It has been a while since I had the time and opportunity to venture out for a whole day so, when I was recieved an invitation to my friends (we will call him Bob) spot in the Lakes I jumped at the chance.
I had been on the ground a fortnight earlier in driving rain and wind to see a parcel of stags 700 yards away cresting the hillside and going out of view. The only success on that occasion was an old dog fox, who should have known better than to come out in such foul weather.
The weather this week in our area has been brilliant, very cold and frosty, excellent visibility and no fog. Not great conditions underfoot for stalking but, if you put in some effort the benefits are there to be had. I had been out the previous day on my own ground and spent two and a half hours lying in a hollow in sub zero conditions waiting for Roe does.
I was a bit cheesed off to say the least when all I saw was a lovely buck in velvet and two yearling bucks who were following him. No shot there then and no camera either, happens every time they come really close!
Anyway, returning to the job in hand, I met Bob at the appointed place and we had a quick briefing - the task for the day was any Doe and any Hind or Stag so long as it wasn't a good one [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
I followed Bob onto the ground in my 300 TDi Disco, he was in his Suzuki, they really are great little 4WD's, it managed to stay on the perimeter track which followed the banks of an iced over river with ease, despite the tack being well covered in thick ice. once at the far end of his ground, we dropped off Bobs 4WD and drove a half mile back to the foot of the mountain where we planned to set off from.
The air was still, the temp was minus 6, visibility was excellent, but it felt and was forecast for heavy snow later in the day. Having got all my kit together in a small rucksac, I put the 6.5x284 across my back and off we set up onto the hillside, Bob doesn't carry a rifle when he takes me out - which in the big scheme of things, I think is a little unfair after all, I am carrying about 20 lbs of kit - he is a sprightly 62 year old and has the physique of a whippett.
After a half hour of climbing near vertical (in some places) hillside we were above the tree line (circa 1600 ft), we then climbed a little further to a rocky ledge, which overlooked a crescent shaped glade of Sitka spruce some 200 yards below. we made ourselves comfortable and waited to see "what pops out"
After 15 mins or so, we spotted a yearling Doe browsing beneath us, it was feeding towards us. I checked the range - 170 yds and made ready. Bob whispered to let it present its broadside before taking the shot - I was going to neck it, whilst its head was down but respectfully waited untill the shot fell as he asked. which was at a distance of 130 yards and an angle of some 30 degrees incline. I place the cross hair dead on the chest and squeezed the trigger.
The doe jumped in the air and ran into the thicket - displaying a classic heart shot tendancy.
We moved down off the high fell to the point of aim and quickly found bright blood spatter and parts of lung tissue, which alleviated my concern that I had pulled the shot (I know, it happens
) I then tracked the blood fall across the light snow covered ground to the forest edge and quickly located the fallen and very dead doe. It always amazes me how far these animals run, despite being hit very hard and not being spooked prior to being shot, in this case it was some 30 yards.
One quick gralloch later, we left the carcass to cool and set off to higher ground, (sorry no photo) where for the next 30 minutes my lungs were treated to the kind of workout only a sadomasochist would dream up, to say I was at the point of being physically sick would be an understatement by the time we reached the next vantage point. The climb did wonders to shift the remnants of my lingering chest infection.
Heres the view, with Bob looking on.
In the distance were a group of three Roe lying up in some heather. The photo was taken on a camera phone and doesn't really show how steep the ground really is.
After an hour of waiting, there was a bark from the treeline below and we both turned away from the family group to see a solitary Doe moving back under cover of the thicket. This didn't really phaze us as we were now after Reds.
I started to munch on an apple and Bob sipped a mug of tea from the flask when I felt him stiffen up, he was laid on a stone slab, with a drop of some 100 ft beneath him, I thought he was suffereing from vertigo untill I looked down too.
There beneath us, was a large 6 point Stag, that was proudly stomping out of the very same thicket the doe had just gone into.
The Stag continued to strutt out into the open, quite unaware of our prescence. I whispered, "shall I take him", Bob whispered back, "yesss"
I ranged him with the Swarowski's - 150yds the incline was very steep an estimated 50 degrees. I decided to aim dead on the chest and aim higher than normal due to the angle of the shot. Altitude was 1895 ft.
The Stag was walking slowly from left to right, I placed the crosshairs whilst lying in a prone position on hard rock on the upper 1/4 of his chest and squeezed the trigger. The rifle report echoed through the hillside and a thwack came back at me indicating the Stag was hard hit by the 140g SST. He did not drop, but lifted hit right foreleg slightly and started to slowly turn. I initially thought the bullet had broken his foreleg and reloaded, taking aim once more. He then started to show signs of dropping - breathing heavilly and "deflating", after 5 seconds (although it felt longer) he dropped to the ground and expired. Always feel a little sad at that moment, don't know why?
I took a photo from the ledge I shot him from, again it doesn't really convey the spectacular view:
Anyway, we walked down to the carcass and examined the animal, he was a very large lad indeed, I rekon 14stone. Spindly antlers but a big muscular body in peak condition.
The 140grain SST entered the chest just behind and above the right foreleg elbow and exited in front of the left foreleg near the sternum taking with it a piece of lung lobe. I missed the heart by an inch, which explained why he remained on his feet for longer than I would have liked.
Sorry about the blocked face, I don't like my image being shown for obvious reasons, if it is any comparison, I'm 6ft tall and 15 stone.
(And No I haven't a cone head, !!!)
The shot was taken at 12 noon, after a field gralloch, it took untill half past two to drag him to an extraction point, which involved Bob and I hanging him from an alloy pole and fording the aforementioned frozen river (which turned out not to be frozen where we crossed [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]
Moral of the tale; anyone can shoot Roe, Reds - they are an entirely different beast!
Didn't have enough space on my phone for a shot of the fell looking up, but here is a shot taken last summer: