Monday 24 June 2024

Review Stuart Mitchell Muntjac. Form And Function

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” Oscar Wilde

 I've had drawers full of knives over the years, The Itch has been upon me more than once. Nearly every time I've given them away or sold to fund my posh glass habit.  A million times I've championed 'spend 10 on a knife and a 100 on the sharpening kit'. But who am I kidding? Gorgeous pays for itself in the first five minuets.  

Plenty of years ago when the much missed forum British Blades was still a thing, one knife maker [and perhaps more importantly knife designer] appeared and swept all before him. 

The sion of a Shefield Knife making dynasty, Stuart Mitchell had spent his teenage years working in the family business, left cutlery and returned, bursting onto the 2000's bushcraft and stalking scene fully formed. Ive nearly bought one several times. When I was offered this one my resolve crumbled.  

I've wanted a Muntjac for a long, long time. I've seen a few me-too knife makers come and go with their embarrassing knock-offs. I say embarrassing, as the best known of the menagerie of imitators can't tell that he lacks the sense of proportion that every Stuart Mitchell knife so effortlessly has. 

Any muppet can stick a Mauser action in a stock. Only Rigby is Rigby.

More soon

your pal 


Sunday 19 May 2024

Occasionally, Just Occasionally, Deer Stalking Is Very Exciting.

Deerstalking and Cricket are like marital sex. Occasionally it's very exciting.

Usually it's a game of patient observation, sitting in the high-seat listening to birdsong, waiting and watching for a brown and grey thing to move amongst the green, grey, and brown things. Its a pastime for people happy in their own company, who don't mind sitting very still in all weathers. 

Just occasionally it's unbelievably, heart-poundingly, exciting. 

When the glacier retreated north it left behind the range we know as the highlands, to their north, the relatively flat bits, the lowlands of Sutherland. With their fertile flood plains and estuaries. It's a geology teacher's field-trip dream, like standing in geo-history's giant footprint. 

This farm is also a giant fieldcraft textbook, called Red Deer and Where to Find 'Em. As the steep side of the valley drops away there's a deep drainage gully full of gorse and birch where the deer bed down, it leads to another area of gorse that overlooks the fields where our friends are growing hay. I've spooked Reds into and out of them both. The deer can see for miles, and hide for days.

Meanwhile back on the geology field-trip: Drumlins, from the Gallic Droimnín [little ridge], are  teardrop hills, composed of glacial debris, they formed beneath a glacier and like aerodynamics in super-super slow-mo they are aligned with the direction of the ice flow. Ours is about 20m high and has a bloody big rock on top. Technical term for the rocks is '

I've learned my lesson, or at least one of them, so I don't approach by the road. I manage to cross the burn without falling in or renting a hamstring. I start the ascent and about half way up there's a slight terrace on the east side of the Drumlin, which I crawl along working my way left to overlook the gully. Of course my rifle is still across my back when I pop my fat head up and the guard matriarch and I are eye to eye. I proper freeze. 

Oddly she remains interested, but gives the situation the benefit of the doubt. My heart's in my mouth. She keeps me fixed in a steely glare but lets the family keep feeding. Kneeling I wait, like a frozen Meerkat, I defocus my eyes and wait and wait and eventually I out-wait her curiosity. Unconcerned she leads her little troop out of view around the 

Quickly. Back onto all fours and speed crawl back the way I came , there's only one place I can be, and I can only be there if I'm there first. I'm sweating like a Racehorse, and wheezing like a divorced Walrus. Up at the top of the mound there's the bloody big rock, on the right hand side facing north, there's the surface that 'catches the weather' just like that one window frame on your house that needs painting before the others. As they blow down the estuary from the Isle of Skye, the wind and the rain have abraded the earth and left an uncomfortable-sized divot under the 

In my divot-fox-hole I'm now doing mortal combat with a long-legged and deeply unpleasant bipod, I've said a lot of bad things about the Harris bipod design, this is some kind of awful unbranded Harris Clone,  I've spent a lot of cash on bipods, none of them are with me, clearly I've angered the bipod gods. The bipod lacks the much needed forty five degree position. It only has 90 degrees, legs up and legs down, they are supposedly adjustable for length, but it all seems like a cruel parody of what could be. Finally, flattened behind a tuffet,  I have half a semblance of a shooting position. Wiping the sweat from my eyes either the deer have gone back around the way they came or about to appear. Another stress inducing mystery. If I bet on one, I will surely blow the other. If only I could stop wheezing.  

Just before I'm ready. Bold as brass. The Hinds saunter into view, and start the umpteenth meal of the day. A quick squint through the scope. I've never been one for the calculation of cosine on the fly, but hash one is 200 yards, hash two is 300 yards. I opt for hash two. Ping!! Goes the .243. A hind drops to the 100gr bullet and the rest of the crew high-tail it away. 
Occasionally, just occasionally, Deer Stalking is very exciting!

more next time

your pal


Wednesday 10 January 2024

Scotland : A Thrilling Encounter With Big Boy

 Morning is dawning the sun plays on the self seeded field of xxx pine. `I'm in the highest sheltered from the wind with my back to one block, a ride to my left and the fence line falling away infant of me. 

