TSS (that’s me), the Muntjac (that’s dinner) and Darwinian principles. (Science).
It's all about education.
Prolog (I didn’t write this cos I don’t write this posh.)
Darwin's Theory of Evolution - The Premise
Darwin's Theory of Evolution is the widely held notion that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor: the birds and the bananas, the fishes and the flowers -- all related. Darwin's general theory presumes the development of life from non-life and stresses a purely naturalistic (undirected) "descent with modification". That is, complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors naturally over time. In a nutshell, as random genetic mutations occur within an organism's genetic code, the beneficial mutations are preserved because they aid survival -- a process known as "natural selection." These beneficial mutations are passed on to the next generation. Over time, beneficial mutations accumulate and the result is an entirely different organism (not just a variation of the original, but an entirely different creature).
Darwin's Theory of Evolution - Natural Selection
While Darwin's Theory of Evolution is a relatively young archetype, the evolutionary worldview itself is as old as antiquity. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Anaximander postulated the development of life from non-life and the evolutionary descent of man from animal. Charles Darwin simply brought something new to the old philosophy -- a plausible mechanism called "natural selection." Natural selection acts to preserve and accumulate minor advantageous genetic mutations. Suppose a member of a species developed a functional advantage (it grew wings and learned to fly). Its offspring would inherit that advantage and pass it on to their offspring. The inferior (disadvantaged) members of the same species would gradually die out, leaving only the superior (advantaged) members of the species. Natural selection is the preservation of a functional advantage that enables a species to compete better in the wild. Natural selection is the naturalistic equivalent to domestic breeding. Over the centuries, human breeders have produced dramatic changes in domestic animal populations by selecting individuals to breed. Breeders eliminate undesirable traits gradually over time. Similarly, natural selection eliminates inferior species gradually over time.
But I might have written this.
Chapter 1 (oh dear. It’s gonna be another one of those.)
I am conscious of the fact that it has been the best part of a year since I shared any of my exciting adventures with you, the charming readership of the SD. ( I will exclude one or two of the well know grumpy bxxxers on here from north of the border) There were probably one or two collective sighs at that. Bless you gentlemen and all those of you who are in touch with your feminine side (Blaser owners, snigger). I will also take the opportunity to apologise to one or two members on here who I should have been in contact with but honestly I have been working most of my spare time. But I digress and explanations will follow as there was good reason for it.
And the reason was????.
We moved house. Taa daaah!!!!
What with one thing and another, mostly solicitor based, I’m paying the feicer but he thought he was working for the bank, things took age and ages, so long in fact that it was March before we finally got the paperwork sorted and could move in and that in itself took up a load of my time (Still is by the way, oh the joy of DIY). Most days off to work then back at home in the evening and DIY or gardening. It’s not a problem, just less hours in the day and as the TV isn’t working I might as well keep busy. We live in the bottom of a valley so at some point I really need to get someone in to sort out the reception issues but as yet she isn’t complaining and she can watch tv on the tinterweb. I’m sure that will change at some point because I have noticed a lot of buffering happening. 2 people in the village go on the web at the same time and things slow down.
Sheese and wasn’t that an awful start to the year. We went to go and look at the house just to make sure that it hadn’t floated off into the sunset before we signed any paperwork. There was a couple of miles or so of flooding on the roads to the village and in places it must have been three or four inches deep, There was a lot of flooding on the lower side of the village and I was a bit worried. Luckily our house is high enough that the whole valley would be under six foot of water before it would affect us so we went ahead and bought. Hardly Somerset levels I know but there were still a lot of people who were flooded out and if this weather keeps up I could see it happening again. I’m not seeing much in the way of flood defences being sorted.
Anyhow the few times I have been out after bambi I have been unlucky or if I did manage to shoot one it wasn’t really a tale worth retelling full of daring do and bravado, there would also have to have been a bit of BS to spice the reading up somewhat, but would anyone believe me killing a red stag at 75 yards with a headshot using a 12 foot pound air rifle?
On the other side I did manage to get out after a lot of bunnies and had a good year on those. Mind you in comparison to some people who I have been speaking with my good total is less than a week’s work for them. Damn their eyes sir, damn their eyes. Buy a bigger car and somebody will drive past in a truck.
Before I go much farther I should warn you dear reader (particularly if you haven’t been following the amazing stories of The Singing Stalker (did I mention that's me) of the following;
This may or may not be all about deer stalking, probably not, to be fair, as I am apt to go for a mind wander.
I may offer my opinion on things so I will add the following disclaimer. There are plenty of folk out there who shoot in a week what I shoot in a year, therefore my reasoning may or may not be sound. Just saying. Not quite an armchair warrior but I sit comfortably enough. Mind you if you haven’t got the hint by now…………………….
