My mate and I had booked two days with Moray Outfitting, hoping to stalk and bag my first red. I'd shot a few roe but so far, reds have eluded me. Bob was driving up from Manchester, meeting me in Fife, then we were heading up to Tullochwood Lodges, where we were staying.
We met the owner of the lodges and he gave us the info on the restaurants in Forres. So it was into town for an Indian and a beer. We were meeting Andy from the Stalking School at the War Memorial in Dallas at 7:15 - getting up in time was no problem - I was like a kid at Christmas and up well before crack of sparrow's fart! Andy was already waiting for us at Dallas and from there we followed him to his cottage where we met the other guide/stalker, Pete.
Introductions over, we split up, Bob and Pete heading for one area, Andy and I to another. I've been giving a bit of thought to doing my Level 2 and asked Andy if I could lead the stalk and get some criticism at the end. He agreed to that happening. It was a miserable morning, plenty rain but very little wind. I spotted a roe doe on a patch of clearfell about 300 metres away and pointed it out (woo hoo point to me). The doe was heading away and there was no chance of a shot, however. The stalk continued along the banks of the Lossie and through some really nice rides. Each area we covered just screamed deer and the amount of cack lying in the rides shows there's plenty of deer in the area. We didn't see any more deer during the stalk and at the end, Andy gave me a debrief and I didn't get much of a shagging, so I was happy.
We met the other guys for lunch and a bit of a crack. It seems Andy is originally part of the Manchester Mafia as well and he and Bob reminisced about Manchester!!! We split up after lunch and went to try other areas. Andy led the stalks and pointed out loads of stuff about all kinds of things, even down to a pile of Pine Martin vomit. It seems that when they start eating rowan berries, they puke them up and keep doing it until they get used to them. A bit like when I was a youf and the draft sherry in the lemonade bottles (ah! those were the days)! We spied a few more roe but none were approachable. We finished the day overlooking a part of the Rossie that looked like it was right out of a Budweiser or Cabela's advert. I pulled a small piece of green groundsheet that I keep in my roesack to sit on. Andy commented that I must be a well organised stalker but it's really because I'm wise to how remarkably unwaterproof and unbreathable my stalking trousers are.
Day two we met at Andy's house and I was to stalk with Pete and Bob with Andy. Pete had led Bob on the stalks the day before and he's as fit as a butcher's dog. Bob was walking like a buckled wheel when we met up at night. Now I'm a fully paid up member of Team Fat B-ST--D with knackered knees. Anyway, either Andy had warned him or he'd sussed me out as he was gentle with me.
It was a beautiful morning but cold, a bit of frost and little wind. We stalked through some beautiful rides, ending up on a hill in the wood, overlooking where two rides crossed. We sat for about 30 minutes when a doe stepped out about 80 metres away. On the bipod and 130 gn interbond over 55 gns of 160 - anchored it, as the Americans would say. Reloaded and watched it for 10 minutes but it never moved. Picked up the empty and dressed forward to the beast. Checked for eyeball reaction - none. I asked Pete if I could do the gralloch and he could do a critique when I'd finished. Rifle made safe, jacket off, checked for foot and mouth, etc, tick/parasite burden, yaddy yaddy. The gralloch was fine and Pete gave me a few tips on how he does it. Roe into sack and Pete volunteered to carry it (who was I to argue?).
We continued stalking back to Pete's truck but no other shots presented, but we did see a few more roe and a very tasty buck. We met the other guys for lunch. Bob hadn't had a shot although they'd seen a few. We discussed scopes, calibres, and the usual stuff that like minded people talk about when they meet up. I confess to sticking it to Bob a bit and I'm sure the Manchester Mafia were scheming for afternoon. Drive by Manchester style perhaps.
We went our separate ways and Pete and I tried a few bits where he thought we might get a hind, but it didn't happen until we got back to the truck and a hind and a calf were on a bank but skylined, so no shot. Bob had got a nice doe in a patch of clearfell - well, that's what they said.
We had a great two days in the company of two very knowledgeable stalkers who were more than happy to share their knowledge and pass on tips. Anyone looking to pick up some tips or brush up their skills could do a lot worse than go out with these guys.