Ive seen the little Roebuck break cover and cross the ride a while back, but now only the wind in the trees, the creaking of the dead lower branches, and a terrible racket coming from behind me. The way the seat is it's not easy to turn around that far. 

Ahab is a notorious, and compulsive practical joker so my first thought is this is yet another of his practical jokes. The thrashing and cracking continues. Twisting my head there's defiantly something there.

There's only one stop where Ahab could possibly get out of the close-planted block, I'm not going to point even a de-cocked rifle at the spot. I'm just preparing a witty retort for when he steps out when a Red deer with a neck larger than my waist tears his antlers free of the branches and steps into the gully where the ride borders the trees. As I shoulder the rifle he hears something of my movement and spins 180 disappearing into the forest block. Never to been seen again. Easily one of the two biggest Reds Ive ever seen in Scotland 

Every dawn, and every dusk, for two or three hours a time  for the next five days I sit there. Not a sausage. 

Every day I stalk up the ride to glass the fence line, every day I find hooj deer turds, steaming a couple of times, big foot prints, but I never see him again. 

Should I have pointed my de-cocked rifle at the gap? No. Should I have sat still and waited? Of course. 

Hunting, not shopping. 

more soon

your pal 


Saturday 29 July 2023

The Shrewsbury Reds Pt1

The Shrewsbury Red, all 11 points of him. 

My friend Captain Ahab invites me to go stalking with him in Shrewsbury, where a herd of parkland escapee Reds are eating a local farmer out of house and home. He's been sending me pictures of some crazy big deer, one so big it couldn’t be lifted into the chiller. I've seen pictures and the slots left by monster Reds in Norfolk where they live by crop raiding rather than fighting for every calorie in the highlands. These boys get the same (or better) nutrients without the wind chill the fens are rightfully famous for so I'm pretty stoked to be invited  

Shrewsbury is almost exactly in the middle of the country and mainly famous for a tiny herd of long-coat Fallow which are miles from a huntable population, plenty of Muntjac, Roe and Ahab's feral herd of turnip raiding Reds  

The pre-dawn drill is familiar to stalkers everywhere. Stumble across a field just before first light, gap in the hedgerow, turn back on yourself and there’s a highseat. Pop the magazine, try to climb the ladder without mishap, mag back in, work the bolt, make safe and adjust clothing to exclude drafts  

Once comfortable the despondency sets in. kvetch kvetch kvetch

Are 120gr big enough? 

Has Ahab already shot em all? 

When have you ever seen deer on a dry ploughed field? 

Turns out that: yes, no, and in the clear light of day the field abounds with rape, that's Canola not sexual assault .  

Ive been scanning the more promising looking field behind me for a while, when i turn back to find a smallish horse has rocked up, a smallish horse with ANTLERS! Seen Reds with antlers, never seen one, in season and through a scope! This young gobshite has eaten his last turnip, I gave him a round and he drops to the shot within three steps. Antlers are nothing to write home about, but as we've already seen, I’m no trophy hunter and on this trip we’re here to generate meat for Ahab’s game butchery and to keep the farmer who wants his fields deer free happy. No sooner than I've put the phone back in my pocket and huddle of Reds make their way into view, including this mighty brute, all 105kg of him, if his pal looked like a pony he's a shire horse. He gets a round, his pal gets one too, and loading loading through ejection port the forth deer of the day goes down. 120gr S&B Blue Energy are suitably destructive. I never found the bullets but it's safe to say expansion was, er, complete.The biggest deer Ive ever shot, and the most deer Ive ever shot in a day, or hour for that matter.

Lots more to tell
Will try to post more regularly
Your pal

Sunday 22 May 2022

Target Master review

There's a great trope of English life; the story goes that two guys in a shed, have a lightbulb appears over their heads as the bleedin’ obvious reveals itself, they go on to invent some world-beating innovation and then rise to greatness. Like most founding myths, it's usually somewhere between revisionist half-truth and outright bullshit. So its come as something of a surprise that for once I'll be able to park the cynicism and tell you a tale where the trope came true. Half true, it was one guy  

Anyone who has ever slaved away into the night; tapping at a trickler, trying to get a set of beam scales to balance so they can get on to charge No.2 of 250, has wondered if perhaps there could be a timely middle ground between the inaccurate dispense-by-volume and the tedious dispense-by-weight. 

There are lots of offerings; scales and dispensers, dispensers with built in scales, at all kinds of money from a round of drinks, to well over a grand. Some are very accurate, some are very quick, at the spendy end some are both. When you come to think about it all of them top-out at one kernel accuracy. 

