Went up to Dumfries and Galloway for a long weekend stalking. After a fruitless three days stalking syndicate land my frustration was compounded by the fact that my shooting buddy and stepson Ross (270Buck) had shot two roebucks on the first afternoon and a red spiker on the Monday. I set off at 5.45 am Tuesday to the Forrest Estate for a morning stalk with Colin (Solwaystalker). Colin had arranged for me to go out with Iain who was sitting in his car waiting when I arrived ten minutes early for the arranged 7 am meet. We transferred our kit to the estate pickup and set off through a load of clear fell and newly planted pine. 30 seconds out of the car park a hind and spiker watched us drive past Iain commented "You don't want that do you?", quarter of a mile later I spotted a couple of hinds across the clear fell, Iain stopped the truck and we glassed the area, his experienced eyes quickly picked up another hind and a four pointer stag. "Do you want that one?" Iain said as he reversed the truck round to get a better starting point for the stalk. I commented that if it was near the end of the stalk I would probably go for it but wanted a bit more of the experience, roaring stags, stags holding hinds etc. "Lets go up the hill!" Iain offered.
A bit more driving around glassing, a short walk with a couple of stags roaring at each other from within the pine trees but a no show as far as we were concerned bought us to a reservoir which is apart of the fancy hydro electric power system the Estate feeds the grid with. Standing on the dam with a commanding view of the hill side almost all around us we searched for our stag. These hills are huge, one in the range is almost a Munro!
We first spotted a couple of hinds with a young one, followed by the stag with three more hinds in tow. They were the best part of a mile away just above the tree line working their way from our left to right at quite a pace. At first we discounted them because they seemed to be on a mission and we would never have caught up. On with glassing the rest of this huge vista. With not much else to see we looked back to where our group of seven were and found them just above the trees grazing and fairly still. Iain asked me if I "fancied a go" ,easy one to answer. Back in the truck and up to the foot of a ride that will put us on the hill above and upwind of our deer.
"What will I need Iain.", "Just your rifle, stick one up the spout." and off we go up the ride and on to the hill with rifle, sticks and a bottle of water. Once on the hill you can appreciate how big this place is with rock crags towering above you, absolutely beautiful! We stalk across the hill above the trees slowly gaining some height aiming for some small rocks that will give us a good viewing point and keep us hidden from any deer. At the first rock Iain looks over whilst I readied the rifle, once in position I had a quick look, nothing, the deer must have gone further round the trees. Bipod back up and back out from the rock, careful low walk/crawl to the second rock, same procedure bipod up slither into position.At this moment Iain comes back from the front line muttering expletives at zero volume, I'm sure he said "its a ferking emperor", I thought I'm here for a stag not a "ferking Penguin!". Anyway, we both crawl into position over the edge and there 90 yards below us is the biggest stag I have ever seen laying down with a couple of hinds milling around him. We were trying to count the tines, Iain with his bins and me with the scope crosshairs always close to my point of aim. He wasn't in a rush to move and we weren't in a rush to shoot. We lay there for a full 15 minutes watching this magnificent animal laying there like a sphinx chewing and then winding himself up mouth opening and closing tongue far out then the roar, nowhere near as loud as I expected, fantastic to watch and hear. A few seconds after his roar another roar in the distance answers the challenge. My heart was pounding like a drum,the cross hairs dancing in time with it. When you have that length of time to watch a magnificent animal, knowing its next move will be its last and it is you that has made that decision is very challenging. The stag lifts up to his knees, I tighten up crosshairs planted just behind his foreleg I thought shall I shoot him kneeling? No do him the honour of letting him stand. He gets to full height and immediately starts to quarter away, bang! The stag lunges forward then starts to trot off looking like nothing is wrong, oh sh*t reload! back on the rifle Texan heart shot offered, thankfully, the stag drops dead 30 yards from the strike point.Phew!!!
My first Red Stag!!! A battle worn Royal with a tine knocked off and a few scars. Fantastic animal and a stalk of a lifetime.
Hand shakes and down to the stag, where's the camera for the obligatory picture?, it's in my rucksack in the truck, doh! Mobile phone will have to do, batteries flat. No immediate photo. Iain did the gralloch in thirty seconds flat and off to fetch the glencoe for the extraction, what a tool! That's me for forgetting the camera and the glencoe because it is, it can go almost anywhere with the winch the extraction was easier than dragging a roe across a field. We took the picture after fetching the glencoe.
Back at the larder Iain, Colin and the lad who was taking the afternoon stalk with Iain caped the head off for me and finished the carcass prep. They all got ready for the afternoon stalk I packed my trophy away and we bid farewell to each other, what a morning.
A couple of months earlier I had met Steve a taxidermist from Leicestershire my home county,Ross had already called Steve to tell him I might be dropping in, I confirmed with Steve that I would and by the end of the day the cape was packed away in the freezer ready to be sent off for tanning.
I will post some pictures up after Steve has mounted it for me.
Thank you for reading this I wrote it mainly to remind me of a fantastic day out.