Met up with Dave at his place early in the New Year and just as early in the morning. The weather was giving it's usual welcome, blustery with heavy rain.
On the drive to his ground we discussed the days plan including communication, which seat I would have, cull plan, 'no fire' zones and all of the other essentials for a safe trip.
At his ground we donned our kit and under loaded our rifles with de-cocked bolts closed on empty chambers ready for the walk in. It was soon apparent that extra caution was needed due to the saturated ground and ankle deep ruts and gate ways to negotiate.
Dave gave me directions and eventually left me to go to his own seat on another area of his ground. Walking gently in the pitch black my night vision had clicked in. My seat was in an old oak about 350yds down a sloping field with a wood behind it (no permission there) The view to the front was over a tree lined very steep valley running from left to right at 100 yds away, beyond the valley was a steeply rising field giving a fabulous safe backstop out to 200yds this was backed by another steep valley running almost parallel to the first one.
The 'no fire' zone was immediately to my front right marked by a huge old oak with no shots to be taken to the right of the tree.
Settling into the seat and waiting for the light to come the wind got up and the rain intensified but it was dry under the canopy. Dawn seemed to take forever to arrive due to the overcast sky.
As the dawn arrived and I could see the rifle chamber I loaded a round and applied the safety.
I had been in this seat twice before and thought I was aware of the likely deer appearances and runs across the ground from the valley to the safety of the wood behind, how wrong can you be?
Sitting out, the time went on towards breakfast. Dave had said that if he drew a blank he would stalk down the furthest valley from me in complete safety and appear on the horizon in the 'no fire' zone. My phone beeped to tell me he was moving so watching the no fire zone as well I eventually saw him on the horizon.
Almost immediately I became aware of moving dark forms on the extremity of my left hand vision, focusing on them I saw a herd of about 10 deer streaming down the bank towards me. almost exactly on the line I had walked in on.
Being a relatively new stalker the pulse rate went up a bit.
I expected them to go for the wood or back into the valley but they kept coming up wind towards my seat. I counted 9 fallow does all of the same body bulk and size.
Readying myself to take a shot should the opportunity arise I confirmed the backstop as good out to at least 200yds.
For some unknown reason they continued on towards me but came to a halt at about 70yds and began milling around, one turned side on and hesitated, I took her through the boiler room, she staggered on a few yards hit hard and going down. In confusion to the shot they continued to mill around and having already reloaded, another one turned side on and hesitated, I took her with a heart/lung shot, she staggered on a few yards and went down too. Thinking Christmas was coming I reloaded again to take another but common sense had kicked in and they streamed away behind my seat and started out towards Dave over in the next valley. Probably seeing him they did an about turn and went into the safety of the wood. They were quickly examined and bled out while we went for the Quad for recovery to the truck.
At the gralloch one was discovered to have a severely arthritic hind leg that had not been visible before and both were in milk but no followers had been seen.
Thanks again Dave for a Real Red Letter Day.
Thanks also to another member on the site (he knows who he is!) for both helping me to get access to deer and gain experience towards level 2.
Photo to follow when I've sussed it out!