" We are sorry sir, we have the annual shooting competition and as a result all the lanes and ranges are for "competition only"."
I had wanted to go and shoot a bit esp. with the new Harris bipod that my guru gifted me. Disappointed at not being able to go to the range, i decided to go hunting.
It was a great success and I shot a decent roe buck. (free range, unfenced)
Some pics of the roe and the lodge below.
Two roe and a feral goat
My friend Justin with his gold medal Red Stag
Trophies and Gold medal by the CIC
Another monster red
The professional hunter Tom At the Lodge
Pics of hunts and a monster fallow
Shooter with the roe. The rifle is savage 110 in .243 Ammo is factory loads 100 grain Winchester soft nose CXP2.
I was asked to report at 0300 AM at the lodge. This meant leaving home just after midnight; no problem since i cant sleep before a hunt anyways.
When I get to the lodge, I find the owner up and ready. He asked me into the living room and offers me a coffee and starts to talk. Asks me about myself, background, how I got into hunting, discuss politics, weather, family, in fact everything other than the hunt
Its now an hour since I get there and we are still just chatting. He probably notices my restlessness but keeps talking after another 15 minutes or so he says, he usually calls clients early to take them to the range to see if they can shoot ( a common practice in the UK) and also 'assess' them/ check them out.
He decides I am a decent shot and know a bit about guns and shooting. Plus he feels my hunting experience is sufficient hence I don't need to pass the test. Plus he says all 3 of his dogs like me and they don't like psychos so I'm OK.
So off we go to the high seat. I'm given a Roe deer call, much like a squeak toy (deer hunter friends will know what I'm talking about). They ask me If i can use it. I squeeze it and produce the high pitch sound. But there is more to it, I'm told. How to squeeze, how many times, what sequence and when.
Well I didn't know that thanks; will try to remember all that.
First up in the High seat (machan) waiting without speaking a word for 45 minutes. Lot of slots/tracks but no deer.
I realise why, Deer tracks are downwind to me. The Stalker comes and says we need to approach the deer from the other side. He asks if I'm OK shooting without a rest. "sure am", I say.
So we drive to the other side of the woods to begin the stalk from the other end.
During this drive, we pass through wheat fields. The wheat is knee-thigh high so we know there is no point looking in the fields.
Suddenly, we see a small speck 400-450 yards inside the field. The silhouette is unmistakably dainty-roe. Field glasses confirm a buck. Yes sir, that's our quarry.
But how does one approach a deer through flat fields without spooking it, esp these ones which are used to being shot at and are midway through the season?
We notice a clump of shrubs and a tree 200 yards inside. Keeping the tree between the deer and us, we approach. I suggest, I can stay behind the trunk and use it as a hide. The stalker thinks that's a reasonable strategy.
So slowly we approach; luckily no branch/stick to snap under my weight.
On reaching the tree I notice there is a basin used as a wallow by the red deer and there is a lot of red activity activity in there: Tracks/slots etc.
We are now 200 yards nearer; the deer still 200 yards from us. The deer hasn't seen us yet. Not only that but he now has his back to us and walking away.
I use the tree trunk to steady my hand. Look through the scope calculating in my mind. The rifle is zeroed to shoot 2.5 inches-3 inches high at 100 yards. So at 200 will still get the engine room if i hold a couple of inches. But alas all I am being offered is a Texas heart shot and worse, the only backstop is the forest which means there is no backstop. Cant take the unsafe shot.
Then my guide shows me why hes the guide and i have so much to learn. He pulls out the deer caller and starts to call. 2 high fast calls SQUEAK SQUEAK. then 2 slow ones squeeeeakkk...........squeeeeakkk.
The deer turns, comes looking for the "doe" more slow squeaks.
Its like the master calling his dog. Everything is fine, the deer is coming near and is now 120-150 yards and shooter gets buck fever (very mild). Oh come on. It will take half a minute for the surge of adrenaline to pass. Hope the deer holds still till then.
But no it does not hold still...........better still, it is walking right at us looking for the elusive doe.
Keeps coming it is now less than 80 yards away.And now 70.
I am still, frozen,statue. Just the scope and I can't hear the squeaks or the stalker telling me its coming. (I didn't hear him , presumed he must be saying something along those lines). Cant hear the wind, the wood pigeon, nothing.
Just someone telling me this is 70 yards; your rifle shoots 3 inches high at 100, this is a roe buck, a small deer. Hold accordingly lest you miss completely or worse, wound with a non fatal wound.
I place the cross hair just at the lower sternum and squeeze.
The rifle cracks but i cant hear it. The guide says he heard the "thump" of a hit but i cant hear it. In the jerk and recoil and the nanosecond before losing focus, I see the buck 'spring' as they do when hit.
I know the bullet went home.
I reload immediately in a reflex and look through the scope again....nothing. No running deer, no dead deer.
The guide looks at me and says "you got him".
There are no yippees or high fives. I say thank you to him. We wait a couple of minutes and walk across the basin to the opposite lip.
The deer is dead in its tracks; where it stood. The bright read foam at the nostrils you can see in the picture telling us that we got it in the engine room and that it was a clean humane kill.
I touch the eyeball to check for corneal reflex: none. It is dead.
I told the guide I want to help carry it to the car. At the lodge, I butcher the whole carcass; the guide is sceptical , says its included in his service, but I insist I want to do it. I'm no trigger happy killer.
And yes please ill have the heart and the liver and the kidneys; this is not to be thrown away.
I then cut the meat into steaks and other various cuts. Followed by a breakfast of venison sausages.
Then the most boring part: the long drive back home. But once there, the last and the best part: cooking it and eating it.
Feed it (to others)
All my friends and fellow hunters are welcome to join me, if not in reality then at least in spirit. I dedicate it to my fellow hunters and this is made possible due to competition shooters at the range so a big thank you to you.