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Thread: A Fine Fallow

  1. #1

    A Fine Fallow

    In advance of my DSC1 at the weekend, I wanted to slip in a second stalk and guided gralloch (as helpful as I've already found the pre-DSC study, I'm amazed that DSC1 qualifies one to shoot deer unaccompanied, yet without any requirement for experience of the gralloch - but that's a discussion that's already been done to death in other threads). Queue a second visit to the Cornbury Park Estate, near Charlbury, Oxfordshire. Having so much enjoyed returning to old stomping grounds and appreciated the company and expertise of Tom Marshall, the estate deer manager on my first stalk, I eagerly awaited the return.

    The recent awful weather lending expectation of a soaking, as daylight broke, it was a pleasant surprise to find silent prayers answered with clearing skies and even a few rays of sunshine. Meeting at the Deer Larder, a short drive in Tom's 4x4 buggy took us to the area of a collection of modest sized woods with sizeable rolling fields between where Tom commented he had not taken any deer yet this year. Glassing the area after dismounting, a group of 8 fallow bucks were visible 400-yds away on the other side of the field. Waiting a few minutes as they worked their way into the wood, we set off steadily picking our way around the muddy puddles along the side of the field. As we reached the corner of the wood a Muntjac presented itself teasingly 60-yards away. After enjoying watching it mooch around for a late breakfast, Tom whispered that Muntjac would be the backup. As we moved off, the Muntjac sensing all was not well, hot footed it into the wood and we then tracked our way down the side of the wood glassing regularly, but seeing no sign of the Fallow bucks. Another Muntjac barked in the distance and we headed into the wood via a ride where Tom had been leaving a little feed. Bumping several Muntjac in the process, we came close to taking one out of sheer frustration.

    Composure regained as the Muntjac trotted off deeper into the wood, we hung a right down the main ride bisecting the wood from end to end. Signs of deer were everywhere and several Roe were making their way across the ride towards the end of the wood. Opting to leave them be and keep the focus on the Fallow, we about turned and made our way back to the main ride and to the top of the wood where Tom was confident the bucks would have gone, across another field to another wood they liked to frequent. As we picked our way across the field, my extra few inches of height spotted the bucks over the top of Tom's head and the crest of the hill we were approaching, 400 yards away down the side of the wood. Freezing, ducking down and making our way back ten yards and then over to the cover of the wood, we inched toward the corner.

    Six of the bucks were standing in the open. After watching for a minute or two to make sure they had not seen us, Tom took my rifle and led a careful crawl around the side of the wood and to the top of the rise. This took us to within a range found (thanks to Tom's superb Svaro's) 250 yards, with a clear view of the bucks. Taking back the rifle and setting up on the bipod, Tom carefully inspected each animal through the binoculars, determining the best animal to take. Four had what looked to my inexperienced eye to be pretty fine racks, one plain spikes and another nothing at all. Tom whispered that we would take the spiker in preference, but that any one of them would be good cull animals. Not being quite comfortable with the backstop, we waited, suspecting they may well work their way back towards us and present a safer shot.

    We weren't to be disappointed. As the bucks made their way back along the side of the wood, the missing two hopped out of the wood to join them. Gathering speed, they quickly reached 60-yards and counting, showing no sign of stopping. Tom whispered to be ready to take the lead buck as soon as he 'barked' at them. Everything then happened at once, the adrenalin rush causing everything to go into slow motion. The lead buck was clearly not daft and as soon as Tom barked, sped off into the field taking the next two with him. The next five presenting less than 50 metres away but without a clear broadside shot and knowing me capable, Tom encouraged a neck shot. Quickly adjusting onto the now lead buck and steading the breathing, a gentle squeeze was followed by the reassuring thump into the shoulder. The buck dropped on the spot and the remainder sped off across the field, following their compatriots.