Way back in the early 80’s Working from home, in his shed or spare room, Allen Edwards was looking for a solution to the problem of accurately dispensing small pistol loads. When he hit upon the bleedin' obvious.

 If all the kernels are the same size all you need to do is dispense them one at a time, and a trickler already does that very well. What a trickler doesn't do is monitor itself. But it could do  

Target Master : an all together better trickler.  

As it rises to zero The beam of your existing scales breaks a beam of light, the photoelectric cell stops receiving a signal, and turns off the motor driving the trickler.  

That's all it does. Brilliantly. 

Dump a scoop of powder onto the pan, press go, and the Target Master whirrs away until the beam settles on the mark. To increase the speed, use a bigger scoop. To increase the accuracy, set the trickler to drop the last few kernels a little slower and set a camera in front of your scale to remove the potential for parallax error  

It's very easy to plan out a workflow where you're adding a scoop and pressing go, then turning to seat your next bullet and work the press, as you put the finished round into the box, the Target Master has already come to a stop and you're ready to start again. Simples.

“I designed the first Targetmaster in the early 1980's particularly for light charges of fast pistol powders. I found that no measure was accurate enough for the 1.2-1.5 gn charges required for the .32 S&W Long target pistols of the time.” AE

You can find TargetMaster here if you're not in the UK or you want the extra bits: camera, remote start, and stand, which i would recommend, you can email Allan HERE His name above the door he will sort your order personally 

More soon 

Your pal



Sunday 17 April 2022

The Mysterious Ticking Muntjac

While were making a list:

Few months back SSD and I made the trip to horse country to stalk with  Mr 7mm 

left me in a highseat and took South Side D stalking on another farm

It had been a while, at the far end of the field there was no clear backstop so I’d let some fallow walk on by and the light was starting to turn. When a most remarkable thing happened. 

You know that sense that some kind of prey is pressnt, unseen but definitely present. Glassing the hegdes to left and right. Then starts an odd decidedly metallic ‘ticking’ coming from the hedgerow beneath me. To start with I thought it was SSD and Mr 7mm playing a joke on me, but they were nowhere to be seen, the sound was qiet enough that it would have had to be next to the high-seat  i was starting to feel i was playing chicken with some unseen advisory  

The ticking stopped so I stopped looking for its source and just had time to move the zoom ring to 4x  when a muntjac doe exploded out of the hedge and made a dash into the field  At less that 50m I gave her an “Erhum”:she paused, turning first her head back whence she’d come, seeing nothing she turned a little further and caught a 140gr SST had destroyed her front leg and raked her ribcage. SSTs seem to transfer so much energy into the animal, it had flipped her through the air, she came down like a sack of wet cement  

I like to pause for a bit before collecting the carcass but cloud was blowing in so it was getting draker quicker than id like so i retrieved her and waited for the chaps. 

Had covid so didn’t get out on the pigeons, more next time

Your pal


Tuesday 12 April 2022

Chinese Water Deer: A tale of hunting hubris, or is that being hunted by hubris?

The idyllic nature of this shot can never show the sheer agony my butt cheeks were in after a couple of hours sitting on the bare metal slats that had once supported the seat

There's two trophies: a full freezer and a great tale. Ticked those two off, nearly got the other kind too. Nearly. Pull up a log, warm your hands by the fire, pour yourself a tin mug of scotch, this one has to be the most SBW hunting saga yet

Long term readers will remember the blogger known as Shooter and his Mountain Lion hunt. In the intervening years his kids have grown up a bit and he's moved to the country. Back in touch I was delighted to accept his invitation to a walked up day which I'll tell you about later, obviously we agree to catch up next time I'm in the area.

The ACL [who features in a few of the more recent tales] and I had made the journey to the fenlands, a hundred miles north east of London, for Shooter’s walked up birds, we'd got chatting to the gamekeepers; they'd shown us some pictures of substantial Red Deer, we'd seen some bloody deep slots left behind by some even bigger deer, and listened to their tales of many many Chinese Water Deer seen on the thermal scope while Foxing. These are the closing weeks of the season. With a much needed freezer top-up on our minds before we sack most stalking off until the big boys are back in season on the first of August. We eere both keen as mustard to get out there

Having been the victim of the curse of the Bushwacker- where I invite you stalking, shoot two deer and miss a third while every deer you see will be siluetted against a farm house or scared off by a dog walker, the ACL had booked us in for a couple of stalks so he was inviting me Prudent

My favourite Russian saying : we wanted it to be different, it happened just the same

The usual early start, the usual delays for all the usual reasons, [misplaced firearms certificate, wrong socks, only one boot] then once on tbe road it’s the usual realisations that the usual X,Y and Z had been left behind. That exhilarating feeling of the open road, the frustration of rounding the corner into a slow moving morass of traffic, the inevitable phone call to announce our arrival would be significantly delayed and the surreptitious roadside consumption of banned foodstuffs

