Yesterday saw the completion of a journey that has taken 18 months, shooting my first deer and marks the start of another one which will go on as long as I do. My first stalk was up in Colchester with a friend of friend, wonderful day spent trying to find and stay with a heard of fallow around on a huge farm, no result but the start of something. Looking for something more local my friend Nick put me in touch with Sean at The Hunting Lodge in East Peckham (Near Paddock Wood in Kent). As work and the rest of life allows I had been out with Sean on 8 stalks since as well as a great weekend doing my DSC1 with the SRUC guys at Gap180. During that time we have been to several of Sean's permissions, met SJB1956 of here who is a thoroughly nice chap and encountered varying combinations of wrong species, sex, or no deer at all but yesterday was different.
My alarm for this early stalk was set for 5am but having woken excitedly at 3am I gave in an got up just after 4am before meeting Sean at 5.45.am Going to a wood we had been to several times before we arrived just before 6am, due to the cloud cover it was still too dark to go in yet so we sat in the truck chatting. The news of deer taken from the wood that week and that a herd of 40 fallow had been seen on Sunday was a promising start. The initial phase was a slow stalk along one of the narrow rides up the hill to the top of the wood, no movement in the wood on either side but as we reached to top Sean tapped my shoulder. 20 yards into the field was a fallow doe who stood for a second before turning and running away down the field. We carried along the ridge just inside the tree line before plotting up near one of the favored crossings between field and wood. The only movement in the next half hour was squirrels so we decided to carry on to one of the rutting stands. As the wood to our left thinned we came up to the field edge again, 10yards down the track Sean whispered get the gun up. A fallow buck was walking across the field heading presumably to the same place as us, before he came into the wood he winded us an turned away. The rutting stand was in front of a big holly bush, 20mins with periodic goes on the caller yielded nothing so we carried on. We headed down through the wood and plotted up again. After another interlude of squirrel activity, drizzle and wondering where the deer had all gone we moved on. No signs of anything moving or bedded down as we stalked through the lower wood crossing the small stream bed several times. Sean said we were heading to the area a roe buck who had we had seen signs of on previous stalks and others had seen. We stopped by the wall of the butts from the old home guard range but the view wasn't good so we moved 50 yards back up hill. Sean sat by the beech tree and I collapsed the sticks and sat down. Having got the rifle up I wasn't comfy so shifted slightly to cross my legs. As I settled after that I turned slightly to my left at a disturbance in a small gully 15yards away, a fallow buck started running up hill from our disturbance. Sean said follow him so I tracked him in the scope till he stopped behind a hazel. After phrases you all know the whisper was, wait he will move again. After a few seconds he did, another 20 yards up hill to behind another hazel. More expletives and being told he'll come out be ready and sure enough a couple of seconds and he steps out. What seemed a quick time later to me, but was apparently long enough for Sean to repeat now several times in his head, I pulled the trigger. I remember watching the flash through the scope and seeing the buck stand there for a second, he then turns and runs up the hill. As Sean says how did you feel about the shot? the uphill progress beings to get more wild, by the time I reply with I thought it was okay, the buck is in some low hanging and fallen branches . Still watching through the scope he falls and stops kicking in couple of seconds. We stay sat for a few minutes talking about the pros and cons of moderators, before starting up hill to find the strike site. Finding the hazel 50yards uphill he had hidden behind we didn't see anything as we approached bar some scuffs in the leaf litter. Standing in the scuffs where he was Sean points and smiles there's blood and a piece of lung in it. As we follow the increasing trail towards the last sight, Sean says he can see him. Slow walk towards the stationary deer 100 yards from the strike and Sean say's hes big. Having got no reaction to the sticks we get close and see how big, Seans guess of 110lb, I was just smiling. You all know the fun of extraction in woods and I was very pleased when we got to the track. A massive thank you to Sean for a fantastic result after a long wait which he seemed just as pleased about as I was. When we got him back to the chiller and on the hooks the scales stopped at 130lbs. It's an amazing deer for my first and once again thanks Sean.
A very happy Ben.