Push boundaries go deerstalking

Push boundaries go deerstalking

Push boundaries go deerstalking. If you are looking to do something different, worthwhile, and responsible for the countryside consider going roe deer stalking. Scotland has a thriving population of roe deer and it needs to be managed. Deer stalking will improve your understanding of the countryside, create new experiences and learning opportunities and it will also push your boundaries.

Deerstalking is crucial for deer so why not push your boundaries

I have loved deer since my mum took me to the cinema to see Bambi, I was only four or five years old and cried when Bambi’s mother was shot by hunters. For years, I have photographed Roe deer and written about them and their habitat, explored aspects relating to an ever-increasing roe population and worked alongside the police on wildlife crime. I have accompanied hundreds of stalkers with my camera. Roe are my favourite deer; I admire their beauty, and their ability to adapt.

Push boundaries go deerstalking – I did

In 2017, when I worked with Venator Pro on their UK product marketing, their MD Kenneth Larsen asked me if I wanted to go stalking. He had deer management plans in place on several Scottish estates and was keen for more people, especially women, to experience deerstalking.

The learning process before deerstalking

My introduction to deerstalking started with an informative briefing by Kenneth about rifle safety, shot placement and stalking techniques. I had used a shotgun but never a rifle. Out at the range near Crieff, Kenneth set up the rifle and talked about shooting and the significance of calm, steady breathing. It is very similar to wildlife photography because you need a calm environment to get into position and to create the image.

Target shooting

With the target in place, I got myself into the prone position on a mat in the long grass with Kenneth’s Tikka T3 .243 rifle with Zeiss Diavari 3-12×56 scope. The rifle was fitted with a GRS stock; an adjustable stock that can be altered to fit each individual.

Getting ready to shoot

I understood the importance of gun fit from my lessons with a professional shotgun coach. I settled myself in, took my time, and remained calm as I slowed my breathing down with deep breaths. As I focused, I emptied the air from my lungs and squeezed my first ever rifle shot. It was a nine at 80 metres followed by a perfect three-shot grouping. I shot off sticks at 103 metres, and, then again, in the prone position. I felt pleased with my shooting; it’s a more intense process than shotgun shooting as there were additional factors to consider and, of course, safety is paramount at all times.

Target shooting takes you out of your comfort zone

Getting myself into a quiet and focused state, then following it through by shooting well was an empowering feeling, and it gave me an incredible sense of achievement. Kenneth was a great coach, he was calm and gave lots of well-timed advice. I know from experience this makes a huge difference to my ability to take on new information and understand it.

Learning a new skill is a great way of challenging yourself and finding the right person to learn from is hugely important because the way they impart information will help in the learning process. Choose your coach/instructor carefully.

My first roe buck stalk

It was 03:30 am when we travelled to an estate 16 miles west of Perth. There was a mixture of arable and mature woodland, ideal habitat for Roe deer. The soft dawn light was filtered through cloud as drove in through the forests and parked up close to a large potato field. We quietly left the vehicle, and stalked down a track.

Birds and hares

The trees and hedgerow provided us with cover as we looked through our binoculars over the fields and woodland edges for signs of deer. The birds were singing, and three hares sat in the field but no sign of deer. After a while, we backtracked and headed west towards a large open area of old game cover crop. And there, browsing in the cover crop, were two bucks. We stalked closer, crouching down and using the tall grass for cover. After studying the bucks, we selected the bigger of the two. Quickly and quietly, I set up the Tikka T3 .243 rifle on the sticks approximately 90 metres from the deer. As I steadied myself by taking slow, deep breaths, I told myself, ‘focus, this is it!’

Squeeze the trigger

For a split second my focus suddenly skipped onto my years of practising meditation. That’s why the calm state, brought on by controlling my breath, felt familiar had helped me tune-in. My focus snapped back as I looked through the Zeiss Scope. Time seemed to slow down as I patiently watched and waited for the buck to move. Slowly, the buck turned full broadside, Kenneth was standing over my left shoulder, and whispered, ‘take the shot’. I calmly exhaled, held my breath and squeezed the trigger. The buck jumped up, ran a few metres then dropped down. I reloaded, and watched. It was clean, instant shot.

Perfect cull buck

We waited for ten minutes then headed over to the buck. As I walked through the long grass, a young fawn jumped up from the grass, bleated loudly and took off in the direction of the woods. After a search we found the buck lying in the cover crop. Kenneth touched the eyeball with his stick before the buck was pulled out from the tall nettles. As a mark of respect, I picked some nearby leaves and placed them in the buck’s mouth, we took our hats off, and Kenneth and I shook hands. It was a perfect cull buck with deformed and pointy antlers, no doubt he would have wounded others in a fight. The biting midges encouraged a swift gralloch, and as we carried the buck to the Land Rover it began to rain. Our timing had been perfect.

The butchered venison provided many meals. The mounted head hangs in our sitting room by the fireplace. It is part of my story of how I played my part in the management of the roe deer population. It was an honour to stalk my first Roebuck, I pushed my own boundaries, embraced a new experience, and discovered a love of rifle shooting. Push boundaries go deerstalking.