Towards the end of last year, I had a planned day's stalking up in the Lakes cancelled due to the floods; a revise date was rearranged, and this too was scrubbed due to more epic rain combined with howling gale force winds. It wasn't going well....
Christmas came and went, and an looming house move combined with a hectic spell at work meant that time was in short supply, so I was glad when we managed to agree upon a new date, set for a wekk last Thursday. Great . Well - it WAS great, until I got a call at 10.45pm the night before to let me know that the forecast snow had returned with a vengeance and had blocked all the roads in the area. ANOTHER cancellation.....
I was seriously thinking that I was a weather-jinx..... What was that saying about lighning never striking twice in the same place??
We had one more stab at agreeing a date - yesterday (4th March). I hardly dared look at the weather forecast as the week progressed..... I set the alarm for early o'clock, got my gear together, and crossed my fingers.....
Thursday rolled round, and as I left home, it wasn't raining, and as I thundered up the M6 (a steady 69mph....), the sky got bluer, the day got crisper, and I started to think that perhaps - at last - the planets were in alignment and the weather gods may just be smiling on me.....
Upon arrival, we got ready and set off up the hill. We soon got a sweat-on dragging up the first slope, but bloody heck it was worth it for the views when we got to the tops that still had snow on them:
Attachment 244Attachment 245Attachment 247
We'd spotted a cluster of hinds on our way up, so planned to walk along the top ridge before dropping down so that we were above them, but along the way we encountered another bunch on the other side of the ridge, so decided to see if we could get in them first, as the others were still some way ahead. As there was no wind - at all - we opted to push on for a 100yds or so, drop down behind a rocky outcrop, and get in close enough for a shot by crabbing around the rocks for cover. I scuttled in, and managed to get to the far edge without making too much of a racket, despite my size 10's doing their best to dislodge every loose rock hidden under the snow. When I recahed the far edhe and peered round, there were 4 hinds around 130yds away ans slightly uphill...and they were all facing away, or overlapping, or shifting around - in fact doing anyhting excpet presenting a reasonable target! There were others in the group, but they were above me and I was concerned that if I stuck my head any further rund to try and see them I may get spotted and that would bugger the job up, so I decided to sit tight and wait for one of the four to shift position. I was standing up resting my rifle on a rock ledge, and sure enough, after 5 minutes, one hind presented a shot; I took the opportunity, and she rolled down the hill to a successful hit from the 243. First one in the bag!
I set off down the (INCREDIBLY!! ) steep slope to do the gralloch, and then dragged my arse all the way back up again to see if we could get into the first bunch that we'd seen. The photo was for me to get my breath back rather than for its picturesque qualities:
We crossed back over the top of the hill, and within 10 minutes we'd found the first grouping, almost walking into them as we came over a ridge. We dropped onto our backs, and slid down the hil on our backsides for around 150yds to get within a sensible range; twizzling round onto my front, I droped the bipod, scuttled right to the ridge edge, and amongst the 20 or so animals in front of me, a suitable hind offered a shot at about 90yds. One shot, and down she went - number 2 for the day.
The rest of the group had run further up towards the valley head, so we decided to head back up the ridge, cut along and try and take nother out of the group further up if we could head them off. We managed to sight them and get to within range after a fairly brisk paced yomp up and along, and came round another rocky outcrop to see them 150 to 200yds in front and above us. A suitable one dropped to the back and stood on its own, so I lined up, took the shot, watched her stagger, wobble..and then regain some strength in her legs and disappear over the top of the hill. We went off in hot pursuit, I was convinced that she was hard-hit, and the 'thud' sounded good. We crested the hill, and spied her laid up around 200yds away; I started crawling in to apply a finisher, but she spotted us, and lurched once more over the ridge, but she was obviously hard-hit and not going very far....nontheless, we wanted to finish the job as quickly as possible. We ran on again, and saw the rest of the herd sweeping across the fellside - she wasn't amongst them, so we were sure she was down somewhere close. We scanned around with the bins - and spotted her tucked up in some rocks behind where we had emerged. We didn't bugger about, and put a shot in to make absolutely sure she didn't get up again. As it turned out, my first shot had obliterated her liver and taken out part of her heart, but she obviously had enough in her to make that last lurch over the hill. The imporatnt thing though is that we didn't see a wounded deer making off across the hill.
So - 3 hinds in the larder, leg muscles found that I didn't know I had (those hills are PROPER lungbusters!!), and day worth waiting for!
Tikka T3 Lite (synthetic/stainless), Swarovski 4-12x50, PES stainless steel mod, Ammunition: Federal 100g