After initially thinking that my FAC application was going to turn into a battle of wills with the firearms department, see http://www.thestalkingdirectory.co.u...pic.php?t=7715 for details, it all turned out to be reasonably painless in the end.
Wednesday morning came around and the FEO personally delivered my new FAC & SGC because my ammo safe hadn't been available when the initial inspection had been done. Security checked, documents handed over and I was in possession of a new 'open' FAC.
A couple of hours later and I had my trusty old .308 Steyr Mannlicher heavy barreled 'varmint' rifle liberated from RFD storage, back on ticket and ready for a good going over. A few hours spent that evening had the old beast spick and span and shiney all over - not much blueing left in some areas as this rifle has seen a very full and active life - and enough rounds assembled using my favourite formula to see me through a couple of weeks.
Thursday was unfortunately a busy one at work but I found time to set up a 100m field target and squeeze off a few rounds to check zero. The first fouling round went an inch high and to the right and the next 3 were touching and centred an inch high - just where they had been before it went into storage. A quick check of the weather forecast that evening and with a clear frosty night and a very light southwesterly wind it all looked good for this morning.
Sunrise was due to be at 8am down here so I arrived on the farm at 6.15am after a 10 minute drive, and had a brief chat at the house to let them know where I'd be mooching around. Then no more than 20 metres from the front door and into the first field and, with the naked eye under the bright moon, I could make out 2 red hinds and their calves feeding around 250m away. With a steep upward slope behind them the shot was safe but I needed to find some cover. Taking my time I managed to get to a large clump of weeds about 40m into the field and settled down to at least a 30 minute wait until shooting light and time arrived. The deer carried on feeding out into the field unaware of my presence, although I started to think that they must be hearing my teeth chattering as I only had a mid-weight suit on!
Just on 7am and a cloud front moving in from the west covered the moon and, although the eastern sky was starting the lighten, it actually got darker. Some yapping from the direction of the house started up and through the Habicht 8x56s I could see the deer go into alert mode, swiftly followed by a retreat towards the woodland edge as a collie shaped shadow streaked across the field towards them. Thanks a bunch mutley!
After the mad dog had gone off to chase something else I glassed the wood and could just make them out inside but, with light approaching fast I was unlikely to be able to make an approach so resigned myself to going walkie stalkie elsewhere. A slow amble along the banked hedges revealed multiple fresh red slots in the hoar frost and signs of very recent traffic over some of the banks - they are certainly active at the moment.
With the light coming on slowly but surely a mist started to rise in the river Exe valley below
and I continued my slow progress glassing as I went. The eastern rim was starting to lighten and I could see three small groups (6-9 deer) of reds in clearings and fields on the opposite side - no good to me, but if they are out over there they will also be out on this side!
At around 7.30 and with the light now starting to come on fast, I caught a flash of white about 200m away on the woodland edge at a right angle to the hedge I was moving along. A quick squizz with the binos revealed a roe doe browsing along the headland and facing away and upwind from me. So I started on the familiar feed/walk/up/stop routine until I reached the corner of the field where the hedge met the wood. Although I could see her she wasn't presenting for a shot and if I had gone prone only her head would be visible above the headland weeds. I needed to get closer and prepare for a standing shot.
With the eastern sky behind me getting lighter by the minute I was very conscious of the silhouette I'd be presenting if I strayed away from the wood edge. So with time being of the essence I started out towards her, trying to avoid the twigs and other traps lying in wait. At around 100m she suddenly turns and faces directly towards me - this was going to be it. Backstop is good so, wait, wait, wait, head goes down and she turns broadside on. I slowly step out into the headland open the sticks and swing the rifle up. The crosshairs fall on her and the safety thumbs off silently, (it's had plently of use and slides easily), I set the trigger and gently squeeze and a Nosler 150gr BT is on it's way.
At the shot she bucks and rushes headlong into the the wood. I reload, put the safety back on and give her a couple of minutes before making my way to where she had been standing. I can immediately see the long splash of bright red paint behind the impact point and the easy to follow trail into the wood. The coombe falls away quite steeply so I unload, replace the round in the mag and close the bolt on the empty chamber. The trail is easy to follow and after 30m or so I can see her on the wooded hillside lying against a tree. A moments reflection, a silent 'Waidmannsheil' in tribute to the animal, and a strenuous pull saw her back up on the field. Inspection and later gralloch revealed that I'd taken the top off of her heart.
Note: I'm alone, the chamber is empty and the bolt is where I want it to be for this picture!
So all in all a rewarding few days.
Now I just need to get back there later today, put the collie in clink and get on the reds!