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Thread: Write-up: The Last Muntjac of the Year?

  1. #1
    SD Regular Mr. Gain's Avatar
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    Write-up: The Last Muntjac of the Year?

    I’d been away for a fortnight’s “working” break in Spain over Christmas, which was great, except there was no hunting involved: so I couldn’t have been happier when -on the way home from the airport, no less- my better half said she knew I must be itching to get out with a gun again and gave me the green light to leave her to the job of unpacking the cases and squaring away the house while I got ready to catch the end of a sunny afternoon on my favourite patch of ground. Sometimes I feel truly blessed!

    I decided I’d try for a muntjac and chose a high seat that gives a magnificent view of the sunset. This particular seat is also well placed to intercept deer crossing the corner of a grass field from a long, deep dingle that lets them move freely in complete cover into a nice warm wood. It’s not bad for foxes either, and a roe doe with a pair of youngsters also frequent those parts, so I was fairly confident I’d see something, even if I didn’t get a shot. I wouldn’t be disappointed.

    Half an hour later I was parking up at the top of the grass field, and soon afterwards, with my rifle slung over my shoulder, my binos around my neck, and my sticks in my hand, I was “stalking in” the two hundred metres or so to the high seat. As the approach involves walking across an almost completely open field, it’s not exactly stalking, but I still moved slowly, stopping to glass likely spots around the field edges as I went.

    The high seat is strapped to a nice big oak tree, one of two that stand fifty metres or so uphill of a small wooded hollow that provides a sheltered island between the end of a dingle -a couple of hundred metres over to the left-, and the edge of the wood -about half that distance to the right. Pretty much everything that emerges from either side makes a bee-line for the hollow, and deer often bed down there during the day, so I took my time, making sure I made as little noise as possible getting up into the high seat, just in case the hollow was already occupied.

    In fact, there are two seats strapped to the oak tree, as a few months ago I put a second one up alongside the first to accommodate a guest when I have one. Both are portable affairs: one is a Bushwear Panther and the other a now discontinued X3M1 model. The truth is, I put them up the wrong way round, since the Panther -which has a rather bouncy shooting rail-, is to the right, where longer shots are required, whilst the X3M1 -which has a much more rigid rail-, gets the shorter shots. I’d swap them over, but I now have a new Askari double seat to take their place.

    After tucking a self-inflating cushion under my backside –an indispensable aid to cosy comfort-, and making sure the binoculars and the fox call came easily to hand, I chambered a round, applied the safety, and settled back to enjoy the last of the winter sunlight.

    The rifle I’d brought with me was my HS Precision in 6.5 Creedmoor. Not the ideal tool for the job perhaps: not just because I was arguably over-gunned for my intended quarry, but also because the HS wears a 6-24x50 Vortex Viper PST long-range scope that provides more magnification and less low-light performance than might well be required of an optic in the fading light of a December afternoon. But I hadn’t used it for a while, and anyway, it was good just to be out. Isn’t it always?

    After a half hour or so to let things go quiet, I decided to see if the fox call would bring one in. My rule of thumb is that a fox, if it appears at all, will come into view just before or just after my third bout of calling, so when I spotted a movement at the field edge over to the right as I was lowering the call for the third time, I quickly got my binos onto it. It wasn’t a fox, though, just a rabbit, popping out for an evening nibble.

    But as I lowered the binos, I glimpsed a dark shape slipping across my peripheral vision and into the hollow. A fox? A deer? How typical that I’d been looking the other way just as whatever it was had crossed the open ground to my left! I fine-focused the binoculars, hoping to see through the thicket of brambles and bare branches in the hollow, and picked up the animal’s outline. Not a fox –it wasn’t mobile enough or low enough-, and not a roe deer –it wasn’t tall enough-, but then a glimpse of a profile showed it was a muntjac, and suggested it was a doe. It seemed unlikely that it would forsake the warmth of the wood for the lesser shelter of the hollow after the sun had gone off it, and soon it was apparent that it was browsing on the bramble leaves. So I was in with a chance!