So today I thought I would give you an overview of life with The Singing Stalker.
it’s not relevant but I just felt like saying it as it expands the story somewhat.
Get your bottle of sherry out and make yourself comfortable by the fire and away we go……
Actually, speaking about fires, I am trying to get a woodburner fitted into the house. I have had a number of loansharks, sorry, tradesmen, in to quote for some jobs. **** me, they want some money. Now I understand how they make money etc etc and we all need to make a reasonable living but this lot out my area seem to extract the urine, that is, when you can get anyone to show up. I need to get my fireplace widened to put my woodburner in. Of 4 tradesmen I have contacted only one has turned up and despite being interested he will not give me a quote. “Oh you will have it next week”, “I will get it to you this Friday”. It’s not difficult. He has done the difficult part and come around and looked at the job. As he said, 2 blokes, 1 kango, 1 day. Easy, give me a price and we can sort out the “when” once the winter kicks in. Just give me a price…
At this rate I may have to consider doing it myself.
Given a contact today, says he will come out Friday. We will see..
So let’s start at the beginning…… I was born in 19………………Too far? Are you sure? Oh alright then.
I started shooting when I was about 20. I had bought a second-hand Anschutz 520 .22lr and I used the iron sights that came with it up until the point where I could afford a scope. Now if memory serves me well it was something like a tasco 4x40 and I went chasing rabbits with that during the day. Oh and sound moderators were illegal at the time so when you fired one off it was loud. Not many houses around so it didn’t really matter. I don’t think I was a particularly good shot but I did enjoy my time across the fields.
Unfortunately my memory is sufficiently good enough to know that I was rather naïve and some of the things I did then, I cringe at now. I can remember firing into a ploughed field and hearing the ricochet go off as the bullet hit a stone and I thought that was so cool I emptied a few mags off just to listen to the peeanggggggggg, and pewwwwwwwwwww sound. I had obviously watched too many westerns. I think I could have certainly done with the company of an experienced shooter to slap me around the head and show me how much of a **** I was being. Idiocy aside I loved going out and wandering the fields and would happily while away hours. I have always preferred country living and now that we finally have got to move to a village I am loving it. I will love it some more when I manage to finish the DIY and get some time to walk out over the tracks.
Luckily for the local bunny population, life intervened and I had to go out get a job which involved moving abroad, selling my rifle, and concentrating on much more important things like……..beer and….err….women…..aandddddddddd motorbikes. Each with varying degrees of success.
Now here is an interesting point and I can’t remember if I have shared this with you before, but, when I first went on the bike scene the women were young, beautiful and would wear ohh, all sorts of revealing clothing,………… you know,………….. that sort of thing that was guaranteed to make your eyes sit out on the end of stalks, and of course they could match you pint for pint in a drinking contest. Now, on the rare occasion I go to a bike rally (getting out of a sleeping bag 4 times a night for a pee loses its interest once you hit a certain age, specially on a frosty night) and I also worry about making it out of the sleeping bag. Lol, I notice the women are exactly the same women, wearing exactly the same clothes with the unfortunate after effect that they are STILL, the same women from back then and 30 years of drinking has had its effect on the waist, hips, face, arms, legsssssssss,….. look you get the picture. They haven’t matured gracefully, that’s all I’m saying. Okay? Now the men may have aged just as badly but to be fair I wasn’t interested in getting my leg over a bloke then, and pretty damn sure that I feel the same today. So I didn’t take too much notice of that.
Anyhow after X amount of years, the number of which I will not recount here even though I still think of myself as a ,cough young person, cough, albeit with grey in the remaining hair, I came back into shooting and started shotgun shooting about twelve or thirteen years ago. I got back into airgunning probably 5 years ago, I don’t know, the time goes so fast and then into fac about three and a half years ago. Hold on, that can’t be right. I have just looked at my records and I shot my first deer in 2011. I remember it because it was a Muntie and the crop had been taken off the field a couple of days before. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I am fairly new to the overall thing. So there you go, shows you how much I know.
I got interested in night vision because the main prey was Thumper and to be honest most of my shooting is bunnies and mostly at night. Where possible I try to help people understand NV but it has leapt forward in the last 3 years and the kit that is coming out is unbelievable in comparison to what was out there before.
Anyhow chasing the bunnies you develop a routine, As most of my shooting is on foot then it is;
rifle, sticks, bag, mooch, find, shoot, retrieve, repeat.