    After the remaining seven bucks dropped out of sight, we mad our way over. The bucks spinal column had clearly been cleanly severed, but a coup de grace was also clearly required. With Tom explaining and then closely supervising, a cut swiftly and cleanly downwards from the ear taking the carotid artery, ensured a swift end and speedy bleeding process. Collecting the buggy, we loaded the buck and made our way back to the deer larder. Tom patiently and helpfully took me through the gralloch and explanation of the pluck inspection for a second time, this time also providing some hands on practice. I still wouldn't be confident to attempt a field gralloch on my own, but assuming a pass at the weekend, I'm sure that will be remedied in due course with a little further support from Tom or my mentor.

    Thanks for reading and I hope has been of interest.

  2. #2
    Very well done ! , nice to get an account of your learning curve into the stalking world , and a nice buck too !

  3. #3
    nicely done, and a very good write up. atb doug.

  4. #4
    Thanks gents, I'm thoroughly enjoying the journey and am greatly appreciating the forum and particularly, xxxx, who stepped forward offering mentoring help to get me started. He also wasn't alone in offering help, a great testament to the kindness of the individuals in question (Bobjs and The Tramp) - thanks gents

    Last edited by tjm160; 18-02-2014 at 16:30. Reason: Removal of mentors name

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by tjm160 View Post
    ... I'm amazed that DSC1 qualifies one to shoot deer unaccompanied, yet without any requirement for experience of the gralloch - but that's a discussion that's already been done to death in other threads)...
    Well done and nice write up.

    Re the above quote: It is not that the DSC1 qualifies anyone to shoot unaccompanied, and without gralloching experience. It is the FAC which, depending on any conditions, will allow you to shoot deer, with or without gralloching experience, assuming you have land on which to shoot deer which assisted you with getting an FAC conditioned for deer. Being without experience used to lead to a mentoring condition on the FAC.

  6. #6
    Thanks and sure Greymaster, however, the condition on my FAC is purely subject to passing "a recognised Deer Management Course". The exact phrasing is;

    "Until such time as the holder of this certificate passes a recognised Deer Management Course, he shall only use the .243 on deer, when accompanied by an experienced stalker".

    My FEO clarified "Deer Management Course" as DSC1.

    I could therefore stalk on my ground on my own as soon as I have passed DSC1. Needless to say common sense dictates I would not consider doing so until sufficiently skilled and confident.

  7. #7
    well done that man.having done my dsc1 last october i was nervous about the gralloch too,so i booked buckbones cullday.similar to your your experience i spent the morning on his range doing point of aim on 1-150 n 200yard targets then progressed to the field.we picked the deer based on its missing antler and lack of growth and on the deer being in clear view took the shot.then he told me how to gralloch and i did the gralloch ,hands on and he got me to skin and butcher the deer explaining as i was a great confidence boost .far better than watching a your say i want to do some more grallochs to gain the experience till im more than happy to go it alone atb iain

  8. #8
    Well done, Waidmannsheil!
    Its all about learning by doing, dont worry....


    People's hobbies are more their measure's than are their jobs.

  9. #9
    Thanks Tozzy, good to hear I'm not alone. There's no substitute for experience, especially with knife work. Congrats on your DSC1. Are you going onto DSC2?

    Weidmannsdank Michael

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by tjm160 View Post
    I could therefore stalk on my ground on my own as soon as I have passed DSC1. Needless to say common sense dictates I would not consider doing so until sufficiently skilled and confident.
    Hello Tim,

    I'm interested in why you say this. You obviously have the shooting skills, and given the training you have had, your stalking and fieldcraft will surely improve with practice. I also have little experience, less than you in fact, and I doubt I can match your marksmanship, but after doing my DSC1 (which was to meet exactly the same conditions on my FAC ) I immediately started stalking on my own.

    I too would have liked some time with experienced stalkers, but this is not easily found, and paid stalks are out of the question for me. I am therefore training on the job as it were, and though my success rate is very low at the moment, I hope I am learning from my mistakes, and will one day become a better stalker.
    As for the gralloch, having seen it demonstrated I did my first deer without too much trouble. My field dressing is not the cleanest, but it doesn't hurt the animal and I expect I will become more proficient.

    Good luck with your DSC1.


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