And the guns remained silent...

#1
Good morning everyone!

This weekend found me heading off to Sussex for a long-awaited first ever attempt at the roe bucks with Sikamalc. This was particularly special as I was also to meet Scrumbag there, who has been my deerstalking “pen pal” from his Alpine lair for a couple of years now, however we’d never actually met in the flesh despite attending the same rifle club at the same university back in the day. That said, I suspect that our times there didn’t actually overlap due to the fact that I arrived on this earth a bit earlier than he did. Anyway, just to make it even more significant, he has a brand new Voere 7x64, I have my Steyr-Mannlicher stutzen 7mm-08 ordered about the same time as his, so we’d both be using new unmoderated Austrian 7mms. How’s that for narrative symmetry?


Scrumbag had arrived on Friday night and already been for a morning stalk with Malc on the Saturday, but the 7x64’s barrel had remained cold. Given that this entailed a 3.15am start, it was understandable that he overslept during his nap and picked me up a bit later than planned from Crawley station, but still in plenty of time for us to head up to Malc’s range. At the bothy, in addition to Malc we met up with Joelewis55, who I’d already had the pleasure of meeting when I was last down there in February, when he’d just become a father. We headed off to the range to check the zeros on the various rifles, and I was very pleased to put two shots within 2cm of each other and of the bullseye. I love this little rifle! I also had a shot with Scrumbag’s Voere, which is lovely although those Mauser 98 actions always feel a bit floppy to me when they’re open. Obviously that doesn’t matter, it’s when closed that it counts. My verdict is that whilst the 7x64 makes louder bang and the recoil’s a bit harsher, it’s still completely comfortable to shoot. Given that it’s near-as-damnit the same round as a .270Win, and that this is an unmoderated rifle, I’m now firmly in the camp that believes that a lot of old twaddle is talked about the supposed punishing recoil of that chambering. Once accuracy and acceptable levels of competence were established, Scrumbag headed off to a highseat with Joe, and Malc took me off to a new patch of set-aside at the end of a field about half an hour away.


We headed along the edge of the field near the woods, aiming for a slight rise at the bottom of the slope, from which we would be downwind from any deer that may emerge from the woodlands onto the field and set aside that we could survey. We set ourselves up together with Todd (the dog) near a telegraph pole and behind some buttercups and what I think may have been alexanders (not sure though). The cover had recently been cut, making the place a little less attractive to deer, but Malc assured me that he’d never been there and not seen any. For the next couple of hours, we surveyed the field, the birch plantation to the right, the other field behind, all to no avail. I had the chance to observe a pair of buzzards waltzing around above us, as well as a few swallows, a green woodpecker, and no end of oblivious pheasants strutting about. What we didn’t see were any deer. There was a point at which Todd sat up and stared towards the crest of the ridge in the field we’d come through, as if he was catching a scent on the wind, but we couldn’t see that far. “If we walk up to that crest, we’ll see that all the roe are just behind it” I joked, although it also seemed vaguely possible. About 9pm, Malc said we’d do just that, so we set off along the opposite side of the field from the one we’d walked in on.


About 200m along, Malc spotted a roe couched in long grass on the other side. We couldn’t tell whether it was a doe or a buck, and we couldn’t approach across the field. I thought to myself that what we should do was to retrace our footsteps to behind the set-aside where we’d been before, cross the field there behind the ridge, out of sight of the deer, then approach back up the edge of the field, the way we’d arrived. So I was quietly pleased with myself when that was exactly what Malc did. We walked more and more slowly as we approached, always out of sight of the deer, my heart was beating, this was exciting stuff, but we still didn’t know what it was. Malc repeated “I hope it’s a buck” a couple of times. Unfortunately, about 100m away, we were able to establish that it wasn’t. Still, I’d had a proper practice stalk and some excitement, and decided to put my rifle down and complete the stalk with my camera instead. I shall post the photos later, as they are really quite lovely.


