A Seminal Story

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paul k

Well-Known Member
Here's a short story that shows how very careful you have to be at times. A few years ago I was stalking in Sussex on a piece of ground that has a big valley with a stream running down the middle. The bottom third of the valley had been felled with some scrubby regrowth but the top two thirds were mixed mature conifers and deciduous trees and the valley was probably a mile from top to bottom. There were a lot of fallow, some roe, a few muntjac and one or two sika on the ground.

There were three of us, John and I and a guest and we set the guest in position on the right hand side of the valley, almost at the top, with instructions to shoot only at a fallow pricket on his side of the stream and only when the shot would be backstopped by ground on his side of the stream. The final instruction was for him to stay put whatever happened until one of us came to get him and that when this happened we would would approach him from behind and whistle before coming in.

John and I went down to the bottom of the valley and started slowly up the left hand side of the valley about 30 yards apart. The idea was that we would try to push something up towards the other guy but could also take a deer in a safe position if we saw one.

Dawn was just breaking and we slowly walked up keeping each other in view at all times. I had the stream 30 yards to my right and John was to my left. I knew that I could shoot straight ahead and on my side of the stream (provided the shot was backstopped) and John could shoot front and left.

If we lost sight of each other due to cover the understanding was that we would stop until the other came into view again, re-establish contact with a hand signal and then move on again. We agreed that when we reached the path that crossed in front of us just over half way up the valley we would come together and discuss tactics. John and I had done this before quite a few times and it worked well however it was the first time we'd been out with the other guy.

About an hour had passed and we were approaching the path when I lost sight of John. I knew that the path was about 20 yards ahead so I decided to move slowly up to the path and wait there for our agreed rendezvous knowing that John would do the same. By the time I arrived at the path it was almost fully light and I stood by a tree just off the path and waited for John to appear.

Although the path came across us at this point, prior to this it ran down the other side of the valley and turned at right angles to cross the stream and pass in front of us. John hadn't appeared yet but the agreement was to wait for each other and that's what I did. After a few minutes I heard something coming down the path to my right. I thought it might be a deer so I eased back behind the tree and waited.

Down the path came the guy that we had left at the top of the valley - I couldn't believe my eyes! I was in full camo with a face mask and he didn't see me until I virtually coughed in his ear and he nearly peed himself. I asked what the f*ck he thought he was doing and he said quite innocently that he had seen nothing got bored and decided to have a walk about. I asked whether or not he realised that John was in the cover a few yards further on thinking that he had a safe shot in front towards the path and, although John would never shoot unless he had a clearly identified target and safe background, he had taken a huge risk by walking across the front of us. As I spoke there was a shot and it transpired that John had taken a roe out to his left and thankfully safe.

We never took this guy out again but it just goes to show you can give the clearest briefing and instructions but there are still some who think they know better and create a danger for everybody. We had been absolutely clear that he should not move until we picked him up and yet he had thought it OK to go strolling around a wood in which he knew there were two guys with loaded rifles who thought that he was in a certain position over 400 yards away.

I'm sure that there will be some who criticise the whole strategy of the morning and you may well be right. John and I had no problem with how it worked as we were experienced with each other and did what we said we would do. We never used the tactic again no matter who the other guy(s) out was and when placing people in high seats or positions in the future we absolutely emphasised that when we said don't move we meant it and told this little story to make the point.

Some people are quite unbelievably stupid and thankfully a potentially fatal situation passed without incident.


Well-Known Member
Had a similar experience myself a good few years back, l had invited an experienced stalking friend to come to my ground in Scotland for a spot of roe stalking, l stalked 1300 acres there which we split up into areas, the first 2 days he accompanied us to get a feel for the place and on the third day l gave him an area to stalk solo after showing him his area and his markers the day before even to the extent of him taking me around his designated area so l knew he knew and were to meet the next morning after the morning stalk.

l was stalking the adjacent area and the other syndicate member was stalking elsewhere that morning, as the morning session was coming to an end l was heading back to the motor to go and pick him up from the pre arranged point and got into a shootable buck after a short stalk l took the buck and after dragging it up to the forrest track was just preparing to gralloch him and who should turn up well of his area but my guest.

l was gobsmacked what the hell are you doing here l said "well l heard the shot and thought l would come and check it out because l knew it was you" so bloody what l said or words to that effect l said you was given specific instructions to stay were you was told to stalk,"well l thought it would be ok and thought you may need a hand" he said, now l am generally a very placid and easygoing person but l did see red on this occasion what about if the animal needed a followup shot and so on.

The whole situation could have been a whole lot different but thankfully it was not, my guest did learn the error of his ways and fully understood after that to do what he was told needless to say he no longer stalks with me and if l take guests out whatever level of experience they have they are always accompanied these days.

l to learnt a very good lesson that day never assume that they will do as their told and always expect the unexpected.

Andy L

Well-Known Member
It always amazes me when you hear stories like this. Have these people never seen the mess a bullet makes of a deer?
Did you read about that American chap a few months ago that was shot three times in the chest when he went for a pee in a bush. The hunters said that they saw the bush move and assumed that it was a deer!!


Well-Known Member
On the topic of taking care while shooting.......the following incident crystallized just how easily a tragedy can occur.

I had been sat for an hour or so in a high seat overlooking a cultivated field, having been asked to watch out for a fox should the opportunity present. Eventually my eye was caught by a flash of red moving along the bottom hedgeline.

Normally, my rule is : identify target as a deer - then watch through the scope before taking the first safely presented shot. On this occasion - KNOWING the fox was regularly using the hedgeline, the temptation was to put up the rifle and prepare to shoot.

Habit meant that I actually raised the binos and had a closer look.

I kid you not, my stomach churned as I realised I was looking at the red hair of a dog walker.... his head at ground level as he walked along a sunken lane on the other side of the hedge line.

Now, I knew of the lane, I used my binos rather than pointing a loaded rifle at a walker's head - everything was done correctly. How easy it would have been to make a potentially fatal mistake.

Lessons reinforced, include ensuring that all clients/shooters are thoroughly briefed on their arcs of fire - and double check that they are aware of the necessity of using binoculars for target identification. Something that is not always to be taken for granted!

rgds Ian


Well-Known Member
i had an incident many years ago now
my employer had just bought some more farmland of a building developer who had convereted all the out buildings livable dwellings
and then sold them, we were out lamping for rabbits and foxes when about 2am i spotted a strange set of eyes beside a tree ine the hedge without hesitation my boss straight up with rifle about to pull the trigger ,i dipped the light to my bosses anger saying the fox would run off
still not happy i raised the lamp again then quickly dipped it ,at this point my boss angry and bemused at my actions wanted to know what was going on i said there was something wrong with this situation told him not to shoot untill i had a better look , on doing this i shone the lamp again and said this is not a fox wrong eyes ,to tall for a badger it could be a munty but was not convinced i then shone up the tree to see a mans face appear, as the light travelled back down to the set of eyes, a hand stood out holding onto a lead which was attached to the dog.
when asked what he was doing he said he was hiding behind the tree because he was afraid of being shot how lucky he was he will never know but he should not of been tresspassing, not that was any excuse lucky for us i had abit more about me on that night