Fortunately the ACL is excellent company and has been avidly following the war in Ukraine and so knows all kinds of great stuff about it. that soaked up a couple of hours and we found our way to Shooter's place. Only driving past it twice

Shooter, the long suffering Mrs Shooter and all the little Shooters are all in fine fettle. The new house is perfect for playing Tom and Barbara The menagerie has expanded to include rare chickens, peacocks and goats have been ordered. Theres even a puddle rather optimistically being called the pond

Where as the ACL,has one rifle per task, all rare and charismatic, Shooter has a vast collection of rifles all as horrible as i remember them being. On the other hand his shotgun cabinet is as glamorous as a weekend at Downtown Abby and he’s the only person i know with ore than one 10 bore shotgun

After a hearty and sustaining lunch and some trading over a .410 we set off to meet the keepers

Norfolk is pretty big and pretty flat the fields are punctuated by drainage dithlches the locals call sewers. Great banks of rushes line the sewers. You can really see how a deer with water in its name would be at home here. The road kill count suggests there are lots of them. Every 200m there's another dead deer by the side of the road

Chinese water deer are natives of the Yangtze flood plain and Korea. They were introduced to Woburn Park, Bedfordshire, in 1896, and Whipsnade Zoo in 1929-30. I’ve not tracked down why they were deliberately released into surrounding woodlands from 1901 onwards, but that release is often sighted as the start of their spread. Since then there have been numerous releases, translocations, and escapes. Adapting to live in gardens, deciduous woodland, grassland, arable land as well as their native wetlands, coastal & marshland,

A small, even compact deer, a pale fawn colour, with large rounded ears and button-like black eyes. The Bucks are antlerless, but have moody long tusk-like canines.
A bit taller, and paler than muntjac, lacking that hump-backed look. They look more like a mini roe deer.
Between 82-106 cm long with a tail length 2.5-9 cm tails and about 42-65 cm at the shoulder Males weigh 12-18.5 kg; females 14-17.4 kg. Some study’s show them living to at least six years old.
As the name Water deer would suggest they seem to prefer wetlands adjoining woodland and fen, though they often range onto nearby farmland where they will feed in the open. They are most evident in the Norfolk Broads and the coastal wetlands. Although a feral, uncontained, population in the grounds of Whipsnade park inhabits parkland and dry woodland, with no wetland available.feeding mostly around dawn and dusk, on weeds, grasses, herbs and some browse. Although they often feed in arable fields, they seem to be eating weeds rather than crops.

The keepers drop me off and I walk to my highseat, wish I’d noticed what I noticed later. I climb up to find that the seat is missing, tentatively I settle onto the slats that once held the seat arse rest. For a while I manage to space out and even doze a little, but the sheer agony brings me back I roll my jacket up and that alleviate a some of it now I’m cold This is clearly what Buddhism refers to as the sheer unsatisfactoriness of existence Some very encouraging barking is coming from the reeds behind me to pass some time I spend a while twisted round looking into the standing reds and willing something to wander out what looks at first sight to be a car gliders silently past, a human head pops up , it’s the roof of a boat

Meanwhile at the other end of the field The ACL has found his highseat knee deep in water and looking precarious so he sets up shop in the hedgerow a while passes, a couple of Hares bounce past, a Fallow doe rocks up, spooked by something behind ACL. Weary of this life she sets herself down within range and waits to be shot, ever the gentleman stalker ACL decides it’s somehow outside of the pact between hunter and prey to shoot while they are both seated, not used to being ignored she waits a while and then ups sticks and toddles off in search of someone who will release her from the wheel of earthly suffering

Meanwhile back at the SBW end of things three deer have ventured out of the reeds if they turn left they’ll at the only buildings in the neighbourhood. I’m willing at them, trying to lure them in my my Jedi powers it’s actually working ….

ACL feels a bustle in his hedgerows and a little CWD saunters into range having got all his nerves out of the way with the Doe ACL turns theory into practice, pops his cherry and her right through the shoulder. Text book

His story proves something of an interruption to mine. There’s a fizzing whoosh from his moderator, the posse of three deer disappear. Spooked deer usually run them pause to add whatever scared them to the database, if they check and it’s looking like a false alarm they often resume their previous behaviour. I’m promising Artemis the earth and everything on it, for once she delivers and the three of them come back down their unseen camino towards me The X from the X Yz of left at home were my posh binos, the short comings of the Bushnells the ever cost conscious Shooter has lent me are becoming clear, but that’s the only thing that is, I resort to spotting through the scope the Deer’s on the right is wearing some pretty impressive mandibles

The balancing act: wait but don’t let chances evaporate while waiting for better chances

