First Fallow, the one that got away, and first Red Stag (by accident!)

PSE Composites Limited
Very new to stalking, with only a couple of days stalking for Roe before this. I had set a goal this year to cover three species and do some woodland/hill to see the difference and try to learn. So this weekend just gone, was down in Devon, and without much luck on the first evening, I was up at 0430 chucking on my gear and waiting in a dimly lit car park for Jeff to pick me up. We headed straight to some nearby fields, parking up and closing the doors as quickly as possible. The rain was like a sheet, the wind was absolutely howling and things didn't look good; but I was hoping it would drown out my clumsy approach! Leaving the gate shut to prevent any clanging we crawled under the wire fence, and crouching low headed along the hedgerow for a couple of fields before reaching a slope down into the valley. Some more crawling through the mud to get us over the skyline, in the pitch black, and waiting for the light to come up with my heart beating a little faster than usual.

As visibility improved, we saw 3 fallow at the bottom of the valley maybe 120 yards away, right on the tree-line. I was looking forward to shooting from the bipod, but they kept wandering back and forth and it was a while before I could make things out clearly and sighted up on a decent sized doe. With the other two starting to walk off to the right, I didn't want to wait around and shot immediately, dropping her with a slightly high shot just above the heart. The wind was still howling, and I was surprised to see through the scope that the other two had barely moved after firing, and quickly went back to feeding! Eventually they walked slowly into the next field and I crossed into the next field following them.

Half crouching, half crawling down I managed to make them out in front of me, about 100 yards, when suddenly some movement appeared to their right coming closer up towards us. A great big stag, 12 points, trotting to within 50 yards! I fumbled with the rifle in a panic, and couldn't get a sight picture; with him coming closer and closer. Jeff was frantically calling out to try to get him to stop but quickly it was too late and he was right alongside us with the sky too close to the top of him. I finally realised that somehow the magnification had been wound right up, and as soon as I twisted it back down to 8 I could see again; felt very frustrated and like a proper idiot, with the adrenaline flowing pretty freely. But it was wonderful to see a beast like this so close, with a great mane around his front shoulders and a very noble gait!

But then, coming up from the same place, came two more, younger stags, and this time I was ready. Shooting at about 65 yards, I hit the first one who fell immediately, and the other two ran back down the hill; a quick thumbs up from Jeff and a grin, and I felt elated. It was incredibly exhilarating and I felt very lucky to have been given the chance for a second shot. It was still quite dimly lit and as I approached him I saw he was thankfully already dead. Having never seen reds up close it was an exciting moment as his thick coat loomed up out of the dark, and then his head and antlers. I put my hand on his shoulder and mumbled a thank you, and then Jeff appeared giving me a slap on the back. Quite blown away and a bit lost for words by it all, after much huffing and puffing, both were stowed away, and off to be gralloched - which I finally helped do.

Not something I will get to do that often, and it will always be a treasured moment for me whatever I go on to do with stalking.

Thanks!
 

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Cootmeurer

Well-Known Member
Well done. Nicely told and a couple a nice beasts for your first and second.

However, word of warning. Sometimes the first fall easily, and then much effort and frustration occurs before the next. Enjoy it all, even the fruitless outings, and count yourself lucky to be doing that rather than something else.
 

Pine Marten

Well-Known Member
Congratulations, that's one hell of a start, and not in easy conditions either by the sounds of it. Interesting that you have both fallow and reds on your patch! Also, I must congratulate you on your choice of hat. Strong choice. I like it.
 

Border

Well-Known Member
Congratulations, nice write up.
Lesson learnt regarding scope magnification.
Perhaps for the best that the big chap wasn't grassed, could take a lifetime to better that.
 

Uncle f

Well-Known Member
Well done. That seemed like a good day despite the weather but the sounds of it. Enjoy it that experience does not happen often if at all for some of us

Congratulations and good shooting
 

captdavid

Well-Known Member
Very new to stalking,
So am I for reds. Great luck, or should I say skill? We have fallow and reds in Texas. I'm planning on a red or maybe sika hunt next fall. Observing those two deer are the about the same size, or is it just a trick of photography? I'm trying to get an idea on age, body size and horn size. The local size or our fallow is around 100-120lbs live weight for mature fallow does, with bucks around 150lbs. The red cows, around 220lb and mature stags 300-350. If you know, how much did each weigh and how old was the stag? Thanks for your help. capt david
 

Tedward1

Well-Known Member
So am I for reds. Great luck, or should I say skill? We have fallow and reds in Texas. I'm planning on a red or maybe sika hunt next fall. Observing those two deer are the about the same size, or is it just a trick of photography? I'm trying to get an idea on age, body size and horn size. The local size or our fallow is around 100-120lbs live weight for mature fallow does, with bucks around 150lbs. The red cows, around 220lb and mature stags 300-350. If you know, how much did each weigh and how old was the stag? Thanks for your help. capt david
Hey! Not skill, but with practice hopefully I’ll get there. Not sure about the fallow but it was quite a lot lighter - stag was a touch over 100kg, 7 points and likely 3-4 years old. The guy I was with said the first beast I didn’t shoot was 12 maybe 14 points and much older.
I’d like to try Sika, someone was recommended on this forum but I’ve lost their details! Woodland stalking can yield some big stags in the South West of England - I was near Exmoor in Devon. Thanks!
 
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