5 Stalks in Dorset.

Tom270

Well-Known Member
FIVE STALKS TRIP TO DORSET
Having a few days free at short notice I placed an advert on the SD for stalking and the dates I was free. I was not massively hopeful but got several replies one of which was well beyond my expectations.
Ian got in touch offering 5 stalks over 3 days on his permission in Dorset so of course I took up the offer. We exchanged PMs and then a chat on the phone, where he asked me about me, my rifle, experience, insurance and FAC which was all ok.

Monday afternoon saw me loading up the car for the drive to Worcestershire which apart from being a bit slow on the M42 and A42 was uneventful and two and a half hours later I arrived at Ian’s.
We had a brew and a chat followed by steak and chips which was beautiful. We talked of shooting experiences which in Ian’s case was extensive and I explained I was a novice and grateful for the opportunity and that I had shot one Roe buck several years ago and four boar other than that zilch. I had been stalking with my mentor Steve several times once when I shot the buck, been a walk round with Deerwarden and 2 stalks with Sikamalc in Sussex all where I had picked up and expanded my theoretical and practical knowledge.
He said not to worry there were 1400 acres and plenty of deer on the ground but of course no guarantees.
The plan was use his spare room for a few hours sleep and up at 2 for the trip to Dorset in his truck. He had booked us hotel rooms for our two night stay and we would stalk the morning of arrival then morning and evening of the next two days and a final one on the last morning before coming home.

2.30 saw my stuff loaded into the truck and off we went. Two and a half hours later we were driving on a lane with ground on either side and above us on a bank were half a dozen roe on the boarder of a field, it was looking promising. We pulled into a small layby and I slipped on my over trousers and jacket the rifle was in a custom draw under the rear bed I got it out and slid in the bolt and screwed home the T8.
We drove up a track to a bid field, there were plenty of slots by muddy puddles all frozen hard this cold frosty morning. I loaded the .270 with my usual Barnes brass 130g home loads. With sticks in hand and rifle over my shoulder, Ian in front and me just behind and slightly to the side we moved off over the hard frost covered grass, glassing the margins as we went, we came to a high seat Ian told me that is yours tonight. We saw no deer.

Moving on in the truck we visited another patch of ground then another and another, we saw deer, Roe loads of them I was getting experience of determining doe from buck and noticing the big variation in coat colour with glasses and without. Several times the sticks went up but no shot, usually because they bounded away or just kept moving.
We were waiting at a gate to see if any deer passed by from one wood to the next when we saw 3 dark deer approaching down the big field in front. Young Sika stags Ian whispered you can have them we had not moved when at 300 yards they turned abruptly right and went into the next field but still coming our way. We moved behind a strand of trees and thick cover into the edge of the wood, listening for any sound of their movement in the trees and stalked quietly forward to find the field empty there was a good view for hundreds of yards but they had evaporated.
I still find I am making more stupid noises than I would like, tapping the sticks or the rifle on a gate, the odd cough and catching sticks and tearing grasses with my feet so trying harder to be quiet.

Ian was apologetic hoping I would have had a shot by now, I was happy enough we had seen 20 or so deer glassed, identified, distance estimated and confirmed with Ian’s range finder bino’s sometimes I was good and sometimes not so good but not out by enough to affect shooting with the .270.
We called it a morning and went off to Morrisons for breakfast.
Next was the hotel they were happy to let us have our rooms, probably very early. It was very nice a 500 year old country inn, the rooms were nice and comfortable. I spotted a BASC sticker on the owner’s car and it turns out he is a shooting gentleman.
I lay on the bed well contented with the morning, more deer seen than I had seen ever before, Roe and Sika it all looked promising indeed.

Ian gave me a knock at 3 and we were off again. He drove up a field to a high point with a gate overlooking a big sloping field down to a hedge with a gate and a field beyond. It’s now warm and sunny blue sky almost no clouds.
Ian said he had never waited here for more than ten minutes without a deer appearing. I glassed down the right margin and there was a buck grazing rear on at 300 yards we soon identified 3 more roe at 500 yards. There are fallow there, where I asked, beyond second field group of trees those light patches are fallow. I looked with the binoculars and counted at least ten. We waited in the sunshine, nothing changed, we waited and eventually gave up returned to the truck and off to the high seat.
Ian helped pass up my stuff and empty rifle, he said I am going back to the truck you are not excitable or I would be staying, no bucks of course but Doe’s Sika and Fallow are good. Always watch out for young bucks with tiny buds, kidney shaped caudal patch is a buck heart shaped is a doe.

