Sika, the Grey Ghost of Great Britain

sikamalc

Administrator
Site Staff
Sika are often described as the hardest of all deer in the UK to stalk and kill, and after managing and stalking them with clients for over 20 years I thought I would give a couple of examples of experiances I have had with clients whilst hunting these secretive and hardy deer.

I had an area in Sutherland Scotland that covered 12,500 acres, which was divided by a Salmon river and had two man made forests on either side that had not been managed for over 50 years. The cull was about 80 head a year, this included Red Deer, and the ground rose to about 1500ft.

Bernie Langhorne was a client I had from Virginia, a small built man who was softly spoken and quite religeous. He and another 3 hunters had joined my team for the week to take a Red Stag and a Sika Stag each, and had arrived in early October which is bang on for the rut. Bernie was shooting a 270, which is a good round for either species. He was a fair shot although like many Americans, he had mostly hunted from tree stands.

The evening I took him for a Sika stag the weather was overcast but dry with a slight westerly wind. Our drive up the glen on the quad was uneventful and I parked the bike about 300 yds from one of the old suspension bridges that spanned the River Blackwater. Making our way across I tested the wind again, and started to glass the edge of the forest, hoping to catch a glimpse of a Sika venturing out to graze a bit early.

Speaking in hushed tones I relayed to the client that Sika are never dead until they are in the larder, so as soon as you have fired at the beast reload and get back onto the target, they do not die easy at times. Equipment checked we started to stalk the edge of the forest, heading towards a large gorge which ran down the western edge of the wood, and which also acted as a funnel for pulling the deer down off the high ground as the light was failing. Bit by bit and checking every hollow, we stalked carefully into the wind. The ground along this part of the forest was undulating, and one had to approach each new hill with caution as you never knew what would be on the other side.

After about 30 minutes of stalking I stopped to glass well ahead, and as I bought the glasses down a set of antlers appeared over the next hill about 150yds away. I instantly told the client to lay down as a deer was coming and there was no cover to hide behind. Looking up I could see a mature 7 point Sika stag standing in front of us broadside and grazing without any knowledge we were there. These are fairly rare moments with Sika, and I intended on taking full advantage.

Pushing his rifle forward with my jacket underneath the rifel to lift the barrel out of the long grass, I told the client to take the shot once he was comfortable. With very littel hesitation he fired and instantly knocke dthe stag over the hillock it was standing on top of. After telling him to reload, he questioned the reason, adding that this was a dead deer. I was not convinced. We had not moved after the shot, and I purposely glassed the forest edge to see if I could see the beast running into the forest, of which there was no sign.

As per usual I asked him to walk in front with one in the breach and safety off, and to be prepared. The ground on the other side of the hillock was open and dropped away down to the river, and as we approached the top of the hill he expected to see a dead stag. The look on his face said it all, NOTHING !!! not a sign anywhere of the stag, and nothing for it to hide in either. Bernie started to get agitated and told me that it had run into the forest. My reply was that it had not and I had watched the forest edge with the bino's and was convinced it was in front laying down, and to keep with me and get ready.

Bernie was having none of it and wandered over to the forest edge about 80 yds away. Having asked him twice to keep with me, he started to walk the forest edge, which had the remains of an old deer fence around it. I on the other hand started to glass in front to try and detect the stag, which I was convinced was laying down and playing dead.

The only cover of any notice over the 700 yd area was a clump of spindle grass or rushes that was grwoing near the rivers edge about 150yds away. Bernie was now walking the old fence line and slightly in front of me, and would not come over and join me. As I approached the area of rushes, the stag jumped to its feet and made a dash for the forest edge about 150yds away. As I shouted to the client he let a shot off at the stag running and missed by a mile, as he reloaded the stag momentarily was stopped by the old fence and his third shot dropped the beast to the floor.