The bolt of the SR30!acts as the safety catch, by some kind of German engineering voodoo it snicks forward into battery without a sound our boy turns slightly to look up hill and catches one in the pocket behind his front leg the 120gr S&B blue takes the top off his heart and purées his lungs we are both unaware of this development and he takes off like South Side D’s Porsche for the first time in my life I’m completely invested in the trophy, they usually stagger and die, i e only ever had one run off into the last light and hail of a Scottish hillside I can’t bear to risk it he’s arcing back towards the reeds, he breaks stride and gets another one, staggers a bit and lies down twitching the other two are watching Muntjac doe points herself towards the reeds, the buck presents a shot, jumps to the bullet and legs it too. If it’s in the Reed bed that’s all she wrote the light is dying and the keepers and a dog are a long way off

A long time ago someone who gave me a rifle lesson told me he’d spent a summer reading the accounts of deer stalking written by army officers in the late 1940’s and 50’who brought the concept of Roe stalking home from Germany. smoking wouldn’t be bad for you for years, so smokes were a unit of time ‘Shoot the deer, then smoke a cigarette before going to look’

I’m still worried the Muntjac will have made it to the reed bed. I’ve not walked 25 meters before I find him must’ve pulled the shot a little, bullet entered third rib mashed things up a bit and destroyed the off side shoulder from the inside. Dead is still dead

Finally. The Money Pit a Heym SR30 in 6.5CM doing the job I've always believed it was born to do.

Ive just taken the picture above when suddenly it hits me, a wave of illation the joy of not having to hear my own whining as i look for my much fettled Lapua cases in the long grass beneath the high seat! Turns out there’s a lot to be said for factory ammunition i leave the spent cases where they fell, walk past where much needed seat from the high seat lies almost at the bottom of the ladder and head off to find the ACL

The Y is why did I leave my rifle sling behind?

Shultz and Larsen Victory in 6.5x55 Swedish Nice

He’s standing around looking at his dead deer with a ‘I always wanted one, now I’ve got one I don’t know what to do with it’ look on his face I give him a hug I remember that moment all those years ago, when I had the same face on ‘Sheeet I’m a deer hunter!’

Gralloch and back to Shooter’s place

Just because that part of the story ended on a high don’t think for a moment that the feral failure ends there oh no not for a moment

The hour back flies by but it’s been a long day Shooter is a wonderful host, and a fantastic cook we hang our deer in his outbuildings and set about the feast he’s laid on Pile of carbs and a bucket of Islay malts later we hold a snoring competition for a few wee hours.

“Are you still alive? I thought you were dead for a moment there”. “Why had i stopped snoring?”

I’ll leave it to you dear reader to guess who said what

A brief tussle with Shooter’s coffee machine and hit the road

Trying to learn the ground we set up near a wood we saw muntjac in on our walked up day. Not a lot happens. I start to regret not wearing a smock length coat. By now I’m not only cold but busting for a piss. Out of the high seat and out of the wind it’s a beautiful morning still sling-less I’m pissing with the money pit leaning against me Who should pop his little antlered head out of the bushes but Mr Muntjac, by impatiently raising the rifle when I should have made like a statue , I spook him

The ACL tells his usual tale of dog walkers and we make a shameful detour to the Golden Arches

We’re three little deer up, its a beautiful morning, we’re a hundred miles from home, neither of us is wearing sunglasses and ACL is making all kinds of rash promises to Mrs ACL regarding his arrival time

You could say its all going swimmingly. Could

As we walk over to the hanging Chinese Water Deer Shooter gasps in administration “you didn’t say they were that good! Those tusks are Bronze, or maybe Silver” I grab the CWD lift and turn to check the symmetry and im met by a sickening tale of rural vandalism. During the night something with immense bite strength has grabbed hold of the lowest part of the carcass and rented at it, trying to break it free from its rope the broken off tusk is nowhere to be seen, my broken dream lies all around

Best crack on with the butchery Chinese Water Deer have hair, but unlike other deer it looks almost fur-like and is hardly attached at all, moving the carcass onto a different larder hook it’s coming off in clumps The skin too seems barely attached, even this end of the season theres an impressive layer of subcutaneous fat, you call pull the skin off with no knife work The ACL has just been on a butchery course so Shooter and I are at our most encouraging

“You’re actually in luck today. You want to process your first deer and we're here. I don’t know if you know this but Shooter was in the Indian National team for butting in, and I’m an exceptionally gifted amateur, if you'd like us to mither at you and butt in while you do it, we’re standing by. ready to interfere.”

