Got carried away transcribing!
Get tea/coffee and come back if you want to read it in a oner!
Not wanting to abuse my pink ticket allocation and with my son's birthday party at 5pm last Sunday I had to maximise my time by making a 5am Monday morning start from Edinburgh!!
Missed the 8am Lochaline ferry by a whisker thanks to the selfish birdwatcher who failed to see or follow any signs to “allow overtaking”!
I would have thought an Audi estate with lights on up his chuff for 10 miles would have been indication enough!
Anyway..On the island ready to go for 945!
Wind out of the West -South West
Sunny with some light cloud
Attack planned from the North East side of the ground working our way up to the high ground where parties of stags had been seen earlier
As we parked at the bottom North East end of a large, long glen that opened up at the South end we had excellent visibility with some haze from the occasional bright sun
Walking up the right hand burn and following the contour of a smaller ridge was intermittently interrupted by unzipping, and removal of clothing as the temperature increased! Christ I am unfit!
As we approached the leeward side of a small pinnacle 1/2 way up I spotted the back of a deer feeding just around to our right.
One of three which moved off ahead of us in a fairly swift manner.
Seen? Heard?, Smelt? Don’t think so.
They joined a group of 9 others who moved off in the same direction as us, harrying each other, rolling, bit of sparring and general boisterousness and the hormones kick in to the upcoming rut. Oblivious to us apparently.
By this time it was 1230.
Two thirds of the way up the gulley running into the glen and pointing up to the South West summit we paused and spied the now full view of the glen.
The spine of which ran along above us to our right. The summit up ahead to our forward right and about 5000yds away
We had stags up to our right, a pair and some hinds, no clear route in.
Two groups of hinds each with one stag and one knobber behind us and back into the next glen to the North, wind all wrong for that approach..and more importantly 4 miles of walking!
Party of 12 spied earlier moving above and forward, bloody long way away and no clear route or dead ground between us and them
A single stag moving across and up from the lower left to engage or join the group of 12 from before.
Down below him on our lower left was a pair of stags, alternating lying and feeding, occasional roar. Looked to be very comfortable where they were.
Sit here have lunch and watch what happens for a while...also cool down and get our breath back!!
The intention was to drop down the stream running down and left below us into another gully that rang up and to the right and up to the summit but between us and the two lazy boys down to our left.
Lunch scoffed. sweat evaporated, game faces on
We slowly picked our way down the burn in full view but at some range towards the dead ground gully leading to our final destination.
Once in the gully it was hard to see which knoll these two had been sitting on as the profile changed considerably when viewed from a different angle.
Not wanting to go too far up the gully and pop up in front of them and be winded we decided to cross over to the left of the ridge the stags are on using one of the knolls on the top as cover.
Whilst silently disagreeing with each other with wild hand gestures as to which knoll and ridge they were actually on ....the advantage of being 6’4” and having a slightly different sight line to someone shorter became apparent when I spotted the tips of some antlers just to our right and in line with the summit we were now looking up at.
A quick crawl forward confirmed this was the smaller of the two.
Sitting on the end of a small ridge at about 110-120yds, facing left to right looking at us. (arrow marks location crappy camera phone can’t spot!)
The larger second must have been to his left behind the ridge.
We crawled forward into position, by this time the lying stag was now looking straight at me, chewing cud but clearly aware of something, but not enough to make him get off his arse.
Plan A - Give it 10ish mins to see if the larger stag (Fatty) would come across to his mate (Skinny)
Shoot the larger one if he did and then try to shoot the smaller one as and when gets up.
Plan B – if fatty doesn’t show, we shoot skinny and hope that fatty comes over the hill to see what the commotion is and then he gets it too!
We are lying prone side by side me on the right, my stalking partner on my left.
Communicating by kicks to the foot and highly exaggerated lip reading!
10 mins passes
“Give it another 5, if he doesn’t show you roar I will shoot, you take the 2nd if he shows”
We have just finished this “Dad’s army” style silent plan when Fatty’s antlers appear behind and to the left of Skinny.
Bingo! Its on.
As Fatty (#2) is walking towards Skinny (#1) he is gradually coming further forward. I am slightly higher than my partner and can now see clearly under his belly through the grass both at our end and his.
He pauses for a quick sniff of the air and as he does the silence is destroyed as the unmoderated .270 goes off
Fatty hunches slightly, (something I expect most things would do when 130gr of Hornady's finest passes through their chest!) and runs past his lying mate who now up and off like a sprinter down to our right onto a flat section.
No chance of the immediate second shot.
I get up onto my knees slowly and through the grass of the knoll to my right can just make out the smaller stag standing looking back to where he was sitting.
“He is there! Get down and round over there and you will see him”
Skinny has made the cardinal error of stopping to see why he mate is not coming with him.
Off at a hunched trot my stalking partner is away with rifle to see if he can get into position for a shot at the 2nd before his curiosity wears off.
I drop back and down to pick up sticks and rifle slips and slowly work my way back up to where I can now see the him lying prone at the top of a hump.
Both deer out of view now.
I stand and wait hating not knowing what is going on!