    All I could see were fragmentary shifts of light and dark as browsed on the far side of the thicket, but I watched them keenly for any indication as to whether it would keep moving right towards the dingle or work back up and around the left-hand side. I hoped for the latter as this would make for a closer and more comfortable shot, and because the little deer would still be browsing rather than heading for its next destination. Of course it might also head off straight down the hill behind the hollow and disappear unseen into the hedgerow at the bottom.

    I reflected for a moment on how much I love moments like this, then slipped the rifle into position to take a shot if it came up to the left, judging that this scenario would give me less time and result in the deer looking straight at me, whereas a shot to the right would inevitably be a slightly less urgent matter.

    I snugged the butt into my shoulder, cupped the fore-end with the back of my hand resting on the shooting rail, and looked through the scope… and there was the muntjac, right in the cross-hairs, head up and ears pricked. It was indeed a doe, and she knew something was up!

    Waiting for her to turn sideways didn’t seem like an option; the range was only around fifty-five metres; and though I couldn’t see much detail, her back-lit outline was perfectly fringed with gold, so I put the centre of the reticle under her chin, eased off the safety and pressed the trigger.

    Moderated though it was, the report of the rifle rippled across the field, boomed back off the far side of the valley, and merged with the sound of a solid impact. As the muzzle rose, I saw the doe fall, and as it came level again, I saw her body lying still in the grass. She wouldn’t move again, but I was still going to wait: I didn’t want to cut the evening short; it was just possible she might have a youngster in tow –though there had been no sign of one beforehand-; and sometimes it’s worth squeaking for a fox after a shot. So I sat tight, brought the call to my lips, and squeaked.

    Nothing. The light faded away. Then I sensed a movement to the right. In the thick twilight a roe doe emerged from the wood, browsed at its edge for a moment, then came over to the hollow. After spooking briefly on encountering the fallen muntjac, she began browsing along the lower edge of the thicket, then moved on to towards the dingle before stopping to graze in the field. Soon afterwards her kids also came into view, following the same routine, except that the male browsed the uphill side of the thicket, lingering there for a quarter of an hour, barely forty-five metres away from the high seat.

    By now, his mother and sister had bedded down in the middle of the field to chew the cud, but he showed no interest in joining them and it was time for me to head home. I decided to move them on as gently as I could, so I reached out and snapped a twig. The male kid looked up. I snapped another, and he trotted off to find mum, and when he arrived, all three of them mooched off to the far side of the field. Perfect.

    All that was left to do now was to make the rifle safe, roll up my cushion, climb down and collect my muntjac. She was in good condition, but -as the shot had clipped her chin- not exactly a pretty sight. Nevertheless, the bullet had then passed squarely through her neck before exiting just below her axis joint, resulting in as instant a kill as one could wish for.

    It was now too dark to gralloch then and there, so I opted to drag her back to the car and do the job under the lights at home. Needless to say, although everything was now glazed with a deepening frost, I hardly needed the heater on the drive home: the warm glow of contentment was more than enough.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Edit: Mods. sorry if this is in the wrong place. I failed to find the write-ups section before posting! So please move it there if preferred.
    Last edited by Mr. Gain; 29-12-2016 at 01:50.
    "Docendo discimus" - Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC – 65 AD)
    “Comodidad, tranquilidad y buena alimentacion” - A Spanish recipe for contentment that oddly omits hunting.
    "I'm off to spend some time at the top of the food chain..." - (after) Tulloch
    "Oh [dear], they probably heard that in the village!" - RickoShay

  2. #2
    Hiya

    Thank you for sharing your time in the 'chair' - good outcome and read.

    L

  3. #3
    Lovely write up well done. Grassed a roe doe this morning in very thick frost the morning was perfect
    an absolute pleasure to be out

    regards steve

  4. #4

  5. #5
    Nice write up. Thanks for that story. It sounds like a great evening.

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