Wednesday, 3 February 2010
One of the Lads
We've had guests out stalking over the last few days and I must confess it's nice to get back to 'proper' stalking. Also the snow and ice has cleared enough from the glen floor to allow us to use the pony again. For the moment anyway; there's more snow forecast!
Today I had a captain from the Marines on his first ever days stalking. Halfway through the morning the wind swung through 180 degrees and laid my plans in ruins. From there I was flying by the seat of my pants and I confess that the day looked like it was going to end with a belly-landing.
To my eyes there was only one group of deer that we had much of a chance of getting anywhere near-and they were all stags (wouldn't you know it). Out of desperation we went to check them out.
From a distance I could see one animal that looked remarkably hind-like. One out of 70-80 stags? "It must be a knobber (yearling stag)" I thought to myself.
As we couldn't see the whole group, we resorted to stalking them anyway. All the way in my attention kept returning to this one beast. And all the way in it kept looking like a hind.
After a lot of crawling we eventually got to about 150 metres from them. And- apart from His(or Her)Nibs- they were definitely all stags.
"What are the chances of one hind being with all these stags?" I asked myself as I got my guest onto it with the rifle sights. It was standing clear, broadside on, so after reminding him to squeeze the trigger (note to self: phone gran re-eggs) I told him to shoot when he was ready.
I watched through my binoculars as the beast leapt, made a short dash then tumbled over, shot through the heart. But all I could hear were the catcalls and jibes from my colleagues were I to return with a knobber. Oh the ignominity....
So it was with some trepidation that I approached the downed animal but that quickly turned to delight when I saw that it was, in fact, a hind and- even better- an old one at that.
Oh, and my guest was quite pleased too.
You'll see from the pics that I 'blooded' him. It's a tradition that they say dates back thousands of years. In this day and age it might seem barbaric or smack of machismo but it's always a rather poignant, sombre moment and it's like it adds weight to what has just passed. And that is as it should be.
You did well, Captain, wear it with pride.