One lucky client !!! The first shot if I remember rightly was slightly back and high, enough to knock the beast off its feet, but not kill it. The client was overjoyed with his trophy, but apolojetic about his misjudgement and not following what I had asked him to do.

I have many other stories about Sika, they are to me the Grey Ghost of Great Britain (Grey Ghost is the Greater Kudu in Africa) they are hardly never off guard and can take a phenominal amount of punishment. And to stand in the half light of an early morning in Sutherland, with the mist clearing off the edge of the hills, and the call of a Sika Stag echoing through the forest is one of the biggest gifts this sport can give you.
 

Gyr

Well-Known Member
Hi Sikamalc
That was just great.
If we ever meet up (I hope we do someday)I'll be in charge of liquid refreshment if you supply a few more of those.
Kindest Regards,
Gyr
 

nuttyspaniel

Well-Known Member
And to stand in the half light of an early morning in Sutherland, with the mist clearing off the edge of the hills, and the call of a Sika Stag echoing through the forest is one of the biggest gifts this sport can give you.
Ive never had the oppertunity to stalk Sika but as a young lad of 17, I went to Inverness to the forestry collage. From there I was placed on work placement with EFG. A great time of my life and also 1 memory which still lasts with me. I was working north west of Inverness building a dam to try and dry a piece of forestry out and promote wildlife, the wood was thicket stage, the workforce had moved into another area of the wood to work and I was finnishing of the bit we had been at when this blood curling whistle wafted into my lugs from deep inside the wood. Not knowing what it was I quickley finnished my job and bolted through the wood to meet up with the team. The big brave hunter Mmmm not that day! Now knowing that it was only a Sika stag it is definately an experiance I will treasure. Hopefully 1 day Ill get my chance to grass 1.


nutty
 

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
I've heard this story a few times now but it still thrills and delights me. All we need is a good malt and a log fire to really get the atmosphere going! :D
 

hairybiker

Well-Known Member
Hi Sikamalc, one of my most unforgettable stalking experiences also concerned a Sika stag. A friend and I were driving up a dis-used forestry track in an L200, getting the lie of the land on an estate North of Inverness. As we rounded a corner we both spotted a deer to the right of the track, standing on an obvious mound. Barry switched off the engine and we sat and watched this magnificent Sika stag looking down upon us disdainfully. I asked Barry how much the Head Stalker would charge to shoot it and his reply was too much for my wallet! I said to Barry, 'I'll just see if i could manage it' and opened the door quietly. The stag didn't seem to be able to make out what we where about and I slowly eased myself out of the seat and put the rifle against the A-post. The stag had been facing towards us and he took a turn to his right and a few paces forwards, presenting the ideal broadside shot! I watched him through the scope and a few seconds later he decided that enough was enough and paced off into the forest. I got out of the truck and walked towards the forestry edge, squatted down and looked between the isles of trees - there he was, about 30 yards into the forest, looking back at me - a few moments later he turned and disappeared into the gloom under the trees. What an experience! I doubt if it'll ever be repeated and the next day one of the others in our party (with deeper pockets) went up to the same area in pusuit of him, but to no avail.
 

JAYB

Administrator
Site Staff
I know where you were, and I know what you mean. Anyone who has never heard a Sika stag whistling has missed out on one of natures wonders. It is a really pure note, clear and crisp and at the same time sort of shrill and as nutty said a bit scary. I once had one whistle about 20 yards away from me in a forest in the dead of night, Neither of us knew the other was there until he sounded off and in return I discussed his parentage!

Nice story Malc.

John
 

WAYNE DAVIES

Distinguished Member
Nice one Malc,
Last year I was walking my dogs at home, when I heard a Slka Stag, quite a shock considering I live in Herefordshire :eek:
One of my neighbour's has added one to his small deer park :D

Wayne
 

Fester

Well-Known Member
Sikamalc
Great story mate, I had to read it again even tho you told us last week whilst eating breakfast.
I can just imagine you telling him to stop with you with a few "F" words thrown in for good measure.
Great story :D
 

sikamalc

Administrator
Site Staff
Thank you all.

