So I'm away in Dorset this wk & this morning went in pursuit of "bambi" with Mr Ian Farrington as my guide.
Ian has been great from the moment he got in touch through SD. Proper communication & clear direction that helped put my mind at rest that I was indeed in the company of a true professional.
Fallow, Sika, & roe were on the cards today. We met 7am at the exact spot that Ian described in an email that he was even kind enough to send a Google maps link too just for clarity. Daft as it sounds I thought this was a great touch as no one on their first paid outing in unfamiliar ground wants to be getting flustered wondering if they are in the right place. The idea of tearing around unknown B roads in the dark blindly, slowly but surely getting more & more stressed as dawn draws closer will do nothing for the steadiness of any novice stalker.
Upon meeting Ian we exchanged pleasantries & quickly got to the job in hand. Ian gave me the safety briefing, explained house rules & explained the format that the morning would take. His manner, teaching style & experience were all greatly appreciated.
We awaited the morning light from a vantage point that overlooked the 1st site. A great chance to have a quick chat & iron out any Q?s that I had. As the sun rose over what was stunning Dorset countryside I could see that we were above a steep Grass valley that dropped into a thick lush woodland that was essentially deer utopia! There were plenty of fallow in site. Two separate groups presented themselves one around a dozen in number off to our left down the valley & the other directly below us. Spotting was made all the easier by a couple of white beasts amongst their number. Unfortunately these deer didn't seem to fancy treading up the valley to the adjoining fields the opposite side of the woods where Ian's permissions allowed us to shoot. Unperturbed we set off & hoped that we would find deer clinging to the edge of the woodland or holed up in one of the wallows that the rolling hills provide keeping them out of the line of site until closer.Unfortunately it wasn't to be & whilst Ian did spot some roe some 1018m down the valley these too were "out of bounds". This site wasn't a complete loss though as Ian took the opportunity to teach me more about tracking deer. Spotting seats/beds,signs of grazing, crossing points & some great pointers on shooting stance.
We set off to a 2nd site that was a beautiful established coniferous woodland no more than a couple of miles down the road. Ian again explained the house rules & that whilst this would be exciting stalking that the level of difficulty would be far greater. Not so much the shooting but more so spotting our quarry in the first place.
We set off Ian explained & demonstrated proper use of a set of sticks. Untill this am I had only shot freestanding, or off a Harris bipod & I was impressed with the speed & versatility that Ian's bipod sticks had to offer with great stability. We stalked around the wood ala" Elmer Fudd" which was a great chance to observe & learn great technique from an experienced guide. It was really quite some time before we saw anything & in fact it was just when Ian had stopped directly in front of me to discuss options that I spotted a roe doe around 80yrds out. She was directly out to our right & looking straight at us. It was a good spot by the novice (even if I do say so myself) as this cover was thick. Ian passed the sticks & I raised the crosshairs to the beast. Unfortunately the animal was stood with her front left leg leading onto me & I couldn't hand on heart get a shot off that didn't risk the bullet passing into the body cavity after impact rather than the heart. Head & neck shots were not an option & quite rightly so as we didn't have a dog should things go wrong. I hoped the animal would better present itself but once she had a good wind off us she was off taking with her a buck that remained undetected.
As we continued up the woodland Ian had a 2nd glimpse but this time they were stopping for no one. Just to sure Ian set me up on a track & walked around the hedging of the corner of the wood hoping to flush a roe back to me. Didnt know that beating was part of Ian's remit but what a service 😉
The morning drew to a close without a deer in the bag 😞 but it certainly wasn't, a disappointment. I had learnt as much in a few hrs as I have in weeks of trawling the Internet. I have a great friend & Deer mentor back home but it's always good to meet new people with experience & time in the field. I thouroughly enjoyed this morning, the setting, the challenge, the deer but especially the company.
Hopefully we will get out again on Thursday morning before I head home. I'd love to find a dorset sika to take home to Kernow.
If anyone is thinking of going out with, or is recommended IanF as a guide do it. The man knows his stuff & is a bloody nice bloke.
Top job thank you Ian