“Boom”! another unmoderated .270 goes off, this time I can hear the audible smack of the bullet strike as it hits the quartering stag in the neck.
As I get to his firing position I can see both stags now, the first barely made it past his mate down of the ridge, parked on the flat.
His smaller mate hunched up less than 20 yds from him.
Deer spotted, 1230pm, Shots fired 4.20pm
A fine result in fine weather.
As we surveyed the scene the party of 12 above us moved slowly up towards the summit with the occasional roar as they went.
Seemingly undisturbed by the double report.
Nothing of note in the gralloch but it soon became apparent that we were going to be knackered
Flat to upwardly sloping ground in the homeward direction!!!
Dragged for 500yds or so we lost 3 litres in sweat in the heat and thought better of any further hernia busting dragging uphill on dry grass/heather!
Stags stashed in the shade and covered slightly, we headed down for the quad.
Home by 730pm
Its been hammering down all night
Doesn’t look like letting up properly
Wind has moved round to the West
Time to break out the hoods and proper wet weather gear.
Decided to test the new Ridgeline Roar jacket and hood combo, with gore-tex breeks and yeti gaiters
Resplendent in green we decide to attack the Glen further South to yesterday’s effort.
Have given the trusty .270 a day off and broken out the .300WM with newly fitted PES moderator.
Wouldn’t normally carry an extra pound of steel up the hill for the hell of it, but it is zeroed with it on and on it is staying!
View from the road is average at best as the combination of rain and mist makes long range clarity sketchy at best
Big bowl of a corrie on our right viewing West
Large Glen opening up in front of us with several large ridges running down from each side into the belly
2 stags in the northerly most corrie – no way in with this wind and no dead ground between us and them.
1 Stag with 6 hinds on the right, northern escarpment of the glen
Roaring heard from other locations but no other confirmed sightings
We decide to run up the burn in bottom of the glen and run up one of the tributaries to the right using the burn as cover and hopefully coming out down wind and slightly above this small group.
Sounds like a good plan….execution is the key!
200 yds we bump two hinds and calf and follower that had been sheltering in the burn!!
They bolt out left into plain sight of the entire glen. Permission to say “Cock”!
We wait a minute or two
Slowly edging forward we can see one of the hinds in our target group is now very interested in our location.
Still lying but not chewing anymore.
5-10 mins of “making like a tree” pass and we take the risk of single file edging to the next dead zone.
We make swift progress up the burn to our turning point to heading North and right to come out at the top edge of the escarpment.
Every now and then we stop to spy and check location.
As my partner navigates a small rock ledge in front of me he slips backwards and down towards me.
I have time to grab the barrel of his rifle as the butt lightly smacks the rock at my feet, simultaneously trying to hold him up out of the water and save the rifle from hitting the rocks and going in the burn!
Slightly bruised ego and arse, very wet arse and a now overriding concern as to the zero of his rifle we plod on.
The stag is now restless, obviously his body clock is ahead of his mates’ yesterday as he is harrying the hinds now, moving them left deep into the belly of the glen and further away from our destination……going to be a long day!
As we head up the burn to the right we hear a roar above us.
That’s a different stag! And closer!
We slow our pace now spying at every possible nook and cranny trying to make out shapes
As we rise up higher just shy of out upper destination we spot three hinds lying down and a stag to their lower left, all lying down in the next but one gully that runs down into the belly of the glen.
Bingo! 5 mile hike averted!
Plan is to backtrack slightly go around a knoll to our left and come out in the same gully they are in
We navigate the knoll and inch forward to a small hump about 80yds from the hinds with a perfect flat firing point.
Break out the hooky eBay Atlas bipod and attach to the 300.
All nice and comfy in a fine firing position that covers an arc of 45-60 degrees below the hinds.
Problem is we are now behind the only dead ground knoll between us and the hinds. No further path is available and the stag is no-where to be seen.
We look back to where we viewed him from and try to work out where he is.
It is clear from his roaring and our best estimate of topography that his is sitting in a gully to the hind’s left, slightly down from us and them.
Only movement option is to back track and chose another possibly more difficult approach above the hinds to view him from above
We wait. We wait a bit more. And then we wait a bit more
My big fat bonce with hood attracts the attention of one hind, not enough to stop here chewing here cud but I now have some beady eyes on my location.
Finally as the rain continues to come and go we decide that action is required. We have been here 15-20 mins
Perhaps a roar will induce some interest from him or a bark from the hinds will get him out of bed and into sight.
I guestimate that from his location he will either:
a) Get up and come up towards us, showing himself whilst conveniently standing perfectly broadside for a chest shot at around 120-130yds
b) Get up and move away from us onto the opposite side of his gully, standing conveniently broadside for a chest shot at around 230-250-yds
c) Get up and run like hell up his gully never showing himself to us whilst simultaneously taking the barking hinds with him and clearing the rest of the hill!!
As I am manning the only rifle we can guarantee has not been dropped my partner takes to his best stag impression
9/10 for effort
5/10 for delivery
With the wind in our faces and with no aid I suspect he can’t hear even it!