I sat and loaded the rifle resting it on the rail. I looked around. In front of me was a large oblong field with grass about a foot high ahead was a long hedge 106 yards away.
The sun was low and straight in my face which was going to present a white blob to anything looking my way so I but on a thin netting veil up to my eyes and my gloves I had my Tilly hat on. I waited, not long fifteen minutes had passed and a blob appeared on the far side of the field I glassed it a roe doe, I checked again and was sure it was a doe.
I opened the front scope cover I had left it shut so it did not flash in the sun, I looked at her through the scope, she had moved left parallel to the hedge but far enough out to make the shot safe at 110 yards.
I slipped off the safety she was side on facing to my left taking the odd step and stopping again head up not feeding, I lifted the cross hairs up her leg halfway up her body and fired.
I heard the strike, saw a huge shower off pins rise into the sunshine and she dropped on the spot. I could see steam rising into the cooling air, lung shot I thought. Must have been bit high.
I watched, in seconds it was all still.

I called Ian who had not heard the shot, he soon arrived and we walked out to where I had marked the shot. The first sign was the shower of pins in the grass and then there she was, a doe said Ian, oh good I said.
Ian did the gralloch in a couple of minutes the lungs were shredded and the exit high in the back which I thought strange from a high seat I expected it to be low we carried her back to the truck. I had doubled my deer count. The doe was in good condition and about two years old.
The light was fading and we returned to the hotel and had a wash and returned to the bar for well-earned pint and see how the food was. Well it was great and well satisfied with all aspects of the day we returned to our rooms for a few hours sleep before the alarm went off at five.

It was a very misty morning just about freezing but not so frosty as yesterday. We started our stalk and seeing anything was hard. Suddenly I picked up three roe to the left about forty yards, shadows in the gloom. I whispered to Ian, he looked and they became clearer, we moved very slowly to put a thin stand of trees between us and them then moved very slowly forward. We glassed them, the one on the right Ian said not the others. Then they were off, but they crossed through the trees ahead of us at fifty yards moving fast for the woodland to our right.
I stepped to the side and put up the sticks the first one went into the wood but the other two stopped, I was looking through the scope and Ian on the binoculars, take the one by the trees he said.
I moved the cross hairs bringing them to bear on the boiler room, the picture was not stable, I breathed started again, I remembered Deerwarden saying shoot as they bear it only gets worse after that, well I hadn’t and it did. As I was ready the roe had decided I had my chance and dashed off into the wood. Ian and I looked at each other; better leave it than botch it he said. My thoughts exactly another second and the shot would have been away. We had only been on the ground five minutes.

The sun was up but not burning off the mist it stayed with us all morning and while seeing another group of three hidden in the mist that was it.
Yesterday the deer were moving about freely today they were hunkered down by this time yesterday we had seen about fifteen.
Back to the hotel for a sleep and then a good lunch in the bar with a coffee instead of beer. Another rest and off out again for stalk 4.
It’s another beautiful afternoon as the mornings are frosty around zero to minus two and the evenings could be chilly in the high seat at dusk I have been using Jack Pike over trousers, Deer Hunter Jacket which I am proud to say now looks very faded and not the shiny new cammo I was wearing when I was out with Deerwarden. My boots are still on holiday somewhere in the shed after a house move so wellies are the order of the day and good they have been. My Tilly hat I find great its spf factor 50 so the uv does not burn my bald head it keeps out the rain and its fully washable with two chin cords for windy days. What I really like is the brim catches the top of the scope as you put eye to it and is automatically lifted out of the way. Face veil and gloves are in a cammo bum bag round my waist, along with knives bullet pouch with spare rounds, hearing protection and a small head torch with red as well as white light. Sticks are homemade B & Q with some pipe insulation round the top, which now thanks to Rhys from Sikamalcs stalk is covered very tightly in black Gaffa tape. I use them mostly for lamping rabbits so the colour did not matter I did not think of them been light coloured warning flashes to deer as I moved about, thank you Rhys.