I now find that if it is a still moonlit night I may as well go off to the pub because nothing much is going to show close enough for me to get, well not unless I hide in a hedge for ½ hour. Wind helps, and not from my ass. Doesn’t need a lot but it seems easier and they seem less likely to run after the first shot.
Mainly I shoot rabbits, followed by foxes, rats then deer. Want to be bored by some stats? I keep good records so I can track what I take from each place and also let the farmers know what is happening.
So in order;
I have loads more stats, I was bored at work one day so I ran up a spreadsheet which breaks down my time spent on each permission, but don’t want to get you too excited so I will keep them for another story.
I hope the rats will increase significantly as I am trying to get somewhere local for this winter so I can go out during the week. Well there are not very many rabbits here and the Deer are well sewn up. I might get out with a bit of foxing locally but think that would be more luck than judgement. So rats would be good, and let’s face it they are a lot of fun as well with night vision. They also give you trigger time so help you improve technique.
I have mentioned before about going out and the fact that it is a hundred mile round trip for me to my shooting ground. I thought I had it tough cos some people I know just walk out their back door and they are on their ground, but an awful lot travel three or four hours to theirs so I’m gonna shut up on that. Mind you I went out foxing the other week with a local gamekeeper and it took me 10 minutes to get to his house and then 5 minutes to get to the land, back to his house after for a cup of tea and then home in ten minutes. Heaven. Didn’t shoot anything; saw one fox who is rather lampshy so we may have to go back out for him with the thermal next week.
I was home at a sensible hour. Would have been earlier if myself and the gamekeeper hadn’t talked so much.
With the amount of deer I have on the land I would have given up stalking by now if it weren’t for the rabbits. Because you go out, no deer, and then when it gets dark, get the hmr out and off we go again after bunnies. Of course now, knowing the land I can keep an eye out for the roe when I am out after the bunnies at night so I know how many are on the ground. We had six on the ground last year. I shot one doe and they all sodded off and we didn’t see anything for over six months. If they are there then I will trip over them cos the land isn’t that big, if they are not then I know not to bother.
But at least I get to go out as I have some land and really feel sorry for those who have none and hate with a vengeance those of you who have a million squillion acres at their bidding.
Often this summer I was leaving home in the early evening and coming home at five am the next morning. I have an understanding wife or she has a local service agreement with a villager (pssst, he has gone out, you can come around now.) There is something to be said for wandering the fields in the night, no one around and it is surprising the wildlife that is out there to be seen. No dogwalkers to annoy you or scare the animals away.
Last week I was sat in a barn trying to call a fox in, nothing happening, saw some eyeshine by a post next to the caller. I had the mouse squeak on and the local owl came in and sat on the post next to the caller going “I can hear it but cannot see it”. There is something magical about owls, the way they fly silently around. Anyway the fox never showed. I hung on until a ground mist rose up so visibility came right in so that was it. Time to go home, but it was great to have seen the owl out. And as a bonus I made it home in time to go for a pint in the local. Just. So not all bad.
We have a couple of highseats on one of my permissions but to be honest I am not a lover of them for deerstalking. Mainly because I have always had a problem sitting still, I get bored, I fidget, I clock watch. It is ok if there is something to watch (like a TV) but more often than not there is nothing but an empty field. Again comes down to the lack of deer on the land. So I have to get the book out and read, or listen to music or something. I find we are better stalking in on the Roe if they are there rather than sitting up a highseat. I am getting better to be fair. (A cushion is a great help I find) I have shot foxes and rabbits out of the highseat but never a deer. Thinking about it, I don’t think I have ever shot a deer out of a high seat. It has always been a foot stalk. (update. I have now, but that is another story to follow in the near future, ish, if I get time to write about it.)
Speaking of Foxes.
So a couple of weeks ago I decided to do some foxing. It had been a while since I had done any what with diy and family commitments and this and that, also we are not under pressure from the farmer to remove them so we fit it in as and when. I knew there would be a good chance that we would have a new one on the land by now so thought I would give it a whirl.
Now being the lazy sod I am I have one of those stools that you can rest your rifle on and swivel. It is like the expensive one you see advertised but cheaper and not as well made but does me because of the use it gets. (Did I mention I am married to a Yorkshire lass. It’s true what they say about them you know!!!. Tight as a ducks ass when it comes to spending)
Anyway I am of the opinion that you might as well be comfortable if you’re going to hang around for an hour or so. Can’t be doing with standing in a corner for an hour.
So I parked the truck up in one field, carry the kit through into the next field, set the caller out in the middle and retreat back to the hedgeline and makes myself comfortable and invisible. I sat there calling for about an hour, scanning, waiting, scanning, getting bored, scanning, getting very bored now. Enough, get up, go collect the caller, collect everything, then have a final scan, just in case.