All bagged up and ready to go we wend our now weary way back home

I cant help but wonder what might have been, so I make one last mistake..I post the good side picture on Facebook

Next time it’s pigeons
Your pal

Thursday 20 January 2022

Scotland 2021 Pt5 Wharp Wharp That’s The Sound Of The Police

Back at the guest apartment i pack up, empty the safe, and take a forlorn look at the unused ice packs a vacuum bags. Hunting not Shopping 
Im 400 miles from mi casa, my phone rings incessantly with work nonsense, i bid the chaps farewell and stifling a yawn hit the road.  The panel van is slightly reluctant to go into first. The phone routes me away from the M6 and on to the M1. The traffic fairy is my co-pilot and southward i trundle. As the afternoon wears on i could feel better. After 200 miles my eyelids are drooping so i take the turn off for Leeds and rock up at The Northern Monkey’s gaff. 

I ring The Witch who is unable to contain her almost vegetarian delight that no goats were harmed during production of this blogpost and offers a stark choice, death on the roads or an early night. 

Bit o’ ring road, 200 miles o’ M1 turn right and your at your mum’s. In either direction this is how TNM and i comute between our matriarchal abodes. 

The deal with the hire company means we have the van for the rest of the week,, i set about running some errands, moving piles of floorboards from site to site. My phone runs out of charge. On what was to be the last of my cross town errands the left hand peddle wont depress, then it will but won’t rise, and the smell of burnt clutch fills the air. 
I coast to a stop half on half off the pavement. Hazard lights on. Dead phone. I don’t know anyone’s number off by heart. 

Flag down some passing cops. And begin the arduous process of explaining:
there is no number livery’d on to the sode od the pannel van, no i don’t know the mame of the hire company or their phone number/ email adress off by heart, no i cant look in my phone, no i cant charge my phone, which is the reason im interypting your day to ask you look up the name of Master At Arms’ company on google, ring the main number,,ask for The Viking and explain whay ive just told you to him so he can look up the hire company and ring them to find out which breakdown service provides covet. 

By the third time we've been through this one of the cops is laughing so much he is no help at all and the other wanders off to ‘Make a call’ which see s to involve a cloud of cigarette smoke coming from behind a bin store. 
The Viking will be back from lunch in ten minutes, could we call back? 

A long and arduous  process that has the laughing policeman in stitches several times later it transpires that the number for the rescue service is written on the van” s key. His colleague pushes him over the edge, into helpless giggling, one last time with the words

“If this doesn't work I'm arresting you for wasting police time”

Your pal
Join me next time for Shirt and Tie duck hunting 

Sunday 26 December 2021

Scotland 2021 pt4. A Roebuck, A Mob Of Goats, And A Catalog Of Errors

The road south 

If you want to make Artemis laugh tell her about your plans for the hunt.

At last the bit I’ve been looking forward to. 

During that perfect summer of the early pandemic South Side D and I had ventured north of the wall to hunt goats with our guides Alan and his son, the eagle eyed Bryce. It was a great trip READ ABOUT IT HERE I had high hopes of doing it again. Yeah. Right. 

The drive down the west  coast was as stunning as ever, the Irish sea as flat as that northern light that washes over it. The roads are refreshingly clear, unburdened by the library and blacksmith’s shop the van really picks its skirts up. The road is lined with speed cameras  The van lowers its skirts 

Truth be told I’m really starting to feel proper battered I stop for a sarnie and take an involuntary nap  in the van. Stranraer is the closest point between Ireland and Scotland so its also the ferry terminal between the two. The roads are winding county roads, the trucks are international road haulage  

Allan’s joint is usually self catering but his mrs has taken pity on me and included me in family dinner time.  After a substantial feed I slope off to my bed pausing only to marvel that not many london hotels have water pressure like that. 

Goatland, a bit different to our hedgerow stalking in the south. My happy place  

Dawn, goatland

I’ll not make excuses, this is what really happened  

Allan’s thermal binoculars were in the shop being serviced, we scan and scan, there are no goats. 

Allan hops into the truck and drives off up the coast. Bryce and I follow the unbrowsed grass fringe along the cliff tops. By crawling and hiding, crawling and hiding we manage to put the hustle on a handsome Roebuck  Did I mention I’ve lost my annoying Harris bipod? Well I have. 

Bit more crawling and I’ve got the Money Pit balanced on top of a fence post. Chip shot.. 50 yards. Max  High and right clean miss.Round sails over the Roe’s back.  Bryce gives me a look that says ‘I don’t remember you being this shite last time” Obviously the Roebuck and his two pals have now skedaddled and are jeering from a safe distance.  Probably 51 yards.

Bryce is growing up fast, from mumbling teenager to Highland Profesional. His dour Ghillie quips are coming on too “Its not awful, I prefer my Tika, scopes not too bad. I suppose “

It gets worse

We make some headway along the cliff tops and elect to go under a fence, even though the Heym SR30 is a german de cocking safety design I elect to pass it to Bryce without anything in the chamber like a good safe sport.  Bolt won’t extract the round. 

