Although I've had a deer calibre rifle for 5 or 6 years, most of my stalking has been for roe or muntjac, with a couple of trips up to Scotland for red stags. I put a post on SD back in the summer asking for contacts for fallow stalking, and received a pm from Rick O Shea inviting me down to his ground in Dorset during the rut.
We arranged to meet up this morning, despite the forecast of heavy showers in the south-west. The early afternoon was spent stalking over rolling pasture land, but a succession of squally showers meant that we only managed to spy a few fallow in the distance.
Mid afternoon found us heading of to an area where Rick had seen a two good bucks earlier in the week, and resisted shooting them in anticipation of my visit...which is evidence of his character.
Rick took me to a high seat standing in a hedge overlooking two fields adjoining separate blocks of woodland, and left me with instructions to stay in place until dark.
I spent the time glassing the ground, although there as no sign of deer. Glancing to my right, I saw that a sika stag had suddenly appeared about 150 yards away, and was looking straight at me. It was clear that he knew something wasn't right, as he turned and walked away from me; I followed him through the scope, until he stopped broadside on, and squeezed the trigger. He kicked, jumped the fence and was away into the woodland...I knew he was hit, but then the doubt set in and I feared that we wouldn't find him in the maze of trees.
With no torch, and heeding Rick's advice, I remained in the high seat although night was now setting in. New binoculars meant that I was still glassing, just to see if they were worthwhile. I became aware of a dark blob moving along the treeline; as it got closer I could see that it was a fallow buck, with a good set of palmated antlers. I put the cross hairs on the shoulder and waited until he'd moved to within 75 yards. At the sound of the shot, he cleared the fence and disappeared into the trees.
Things were not looking great; two shots and two wounded deer in a large block of woodland. I decided to against blundering about in the dark in case I trampled any blood trail, and waited until Rick to returned.
Using a good torch, we picked up a heavy blood trail from the fallow very quickly, and found it lying dead just inside the fence. The sika, a 6 pointer, took a bit longer to trace and, although the 6.5mm bullet had resulted in another good blood trail, it had still run twenty yards or so.
I was relieved when the gralloch revealed two heart shots, and I now appreciate why sika have such a reputation for being hard to grass.
Thanks to Rick, I have had a fantastic day stalking over some stunning gound, and have added both sika and fallow to my tally. He's a real gentleman and a very knowledgeable stalker who spends a lot of time doing the groundwork to ensure his guests are successful.