My 15 year old son gained his own FAC and SGC last year, and so as it was half-term this week, I had arranged for him to come along on a trip after red hinds to see if we could land him onto his first deer......
The trek up the m6 saw us battle some awful weather, and we tried to convince each other that it would blow over and brighten up. As we arrived at the farm, the rain had indeed stopped, but it was blowing a hooley, and there were some fairly ominous grey clouds visible over the tops at the far end of the valley; this could yet turn into a test of just how waterproof our waterproofs actually were!
We set off, and began lugging up the hill in pursuit of a suitable cull animal. (I had confidence in Charlie's ability out to a sensible 150yds max after having had him on the range, but the wind could make any shot a fairly testing one; nonetheless, we'd decide on whether a shot was one or not at the time and take a view from there).
After an hour we spotted a group of hinds, and stalking proper began - by that, I mean the crawling on hands and knees over soaking wet ground, shimmying up to a clump of grass to try and get to a suitable position....we got to around 90 yds of where the hinds were - and then something must have spooked them, as the next time we saw them they were on the next hill, heading off at speed, well out of range and not stopping. Slightly disappointing, but it did give Charlie a sense of what was required sometimes in order to get close enough for a shot.
We carried on up the valley, and after another hour or so, spied a further group of some 20 or so hinds, and so another lengthy crawl ensued, ditching sticks, backpacks, etc to be collected later. We managed to bring ourselves to the ridge overlooking the bunch below us, and the stalker identified a suitable hind for taking out should a suitable opportunity arise. Charlie got into position, and the hind in question was ranged at 138yds.......
After waiting for the hind to turn broadside, she suddenly put her head up - as did a few others - and turned around to face in the opposite direction; with the risk of this parcel of reds departing, the stalker advised Charlie to take the shot as soon as she was broadside on. She didn't turn absolutely broadside, but was around 90% there, and after waiting patiently for a suitable sight picture, I saw Charlie take the safety off and squeeze the trigger.....
There was a good solid thump and the hind reacted for a good boiler room shot, but managed to take a few steps to drop out of sight over small ridge. (Inbetween times, Charlie had already reloaded as I'd drilled into him he would need to after taking a shot; he actually cranked another round in so quickly I could have sworn John from YDS was stood behind him saying "Good shot - reload.....").
We watched the herd depart, and couldn't see any sign of a trailing one, so were quietly hopeful that we would walk onto a downed animal in due course. We waited as few more minutes, made the rifle safe, and then headed down the hill.
One dead hind, just over the crest. Job's a good 'un!!. My son's first deer!
Photos, gralloch, happy days. And importantly for me, the stalker confirmed that he was happy with Charlie's safety, awareness, communication, etc at all times.
(......shortly afterwards the weather turned absolutely foul: driving rain, sleet, hail...... I shot a another hind later that needed to be dragged across a beck in full spate to an area we could get the atv to.....the water was going at full pelt and was deeper than the tops of our gaiters....wet feet for everybody . Getting across was a little hairy, especially when the force of the water pulled the hind from us to lodge it on some rocks.....that took a bit of heaving to dislodge and get onto the far bank.....)
We arrived back at the car soaking, frozen and absolutely knackered. But with someone else that can now join the ranks of deerstalking!
A good day.
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