Here’s for why. while I’ve always intended to shoot 108gr lead free bullets from the Money Pit I've not finished developing the load, so I tested with everything I had, and found the 140gr SST load from my old barrel on my Tiktac gave excellent performance and being SST’s are guaranteed to mash up anything they hit. Where I was remiss is, I’d put a couple into the vbull, but I’d never cycled one through the action. 

The SST load has a COAL of 2900 up from the factory 2800, Heym’s chamber is much closer to the lands than the Tiktac , I beat on the bolt and extracted an unfired case and mess of powder, its clear I’m at literal jam, and the bullet is still in the lands. Interestingly after checking the fired cases, I later fired the last three rounds from that batch, all accurate AF and no pressure signs. My policy of loading hunting ammo to the lower node is a good one.  

We shan’t dwell on how I cleared the obstruction with a piece of fencing wire, but I was glad to have a VFG pull through with me just for a little reassurance afterwards. Allan’s mockery ringing in my ears we move goatward  

We’re now on to the goats, up on a bluff overlooking the shoreline where they are feeding. We’re at 300ish yards, and trying not to silhouette. They can clearly see something is afoot, they eventually settle, we’re not getting any closer without moving back into sight.  I take a hail mary off a rolled up jacket, the goats vamoose and that’s s all she wrote  Bah!

Hunting not Shopping, Proper preparation prevents piss poor performance, yah de feckin’ yah  

Sadly thats not all folks

See you next time 

Your pal


Gun Jesus of Forgotten Weapons has done a review of the SR30 


Saturday 25 December 2021

Scotland 2021 pt3 Hoarding A Spectator Sport.


East Kilbride late one night . light rain  

A few roundabouts off the ring road we find our way to a street of post war housing, Not built with the expectation of car ownership proving as popular as it’s become , I know this as a certain fact, as I've inched a panel van down it. Despite WCC’s characterisation of the area lots of tradesmen seem to live there. Their bastard vans are double parked the length of the street.  

We finally find somewhere to park and start ferrying the shooters to the flat.

TheViking rented the flat sight unseen over the internet, its ex public housing, somehow it never occurred to him to ask which floor it was on. Third floor. No lift.  

I didn’t mention this before but its worth mentioning now. There was a club in central london, where one night a very famous ballet dancer, so famous that shes the only ballet dancer I could name, sat on his lap and played with his beard. He is both proud and nostalgic of this high water mark in the history of his adorableness, as he should be, shes as fit as a butcher’s dog   The covid pandemic has done for the club, and they auctioned off loads of furniture  Hes bought a bed, its massive.  Possibly too massive to make it up the stairwell. There is another problem 

Somehow when I’d left him and his pal  packing the panel van it never occurred to me to enquire as to the order of disembarkation. Its certainly not a conversation they had in my absence. Theres now the content of a blacksmiths forge, a significant collection of swords, pikes, and a restorers library, between his bed, his household chattels, and the vans only door.    

We let ourselves into the flat, its newly done up. By chumps. We put our rifles and the great menagerie of shotguns into the cupboards and head back to the van for our travel kit and sleeping bags.

On our return to the flat, what’d ya know  the front door handle is so cheap that it gives up the ghost on second use.  We’re locked out. It goes without saying that the letting agents have cashed the deposit are now out on the town spending it buying gin and tonics for inappropriate milfs. straight to voicemail  

Back at the pannel van I’m pissing myself laughing as the poor Viking blunders about by the light of his phone looking for a tool chests he last saw 400 miles ago before the seismic collapse that’s  taken place during our last near miss with a Karen in an Audi. Howls of rage and invocations of dark dark ancient gods punctuate the wait  The rain has slowed to a drizzle  

Suddenly he reappears, jaunty and seemingly unconcerned “lets get the door fixed shall we?”

Time an motion being what they are I’ve inflated my Thermorest while he was fighting the door, so once back inside its a very short trip to collapse . Its been a long day  

The dawn comes, bringing with it a charming light drizzle which lends an air of bleak northern shite hole to the area  you can see roundabouts from the window  lots of them  

A quick tour of the property reveals some spectacularly substandard renovations, piss-poor water pressure, inarticulate setting out of the tiling and its never occurred to the renovator that securing the floor boards usually takes place before carpeting the hall. Its warm, dry, and by london standards, massive  

We find the van, despite what people say about East Kilbride, exactly where we left it.  With all its wheels  

After another breakfast of indigestible shite, under the Golden Arches, we’re off to meet The MAA.

Enter the dragon.  

Every saga needs a dragon, sitting on his horde, in an impregnable fortress.  the Master At Arms, the Viking’s friend and  boss. A sniper rifle aficionado, and field artillery enthusiast  

MAA has an industrial unit where he runs several businesses and fights against a tide of collections. he has the kind of floor space Londoners can only dream of. 