Because you should always have a final look. You never know. DRAT, there’s a bloody fox just come in through the gate about 30 yards away. Soon as I switched the IR on she ran off. Bloody thing, typical, caller going for an hour, typical for a female to be late. I wouldn’t have taken a shot to be fair as my offhand shooting is useless (something to be corrected at some point) and no reason to educate her. An hour or so later I sat on the highseat at the far end of the farm and persuaded her to come in close enough to get a shot off.
Was there a story here somewhere I was going to tell?
Ah yes, Chapter 2. The night before.
So my dad had come over to visit us in the new place. Now for a man of his advancing years he still is one to go out walking and it is only in the last year that I am noticing he has aged and slowed down, not as sure on his feet as he once was but I am proud of my dad, and am also glad to say that we did alright by him and even though he can get a little grumpy in his old age I reckon he has earned the right. Well as to the not as sure on his feet that is only with walking but he is still regular one to go for a walk over the mountain, just because he can.. So the flies still have a ways to go before they can land on him.
Well anyway, in years prior when he was an army cadet he used to be on the regiment rifle team, I think he said they used Lee Enfields necked down to .22. Anybody ever heard of that? So I thought I would let him have a play. Well there we are out wandering the fields, him in his “The man from Delmonte say yes” hat, Basic discussions re camouflage probably would be in order but the rabbits didn’t seem too bothered. We were out with the HMR, which hasn’t got the best scope in the world as the light is going down. (not usually a problem because of course I use night vision and it works well on that.) I spotted a rabbit at the edge of the field and nudged him.
“Right see that rabbit in the field to the left of the post?”
“The only flipping post out there about 90 yards!!!”
(This wasn’t an auspicious start)
Now bear in he is now 81 and whilst he is fit as an old fiddle that has gone a bit off key (sorry Dad :-)) the eyes are not as good as they once were, luckily the rabbit didn’t seem in a hurry so with a bit of time I got him pointing in the right direction so when he did spot it he was able to take the shot. Fair play he nailed it in one. He was delighted with the result. He handed the rifle back to me and said “that’s it, I’m happy now, I’m not going to break my perfect kill ratio so over to you. We continued our mooch. I retrieved the rabbit and the bullet had skimmed the top of his head and parted his hair and gave him a haircut. He just died of shock.
We did see the Roe Buck out in the field but he has on his way through to the farm next door so I decided to steer clear so as not to disturb him as he was around. There were not many bunnies out at all so we didn’t bother hanging about too long and to be honest I think he was just happy as he had been out for a walk for an hour or so and had shot him a bunny and I think he wouldn’t have been terribly keen to be wandering around till four in the morning.
Chapter 3; The stalk is on.
Ok so they are more like paragraphs but you know, I’m sexing it up to look good.
So the next evening I had had enough of the old DIY lark, Can’t remember what it was put it may have involved a paint brush. Now I hate painting. Period. If anything is going to bore me senseless painting is, so I turned to the auld fella and says “I fancy having a chase after that buck if you like.”
I thought he might go for the easy option of a night in front of the telly but I forgot he would rather cut his bits off than spend a night watching TV. That and the TV doesn’t work, well it does but we have no signal and I would need to get a man in and he would charge me a couple of hundred and really that money is better spent on DIY at the moment and the wife is not complaining…. Yet. (I have already said that haven’t I? So anyway, he says, “Great, let’s go”. (Drat I thinks to meself, he will slow me down) To be fair I need not have worried, If he wasn’t sure he would hang back until I waved him forward and he was quite happy to crawl on hands and knees when we needed to.
So a quick change of headgear for him, no more Mr Delmonte, and a bit more drab and blend in ish and leaving plenty of time to get there, away we go for an evening stalk. As previously mentioned It is about 50 miles to the ground and it usually takes me just over an hour get there but because there is work being done on a bridge on the way there (I forgot about that, doh!) I ended up with a 20 mile diversion followed by a second diversion then a bleedin third diversion. I was starting to think that we wouldn’t make it in time. Now as I know the land I have a fair idea where the Roe hang out so it was going to be a parkup, grab rifle and march smartly to the most likely spot. No time for faffing. If lucky then shoot and get worry about knifes etc after.
Roe being Roe they have their spot that they like to stay in (In my limited experience). Every time I am out after the bunnies I had being seeing them in this particular spot so tended to keep clear as I didn’t want to disturb them. So the difficult bit wasn’t about knowing where they were likely to be, but rather can you sneak up there without being spotted and would the buck be there?
