I was fortunate enough to head up to Scotland this year with my American father-in-law and his best buddy. Trip was booked through Sikamalc on his lease in Scotland. Rather than write an epic day-by-day account of the week, am going to focus on one stalk on the second evening...
Had been unusually warm for Scotland (and by warm i literally mean shorts and t-shirts weather!). However, we were hearing quite a few Sika stag's whistling in the forest. Will genuinely never forget first hearing a Sika stag whistle. Was not all that close but made my hair rise on the back of my neck!! Also cannot put in words how amazing stalking through the old forest is. The best description made was 'it's like something out of Lord of the Rings'. Magical place, with little streams, mosey banks, dark thick pines and fallen trees.
On the second evening Malcolm took me out into the old forest after a Sika stag. After not seeing much we decided to head up to the 'fallen pine tree'. Malcolm had spoken of this place before and mentioned he had quite a bit of success from the here in the past. It was a huge fallen pine tree at the top of valley. We were able to get tucked up in the pine tree and wait, set up on the sticks. Looking to the right was a steep mosey bank and we had a clear view at least 200 yards forward. The wind was just right, into our faces. We had heard some whistles, but nothing that near. We had called a couple of times, but nothing appeared to be coming. It was only when Malcolm leaned over to me and said, ' let's move to the next level up', that things changed. Not more than 30 seconds after contemplating moving we saw movement in the distance. A distinctive black body appeared from the bushes at maybe 200 yards. It was in no hurry but was slowly making its way straight for us. We quickly realised it was a decent stag. At this stage heart rate rose. Thankfully there was no rush, we watched the stag steadily continue to walk towards us. At around 100 yards he started to head up and along the bank on the right. At around 80 yards he was broadside on the bank, Malcolm stopped him with a whistle and i squeezed the trigger. We had spoken about Sika stags ability to run after being shot, so aimed for front near shoulder. He was slightly quartering to me on the bank.
The shot sounded good, and at that stage Malcolm kindly reminded me to reload! I followed the stag ran as he ran 40 yards before falling. Whilst he was down, we cautiously approached. He was an old boy, decent body and great looking head. Larger on one side, but still an 8 point. On closer inspection the shot was exactly where I was aiming and he had run with no front right shoulder, both lungs having been taken out. Needless to say that i was over the moon. There is a reason why they call him ’Sikamalc’!! Will be getting the head mounted and can say with confidence state that it is a stalk that I will never forget.
Huge thanks to Mark and Sandra as well. I won’t be the only one singing their praises, but the entire experience (from variety of ground, accommodation, food, knowledge of guides, banter, etc.) was outstanding. An experience that will last a life time with some special people.