Time's up!! The time for waiting is by. There were guests out on all 5 stalking beats today.
As we left the landrover I did what I do on the first stalking day of every season- rack my brains to think of anything that I might have forgotten. I've actually developed a little mantra. It goes; riflebulletsbinocularstelescoperadioandbackupstagropesdragropesdogstickguest.
It works very well but doesn't cover all the one-offs that come with the first day- like remembering that your horse is still 3 miles up the road in his summer lodgings.
As it was everything was where it needed to be apart from the stags. First indications were that the rut had started. I could see various groups of hinds, scattered about, with stags in attendance.
On closer inspection, all these stags proved to be our humungous 'pet' stags. If I shot one of them it would be a hernia for the horse and the high jump for me.
However, as I investigated one group, I could make out a young stag that didn't look right. When I got the binoculars on him I could see he looked thin and rather hingin'-luggit (his ears were drooping). Then I noticed these growths on his underside and I made the decision to shoot him.
I've come across fibroids before but never as bad as this.