We got to the farm and parked up. (X marks the spot. We walked smartly down the outside of a field (A) just on the off chance that there was something in there also it would hide us away from any deer in the field we were going to. We shot 2 roe off this field last year so I check it now and again but very rarely see anything there except a rabbit and very occasionally a fox. We moved in from the right hand side skirting a pond (between B and C). It is a bit overgrown here so it can be difficult to move quietly and at point C where I was trying to get to the boundary is really a clumpy tall grass so it can be difficult to get to without being seen I now know. This is the point where we were practicing our Scottish hill stalking, you know, crawl forward on hand and knees. So we reached the opening, unfortunately the doe was already up and watching from the far side and no buck to see (I might need a bit more practice for the Scottish highlands) so she clocked us and moved into the wood, off the permission.(the direction of the arrow) The distance between the hedge we were behind to where she was, was a lot shorter than I realised hence she saw or more likely heard us. I guess about 60 yards. Am I being a bit anal here? Should I pass the jelly sandwiches to people?
That left me with the smaller field at the bottom and I figured that maybe the buck would be down at that end, worth a try. Now I know that there were 3 does and 1 buck on the land. So it was a case of if he was not at one end then maybe he was at the other. As the light was starting to go it was a quick march (yellow line) to get down to the bridge at “D” and get through into the small field. Easy.
Got into position at “D” and set up on the sticks
just on the off chance. Not a lot happened for 5 minutes when joy of joy, movement. Love it when a plan, albeit not the one I had planned, comes together.
It wasn’t the Roe buck, or even a Roe. It was a muntie buck coming out of the wood in the corner of the field about 120 yards away. (the red circle). Game on.
Now, the only problem was he was moving down the hedgeline coming straight at me.
Give it a couple of seconds I thought and he will turn then I can let him have the broadside. Nope, not happening, still coming towards me. I don’t want to head shoot for 2 reasons,
1. I haven’t had the rifle long enough to be comfortable with where the bullet goes, well I mean I know it is zeroed and accurate but I like to have trigger time and be sure I know what is going to happen when I squeeze the trigger. I firmly believe that the hunter should shoot within his abilities and once I know the abilities of myself with that rifle then I will consider the more difficult shots, but until that time I would rather leave it than wound it. There will always be another day.
2. I don’t have a Muntie Buck skull so that would be nice if it was hung on the wall. I don’t want to blow it to pieces.
So back to the plot, I’m looking through my scope at Mr Muntie coming straight towards me. Straight towards me, as in, not seeing me straight in front of him. I mean is he blind? Trot trot trot straight towards me. So now it is panic time, what to do what to do, what to do? ?
The muntie froze and looked straight towards me with one leg raised, Surely he must see me. And don’t call me Shirley. I’m waiting for him to turn, clear shot of the head but I don’t want to take that. Unbelievably the muntie has put his leg down and is coming towards me again, Crap, who is it that says munties are difficult to stalk?
Again the muntie freezes, leg raised in the air, turned slightly as if ready to run staring straight at me staring straight at him through the scope, He must have seen me by now??? I mean everyone says Munties are tough cookies and will skedaddle faster that the road runner when he sees wile coyote coming after him on a rocket. Any moment he will turn sideways and I will have to get the shot off before he takes off.
No. He looks at me then again puts his foot down and starts coming towards us again, remember there are two of us standing here so we are not exactly hidden. Just stand there and wait for them to come to you, save yourself a bullet. Stick a knife in your teeth and get ready to jump on him Crocodile Dundee style, easy.
Finally he realises that something isn’t right and turns right to run BANG away. Too late, down he went. I wasn’t going to give him the opportunity to take off.
Now because I’m left handed and the rifle is right handed I had to take my eye off the scope to reload and when I got my eye back in place I couldn’t find him. Panic. I moved the rifle up and down looking for him. I had to lift my head, I knew he had gone down because he collapsed straight in a heap. so where the hell was he?
Oh there he was. I couldn’t see cos I was looking too far away. He can come in so far that he was all of 21 yards away when I finally fired. With all the excitement of him coming closer and closer I didn’t realise how close he had come. Hardly sporting, but hey, my freezer has been getting seriously depleted so it was timely. Over 100 yards to 21 yards with me and the auld fella standing out where we could plainly be seen. Just shows you, keep perfectly still and you can get away with it. I have been caught out a few times now out in the open by Roe and by just freezing I have gotten away with it.
It would appear that I have just improved the Muntjac species gene pool (according to Darwinian Principles) by removing what must have been the stupidest Muntie on the planet. Hence the infroduction
Now about the deer shot from the highseat…………………… But perhaps we better save that for another day.