Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Deer Hunting In The UK Pt1

With a squeal of tires a big man swung a small blue suzuki jeep (for readers in the US - golf cart sized) into the station car park sending a shower of gravel into the air. He bounds out of the car, shakes me warmly by the hand and before I can issue the traditional blogger-meets-blogger salutation 'Ah Dr Bambi Basher I presume' he's slinging my bag in the back and we're off.

The car is clearly the hack of a countryman - smells of dog, covered in mud and pro hunting stickers. He drives it like he stole it. In juxtaposition the radio is set to the genteel sound of BBC Radio 4, who are just commencing the third part of a series on the history of the duffle coat, read by a woman who sounds posher than the queen.

We rock up at at chez bambi basher and all hell breaks lose. Two cats, six chickens, TEN dogs, and a pair of teenagers, its the pandemonium of family life, with Bambi Basher and The Tea Lady using semaphore to communicate with each other, they pour me a glass of rum that would floor a sailor and it's a home from home. I fall into a fitful sleep on the couch.

The morning is announced by dogs licking my face, The Tea Lady serves a breakfast fit for a king, well several hungry kings, and we're off into the day. Bambi Basher has about 35,000 acres of woodland to stalk  but it's all parceled up into a bit here and a bit there. One heavily coppiced section is where he holds his pheasant shoot and its also the rifle range. We set up the range table and the lesson begins with a shooting test. I was using a 6.5 x 55 CZ 550 FS.
Defiantly not a group, probably not even an assembly, maybe a coalition?

I've been practicing off-hand with my Air Arms and was keen to see if it had done me any good. I forgot that during the week I'm not your pal the bushwacker, I'm london's gentleman plumber and having run out of laborers had carried many sheets of plasterboard (AKA dry lining) up many many stairs the day before. My left shoulder had taken umbrage at being asked to engage in manual labour with insufficient notice and put a hurting on me in retaliation. I breathed, I focussed but it was all i could do to keep the first six on the board. Opps! The look on the Bambi Bashers face told me things were not going according to plan.

Luckily you can take your shooting test from the bench and the next three were all within a 'Minute Of Deer-Rib' and the last three made a comforting line across the target. Phew!

Bambi Basher cheered up right away and let me have a go with his .275 Rigby. Which was nice.

The next part of the training is the simulated stalk where we walk though the woods, seeking out deer targets and assessing their suitability for a safe and humane shot. Nothing through the bushes, nothing without a known backstop to catch the bullet.
A close shot served as a good reminder of just how much you need to adjust for range even with a flat shooting round like the 6.5x55. Bambi Basher told me how a client had managed to shoot right under a trophy Roe doing the same thing. Woodland stalking is sometimes at such close ranges that both-eyes-open and under-the-scope also need to be practiced until they're second nature. A massive learning curve awaits me. Excellent.

We drove to another wood to stalk for Roe and Fallow deer, lots were seen, none were legal. Sadly I'd not set my camera up to work silently so no photos.

More of this one to come - bit distracted from blogging at the moment - work and stuff - good stuff - distracting stuff.
your pal

Bambi Bashers side of the story