Back the bothy, Scrumbag hadn’t fared any better, seeing only does, although Joe had shot a couple foxes. After a quick chat, we headed off for last orders at the pub next door, and Malc said “See you later” as “Good night” didn’t really seem appropriate for less than four hours. And so at 3.15am, we were up again, albeit with pretty damned bleary eyes. This time, Malc dropped me off at 4.30am on the edge of a wood nearby with instructions to go and set myself up on a highseat. Now sitting on a seat isn’t as exciting as stalking on foot, but on the other hand, I relished the prospect of being left to my own devices, so as Malc drove off with Scrumbag, I unfolded my sticks, loaded up, and crept into the wood, fully aware that a buck could be behind the next bush. It could have been, but it wasn’t, so I climbed up into the seat, set myself up, and then started to battle sleep. I was helped in this by the midges breakfasting on my forehead, which now has a polka-dot pattern, ending abruptly in a straight line where I’d pulled my hat down to. There were a lot of rabbits hopping around the clearing, but little else. Malc had told me that I was welcome to shoot foxes or muntjac. I would have taken a munty quite happily, but not ruined my chances of a deer by shooting a fox beforehand. This was academic anyway. At 5am, I caught the fleeting outline of a doe’s head through a gap in the trees to my right, complete with flicking ears. At 6.15am, probably the same doe came noiselessly out of the side of the wood, turned right and trotted off down the ride to vanish down a slope before I could raise my camera. She’d been in view for less than 10 seconds. If it had been a buck, I’m not even sure I could have shouldered the rifle and aimed fast enough, even assuming I could stop it for a second by whistling. For the next hour, I amused myself taking pictures of rabbits… Malc came to pick me up again, and they were empty-handed too, although Scrumbag had had an adventure that I’ll leave to him to recount. It’s not my story to tell!


So in conclusion, obviously I’m disappointed that I didn’t shoot my first buck. On the other hand, in addition to now having almost total confidence in both my rifle setup and ability to use it, I also worked out the correct stalking approach on a doe, even though I kept quiet about it, and I had the pleasure of being left on my own to make my own decisions on the Sunday morning, all important parts of growing as a stalker. In fact, I’d even climbed off the highseat as the wind was right to walk down a ride where I couldn’t see from the seat and have a cheeky stalk on my own. Well, it could have worked, couldn’t it? Worth a try anyway! Finally, I have some beautiful photos of that doe, including a pretty special one of her leaping through the field, which I will post shortly.


So once again, thanks to Malc and Todd. Thanks to Joe and Scrumbag for the company and lifts, and I hope to do this again a little more successfully at some point in the future. By which time Joe and I should also be able to hold a lengthy discussion about prams, nappies and so on.
 

mallettn

Well-Known Member
#2
Nicely recounted (as usual) Pine Marten. Not the easiest time of year with the cover up and less in season and one needs some luck at the best of times. Good to see you remaining attuned to the learning potential of every outing - as you comment this all moves one forward in becoming more proficient. Better luck next time!
 
#3
Nice write up as ever PM

I’m with you re the midge bites at hat band line and seeing nothing but a fallow buck that I happily studied in all his 8 inches of velvet glory for 15 some minutes while stood not 25 yards away.

At the risk of demonstrating I didn’t read your post properly I can’t help feeling you might have been a little more successful if rifle testing could have been timed differently. There are of course various theories in the mater of how deer are or are not disturbed by gun shot and, of course, I have no idea how near or far your 2” group was from the high seat?

Best bring on the doe pictures ASAP please!

Cheers

K
 
#4
Nice write up as ever PM

I’m with you re the midge bites at hat band line and seeing nothing but a fallow buck that I happily studied in all his 8 inches of velvet glory for 15 some minutes while stood not 25 yards away.

At the risk of demonstrating I didn’t read your post properly I can’t help feeling you might have been a little more successful if rifle testing could have been timed differently. There are of course various theories in the mater of how deer are or are not disturbed by gun shot and, of course, I have no idea how near or far your 2” group was from the high seat?

Best bring on the doe pictures ASAP please!

Cheers

K

Thanks K! The range was half an hour's drive away from where we were stalking so that's not really a problem. I think it's more the heavy cover and abundant food that's the issue. Apparently deer had been coming out on that set aside a lot before it was cut back, but now it's not as attractive. Ah, and it wasn't a 2-inch group, it was a 2-centimetre group! 2-inch group indeed...

