Friday, 14 October 2011
The Missing Link
On Monday I had an old regular out stalking. He's been coming here for 20 years and he's known by all as a terribly nice man who's a terribly poor shot.
So we get stalked into a nice shootable stag and he's just lining up for the shot when another stag comes charging up the hill out of the dead ground down to our left- and he's an absolute clinker.
I size him up in the briefest of moments- a big, mature stag with a pure switch antler on one side and the same but with just a token of a trez point on the other. My eyes are just about popping out.
This big stag chases the first one away then stands broadside in exactly the same spot. I can't believe our luck. I'm about to utter the words "remember to SQUEEZE that trigger gently" when the shot goes off. And when I say 'off' I mean miles off.
The very next day I come across the same stag. I stalk him once but we (I have a different guest with me) can't get a shot with him being on a skyline. (The bullet can go a long way even after passing through a deer.)
The stag and his hinds move off and eventually settle at the foot of the far side of the hill. We have a 2 hour stalk to get into them again. Imagine my dismay when we eventually get there only to find my switch has been ousted by a superior stag. So superior that he's too good to shoot.
Well today Mr Stagfevers' son was up from London. As we set out I told him of the switch that his father had missed at the start of the week. We both agreed that it would be quite something if he could 'wipe his fathers eye'.
An hour into the day and I'm using my telescope to spy a far hill. Even at that great distance, I recognise the switch immediately. He's in a vast grassy bowl, holding about 40 hinds and surrounded by young staggies.
I know we've got our work cut out but we decide to go for it anyway.
Once onto the same hill, we first have to 'nudge' three 'staggies' out of the way. I do this very carefully, over lunch. When they clear off we start again only to be forced into a big detour to get past another stag. During this detour we bump into yet another. This one goes off a little too smartly and the switch and his hareem move right into the middle of this seemingly featureless bowl.
Which means we have even further to crawl. Often only just managing to find enough cover to remain hidden from all the eyes in that natural amphitheatre. Anyway after an hour of crawling we eventually get into position. And I am greatly relieved to report that it's NOT a case of 'like father, like son'.