The hinds look down with a visible expression of hilarity at the braying donkey impression
No sign of inquisitive stag, hinds still lying and chewing. Clearly donkeys are not expected around these parts
10 minutes pass, “give it another go”
Another “roar” this time with a few “huff huff huffs” thrown on the end for artistic points.
More mocking looks from hinds but no interruption of cud chewing
No angry stag storming towards either .
10 mins pass.
I decide to try and shift the hinds with a “hind bark”
My best impression of a bronchitic dock worker does nothing either.
5 mins – “wave your hat at them”
Nothing, just looking and watching and chewing.
We are now talking openly with little in the way of hushed tones.
my head/hood combo is clearly in view.
Either these deer are deaf and blind or the prospect of standing up in this crappy weather is too much for them.
We decide to call in to HQ (Parents!)
He is explaining our apparently unresolvable predicament and our intention to bail out and come home for a hot bath and a whisky.
Just as he hangs up guess who decides to make an appearance?!
Fat boy slim has risen from his bed and chosen option a) from above.
He walks 20yds towards us and the hinds, pauses momentarily to roar and sniff the wet air just as the 300wm barks like a wheezy, hoarse dog through the moderator. (I much prefer an unmoderated report!)
He rears up and back slightly before wheeling round and going downhill about 10yds.
2 seconds later he is down
2 seconds after that all is still
I didn’t see an exit on him wheeling round.
Did I pull that shot rearwards to provoke that response?
Call to HQ…”change of plan! Please bring the quad and trailer after all!”
I can’t wait any longer and am off to examine the shot placement and the stag.
No visible entrance or exit, I have to hunt around in the hair for an entrance wound
Exit is non existent
The bullet has hit him about 3” rearwards of where I aimed, still well within the lungs but as a slightly quartering shot it has definitely take out his liver as well.
Gralloch confirms my initial diagnosed cause of death.
Bottom lobe of lung is destroyed, liver is coming out in lumps and mush, shock into the upper lung and heart area has caused the chest cavity to be mostly filled with blood.
Blood loss through the nose and mouth has formed a huge deep puddle at his nose.
Certainly wasn’t going anywhere fast with that wound, exit and blood trail or not!
(Later larder prep revealed an internal exit into the ribs on the offside and a bullet lodged just under the skin.
Bullet displayed a perfect mushroom,, lead core measuring 14mm and a “petalled” mushroom with a max OD of 21mm
OAL of bullet approx. 50% of original length.
Retained weight measured at 104.4gr
All energy dumped internally, bullet expanding perfectly and shedding a proportion on its weight not in fragments that I could see but through frictional lead loss.)
So gralloched and roped up we have a relatively uneventful vertical drop down to the road/car.
As we do we can see the Stag and party of 6 down to our right.
He has moved them down the glen and most of our trip down will be in dead ground….
Within 30 mins we come out from behind a ridge and see him 400yds below us with a clear route to a knoll about 150-175yds away..
We look at each other..
I am soaked, knackered and the prospect of bagging another, gralloching it and hauling it down a very steep hill, likely in total darkness sounds like a nightmare!
He is given a temporary reprieve…another day.
Some maintenance to do today
A forestry fence gate has been left open and there are apparently 20 odd stags/hinds now in the small plantation that are under threat of extermination.
We are tasked with finding them and potentially opening a gate to allow them out
The inside of the plantation fence looks like a herd of wildebeest have been running up and down.
This involved a lengthy walk, some intensive putting right of world problems over a sandwich in the sun and the occasional spying of the hill
Having competed todays tasks I was keen to complete my excursion with the pinnacle of any sporting achievement
The slotting of Hoodie Crows with large calibre centrefire rifles!
Unfortunately (or fortunately whichever way you look at it) the hoodie population seems to be a bit light this year. Unlike the tick population….
we have seen none today!
Whilst parked up killing time and spying a wide hill face for deer some 5-6 miles away my attention was drawn to some murderous, black and grey barstewards buzzing around in the foreground of my binocular view.
“Oo there’s one!”
“where?”…“Chriiiist that’s a long way away!”
“What’s that then..got to be 400…450 maybe?”
“Feck it! Who dares wins Rodders!”
We have no rangefinder, we have no ballistic reticules or target turrets…..nor do we have accurate MV and info for the ballistic app on my phone.
Odds are most definitely on the side of Jasper!
Quick glance on my phone has a 400yd shot with a 208gr 300WM bullet doing roughly 2850-2900fps at a drop of 22.5”, 32.4” for 450yds
That’s a 9” spread. If I can get within 4.5” either way of the centre I will be delighted. If not a little astounded!
Wind quartering from the behind and right, judging by my wet finger anemometer its about 15mph.
Jasper is unaware of his impending doom and thinks he is well out of range (he may well be…)
Scope wound up to full 14x
Using the tried and tested holder of MOC (Minute of Crow) measurement I go for 3.5 crows holdover and a smidge over a beak length for windage.
Crow disappears from my sight picture, partially through recoil!
“Oof! Bloody close! You hit the rock he was sitting on!! Certainly got his attention!”
Now having shot a 24x12” rock with a 300WM spitting 208gr Amax I know what the outcome is!
So badly want to see what it does to a crow!
Next time Jasper…Next time (we will bring the range finder!)