I said I would give two stories, although I have accumulated a few over the years :eek:

One short event springs to mind on the lease I have now. Infact it is right next door to the previous one, and I guess about 8000 acres. The interesting bit is the 1500 acres of old Caledonian Forest that is grwoing on it, which dates back many many years and is a SSI site. I now manage this area, and have 5 other men who help me in the winter with the hinds, all of whom are very good friends of mine. Plus I do give out the odd invite ;)

Last year I had some clients over from Finland. The Finns as a rule are tough hunters, and very good at it, their field craft and woodsmenship is very good, and they love to hunt. It starts to come as a bit of a shock now; that when you stand and look at the clients you are the oldest :rolleyes:

Never mind the first evening out the rut is on, its still as a mill pond and the midges are having a bloody field day. I decided to settle in an area that we had not stalked much under a huge old knarled scotch pine, that was growing on top of a hillock, and by laying down it gave us a good view of the immediate open area in front which extended to about 80yds.

The area to our left was slightly concealed by a raised bank, that extended into the deep old forest, and thew warmth of the late Autumn sunshine and the blue sky made for a memorable picture in ones mind. We made ourselves comforatable on the floor, and checked the wind which although hardly descernable was holding in our face. It was unseasonably warm, and before long the midges had found their target, however an occassional puff of strong breeze kept them away form time to time. The client was a man young enough to be my son, and had no experiance of hunting Sika. Although he conducted himself very well, and had to hand my beloved Ruger 25.06 in stainless with a T8 moderator, and loaded with 120 grain sierra bullets I loaded myself.

As the light began to fade, the breeze dropped to nothing, and I was beggining to wonder if we would draw a blank. Laying flat on our stomachs under this huge old pine, the client suddenly cocked his head to one side and whispered "did you hear that" in fact I had. It was the unmistakable sound of a deer approaching. For those that have not heard a deer walking or stomping as it sometimes sounds like through a pine forest, it can make quite a hollow clomp, clomp. This deer was very very near us and to our left behind the small hill. After a while the client made a gesture with his hand, he could hear the deer feeding and chewing. I have to admit I did not hear this, but then my hearing is a bit duff after many years of shooting rifles.

A few minutes went by, and out stepped a Sika hind which trotted off down the hill and into an open area just out of view. This was quicly followed by a magnificent 8 point Sika Stag, black as coal and with a neck like a cart horse. Unfortunatly he did not stop and followed the hind out of view. Now what to do !!!

The stag had no idea we were there, so very very quietly and gently we eased ourselves off the bank and down into the drop. We could see the hind which clocked us and was off in an instance. The stag was neck on but could not see us properly as there was the slimmest young Silver Birch between us and him. Sticks up and rifle ready I positioned the client to oneside of the tree and told him to neck shoot it. The distance was no more than 60yds, he fired and missed. The stag lept in the air and pronked about 20yds, stopped and stood broadside looking back in our direction, BAD mistake, the second shot killed it where it stood.

Why the stag did not take off like a V2 Rocket after the first shot I put down to the T8 Moderator, and the fact that he did not expect to see us looking down on him, and with the forest as a back stop I do not think he could make us out to well. Lucky client, unlucky Sika stag.

Every now and then you need a bit of luck, and with Sika you need to take all the luck you can get ;)
 

stone

Well-Known Member
blimey malc
it may of took a while to write them both but well worth it in my eyes , still trying to envisage the whole experiance of the first one
i freind of mine once said that the erie whistle of a sika stag was second only to the cries of a banshee ,once heard never forgotten
 

nuttyspaniel

Well-Known Member
Superb sikamalc Im enjoying reading your exploits even though they are making me jealous and full of longing. Me thinks Im going to have to save up and hope the other 1/2 understands the need!


nutty
 

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