Thursday, 6 April 2017

FROM RABBITS TO ROE DEER, PART ONE

FROM RABBITS TO ROE DEER,

PART ONE


England’s green and pleasant land stretched out in front of me as far as the eye could see, a patchwork quilt of fields, hedges and woodland, this was heaven on earth for a boy with a passion for hunting and the out door life.  My main quarry then were the thousands of rabbits that seemed to be on every field and in every wood, doing untold damage to crops and young trees, local farmers were glad to let me try my hand at hunting these more than worthy adversaries.

 
My only weapons against all these rabbits were air rifles which I purchased at the rate of one a year with my savings from my Saturday job, working for a butcher delivering meat and poultry on a very old bicycle.  That said though, my air rifles were all top German brands, Weihrauch and Feinwerkbau, as and when my meagre wage allowed I would also purchase scopes and mounts.  My father who had hunted these very same fields as a boy and my younger brother were also getting interested, so the three of us hunted rabbits and other vermin at every opportunity.

 
As time went by and my wages increased I purchased a .22 rim fire rifle, this brought larger species into my list of possible quarry, foxes for instance could be called into range or occasionally stalked, but what I really wanted, was a chance to hunt true large game animals and in the UK this meant deer.  I didn’t know anybody at the time that hunted deer, and as far as I knew it was a sport for lords and royalty, so it came as a bit of a surprise when after joining a rifle club I find that most of the members were active deerstalkers.  The main reason I joined the club, was to ease the purchase of a full bore rifle, as the police looked more favourably on members of a recognised club, but what actually happened was, I got to know a bunch of like minded people.

 
My first centre fire rifle turned out to be a Weatherby Mk V in .270win, it was second hand but in good condition, and had done very little, I also bought a 6x42 scope and the shop threw in a few rounds for good measure, although I intended to reload my own.  Through lots of practice on the range I became a competent shot, and my home loads became ever more accurate, the other thing that shooting paper target did was, it showed me my limits.  I became almost obsessed with accuracy, not at extreme range but at one to two hundred yards, the range that according to the books was the most likely distance I’d be taking shots at deer.  This over the years has proved to be true, with only a hand full of shots close to or slightly over three hundred yards. I’ve always tried to get as close as possible, it probably stems from my early years with my air rifle, as then an extra ten yards could mean the difference between a kill or a miss.


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