I'll post those pics as soon as I've had a chance to download them from my camera.

My head itches....
 
#5
Thanks K! The range was half an hour's drive away from where we were stalking so that's not really a problem. I think it's more the heavy cover and abundant food that's the issue. Apparently deer had been coming out on that set aside a lot before it was cut back, but now it's not as attractive. Ah, and it wasn't a 2-inch group, it was a 2-centimetre group! 2-inch group indeed...

I'll post those pics as soon as I've had a chance to download them from my camera.

My head itches....
Half hour's drive away should be OK!

The bit about a "2-inch" group was a mistake rather than what I expect of a full-stock rifle. Honest!

My bites have turned painful and 'nasty' engendering a mood to match which is not helped by the constant questioning as to why I'm daubed with Germolene!

Roll on October

K
 

Kalahari

Well-Known Member
#6
Vicks vapo rub helps. Dabbed on seems to reduce the inflammation and the itch.

David

PS. If you think that 7 x 64 is loud you try his 9.3!!! You are right about the recoil thing though. A rifle that fits his more than half the solution.
 
Last edited:

sikamalc

Administrator
Site Staff
#7
Grassing a deer is never a forgone conclusion and this is the first weekend of taking clients that we have not taken a buck, although we saw plenty of deer they were all Roe doe's or Fallow. I have always maintained that mid to late June is never the best time for Roe Bucks although Scrumbag had a buck in his sights which we got into at 80yds. But as you say we will leave him to tell the story ;)

Lets hope the rut gives good results, and it was good to see Pine Marten and Scrummy again.

ATB

Sikamalc
 

6pointer

Account Suspended
#8
Great Read mate and this time of year can be frustrating because the next few weeks will see most big does will have a shadow of a buck with them . So don't get disheartened just take every day as a learning curve,
 
#9
Good morning everyone.

Here are those photos. First of all, here's Todd, bored out of his mind while Malc and I had a bit of an involunary birdwatching session in the set aside for a couple of hours. From my perspective, I have to say that stalking without mud and rain is a marked improvement on most of my stalking so far.

View attachment 29470

Later on, we spotted this doe from across the field, went around, and when it turned out it wasn't a buck, I put down the rifle and stalked to within perhaps 40m of it. I was able to take these two snaps before she legged it.

View attachment 29471 View attachment 29472

Against all the odds, I was able to take this picture of the doe in flight by tracking her with the 35x zoom lens. I'm quite proud of this one.

View attachment 29473

Finally, this is what I spent three hours or so doing on Sunday morning, whilst being kept awake by midges. Lovely, clean rifle there.

View attachment 29474
 

sikamalc

Administrator
Site Staff
#15
Mind how you go Joe, and invest in a soap on a rope...:scared:
Now now Scrummy, you will scare the lad if your not careful. Besides I will be in the double room with Sandra and NO ONE ELSE, before some smart arse puts up a response :D

I will try and send you some photos when we are there just to wind you up whilst your at work :lol: that is once we are out of the strath as their is no signal.

ATB

Malc
 

joelewis055

Well-Known Member
#17
Now now Scrummy, you will scare the lad if your not careful. Besides I will be in the double room with Sandra and NO ONE ELSE, before some smart arse puts up a response :D

I will try and send you some photos when we are there just to wind you up whilst your at work :lol: that is once we are out of the strath as their is no signal.

ATB

Malc
Reminds me that at some point between now and late September I need to explain to the misses that there is no phone signal up in Scotland.

And Mike, it's not Malcolm I need to look out for, it's my redneck American father in law that's up there with us (only kidding he is ok for an American).

All the best.
Joe
 
#18
Good seeing you again PM, and as always great write up!

Whilst not a glamourous as your photos... the dog fox that was shot.

Joe
Likewise a pleasure Joe! Your photo may not win any wildlife photography prizes, but at least you shot something, so you're one up on me. I may see to that weekend after next though and come back with a story which ends in a perhaps more satisfying way than this one. I hope we have a chance to stalk together one of these days!
 

Top