The sun was out and the plan was a stalk over some ground we had seen deer on earlier and then use a different high seat. We saw a few roe in different places usually moving along the margins and we drove up the lane to the high point and looked down the ever producing field to find it empty but sure enough after five minutes I picked up two doe’s at about 500 yards, beyond the gate mooching around feeding there was no good way to stalk up to them as the gate made a no shooting barrier from anywhere you might get to and it was a big hill to walk back up if Ian didn’t offer to come down in the 4x4 to pick me up. We returned to the truck and Ian had a very long reverse down the lane to a gateway to turn round, the reversing camera on the Ranger is excellent.

It’s still a bright evening, we returned to a spot we had seen deer yesterday and stopped at a gate let into a hedge. I saw a doe sat in the corner of the field to our left in the sunshine. Ian looked through the binoculars 170 yards he said. I was looking and had concerns over the back stop. It’s safe Ian said the ground rises up just enough. I rested the rifle on a 4 inch thick top fence rail made of round log. I wanted to rest the rifle in a dip in the rail but had to make do with a hump as there were other twigs off bushes in the way from the dip.

Don’t shoot it sitting said Ian, no I said.
We waited ten minutes, nothing changed, I watched it chewing through the scope. You keep it in the scope I will move to the gate, he did nothing changed. He opened the gate, nothing.
I joined him, we moved slowly up the field watching the doe from the corners of our eyes. The doe stayed put, clever girl I thought. Then she got up. 160 yards open field slightly downhill. Better position very happy about the back stop. Up went the sticks and I smoothly placed the rifle. Settled my feet. She stopped side on looking at us.

Safety off, just as I fire aiming mid chest she turned very slightly left towards us. She dropped, I was not happy as I fired it felt wrong I felt I had hit her further back than intended. I had followed through and she jumped up and ran for the hedge.
I felt distraught but watched she got to the fence with bushes and I saw her fall and disappear from site. I scanned what I could see of the field beyond and after a few minutes we walked up. I have learned never take you eye off the quarry for a second and be ready. Ian found her in the stream where I had seen her fall. That’s one way he said, drown them. Just her back was above the water, he crossed the fence and brought her back.
There was a hole much further back than I intended, then I realised by its size that was the exit, we turned her over and the entrance was a tad back from the line up the leg but not enough to worry about, I felt better.
He got his knife out and I asked if I could do it, he explained about cutting across the body at the rear legs to get access then cutting up to the rib cage, finding the wind pipe and cutting it. On opening the chest the cavity was full of blood, it took me a while but I got it done being rather hot afterwards. Ian went for the truck and I enjoyed the evening.
Ian arrived and we loaded her into the back. We shook hands.

Back to the pub for a rest and down for a pint. The food was excellent.
5 am came round and we were off for our final stalk, it was cold and misty but not too bad low lying and giving a pretty picture post card view to the ground and trees. We saw deer but nothing shootable a bumble bee flew by, surely it’s too cold for that to be flying. A buzzard was cruising round. It had gone quiet, crows were making a racket over the nearby woods. I walked as quietly as possible looking and glassing watching Ian for the signal to stop. I was pleased with the things I had learned better recognition, better sex differentiation far better seeing deer, ability to gralloch even if a bit slow and ham fisted.
We went back to the truck got changed and set for Ian’s it was a sunny day. On the way I called a butcher who helped me with the first buck. They were happy to help and I should bring them over at closing to go in the chiller and if I came over next week they would do one while I followed on the other. At Ian’s we had a brew and I loaded up the car, the two deer in a plastic tray in the boot, two and a half hours later I am home. I cleaned the rifle and packed stuff away.
I rolled up at the butchers and their son took me to the chiller there we had a conversation that finished up with him offering me the chance to go to his mates farm where they have Reds. This has been a good week. Huge thanks to Ian for taking me out and for all the help and knowledge imparted and being good company.
 

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