Thursday, 22 August 2013

Deer Stalking In Wiltshire Pt2

I'm 'real life' friends with a few readers of this blog, occasionally I get the time to do a bit of hanging-out with them.  HunterX and I did a bit of unsuccessful Deer Stalking together and this year we've been fishing and having our two-man reading circle, [or as there are only two of us participating should that be hunting-book-tennis?].

HunterX has joined a wonderful deer stalking lease. Where as youngest member its fallen to him to set up the larder and highseats. He roped your pal SBW and our new friend HunterY into helping prepare for the season.

As per usual women, work, and kids conspire and we're a little behind time by the time we all have a clear saturday for the work party. It's also the hottest day of the year and the bracken is both high and crawling with Ticks.

I have to hand it to HunterX he is one of only two people in town who get up earlier than me, sitting outside my place at ungodly o'clock. Chipper as you like. HunterY on the other hand keeps the same hours as Elfa and seems completely non-plussed when we rock up at his flat to collect him on the way out of town. So much for 'we leave before dawn'.

The drive is the usual stuff: animals I've shot, places I've shot them, eccentric deerstalkers I know, cunning plans that have worked out, cunning plans that have not worked out, calibres I would own if I could, knifemakers and knife design. the proper proportion of rusk in an english sausage, and we're soon on the ground.
The last leaseholder has taken his tree stands on to the next place so we spend the morning measuring up and the afternoon strapping highseats to trees. There's a lot of cutting back to be done but thankfully we're joined by another member GentlemanD who has pretty much everything from the Stihl catalogue, all in perfect working order so no fires or nasty surprises this time.

Once the seats are done we drop the tools back to GentlemanD who it turns out has a giant pile of heads in his backyard. Really well over a couple of cubes of them, this guy has shot a lot of big Fallow. GentlemanD lives up to his name and is kind enough to give me the rather wonderful Fallow head at the top of the page. Fallow do get a fair bit bigger than this, but usually only in deer parks, this chap lived wild and free until GentlemanD's super custom .243 brought him home to dinner.

So much for me and HunterY's woefully optimistic 'it'll only take an afternoon'
The next couple of saturdays are a little more tense as we have to overcome a few electrical and plumbing conundrums in the cowshed. Quite a few baking hot hours later the chiller hums to life, the scales are hung, the hoist works, and the fly zapper zaps. All good.

As the afternoons cool off and our work is done for the day, we set off on a few practice stalks with an unloaded rifle. The Fallow are still in mixed sex groups and are taking advantage of the closed season to munch their way through the tenant farmers crops. Stalking without glass you can really see the value of stalking with glass, in one memorable encounter we stalk a Doe and follower, who then become two spaniels before swishing their tails to confirm their shetland pony-ness. We dryfire at a couple of opportunities, blow a couple of opportunities by stumbling about in heavy workwear, and generally look forward to the Fallow buck season's start on the 1st of August.

On the way home we stop off for Kebabs [keybobs for readers in the USofA] at HunterY's 'bab shop of choice. London has a lot of Kebab shops and they run the gamut from; processed mechanically recovered meat - which means a pressure washer and a sieve - to sublime hunks of incredible lamb, stacks of quail and chicken marinated in angel's tears. All served with a hand-cart full of salad and flat bread made in front of you. The really good ones serve offal too, great quivering lumps of liver, and what are those white things?
HunterY "Testicales, lambs balls dude"
SBW "Great! mark me down for some of them"
My first few attempts at ordering are taken as piss-taking by the guys behind the counter and are greeted with much hilarity, only when regular customer HunterY intervenes do they end up on the Mangal (grill).

HunterX suddenly morphs from roughty-toughty-hunting-dude to big-girls-blouse and sits, looking on, appalled. HunterY tries one and agrees that "they taste like brains, just with a more meaty texture"

More stalking and eating soon