Im not one for writing stories really, but I had such a great morning out on Friday, I feel I must share. Not only is this a yarn about a mornings stalking but its also an example of how the SD can bring like minded people together and create friendships....well done SD !
At the beginning of last year one of the SD members was running a charity auction for H4H.
H4H is a charity very close to my heart so I had no hesitation in offering up a morning (and evening is unsuccessful) stalking on one of my pieces of ground near Craigievar Castle in Aberdeenshire.
The successful bidder was a fella named 'Jackfish' from this site (aka Bryan).
So, the morning came about.....slightly nervous because I had never taken a 'stranger' out stalking before...never mind one that had paid good money to do so...the pressure was on !
After initial greetings (seemed a nice bloke ;-) ), we made up for the hill.
Bryans own ground is much lower down and he hadn't had a 'hill' buck up on the heather before.
It was a cracking May morning...beautiful sunshine but alas no wind...just a light breeze. I usually like a bit more wind on the hill; helps mask the crunchy noise from the burnt heather.
Anyhow, within 10 minutes stalking we bump a buck in a wood...never saw him but off he goes barking....bu**er. We were not going to stalk this wood anyway, it was just a means of getting a good spying position for the hill.
We get through the wood to the other edge and thankfully we glass a really nice (big head) buck across a little gully. We glass him for a wee while but he eventually made his way into another little triangle of wood (too thick in there to stalk).
We crossed the gully and burn and stalk up the side of this little triangle of wood working up towards the heather. When doing so we spot another handsome chap couched down in the heather. I accompanied Bryan up to the point of the wood where it joined the heather. I held back here as there was no cover in the heather and this was going to be a challenging stalk; more akin to open hill Reds. Bryan left behind as much kit as he could and began the long slow belly crawl. It was a good 200m crawl (much credit to Bryans patience) before Bryan could get into a position to take the shot. By this stage the buck knew something was there but couldn't quite make up his mind what it was. Too late my antlered friend ! Bryan set loose the 100g and the buck dropped on the spot (see photo 1).
So, happy stalker (and happy 'guide' ...pressure off :-) ) but we had only been going for 45 minutes or so. Too early to call it a morning so I was more than happy to try and get Bryan into another buck.
No more than 15 minutes later across the heather and we spot another beast. Not such a big lad but certainly one of the cull beasts on my list.
With little cover and only an old dry burn as a help, we stalked a long way to get to a position where once again I held back and let Bryan belly crawl in the last 100m on his own. Again, Bryans patience and determination payed off and a nice 140m shot dropped the fella where he stood (see photo 2)
A grand morning was had by all ! ... :-) ( Please note anyone...just in case I donate another morning for H4H auction ....lol )
After that day, myself and Bryan kept in touch via SD, text, FB etc.
Later that summer, Bryan was going through a real dry patch with regards to bucks, on his own ground, so I invited him out to my ground again and he managed to take another decent buck off the heather (sorry - no photo although I think Bryan has one).
Come the pheasant season, I was delighted to have Bryan and his son out for a days shooting; good company and great craic ! SD had certainly helped form what I hope will be a long friendship.
During the winter, Bryan had joined a stalking syndicate with a massive skelp of land up north.
I heard many a story from him about how bonnie the ground was and the numbers of Reds etc were to be seen.
Both Bryan and I work away from home a lot so getting together and arranging dates etc is not at all easy.
However, we were both around for a couple of weeks and Bryan kindly invites me up for a mornings stalking at his new ground.
Forecast was for rain but we escaped that and it was a cracking day for it, albeit it wee bit quiet with little or no wind.
First bit we stalked into within 10 minutes we had a Red hind walk across our path...pity no the season for them.
Another 20 minutes in, going along a clearing, a nice roe buck crossed in front of us at about 80m...he spies us and stands just a fraction too long to see what we are....boom...off the sticks. Buck ran 10 meters into wood and dropped dead.....much to Bryans relief...pressure off...lol (see photo 3)
After gralloch (hence the blue gloves in photo :-/ ) and drag back to truck, we headed off for another area of the stunning ground.
5 minutes into the stalk we encounter half a dozen very healthy looking Red hinds...nice shot too, just a pity closed season.
We spend another hour or so taking our time along some wood edges and rides but see no roe buck...just shed loads of evidence of a very healthy Red population.
Back into the truck and we head off for another area.
This area looked SSSSSOOOO Roe'y it was straight out of one of Richard Priors books :-)
Lovely grassy glades between the trees running up alongside a river.
Again...10 minutes in, Bryan (who was walking just in front of me) stops dead in his tracks.
I had gathered he had seen a beast and he urged me to the front. I put the sticks up and Im looking 100 m plus in front of me looking for this beast. Cant see anything ???? .... hold on ! ...just 20 metres in front, the gorse bushes are thrashing about violently. HOLY Sh*T......a cracking buck is knocking the living daylights out of this gorse. I can only see his head at first, but after 30 or 40 seconds (felt like an hour ) he moved a couple of feet and I can now see his neck. Crosshairs on and a lower neck shot drops him on the spot. That fella never even knew we were there and so clost to him :-) (see photo 4 + 5)
Happy fellas all round.
What a superb morning....great stalking, fantastic scenery, first class company and grand craic .
Thanks again Bryan for such a terrific day out.
I look forward to repaying him with a nice buck off my new ground further south.
And thanks to SD too; without SD events like these and the establishment of such friendships would never have happened.
Apologies for any spelling, grammar errors...as I said..Im not usually much of a story writer.
Best Regards to all