Made a call to a keeper the other day asking to come up and do a bit of stalking on his ground and was told "No money required, come up when ever you want".
So I headed off to the shops, picked him up a bottle of single malt as a thankyou....... Oh, and popped into the local bakers because I remembered him saying that he liked their pies. So half a dozen meat and tatty pies and 3 butter pies later and the car was loaded and I was "off up the road".
I arrived friday at dinner time and met up with the keeper, we drove round in his landy (I need to get myself one at some stage as the Megane Estate just aint off roady.....) to survey the boundaries, having a chat as we went about what was about, where likely spots were and the usual bit of banter. We jumped out of the waggon and went into the woods where I was shown a couple of high seat locations and some nice little clearings.
After that, he said his goodbyes and I toddled off to the pub to get booked in and wait a couple of hours before heading off.
I had all the gear I needed, comfortably stowed in the pockets of the chest rig that I had purchased, camel back full of water, first aid kit, GPS so I didnt get lost in the woods, safety gear, grallock gear. The Tikka T3, S&B, DM80 and my home loads. All I needed now was a Doe to play ball.
I headed out at 3pm into the first wood, being about as noisy as a black sabbath concert, leaves and twigs crunching under foot, thankfully the hardwood section didnt last too long and I got into the Pines where the going was a bit more considerate.
Nothing was doing in the first wood, it seemed like every pigeon in scotland would clatter from the trees, announcing my stealthy approach to every small fury creature in the borders. I moved on, heading around the land, this time with every black crow baying at this bloke in green. This isnt going to be a good start..............I moved across the fields to another section of the ground, passing a small coppice where the farmer had a flock of sheep. I noticed that one was down on the ground, as I approached, the other sheep scattered, leaving its buddy on the ground. It was quite clearly in distress so I nipped into the farm and let the farmer know. A quick wave and I was off to one of the high seats, moving along a pheasant pen watching mobs of crows landing in a silage field.
Some nice long range crow bashing opportunities here I thought, may even try to get into the 500 club.....I resisted the temptation, there will always be another time.
The high seat was put up by the keeper mainly for fox bashing, it was set back overlooking a walled section of rough pasture, between the pheasant pen and another block of woodland. The keeper had let me know that 3 does had been hanging around here so I should be in with a chance. I checked the seat, stripped down my gear, rifle, range finder, binos and up I went. I got comfortable, took some ranges and waited. The sweat on my back starting to chill after a while so I pulled down my hat, zipped up the side flaps on my jacket and neck, snuggly time. The wind blowing into my face, listening to the cackle of the crows, watching pigeons circling to their roost sites. Sheep grazing out on the fields, a nice day to be out. Time passed, its suprising how slowly it does when your 15 feet up in the air. The high seat didnt command a great arc of fire, the main area where I thought deer would arrive didnt offer a clear shot, the view disrupted by branches. I wasnt comfortable and thoughts started to run through my head, should I move to the high ground over looking the field, if I move Im bound to disturb a deer thats about to walk into my shot zone and that will be my chance gone.
I gave it another 15 mins, Nope thats it, Im moving. I pulled out of the wood and moved back across the fields to one of the other blocks. A rabbit showed itself at 95 meters, easy shot but again it was someones lucky day, Im not out to blow rabbits up today. This wood was hard going, pushing through the pines, this lot didnt have any runs through it and I was scraping and snapping through the lower branches, its Black Sabbath time again. I eventualy got a to ride and worked my way towards the other high seat. Thats when I head it, a couple of snaps. FREEZE. Snap snap, thump thump. I looked into the wood and saw a shaddow, moving through the denze maze of pine branches, no chance of a shot. I knelt down, I was seen and off she bounded, across the ride behind a fence and into the woods to the right. There was no chance of following her, the weave of branches didnt make it a vialbe option. Still, at least there was deer in the woods.
I got to the high seat, up I went, this was better, tucked away to the side of a clearing, deer scat evident and with all luck, my little doe would come to this are for a bit of a nibble. Again I got the range finder out, 135 meters to the end of the ride to the right, 85 meters to the gap in the clearing, 55 meters to the tree line on the left, 30 meters to the gap on the right. Easy peasy.
It was about 5pm, got an hour or so till the light starts to go. The calling of crows, the slip slap of pigeons wings, becoming a regular thing this. Still at least Im out of the wind and Im not getting a chill. I head a noise to the left coming from the road, please dont be a dog walker thats all I will need. Thankfully it wasnt. I scanned the ground, nothing around. Half an hour passed, more noise from the left a quick glance over, nothing, back to looking down the ride to the right, hold on.
Yup, there she is.
Ghosting her way into my line of fire, no noise, not a sound, looking around as I raised the rifle. Down the scope. Easy clear shot, 55 meters, cross hairs onto her chest, head down having a nibble, 1 step forward.
Front leg kicks out, she runs about 15 yards and shes down, rifle bolt recycled wait, I can just make out some movement, legs kicking out then its all quiet.
I climb down from the seat, grab my gear and move to the kill zone, where is she. I get to the site, lung tissue and debris evident on the ground, 15 yards away there she is. I can see the shot was good, text book. Quick check of her eye and onto the gralloch.
I dont get buck fever. I dont get a rush, I dont get shakey when Im looking down the scope. I feel a bit of remorse for taking the animals life, but know that it has been done clean and effectively and that the body will not go to waste. I gave the beast a couple of words thanking it and got on with the task.
Not the text book Gralloch that I would have wanted and I struggled with a couple of parts, however I was making sure that nothing went wrong to spoil the carcase. I took longer that it should have and wasnt the best job that I could have done, but that will come with more experience. But this was my kill, my first unnacompanied stalk. My gear, my gun, my rounds.
The 70Grain Speer Soft Points did the job, taking the animal cleanly, shattering lung and oblitterating the heart, the 4th and 5th ribs punctured on the yearling doe. It was march the 12th 1 year since taking my first accompanied doe. Thats an anniversary I wont be forgetting.
A job well done.
A quick call to the keeper to let him know and it was time to head out of the woods.Reduced 78%
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