Saturday, 8 April 2017

DOES SIZE MATTER?, PART TWO

 

DOES SIZE MATTER?

PART TWO

 
I had been driving the 250 mile journey to Wigtown every six weeks through out the roe buck season, for three years, some times with my brother David, some times on my own.  Each trip consisting of four stalks, from Friday night to Sunday morning, then back home Sunday afternoon.  I would take most of my annual works holidays up there as well. The frequency of my trips, had made me a familiar face, and I had made many friends, so it was always a pleasure to be there.  I was stalking on ground controlled by Jim Stewart, initially Jim had taken me out stalking, but as I started to know the ground, and Jim’s trust grew in me, he would let me go on my own.  We would discuss where the most likely places were going to be, and where any bucks had been seen, and come up with a plan.  I enjoyed a lot of success over the years, taking many four point bucks, and spikers.  Two years to the day that I took my first roebuck with Jim, I had my first six pointer.  He was nothing special in trophy terms, but he meant the world to me, and still does. 
 
I had left Jims at about 3.30am and driven a few miles to the east of Newton Stewart, I left the main road and drove up a dirt track, that took me up the side of a hill, at the back of which was a long rough field.  I parked the car before I got too close and readied myself with all that I needed for the stalk.  My only rifle then was a Weatherby in .270 win, although I don’t have that rifle any more, I do have a .270 Sauer model 90, as it’s a favourite calibre of mine.  The sun was just starting to illuminate the field as I got to the gate.  The breeze, what bit there was, was almost in my face as I looked down the field with my binoculars, I couldn’t see any sign of deer.  The wind could be very fickle on this field, as it was situated between two hills. From my position at the end of the field; the hill to the right was heavily forested, with mature lodge pole pines.  They blanked out almost all the light beneath them, causing a very sterile environment, hence the roe that lived in there, had to come to the field to feed.  The hill to my left, was covered in gorse and brambles, and had its own resident roe deer.  This meant you could have deer coming onto the field from both sides.  It’s the way these hills can channel the wind that makes stalking difficult on there sometimes, making the wind swirl, and seeming like it’s blowing from all directions at once. 
 
Decision time, should I climb the gate into the field and go and sit behind a hawthorn bush that gave good cover, and a safe shooting angle into both hill’s, or do I stalk the length of the field, and see if I can spot any deer moving in the maze of gorse.  I decided to stalk, I loaded my rifle and set off slowly, keeping under the lodge pole pines.  The thick carpet of pine needles deadened my foot falls, so I moved almost silently.  I constantly stopped and glassed every nook and cranny between the gorse bushes on the other side of the field, as well as on my side.  From end to end the field was about 400 yards, and around 150 yards wide.  I intended this 400 yard stalk to take me about three hours, so after every couple of steps, I would stop and watch, and wait for any sign’s of movement from in the gorses.  After covering the first hundred yards, I spotted that tell tale sign in among the gorse; it was the white cordal patch on a roe deer’s rump.  As I stood motionless watching, it soon became apparent that this was a doe, with her anal tush protruding.  Was she with a buck?  I sat down quietly with my back to a tree, and spent the next twenty minutes looking, but no avail.  It was during this time that I became aware of the midges, I had forgotten to put any repellent on, and was paying for my mistake with blood.  Any one, who has not experienced being eaten alive by Scottish midges, will not understand how maddening and soul destroying they can be.  Without a midge net or repellent they get in you eyes, your mouth, your ears and up you nose.  They are always worse when you are stationary, so convinced there was no buck with the doe, I started walking again.  I kept up my walking stopping and glassing routine for another half an hour, until I came to a small area of broad leaf trees.  A few birches and scrub oaks blocked my view of the opposite hill, growing as they were on the edge of my side of the field.  Brambles and bracken had grown between them and now formed a three feet high wall; they covered a distance twenty yards long.  As I had almost reached the end of them, I heard the alarm bark of a roe deer, I froze as I tried to work out where it had come from, it sounded like it was right next to me, in fact it was just the other side of the brambles.  It was completely hidden from my view and me from it’s.  I got the feeling we were waiting each other out, who was going to crack first?  Both of us straining our senses to get the upper hand, time seemed to have stopped.  We were separated by less than ten yards, I hardly dare breath.  Then I saw movement and it barked again, it was running into the centre of the field.  I still couldn’t see it properly, so I quickly turned and retraced my steps past the birch trees.  Again it barked, and now I could see it was a buck, it was half way across the field and heading towards the gate.  I took the rifle off my shoulder, and braced myself against a tree, taking aim I waited, hoping he would stop.  He did, for good measure he turned and barked one last time at his unseen adversary.  The 150 grain Sierra found its mark; he fell where he had last stood.  From the first bark, to the crack of my .270 took less than a minute, yet when I relive it in my mind, it seems like hours.  I reloaded and slowly walked down to where he lay; he was my first six pointer, a beautiful animal, in his fox red summer coat.
  
 

 
Now this animal was not in trophy terms very good, he had six points all right, but they were short, and the head carried no mass.  But the excitement, and pleasure I got from this hunt would not have been any greater, if he had turned out to be gold medal head.  The size of a deer’s antlers, do not make him any more difficult to stalk, they do not dictate the intelligence of the deer, or heighten his senses in any way.  We should all appreciate every deer we shoot, as to be seen not to leaves us open to criticism from toughs people who would like to see an end to our sport.
       
I set out at the beginning of this article to try and show you, that trophy hunting has been around for generations, and is still a large part of today’s stalking scene.  I would be lying if I told you that my heart didn’t miss a beat when a trophy buck steps out in front of me, or I didn’t see the beauty of a large set of antlers.  I have coveted other people’s trophies, and specifically hunted a known animal of trophy proportions.  The point of this article is, that every animal is a trophy, it’s just the way you view them, size doesn’t matter.    
                                                                 

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