Last November Lee (lwcdart) advertised on the SD site for anyone interested in stalking cull animals on his ground down in the New Forest. I booked a day and had a great time, stalking both morning and evening. Although I didn't manage to connect with a deer we saw plenty of roe and fallow, which was no surprise really as Lee's ground is incredibly 'deer-y'
I headed back down to meet Lee this morning to try again. Leaving home at 04:30 I met Lee at the larder at 06:30 where he described to me the area I'd be stalking. Having parked the car at the graveyard I made my way to the highseat (Badger, I think it is called) which sat at the bottom of a wooded valley. Being used to the normal galvanised lean-to's, I have to say that the highseats on Lee's ground really are top-notch, with easily enough space for three people. Climbing into the high seat I loaded the rifle and sat to wait for the light to improve.
I know some stalkers don't like high-seat work, but I always find that period in the early morning when the wood is waking up to be a magical time. Every sound is magnified, and your mind tricks you into thinking that the sound from a squirrel or a rabbit must be a monster fallow buck . Gradually the bird song increases and then you get to that moment when, rather than just "shades of grey", you can start to distinguish colours.
The highseat sat at the intersection of three rides - the one to my right that I'd walked down from the car, a main ride ahead of me:
and another ride to my left:
As the light steadily improved I saw a roe doe emerge at the far end of the main ride. With my rangefinder telling me it was 330 yards away I spent a few minutes watching it browsing until a movement to my left caught my eye. Looking up the ride to my left a roe doe and a doe kid crossed the ride about 100 yards away. I raised the rifle but they didn't stop long enough to present a shot so I spied into the woods to the right hoping to see them emerge. Just then another doe came out onto the side ride about 60 yards away. Up with the rifle, waiting for her to stop and then gently squeezing the trigger.
At the shot the doe fell, then a buck came out and ran across the ride. To the left what looked to be another kid sped away into the woods. The buck then spent the next 6-7 minutes mooching around the ride, occasionally sniffing the air and looking at the doe that was now lying motionless. Not wanting the buck to associate the rifle shot with man I bided my time until eventually he bounded off into the woods.
Unloading the rifle and getting down from the high seat I gralloched the doe and sent Lee a text message letting him know of my success.
Before anyone comments, the strap is for carrying the doe - she wasn't hobbled
I got back into the high seat for the last 15 minutes and saw a roe doe, buck and doe kid emerge onto the main ride some 150 yards away and then dash around the woods playing tag.
Lee had a fallow pricket to gralloch so I carried the doe back to the car and headed back to the larder.
I had a great morning's stalking with Lee and can thoroughly recommend him - he's a great bloke and has some fantastic country with plenty of deer. He's advertising more stalking in February on the site which, if it didn't clash with a previous commitment, I'd certainly put my name down for!