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Thread: "Scientific" deerstalking

  1. #1

    "Scientific" deerstalking

    Hello everyone.

    Some of you may have noticed that I have on occasion mentioned that my little brother, who we shall call Dr Pine Marten, or Doc Marten for short, is a palaeontologist. Some time ago, when he returned from the US to find that I'd become a deerstalker while he'd been away, he asked whether I could obtain for him a complete skeleton of a muntjac. Muntjac are of great interest to palaeontologists as they're a very primitive deer, and Doc Marten's particular field of interest is the evolution of mammal's joints. He's not one of those dinosaur palaeontologists who are apparently no better than Tony Robinson's "Time Team". "We've found half a metatarsal of a new species of dinosaur, which doesn't seem like much, but if we extrapolate the rest of the creature from this, we think it's probably the biggest dinosaur ever discovered! Let's have a look at our computer reconstruction. Wow! Can we have some media exposure and funding now, please?". Anyway, I obviously said that it would be pleasure to help him advance our understanding of evolution, that I could probably find someone to send me a dead muntjac through the post within a couple of days, but that I had no interest whatsoever in going about it that way. To borrow a phrase from Japanese whalers, I wanted to do this by conducting some "scientific deerstalking". That way I have the experience, the fun, the meat, he has his specimen, and the landowner has one less bluebell muncher to deal with.

    A few weeks ago, yet another generous member of this forum - who I will not name without his permission as is my usual practice, although he's free to reveal himself if he wishes, obviously - offered me to come to his patch for this zoological expedition. Given that he was within ridiculously easy reach of where I live on the train, I jumped at the opportunity, and so yesterday after lunch I found myself on the train with my discretely packed science kit. A bit like Frederic Courtney Selous, only I carried all my own stuff instead of employing a hundred porters. And it was only an hour and a bit away. Well it would have been anyway if I hadn't alighted one station too early. This is a pretty uncharacteristic mistake given that I've been from London to Istanbul on the train through countries where I couldn't understand the language, and never once made an error that daft. That said, when you arrive in Constantinople, you can see the giant face of Kemal Atatürk staring at you and the Theodosian walls, whereas my destination station lacked comparable visual pointers.

    My host picked me up and didn't call me a Muppet at all, because he's a good guy that way, and took me off to the woods. After explaining the layout, the prevailing winds and so on, we walked around the wood downwind, and the entered it planning to stalk all the way through, roughly following a known deer track, before leaving the wood at last light in a sheltered valley, often crossed by muntjac and roe at night. Now I've done a little bit of stalking in woods before, but usually on the way to a high seat, but this was something different. The closest thing it came near was when I'm on my own looking for woodcock, and indeed I noticed that my guide had a few pin feathers in the brim of his hat. Within five minutes of entering the wood, he stopped, having spotted a muntjac doe just ahead. He had, but I hadn't, despite having my binoculars and scouring the exact same piece of wood as him. He kept whispering coordinates relating to mossy trees, fallen branches, patches of bluebells and so on, but after about five minutes it was a passing cock pheasant that gave the doe away. "Put your rifle up, and if it presents a shot - and I'm not saying it will, and you feel confident, go for it. It's a game of patience now. It's waiting for us to move first". In the end, after sorely testing my ability to stand still with the rifle on sticks for 29 minutes, it vanished.

    Perhaps half an hour later, the same happened again, only this time, the doe wasn't standing behind a lot of branches. But it was standing staring straight at us, happily chewing the cud, resolutely not presenting a broadside shot. Luckily, I now had a secret weapon: I had been taught to lean back against a tree while the rifle was on sticks, providing a rock solid rest (thanks, top tip!). This way I had ample time to observe the little doe, the triangular black mark on its' face and those beady black eyes looking at me, but not seeing anything worrying. After perhaps twenty minutes again, about 7pm, I finally had a shot. It turned, passed behind a tree, I waited for it on the other side, and as it emerged, it paused for a second, and bang! She was down. My first muntjac, and in the cause of science too! My host was kind enough not to blood me because as it turned out, the deer wasn't as sideways on as I might have hoped, and it was a pretty unpleasant and messy gralloch. The rest of the process, butchery and skeletonising hasn't been a great way to spend an evening either, but it's done! I'll make sure to post the results of Doc Marten's work too.

