Things evolve, I get that, but, when I look back to my early years stalking rabbits with a .22 air rifle and the distinct lack of clobber that used to accompany me, coupled with my success rate at the time, it got me thinking about what I take out stalking with me.
This time of year I am limited on one of my permissions as it has public access over much of the land, and is a favourite spot for dog walkers and alike, which leaves me a few select blocks of dense scrub to mooch about in in peace and quiet.
Recently though, I have found that I have felt ungainly and clumsy whilst our stalking, weighed down with all the additional clobber of modern stalking, so today I thought sod it, back to basics.........
so, stalking this afternoon, it was time for a change, so just me, my unmoderated .375, low mag scope, bins and knife went for a walk......no heavy moderator, no sticks, no gadgets, callers, just a handful of spare rounds in my pocket, bliss.
The wind was about as squally as it could be, but in the scrub, there was a degree of shelter afforded, and I suspect the swirling wind was scattering whatever scent I was giving off all over the place, so not much point worrying about it really.
I followed numerous Red 'highways' which conveniently make for rather easy waking through otherwise impenetrable sallow and birch, although they have churned the ground up something rotten, so it was a squelchy stalk, really nothing refined about the stalking technique today!
After about 45 minutes I bumped a muntjac buck, who thankfully scarpered without barking, I paused for a few minute to let things settle, then shortly after that I picked up some much fresher tracks, and low and behold, about 70m further ahead of me, just visible through the tangled branches were two hinds.....
They had, however long since seen me, and didn't waste any time in making good their escape.
I figured at this point I'd pretty much exhausted this particular bit of scrub, so I decided to walk the 500m or so to the second block, however, all the way over to this particular bit, the wind was blasting at my back the whole way, I wasn't convinced this was going to be a successful outing at this point as it did rather feel as though everything was against me, but I figured I was out now, so might just as well enjoy the fresh air and walk off some of the Christmas calories....
oh how wrong can you be..... The wind was once again nothing like so severe in the scrub, but was sufficient to mask any noises I was making, and was as unpredictable as before so I just kept plodding on slowly, finding a couple of fresh tracks to follow.
I came to an opening, and after glassing it thoroughly and seeing diddley squat I started to head back into the cover, still following a trail. But before I got to the edge of the scrub, something caught my eye, 'twas a stag (I had intended hinds ideally, but they have been thin on the ground this year, and I'm running low, so anything was fair game today).
He hadn't seen me, and was laid up under a tree having a snooze some 30m ahead of me, then something spooked him, presumably my scent, and he was on his feet looking around, but it was too late, the rifle was up, (free hand), safety off, and one very loud bang later, he went charging off into the scrub.
I followed his tracks and found him stone cold dead about 40m in.
cracking end to a very stripped back stalking outing! The way forwards is perhaps, sometimes backwards me thinks......