A couple of weekends back I managed to get out of town for the weekend to go stalking with
Mr7mm on the flatlands of the east coast. Viewed from the train the farms are divided into lots of neat rectangles of expensive fencing. Horse country. Up there its Fallow and Muntjac, the Fallow being more pressured never really get that big, the Muntjac being perfectly sized for living in the margins of these hobby farms are everywhere. I prize Muntjac as an eating deer, but there's not much to them, so only the most committed restaurant chef would put them on the menu, the work-to-meat ratio will never compare well to putting a Fallow in the chiller.
The season has been so mild in the south of England its been more a very long autumn than an actual winter. Inevitably the weekend we'd chosen had been the tipping point and the frost had given the ground a crunch with even some former puddles now ice lying in the shade. Mr7mm has some highseats but this is to be stalking on foot. As usual significantly over dressed I wobble along behind him glassing as we go.
The site Mr7mm has chosen is that great classic stalking ground, where the woodland edge provides a browse-line and a wide ride / narrow meadow gives lots of visibility, under the pylons and power lines. The sun is behind us, and across the clear cut, falls warming the browsing opportunity. Within a few minutes a Muntjac Doe ambles out of the wood to take the evening air. Before I can get into position she's off back into the wood. About 400m to our right a a mixed-sex group of Fallow silhouette against the evening traffic. We wait, birds sing, traffic whooshes, the power line's buzz and the occasional boom of a bird scarer. The far Fallow disappear from view. We wait. But not for long. Two Fallow Does pop out of the trees directly opposite us, even nearer than where the Muntjac had been standing. This isn't the frenzied snap shooting of highland stalking, we have all the time in the world. The deer munch a bit, chew a bit, and munch a bit. We too have time to chew over which to shoot, there's little difference in size or range. Once a Doe pauses for a few seconds longer than usual presenting a perfect opportunity Mr7mm gives the word and I drop her two steps from where she caught the round.
In the time it takes for the firm handshake [no whooping or high-fiveing - we are in England after all] the mixed-sex group reappears milling around not 50m from the dead Doe. They seem totally oblivious to the gun shot. It turns out they are acclimatised to the continual bang of the bird scarer during daylight hours. The Fallow have moved on a bit so Mr7mm gives his scope turret a twist and with a muffled crack drops the Buck to the ground.
The guys I've done most of my stalking with are very committed to simplicity and use fixed power scopes with simple reticles. Mr7mm has one of those Swarovski's with the turrets so you can move the scope to range by twisting to one of three pre-set markers on the turret. Very impressive bit of kit, with that little bit of extra light transmission and the red dot instead of a reticle, it was just that little bit easier to get on target in the dying half hour of the daylight. Very nice bit of kit, but literally the price of a NEW Blaser. Yikes! Amongst other 7mm rifles Mr7mm shoots today its a SAKO 85 in 7mm08 with 120gr bullets, doing just over 3,000fps and what a great set up it is. With the combination of; lightweight bullets, the moderator, the 85's stock design, and several layers of clothing, the load recoils so lightly its not far off shooting a really light .22LR. Colour me impressed.
The following morning we make another outing to a different piece of ground, where we see a spectacular opportunity for a Muntjac Buck, which sadly doesn't end up happening. It's called Hunting not Shopping. At our next stop we get a perfect broadside on a Fallow Doe. Which somehow I mange to shoot through the liver. We skirt round the hedge she's hidden behind and Mr7mm hastens her end with a head shot. Slightly deflated from where the day before's text book shot had left my confidence I except Mr7mm's offer of some of his sausages, and burgers, and with plans for the afternoon back in the smoke I head for home. We've not set a date, but one day I will return to the flat lands in search of that freezer full of Muntjac, and while I'm at it I'll get him to give me a few pointers on sausage making. Dude's got skills.
For more about the 7mm08 Remington you can read Hodgeman's thoughts HERE