    So thanks very much indeed to my generous benefactor for an exciting opportunity during which I learned a lot. I hope we have a chance to stalk together again!

    Attachment 27693Attachment 27694

  2. #2
    You told me what your brother does for a living, i would be interested to know what you do for a living
    Having read your post saying you shot a munty and it was a messy gralloch, and you had been on a train, plus some additional words
    From the photos i see your shot was not good, it was very cold you needed gloves and very boggy you needed gators and you lost the band off your have as it was very rough going also you have a yery expensive looking rifle set up
    I am guessing CIVIL SERVICE
    I enjoyed your post
    ALL THE BEST
    TH
    Humans are pre wired with fight or flight response
    Great Grandad fought, Grandad fought.
    For the sake of my Grandchild I wish for Less Flight responses entering Europe

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Trufflehunting View Post
    You told me what your brother does for a living, i would be interested to know what you do for a living
    Having read your post saying you shot a munty and it was a messy gralloch, and you had been on a train, plus some additional words
    From the photos i see your shot was not good, it was very cold you needed gloves and very boggy you needed gators and you lost the band off your have as it was very rough going also you have a yery expensive looking rifle set up
    I am guessing CIVIL SERVICE
    I enjoyed your post
    ALL THE BEST
    TH
    My job's not relevant to the story, but I can tell you that your conclusion's pretty severaly flawed! What you see on the photo is an exit wound, placed there because it was a quartering shot, moreso than I thought. The bullet entered on the other side through the lungs and liver, the deer dropped instantly. Nevertheless, a misjudged shot, but I suppose that you have to make mistakes to be able to learn from them. I won't be doing that again if I can possibly avoid it. The aftermath is too unpleasant.

    You're right though, it's not a cheap rifle: I saved up for a long time.

    Glad you enjoyed the post!

  4. #4

  5. #5
    nice one pine martin, good little write up, it's all too easy to have an exit wound a bit back on such small deer, the angles don't have to be far out for it to happen, not a lot of room for error, dead deer cleanly and humanely, can't say fairer than that.
    Opinions are like arseholes....... we all have them, and most of them stink

  6. #6
    Enjoyable read PM

    Think what a true mess the carcass would have been had your smoke pole been discharging a lighter and more frangible bullet.

    Muntjac must surely be the perfect quarry for the Public Transport minded hunter as with head and legs out of the way it will fit nicely in an off to the beach size cool box.

    I hope Doc Marten gets his munty funding.

    Cheers

    K

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Pine Marten View Post
    a misjudged shot, but I suppose that you have to make mistakes to be able to learn from them.
    Pine Marten, you're absolutely right. We all misjudge shots from time to time and we learn from it. The important thing is you killed it humanely, well done!

  8. #8
    I found half a dozen tiny fragments of copper, lead and red plastic near the bones when I was preparing the carcass, but the vast majority of it clearly went straight through the deer. It made one hell of a mess on the way though. You're right about how muntjac are perfect for public transport though. I just dropped it in my Harkila roe sack, which looks pretty much like a normal rucksack to the untrained eye. That's the first time I've had a chance to use it. As regards Doc Marten, the muntjac skeleton is just for his own interest. His next most likely exploration is something to do with the bipedal motion of birds I believe.

  9. #9
    Another nice write up, I do enjoy your outings so keep them coming please

    Neil.

  10. #10
    "I found half a dozen tiny fragments of copper, lead and red plastic..."

    Well, that is what happens when you use V-Max varmint bullets designed to break up and dump energy on impact instead of nice soft nosed lead cored ones! (I was going to add A-Max but of course no-one uses them for shooting deer do they...)

    If you reckon that gralloch was messy you'd better make sure you never make such a shot on a fallow pricket... you'd be honking, as would all the other nice people on the train going home too!

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