Some of you may remember I hung around here a while ago prior to heading off to the Alps. A dedicated sub 300m hunter it was interesting to see the 'other side'
The trip was to be in the Haute Alps in France in early November at the height of the rut. I was going with a Spanish friend who had been to the same area 7 years in a row and knew all the guides.
The rifle to be used was my little Blaser K95 in 6.5x57R. A very popular cartridge in Europe for this sort of thing. With a 26" barrel, Swarovski 6x42 and all up weight of slightly under 7lbs, I was comfortable out to 300m and had shot roe out to 250m in the field. The load was a 120gr BT under VVN560 yielding 3,000fps.
I had done a fair bit of fitness training since June but had to stop a month prior due to weak knees.
On arrival the weather was bright sun and cold. No snow and little rutting activity. Hiking up the mountain in the forest revealed that I was fit enough which was a relief. Arriving out into the open chamois were immediately evident. My Swaro draw scope was excellent for watching them but for trophy identification the guides Swaro spotting scope on a tripod was essential if we were not to make a very costly mistake. I had discussed with him that I was willing to shoot a trophy up to 1000euro. At 300m it takes real skill to judge.
A few really big bucks were spotted and passed - luckily none of them presented an opportunity for a stalk as I felt my resolve slipping away!
Climbing ever up we spotted a group of does and bucks which looked promising. I expected a long and arduous crawl - not a bit we climbed up in full view! They were more interested in sex and food than us. Finaly at about 500m we dissapeared into a valley and worked closer. At the crest the scopes came out and the guide said both bucks are good but the one standing broadside is about 1,100Euro. Oh [censored] time for action. They looked calm but I was not so I made a deliberate effort to slow everything down. I zipped up my coat put me electronic ear plugs in, got my pack ready, loaded my rifle and got comfortable. They were still there but the buck was now on the skyline. A bit over 200m it looked to me, the guide thought so too. Is it safe to shoot him there? OUI came the answer. Show time. Comfortable, stable steady breathing cross hairs on the centre of his chest (my friend had explained that a bullet anywhere in the chest will kill a chamois and that a shoulder shot was more risky due to unknown wind deflection more easily causing a miss). Could I slow my heart could I hell... It became apparent to me that shooting an animal costing 3 weeks wages in front of an audience of 2 professionals was not the same as picking off a roe 10minutes drive from home. Gradualy everytime I put the cross hairs on his chest they wobbled to an extent I would have been happy with at home but not here, my heart would not slow. The guide was very good - no hurrying. Then the chamois' attitude changed. He stamped his foot - I knew he had winded us and was about to go. I forgot about wobble, took a breath and squeezed. At the shot the strike was clearly audible andthe animal reared off it's front legs, hung there for an age, fell down, got up and ran for 75m before collapsing 25m from the edge of the cliff. Congratulations all round. The guide confirmed the wind had indeed changed and that he would have been off in a second.
We walked over and completed the rituals of last bite, cleaning the buck and photos. The bullet had entered at the front of the shoulder breaking it and exited just behind the far shoulder. My friends advice was correct a little wind in the valley between us and the animal had moved the bullet 3". 2 days late I was able to laser the shot as being 250m. Bullet performance was perfect. The animal was loaded into the porters rucksac and we made our way down stopping for a beautiful sunlit lunch next to a stream. By 11am there was not a single chamois to be seen on the mountain - all resting.
The next day was my turn at mouflon in a different area. Less harsh landscape but very impressive. The climbing was easy, the first ram we saw was perfect for my needs, a shuffle over the rocks to a rather uncomfortable rest and I saw my ram heading into a little re-entrant. The guide said he would appear on the skyline which he duly did. He looked down in our direction, the guide saying he was at 200m and I could shoot him front on if I wanted. I don't like this shot at home and I wasn't going to use it now especialy as my heart was hammering like crazy! I said to the guide that I was not steady enough, I waited what seemed like an age then he stamped his foot, I took all but the last ounces of trigger pressure and he turned broadside for an instant. The rifle went off and he was gone. I had seen no reaction to shot and heard no bullet strike and was worried! We heard nothing and then some stones fell down the rock chute to our front. The guide asked how I felt about the shot and I told him that it had felt good but I was worried about not seeing a reaction. Then my friend came up from 50m behind saying that he had clearly heard the bullet strike. We waited 10 minutes and then went forward to find the mouflon dead in the rock chute. The bullet had hit exactly where I had aimed. Lots of congratulations. This time I carried the 40kg animal back the 3km.
2 trophies 2 shots, not long range but testing. 7lbs is too light for easy shooting when your heart is hammering. It pays to know when you can take your time and when you need to shoot quickly.
I've started saving for a return trip and have bought a BRNO ZG47 action to turn into a 8.5lb 6.5x57!