Rhododendrons, Quagmire and BIG Red

Uncle Norm

Well-Known Member
Saturday first light, out in Norfolk with my mate and my brother. We had decided to stalk different areas of forestry and farmland, so I was dropped of with Ruby my Labrador near a favourite piece of forestry where I have bagged many deer over the years.

This area has not really been touched by forestry operations for about 40 years, so has mature conifers, lots of secondary tree grown and the dreaded rhododendron thickets.
In the last few months about 2,000 tons of secondary timber has been removed and lots of the thickets brashed. Everywhere is sopping wet, drainage ditches full and ruts so deep they can hide a deer.
:rolleyes:
I moved off with the wind in my face and slowly stalked for about 20 minutes. I noticed Ruby lifting her head and looking up at me several times so stopped to have a good look with the bins. I couldn't see anything but by now Ruby had that ''for heavens sake, they are over there !!'' look on her face, so I stayed put, positioned my monkey sticks and the .260 to await events.
Still couldn't see anything so got my thermal out and.... sure enough about 250 yards away, I could make out some 'twinkles' of heat. Ruby was right of course.

After several more minutes of swapping between the thermal and the bins, I could see them with the bins. A group of Red, heading my way.
Eventually a big hind presented a shot, which stuck in the right place with the classic heart-shot reaction. One down.
Another big hind, a bit further away, then presented a shot . Shot was good so two down. Both hinds had disappeared from my line of sight, into either a rhododendron thicket or brashings. After about half a minute three red can back into my line of sight, in a panic. A knobber presented a shot, which was good and I saw him run off along what had once been a track but start to fall towards a ditch. I thought b***er, I bet he's in the water! :evil:

All over within a few minutes but now the work started in earnest. Norfolk Red hinds can weigh in the region of 200lbs dressed out, so I knew we were going to loose some sweat....little did I know how much though :rolleyes:.

Because of the forestry operations, many familiar landmarks are no more, so I carefully marked the spot where I stood and made a mental note of the strike spots. However perspective was difficult due to brashings etc. I waited several minutes before moving forward to locate the carcasses. I decided to try the ditch first.

The thermal located the carcass, sure enough, in the water-filled ditch, so at least I knew where one was. No sign of the other two though. No blood or hair at the likely strike spots and I was not sure which side of an adjacent water-filled ditch and quagmire with wallows they had been standing. Time to call the cavalry. No phone signal so sent a txt which eventually got through.

Marked the carcass in the ditch with a stick and white tissue, then went back to where I had been standing to mark that with a better stick and white tissue. Spent more time establishing as best as possible where the two hinds were standing. My mate arrived on the scene with his two HWVs and we decided to search either side of the adjacent ditch. He chose the rhododendron thicket whilst I did the partially brashed area under the mature trees with Ruby and my thermal. After several minute, my mate called out that he had found the first carcass. Heart-shot it had got about 40 yards through dense thicket. My mate did very well to find it.:thumb:

I carried on with my search area, whilst he looped back and found the other big hind lying in a deep rut. It would have been impossible to see as the rut was so deep.

By now Bruv had arrived with his truck that is equipped with serious mud tyres. Around the same time the head-keeper arrived with his chain saw.
The head-keeper (a good friend) cut a path through the rhododendron thicket as that was the only way we could extract the carcass.:oops: I green-gralloched it to reduce the drag weight.
Once that one was dragged out my mate and bruv recovered it to the truck, whilst I green-gralloched the one in the deep rut, which we then recovered across a ditch to the truck.


Last was the knobber in the water-filled ditch. Trying to get a rope on it, may mate fell in up to his waist, fortunately I was standing next to him and pulled him out before he went completely in.

Eventually all three deer were recovered to dry ground where we pulled them up on an oak tree to complete the field dressing. Once the carcasses were safely in the chiller, we all adjourned to a café for something to eat and drink. It was 1.30pm and I had shot them around 0740.

