left. About 300yds into the stalk I took a short side track leading down to a gateway to a grass field and upon reaching the gate I could just make out the shape of a deer still feeding out in the open although my view was slightly obscured by a large patch of brambles. I glassed the animal and confirmed that it was a young spiker, a good aged beast to cull although he was, in fact, a picture of good health. To take the shot I realised that it would be absolutely necessary to climb over the (potentially noisy)metal gate , which was always a bit of a risk but I managed to be quiet enough that I didn’t give the game away and soon I was lying in the wet grass with the rifle set up on the bipod. The young buck was actually headed up the field towards my position so I watched him through the scope for a while until he was about 60yds away and standing for a perfect broadside heart shot, I set the trigger forward, pushed the safety off (all the way off this time) and fired! He leapt into the air kicking his legs out and then ran about 30yds before collapsing in the hedge. I was absolutely delighted to take this animal and I couldn’t help admiring how fat he was.
I gralloched the buck and although it was still early I headed back to the B&B for an excellent cooked breakfast and a change into some dry clothes. The Mrs decided that she wanted to go for a walk after breakfast, as the weather had improved significantly, so we headed back to the wood (I took the rifle just in case) and had a lovely stroll about in the sunshine…..I led the way and we looked for fewmets, slots and racks throughout the forest. We casually made our way up along the track through the trees to a bit of a clearing at the top of the hill and stopped for five minutes to sit in the sunshine and admire the glorious view of the Monmouthshire countryside. Further along we even managed to bump a group of mature fallow bucks from their couches in the wood, and although they were up and away through the thick foliage very quickly, the Mrs was pleased that she got to see some deer as she doesn’t come out stalking with me at home. We had a great time and will be back up with Barry again soon, he has some excellent woodland and farmland areas to stalk and knows the deer and their habits very well. We stayed at Old Hendre Farm B&B and both the accommodation and breakfast were excellent. Thanks again Barry!