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Thread: A young mans first stag

  1. #1

    A young mans first stag

    A young mans first stag

    Firstly, I apologise for the length of this post you may consider this a little self-indulgent, however, I hope you will humour the enthusiasm of novice stalker...

    I was fortunate enough to be asked on a stalking trip to the West Coast of Scotland by two friends last week - both being experienced stalkers, who are willing to share and impart their knowledge and wisdom, as well as being general all round good guys. As every novice stalker should, I accepted straight away as Im conscious that no amount of theory or attendance on deer stalking courses can act as a substitute for real field experience.

    Having only ever shot one Red Hind in my stalking career to date, I was incredibly excited about the opportunity of being presented with a Red Stag or Roe Buck. Indeed, as I packed my bag on Wednesday evening I had butterflies in my stomach...reminiscent of a young boy on Christmas Eve eagerly awaiting the arrival of his presents the next day.

    Well guess what? That boy was a man, and that man did get a present. A present he had been wanting for some time. So, are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin...

    Myself and one of my companions travelled up from the North of England, arriving at our location late Thursday afternoon (and just in time to carry out some brief Estate reconnaissance, although the low mist and fine rain made this a pretty fruitless exercise).

    We had made the decision to travel up to Scotland in our stalking clothing and with our equipment close to hand in our vehicle, so we didnt have to make a trip to our (moderately appointed) accommodation beforehand. The third of our party would be joining us on Friday morning.

    Knowing the Estate very well, my friend guided me to a ride on the North side of our march, adjacent to blocks of forestry where he had stalk previously, but more importantly on route to an area where he had not stalked before and which he consequently decided he would stalked that evening.

    The time was reaching early evening, and the light was beginning to fade a little. I had a good feeling about the ride, as I had noticed plenty of slots on the surrounding ground and what appeared to be relatively recent Red Deer pellets, although aging the pellets was made harder by the increasing mist and general damp atmosphere, which gave the pellets a newish appearance.

    My friend suggested that I might want to position myself on the grassy knoll at the entrance of the ride as this provided an excellent viewing platform for the ride, which immediately started to fall away from the knoll but then began to increase progressively in angle until it reached a cross roads with other rides approximately 500 yards in the distance. A relatively deep gully also ran across the ride about 200 yards from the knoll.

    My companion wished me good luck and we arranged a time when we would rendezvous. Not being a particularly patient person, I tried to make myself as comfortable as possible and removed all the grass and heather which would be likely to obstruct my line of sight whilst laid in a prone position using my bi-pods lowest height setting.

    So there I was comfortable, excited and poised for action. I began glassing the ride, starting at the top and working slowly towards the bottom. Nothing. I waited for a few minutes before lifting the binoculars again, and repeated this for about twenty minutes, conscious that whilst glassing at 500 yards I may miss something which I could see with the naked eye at a much shorter distance which wouldnt fall within the viewing circle of the binoculars.

    I was glassing the right hand side of the ride again and was just about to lower my binoculars when there it was! A Red Hind walked straight in front of me at about 50 yards, her body seeming to fill the viewing circle of my binoculars. She didnt notice me and walked slowly from one block of forestry to the next, grazing briefly as she disappeared into the Sitka Spruce to my left.

    So amazed at being able to view her so close up, I had temporarily forgotten what the third of our party had said over the phone during our drive up to Scotland at this time of year its likely that where there are hinds, a stag wont be far away.

    Without lowering my binoculars I retraced her steps back to the block of forestry to the right of the ride. To my utter astonishment there waiting for me (and looking straight into my eyes) was a majestic Red Stag with a full and thick grey mane, black rut ready underside and an attractive and wide head of eight points. My heart pounded. A rush of nervous excitement washed over me, which was then followed immediately by a feeling of panic that I may mess up this fantastic opportunity.

    I somehow had to lower my binoculars and get myself into a prone position without the Stag noticing me. Given the relatively short distance between us, not only was movement an issue but the noise I would inevitably make would almost definitely serve to spook him. Miraculously, I managed to lower the binoculars and get into position without him noticing, although his general demeanour was one of anticipation and anxiousness.

    I manoeuvred my rifle scope until I was able to place my reticles upon him. I adjusted the zoom setting on my scope and was happy with my assessment of his range (especially given that my companion had previously identified the distances of certain key features on the ride with his rangefinder).

    Given that this was the first time I had lowered my rifle to a Stag, my aim was naturally moving in all directions. I persuaded myself to take some deep breaths to try and make myself stable. Thankfully the Stag had still not noticed me, but was aware that something (or rather someone) was on the grassy knoll.

    The Stag continued to graze and look back in my direction for a few minutes - although I did first see him at about 40 yards, he had now walked away from me (with his rump facing me) to a distance of around 80 yards.

    I was waiting for him (nay, wishing for him!) to turn broadside. He did. I continued to breath deeply and observe the extent to which my reticles moved diagonally from bottom left to top right. I steadied my aim and disengaged the safety catch on my rifle. Happy that I was aiming at the kill zone of the Stag, I squeezed gently on the trigger - BANG!