Being of a certain age, we were all truly knackered. We all slept well and this morning have been comparing our various states of aches and pains.:old: I don't think any of us would pass the vet as 'hunting sound', let alone 'fit to race'.
We will be back there next week though :thumb::tiphat:
 

devonair

Well-Known Member
Thanks for sharing that, I've only ever shot one red spike but I know what's involved in the recovery. Well done, what calibre/ bullet wt?
Great account..
 

devon deer stalker

Well-Known Member
Good job, anybody who hasn't shot a red can't appreciate how much of a ball ache they can be getting them out, 12 months ago in Devon I shot a stag at 10.00 am in snow, I got home at 4.00pm, I try to take a friend with me these days.
Even a quad in 4 wheel drive can't get near some places I shot reds.
Cheers
Richard
 

sikasako

Well-Known Member
I feel your pain. Have been there with red deer extractions that take several hours. The older you get, the harder the extraction becomes. That's when you really appreciate some reliable helpers on hand.
 

Uncle Norm

Well-Known Member
Thank you for your comments, I'm glad you enjoyed the read :tiphat:. My mate tells me that it was actually about 14.20 when we got into the cafe'.
I think it important that anyone considering taking on ground with big woodland Red, knows what they are letting themselves in for. One could do oneself a whole power of no good trying to recover them without assistance and/or the right kit. The shooting is the easy bit :thumb:
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
Great report and I must say you were brave to shoot 3 of them even though you knew you had some assistance, however well done on getting them out! I like to stalk alone and only shoot sika, which are much, much, smaller than a red, but even so I'm starting to get that any except for a wee spiker or a smaller hind gets ignored unless I can get a shot that will put it straight down somewhere easy. A chap I know once explained to me "I like to shoot my deer in the rut: the rut of where my car has just driven" and he has a very good point :)
 

Uncle Norm

Well-Known Member
Great report and I must say you were brave to shoot 3 of them even though you knew you had some assistance, however well done on getting them out! I like to stalk alone and only shoot sika, which are much, much, smaller than a red, but even so I'm starting to get that any except for a wee spiker or a smaller hind gets ignored unless I can get a shot that will put it straight down somewhere easy. A chap I know once explained to me "I like to shoot my deer in the rut: the rut of where my car has just driven" and he has a very good point :)
Coincidence that you mention Sika, as I shall be going after some of those tomorrow afternoon, providing the my aching bones allow it. :old:
Sucker for punishment, as its dirty work but someone has to do it :D :thumb:. A whole different ball game to those BIG woodland Red though.
 

Uncle Norm

Well-Known Member
That was a great write up! As Caorach commented it was very brave to take 3 knowing the work involved. Well done.
Brave!?? You are being polite :) I have got another word for it :oops:. There are large herds of Red roaming some parts of Norfolk and they can do serious damage. Getting on terms with the big herds can be difficult with lots of blank stalking efforts.
Its a case of needing to take them when we can, despite being very familiar with the work involved in recovery etc.
Thankfully most recoveries are not so difficult as this last escapade though.
 

sh1kar

Well-Known Member
Yes I have stopped shooting big fallow bucks on a small place I have the shooting in East Sussex. The always run uphill into the hangar and I can’t get vehicle up there. And when I do get them back to truck I can’t lift the damn things in on my own

S
 

Norfolk Horn

Well-Known Member
What some people dont realise about Uncle Norm is that the majority of his working life he was in senior roles were giving instructions and supervision was key
Shall we just say he hasn't lost the knack:rofl:
Oh and one more point he will be 70 soon which I understand gives him exemption from certain duties if he feels so inclined.:stir:
Now from this information provided I will leave it up to the good members of SD to decide who did the the dragging, roping, lifting etc and who drank the tea and did the boys jobs.
And yes I do realise I'm horrible as I have been told this many times:rofl::coat:
 

hunta

Well-Known Member
What some people dont realise about Uncle Norm is that the majority of his working life he was in senior roles were giving instructions and supervision was key
Shall we just say he hasn't lost the knack:rofl:
Oh and one more point he will be 70 soon which I understand gives him exemption from certain duties if he feels so inclined.:stir:
Now from this information provided I will leave it up to the good members of SD to decide who did the the dragging, roping, lifting etc and who drank the tea and did the boys jobs.
And yes I do realise I'm horrible as I have been told this many times:rofl::coat:
You sound about as "nice" as my so called mates :D
 

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