Right guys here we go.
To set the background for this trip. I bid in the BASC auction each year, higher bids for closer favoured lots and lower bids for more distant less favoured lots. Never more than 4 or 5 bids cos I couldnt afford to win more than one or two. Last year I shot foxes with Robert Bucknell, 9 in one night, so I am more than happy with the standard of the lots offered. (not ever spending more than a couple of hundred quid). This years lot was for 2 rifles to go fallow hind stalking in Scotland, about 4 hours from home.
My partner for the event was my foxing oppo Jonathan. He has been a bit low on confidence since getting his DSC1 as he hasnt been able to lay eyes on a deer since. He had never stalked onto a fallow either. (we have culled a few park deer)
We set off at 2.30 on weds and called in at a bit of my ground near Carlisle on the way. Jonathans luck did not change and he bumped a roe doe and twins and did not get offered a shot. We pressed on and got to the hotel for 9ish.
A short drive in the morning saw us at some estate buildings at 6.30am not knowing what to expect. We were met by the head keeper and then introduced to 2 beat keepers who we were to stalk with in the morning. It was cold but very still and clear. The lack of wind was definately concerning our guides as it was swirling instead of holding a steady tack. We shook hands, paired up and then saddled up. Our guys were also carrying rifles and it was made clear that although we were always to shoot first we were to cull and therefore they may also be taking animals if the opportunity arose. (it later came to light that they have also had a very mixed calibre of stalker in the past so they half expected to have to mop up too) The estate concentrates on pheasants and partridge at this time of year so if they were going to have to neglect that side for a day they were determined to maximise the cull opportunity.
A short drive saw us parked in a forestry clearing waiting for light to break. As soon as it did we saw a pair of roe feeding out in the fell. They were to be left. My guide was clearly an experienced and enthusiastic stalker and he was looking forward to his day. He had a black lab bitch to heel and she behaved impeccably all day.
200 yards into the wood my man gestured a halt. There was a fallow in the wood moving left to right. She was in shade and cover but her path suggested that she would come into a clearing if we waited. So wait we did, and vanish she did. After 5 minutes or so my guide decided we should move as he said he had spent long enough in the past waiting for a deer to emerge when it had infact bogged off.
We moved on and within 200 yards had bumped a pair of fallow in some heavy cover. The guide was concerned because the bracken was all still standing without any decent frosts to knock it back. Spotting deer was going to be a challenge. Yet only 200 yards further on I hissed to him that I had seen 2 deer feeding on a restock. He checked them out and confirmed that they were does and fallow but there were 3 of them. We were able to use a forest track to close the distance from 450m to 200m and then the track forked. We were to try to get closer but the ground was exposed. At the fork there was a raised mound and tree stump, I suggested I fancied the shot from there. I pinged it at 180m with the range finder. I was abe to get prone and he lay the other side of the stump with rifle at the ready. Once settled it took a few minutes for a clear shot to present. As soon as it did the 30-06 boomed and one was down. The other 2 froze and i shot the second, she ran about 30m and fell. The 3rd remained frozen but semi concealed. My man hissed that if it went left he would take it, it came right and my 3rd shot saw her drop within 3 yards of the second one. We waited for things to settle and my guide expressed his delight at an early result as he could have a smoke!! We used his dog to locate the 2 that ran as the cover was tall, She got told off for returning to the same beast and not finding the other until I realised they were laid either side of a tussock and she had in fact found them both. It was a doe, follower and calf.
Grallochs complete I was amazed to find we were to continue on. We saw a further 8 roe but my man did not want to shoot them as he believed some more fallow and possibly some red would be in a ghyll further up. As soon as we crested the rise that drops into the ghyll we bumped 6 fallow which ran on and then stopped on a rise. I pinged them at 230m and my guy suggested I set up. At this point I had a problem with the second extension of my bipod and couldnt get a clear shot. I quickly suggested my guide took the shot if he could. He did and the impact sounded good. At the report another fallow burst from cover beneath us and when it stopped another round was away.. Both deer however had run. The first the dog found stone dead just over the mound, the second lay on the far side of the ghyll and watched us!!. We waited 15 minutes and just as we decided to go in it stood and started to go away. We both took a shot, at nearly 300m, and I was delighted to hit it and put it down. Unbelievably when we got there it stood again and had to be finished. The gralloch revealed the first shot had penetrated only 1 lung, my shot seemed to have passed straight through the middle of the deer without causing a fatal wound. Anyway all ended well as the animal was recovered and despatched as quickly as possible but its resilience astonished me.
The deer were all left on the hill for later collection by quad. We returned to the yard and I became very concerned in case Jonathans luck had not changed and mine was still in full flow. I should not have worried, he and his man had taken 3, Jonathan having very well accounted for 2. Had he not been so overcome with relief etc on the first shot he may have had another deer too but he had to wait a litle longer for the second instead. His first was a fine doe.
As infact were both other animals. There was a bit of banter as I had pipped him again and he couldnt believe it.
We departed for lunch almost in a state of shock and returned to the yard at 1.30pm unsure what to expect. We need not of worried. We were again split up, Jonathan with the head keeper and me with the 3rd beat keeper. As soon as we arrived on the beat we saw a doe feeding at the end of a grass pasture. The stalk to her was ruined by a field of over exuberant cattle unfortunately. However on the way up we spotted 2 more and swung round to try to get on to them. They moved off but we bumped them out from some gorse. One stopped on the brow of a hill, my new guide explained it was safe but I didnt feel happy and my hesitation allowed the doe to pronk away.
We moved into the woods and within 10 minutes he spotted another deer through a row in the conifers. I set up my sticks and down she went where she stood. About 70m. She was quickly gralloched, by me, and hung in a tree. As we stalked on we saw 3 roe and a further 2 fallow but were unable to get onto them. As we finished for the evening and heading back to base we spotted some more deer in a field grazing. They ran but a few whistles eventually stopped them, I picked one and then realised it was a pricket. I quickly switched and down went doe 5 for the day!!
Back at the yard I found a very happy Jonathan, he had 3 deer to his rifle in the afternoon, this had included clearing up 2 from one group (and not freezing) and a 120m headshot which the head keeper was very quick to point out trumped anything I had done that day!!
We said our goodbyes quite quickly as we were faced with a trip of 4+ hours home. However perhaps the best bit of the trip was at the end when the head keeper said we would be welcome back anytime as the way we had conducted ourselves had not impeded the efforts of the cull. It turns out they dont really like taking people out for hinds as it usually lowers the return. To say we were proud of ourselves as we left is understating it!! (the head keeper did also tell us that by any standards the day had been exceptional, ohh really )
The pic below shows a very happy camper and some of the spoils of the day.
:cheers: :cheers: :cheers: