Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Fallow Stalking

A friend of mine has aquired a small piece of beautiful cotswold countryside to stalk deer and control the foxes on.  However he only has a 22-250 so thats where I come in.  The farmer wanted us to do something about the Fallow bucks that were laying-up in his barley field and making enough flat spots to keep a whole army of anorak wearing crop circle spotters happy.  So as we passed into August they became a priority, on this particular evening we initially drove around the farm track spying into the fields but every deer we saw was a Roe doe,  after almost an hour I thought I spotted some antlers poking out of the barley.  A closer look confirmed I was right and there were at least 4 bucks couched within 60 yards of the hedge, the wind was also favourouble so we drove around and away from them and approached on foot.  We got to the thin hedge and crawled through a game strip to see if they were still there, which they were so I got my friend to get ready on my sticks next to a big oak tree.  I could see that there were four of them, one was a very good buck who had almost cleaned his antlers of velvet, the other 3 were much smaller and hadn't started cleaning theirs yet.  I whispered to my friend that I would leave the big one, but any one of the other three would be ok to shoot in my opinion.  So the decision was made that the first one of the 3 to stand up and present a shot would be our buck.  I'm not sure if we spooked him or if he was getting up anyway but one got up and looked straight in our direction, Simon took a broadside chest shot and dropped him on the spot, the other 3 stood up and he passed me the rifle to try and take a second but the only one that was a safe shot was the big one so I held on for another to present a shot but they didn't and they left their fallen comrade in a hurry.  Simon had his first Fallow buck but I would have to wait for another few weeks before I would get mine.

Summer (what summer??) Stalking

Summer stalking, those wonderful warm summer mornings stalking in shirt sleeves, watching the does browsing with their kids, with a warming sun on your back: NO, wind rain and the odd glimse of a white bum bouncing off into the next county as you bump the deer again while they are couched up tight in the only dry spot on the whole farm!!.  It was for me as I'm sure it was for you a very tricky summer for stalking.  I have barely seen a buck on the farm, I know they were there because now its November they are all I seem to see!.  I did manage to get a cull buck into the larder though.
 The boss lady was away volunteering at the Olympics and I had the kids for the fortnight of the rut (bad planning Lord Coe) but had managed to convince their friends parents to have a sleepover and in return I'd have them back the following week.  So with great excitement on what seemed like the first dry(ish) day in August I set off with rifle in hand for an evening stalk.  It was warm and muggy out, perfect calling conditions.  In the very first field I was walking up a tram line in the wheat when I bumped a pair of Roe at about 20 yards, one went left into the hedge and the other went right further into the wheat, this one appeared to be a doe so I assumed the other was a buck.  It was without too much optimism that I raised my rifle onto my sticks and gave the buttoto a couple of long squeaks, no response from the hedge, I tried again but no response still.  I looked down to put the caller back into my pocket and as I looked back up a roe buck was stood staring at me 60 yards down the tram-line.  I looked down the scope and could see he was a cull buck and as the chest area was obscured I took a neck shot which dropped him on the spot.  He was a perfect candidate for the cull, almost a murder buck with one straight tine and the other was just about 2 points.  I gralloched him and left this for fox bait and took him home and processed him for the chiller.  It was still only half past 7 so I went back out but saw no further deer.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Ethical Shooting

On Friday morning I shot a Fox at 280yds, it was a good shot, striking just behind the front leg and exiting through the other side, she dropped on the spot.  An hour later I spotted the Roebuck that I had been after since April, he was about 200yds away but I decided that I wanted to get in closer before taking the shot, at about 150yds I bumped a Doe and she took him off with her across the meadow and the chance was lost.

So, why did I quite happily take on a Fox at almost 300yds, but wasn't happy taking a Roebuck at just over half that distance?.  Do I have less regard for the Fox?, the answer to this is no, I have the up most respect for this cunning and worthy quarry.

This then got me onto shooting ethics in general.  Why do I and most shooters think nothing of head-shooting rabbits at 50-60yds with a .22lr but would not entertain the idea of doing likewise to a deer at any range.

Why do some shoots boast that on a high bird day they have a shot to kill ratio of 6,7 or even 8 to 1, and the 65-70 yard shot that only pricked a bird  was only put in the bag by a good picker-up with a good dog, deeming this a good shot, when in fact such a shot taken at a duck on a club marsh would see the shooter kicked off the marsh and have his membership terminated if this shooting continued.

I believe that the current popularity of higher and higher pheasants, most of which are only put in the bag by the fore mentioned picker-up and his dog are a bad thing, and that game dealers insisting on head-shots on deer to prevent meat damage (preserving profit) is a bad thing, and encourages stalkers to take shots they are not capable of, (the head is after all, the most mobile part of a deer) some will consider themselves a good shot and can make a clean head shot 99 times out of 100 but is that 1 ghastly wounded deer sentenced to an agonising and lingering death really worth the other 99 clean carcasses?, not in my opinion it isn't.

I am not sure where this is going, but what I do know is this, there are many, many people out there, some who hold a great deal of power and political sway who do not like what we do and will not stop until our sport is finished it is up to us to make sure what we do is ethical so that we may preserve the rights of our children and their children to pursue the sport that we all love so much.


Sunday, 15 July 2012

This stalking lark is hard work.

Stalking has been very hard work lately, the bottom half of the farm is flooded the fields that would normally have been cut for silage a couple of times already haven't been cut at all so its almost impossible to see the deer let alone a fox or some rabbits.

However, that hasn't stopped me trying but all I've managed is a few fleeting glimpses of the odd Roe mainly doe's.  This one came right up to within 15yds of me.

I just managed to get a shot of this one through a gap in the trees.

Then tonight something strange happened, I was standing on a footbridge overlooking a small meadow and I decided to give the buttolo a few squeaks as i did so there was a rummaging in the reeds on the other bank beneath a willow tree.  I couldn't see what it was so i squeaked again and this muntjac doe dived into the river and swam towards me i was in plain view and i squeaked again she swam right up to the bridge and then turned around and headed back the current was strong and she struggled a little.  What makes this story more interesting is that in over 20 years of shooting this farm i have never seen one here before.  Unfortunately the picture isn't great but you can get the idea.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


I went over to see Dominic Griffith on Wednesday to get my trophy measured along with a couple of friends, I found him to be a very nice guy who was genuinely interested in what we had and what we had to say.   He measured my buck at 187.3 points which is a platinum medal on the BASC system.
 also visited Tony Dalby-Smith of the CIC today as well and he measured it at 187.0 CIC points so very close.
While I was at Dominic's we visited Marco Pierre-White's pub so he could see it too.  He was amazed that I had let him go all season until he had rutted before I shot him.

Just clean of his velvet at the end of April.

In all his glory at the end of June.

August 19th 2012 at 06.15am we met for the last time.

CIC gold medal.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Bucks 'n' Foxes

Last April I was stalking in shirt sleeves, this season I was wearing a coat and gloves, well I guess that's global warming for you.  I don't have any bucks that I'm planning to take at the moment this season but I still like to get out and have a look about.

I could have taken a couple of does towards the end of the season but I don't like taking them in March, I don't feel that the extra month is neccesary, I don't pour scorn on those who do, just my personal preferance.

This inquisitive Doe came to within 20 yards before she skipped away.

A couple of weeks into the Buck season I saw these guys, the smaller one is a couple of years old and looks like he will be a good animal given time, and the bigger one of the two is now occupying the territory the big buck I took last year was in, all of my does appear to be pregnant and in good condition which is all you can ask for at this time of the year.

I have also managed to chalk off another Fox, this time a Vixen, I took her at just under 190 yards and she dropped on the spot, she was lactating so I guessed she had some cubs somewhere, I tried to find her den so I could deal with them but unfortunately I couldn't.  I don't like leaving the cubs to starve to death but alas I can't let the vixen go either, especially when the ewe's are lambing and the deer are about to fawn.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Catch-up part 2

 I've managed to put a few foxes in the bag too, including the one who had the farms turkey just befoe christmas.  The first one was a big cub who I shot at 60 yards, the second one was its Mother that I shot a few days later (you can see how much damage occurs when you hit bone) and the third one was the turkey thief who was still eating his breakfast when 120 grains of burning  hot fury stopped him stone cold.