    Having only zeroed my rifle very recently (in anticipation for the trip) and given the short distance at which the stag was positioned I was amazed to see the stag still stood there, having only moved slightly after the shot.

    Still observing the Stag through my scope sight I emptied the spent case and chambered another round. At this point the stag looked straight in my direction and then turned away and trotted up the ride, disappearing from view for a split second in the gully which ran across the ride. He was now around 210 yards away from me. He turned broadside again. BANG!

    Again the Stag simply trotted on this time choosing to walk into the forestry on the right of the ride (being the opposite ride to which his hind had disappeared). So, within seconds of being convinced that I had actually shot my first stag I was now questioning whether I had actually hit him at all, especially given his nonplussed reaction to Federal 130grain.

    Having marked the location at which the stag had entered the block of forestry I waited a couple of mins before setting off up the ride to find him. I spent forty-five minutes looking for him, but to no avail. I was fighting against the light, and it was reaching the time my companion and I had agreed to rendezvous, so I headed back to the entrance of the ride.

    On listening to the events of my evenings stalk (and having recently witnessed that my rifle was zeroed by the fact of me achieving a decent target grouping on our last outing) my companion was convinced that I must have shot the stag. We consulted with the third of our party over the telephone who also concurred that I indeed must have shot the stag.

    Needless to say I had a sleepless night thinking that a culled stag lay in the forest, unrecovered. My companions and I therefore decided that the first thing we should do on Friday morning was to sacrifice the mornings stalk and try to locate the stag.

    We arrived at dawn at the grassy knoll. I explained to one of my companions where the hind had crossed the ride, where I had first seen the stag and also the position of the stag when I fired my first and second shots.

    We walked over to the location of the first shot to try and locate a blood trail or other evidence of a successful shot. We found nothing, but that was to be expected given the amount of rain that feel that evening. We walked up to and in to the forestry where I had searched the previous night. Still nothing.

    I suggested to my companion that we might want to increase the search area, so I walked up to a location about 300 yards from the grassy knoll, and walked about 40 yards into the dense, dark and wet Sitka Spruce forestry. I was determined to find the stag.

    After about ten minutes of commencing my new search within the forestry I saw in the distance an amber and grey looking large mound, which was of definite contrast to the dark green moss at the base of the trees.

    As I moved closer I started to make out what at first appeared to be branches next to the mound, however, as I moved closer still (and as my sight began to focus with more clarity) I could see that they werent branches...they were antlers...I HAD FOUND MY STAG!

    I was elated, although my companion knew that from the way I ran out of the forestry punching the air! After several firm handshakes and a healthy amount of back slapping my companion and I turned our attention to gralloching and extraction.

    We gralloched the stag immediately, which appeared to be in good condition given that it was shot several hours ago (on inspection of the carcass, it was apparent that the Stag was only shot once (a little higher up the chest than I would have preferred)).

    We then extracted the stag by way of quad bike, which was a blessing as the drag back to the vehicle would have been a painful one. Needless to say the rest of my day was spent smiling!

    So, as well as shooting my first Red Stag, I also learnt a very valuable lesson if you THINK youve shot the deer, you HAVE shot the deer, and therefore you must keep looking and looking and looking until you find it!

    It would be remiss of me to sign off without thanking my companions for such an memorable weekend so, many thanks to 1995rs and Schiehallion.

    All the best

    Yorkshire Wharfe

  2. #2
    Congratulations again YorkshireWharfe, glad you enjoyed your trip up north. And an excellent write up. ATB Rich

  3. #3
    Congratulations indeed. Your write up made me smile........................ Thank you.

  4. #4
    Excellent read. I hope to be able to emulate your achievements soon.
    Below is a link to my website.
    Quad sticks

  5. #5

    Excellent write up I could feel the anticipation as if I were there myself. The first solo outing I had I shot a young stag from about 200yrds which stood and stood and stood and like you I thought I had missed. After what seemed an eternity I decided to shoot again just as it decided to move and hit it's leg. It tumbled 5 yrds on the forest track- so no long pull out. I discovered after the gralloch that my first shot being slightly further out than I estimated took out the bottom of the heart, hence the beast was stunned and on it's way out standing upright.

    By the way, was the carcass still okay after the length of time out before gralloch?

  6. #6
    Excellent episode, a nice read indeed!

    Blindness to suffering is an inherent consequence of natural selection. Nature is neither kind nor cruel but fiercely indifferent.

  7. #7
    Well done again Y.W.!
    Hope its not long before we see you up north again.

  8. #8
    Well done, young man!

    I particularly liked your reference to having faith in your own abilities and recognising the attendant responsibilities -

    Quote Originally Posted by Yorkshire Wharfe View Post
    I also learnt a very valuable lesson – if you THINK you’ve shot the deer, you HAVE shot the deer, and therefore you must keep looking and looking and looking until you find it!
    Indeed. Hear, hear!
    /l\ Y gwir yn erbyn y byd /l\

  9. #9
    Fantastic write up very very enjoyable...

    first of many i hope...



  10. #10
    Well done, And best of luck in your future expeditions.
    Your a long time dead..GET OUT THERE.

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