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Thread: First Stalk - First Deer - Viscount Stalking, West Sussex

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    First Stalk - First Deer - Viscount Stalking, West Sussex

    It’s very rare that I feel so strongly about something that I take the time to thank those responsible, a trait that I think most of us are guilty of; HOWEVER on this occasion I thought that my experience should be shared with those facing a similar situation.

    About a year ago, I thought about taking the natural progression from vermin to stalking. Needless to say that the whole process can seem very alien, especially if the largest thing you have ever taken aim on is a fox. With the variation in for a deer legal rifle, I thought that it would be important to get as much experience as possible before my DSC1 and went about looking for organised stalking days not too far from home.

    Having browsed the internet and having spoken to a few stalking companies my gut feeling was that Viscount Stalking (West Sussex) offered the most suitable and competitive package. My criteria were fairly specific; I didn’t want to just go out and kill stuff, I wanted to learn and ensure the cull was actually part of a sustainable management programme, not just a money spinner.

    After a 30 minute chat with Darren Phizacklea my decision was made and the date booked. Unfortunately the first booking was cancelled at the last minute with a grievance in my family; but he was more than understanding and asked me to call back when things had calmed down. With work and other commitments, time ticked by but a further date was finally booked in.

    We had opted for an afternoon stalk starting at 3pm ending just before dark. After a long wait the day finally arrived. I set off from home with plenty of time arriving slightly early at the Estate Office. Not only did I want to create the right impression and make sure that all my kit was squared away ready to go, but didn’t want to arrive late and flustered should traffic decide to be against me.

    Darren arrived just before our meeting time and immediately my mind was put at rest, greeted with an open hand and warm smile, with the introductions out the way we loaded my kit into the truck and made our way down to the range; Darren was very quick to put me at ease and talked me through what I could expect to see, what others had seen in the last few days and how he came about stalking. This initial brief for the Novice stalker is invaluable, not only for safety but for confidence and the approachability needed should you have any questions.

    At the 100 range a target was put up, although my rifle was recently zeroed, the thought of someone looking over you can be daunting; however this wasn’t the case, with the initial welcoming reception it felt like I was just down my local range with my weekly vermin buddies. Needless to say the first group was more than enough to put his mind at rest and to re-check the zero.

    With the range out the way, we made our way to another part of the Estate. The Estate from what I saw offered a complete range of stalking environments from open ground to dense woodland. We arrived at an area that had an array of clearings, rides and mixed vegetation, a brief was given and we were off on our way, with Red (the dog) in toe.

    It was immediately clear that Darren knew based on the wind direction, time of day and recent activity where our best chances would be. As we courteously stalked from one ride to another we had the chance to talk about the various approaches depending on the location and vegetation.

    Although I shoot at least twice a week, I am always the first to take note and advice from those more knowledgeable, as we made our way around Darren made a few observations which will I am sure greatly increase my chances in all disciplines of the sport.

    Within the first half an hour, we had seen a couple groups on the move at distance. As we moved from one place to another it was clear that the deer that day were a bit jumpy. It’s not until you are in that situation do you fully appreciate how hidden and still they can remain, as was proven when we were within ten yards of well camouflaged muntjac.

    As the afternoon progressed, we made the choice to move to a different part of the Estate where deer had been seen coming out within last half an hour of light to feed in the open. On the way out, in the middle of a wide open field to our left, were two herds of at least twenty fallow. Unfortunately because of the position there wasn’t a suitable backstop and the wind wasn’t in our favour.

    We stopped briefly at a further two sites to see if anything was out before making our way to the hotspot. At this point as the light was drawing in, I had already decided that although I hadn’t been able to take a shot, we had seen some fantastic deer and I would defiantly be returning. As we looked into the faded light, with Darren scanning the hedge-line, a couple appeared about 100 yards out. We waited until they offered a broadside shot and with the adrenaline pumping, I slowly squeezed the trigger. With a thud and quickly reloading for a follow up, I kept my eye fixed on the target until it disappeared just into the tree line. The second promptly darted off.

    We waited for a moment, and slowly took a stroll over to the point where it disappeared. There within 10 yards of the edge was the magnificent sight of my first deer. With the carcass shortly in the back of the truck, Darren gave me the choice whether I wanted to go to the larder or be dropped off at my car. I opted to go and see the whole process; this is something that I would recommend anyone new to stalking takes up on every occasion. It’s the small bits of gralloching that only experience can provide. This lesson wasn’t part of the initial outing, but again the experience and knowledge was passionately shared.

    In summary, firstly if you haven’t guessed it, I am thoroughly chuffed with my initial choice, not only because of my first cull on my first stalk, but because Darren was more than willing to pass on his experience and techniques.

    On a closing note, I envy any professional stalkers, who are able to deliver a suitable specimen for their clients, especially when it’s part of an effective management programme. I would highly recommend Darren as a suitable choice for any novice or experienced stalker. If you book up – go with an open mind, enjoy it and avoid putting pressure on yourself.

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    Last edited by AllThingsShooting; 08-03-2012 at 13:28.

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