We stand in the rain drink espresso while the Viking tries to re organise the van’s contence onto pallets to be forklifted to the far reaches of the warehouse .  Part of deal seems to be ‘You store, I torment’  

Having made my contribution, i stood in the drizzle drinking espresso, missing cigarettes and taking notes  


Did it not cross your mind that this wasn’t the ideal opportunity to get rid of loads of this shite?

Do you imagine you’ll ever read those books again?

I’m getting the district impression that there may have been some consideration given to the london end of the trip but feck all for what might happen at this end  

Hold on, I recognise those  [cast iron plates weighing about 40lbs a piece. Twelve of]  they're yer girlfriends, did she not want them at her own hoose?

Once the goods, books, swords, a stuffed boar’s head and assorted chattels are off loaded we head out to a clay ground  

Its a pleasant drive through the rolling hills where wind farms line every ridge sadly there were no picturesque highland cattle.   


The clay ground is an everyman sort of affair, no walks through forrest glades but plenty of launchers so each stand has several lines of flight from doddle to fiendish  the last stand is fantastic, two of you stand in the bay and the other has eight buttons to hammer at launching flurry after flurry  

The relentless tick tick of my schedule means we don’t have the option of a proper lunch so I bid the boys luck and head goatward.  
See you next time 
Your pal SBW

Friday 24 December 2021

Unboxing Review The GRS Bipod

Been through a few bipods over the last year or so at all kinds of exorbitant prices, some are a ripoff some cost less but are awful. All demand a degree of compromise. Of the bipods that don’t pan from side to side the fortemier and the RPA were best, the RPA is a Sako TRG clone and is more ‘hunting and range’,  the Fortemier is a range bipod. GRS [who are famous for their stocks] have taken a few ques from both ending up at a ‘hunting fortemier’ compromise. 

Pro:massive controls, all the catches are upsized for use with mittens in cold climates 

There’s a lot less play in the legs than the early RPS  I had  

With the Fortemier you have to choose between 6 o’clock or 12 o’clock mounting, the GRS mount is reversible 

Instead of offering loads of optional feet, there are ski feet that reverse to toothy ski feet  

Cons: the screw that locks the tilt isn’t captive

The spigot is their own size so you have to buy another proprietary spigot for every rifle and they ain’t cheap   

GRS has missed a trick not offering an ARCA spigot for the PRS crowd, there are a few available but none in the proprietary size.      

May your groups be small  and your deer drop on the spo More soon

Your pal


Wednesday 22 December 2021

Scotland 2021 Pt2. M6 See A Sign For Glasgow Turn Left. Easy.

The world of tomorrow, cut short. 

Theres a Russian expression from the Soviet era  We wanted it to be different, it happened just the same  

A statement of intent :

 Casting this blog’s fine tradition to one side there is little or no spontaneity to this tale. Even the pseudo spontaneity of middle class professionals was brutally stamped out. Bookings were made weeks in advance  and the departure time set in stone.There will be none of the usual struggles with escape velocity

A statement of fact: 

No plan survives contact with the enemy, the Viking or The planning department 

What actually happened was the usual debacle, I've had a seriously interrupted sleep only to find, no cabs, back to sleep, now really late  

instead of the usual highly entertaining Nigerian communists who are my regular uber drivers, by using another service I seem to have opened a pandoras box of misery which i have to listen to for the hour it takes to get there another hour of it and the driver and I would be entering into a suicide pact  not a happy camper  

West London

I meet the Viking on his doorstep, Mrs Viking is there too, looks like she’d rather be in bed, The Viking cheerily announces that we’re dropping her off at her yard. 

If i were a Spanish woman i would have shouted “;you’re a mental nobia estación de tren, finito” but I'm English so it was a cherry “no problem “  

the Viking who travels by train, clearly has a very limited understanding of the geography and road network of southern England  Mrs Viking lives in Reading  

Mrs Viking has a look on her face that says “Sorry, i know this is ridiculous, but hes not having the best week, and he’s trying to be chivalrous, sorry”

The main road north from london the M1 Britian’s first motorway is about ten minutes drive away, Reading an hour away to the west   Off we trundle  it’s Saturday morning of course there’s traffic. We drop her off, fight our way out of Reading. On to the road north-ish every species of middle class wanker in a 4x4 is represented in the traffic either dawdling in front or wildly changing lanes.  The second time i give the anchors a  hearty stab the load audibly shifts in the back I develop the strong kinaesthesia racing drivers have with their tyres, but mine is with both the Money Pit and my Browning which are foolishly stored in the same soft bag in the back.  Its not as though i don’t have several Peli cases. In my minds eye my scope is now dented, the stock splintered into firewood, and my barrel literally knotted like a pretzel. I feel sick  

At this point in the saga it would be great if there was an interlude to the roaring inconvenience of it all, but no. Its starts hammering down with rain. Somewhere between monsoon and biblical.

We decide to stop at a service station for breakfast, it’s actually not too awful. Things in the back of the truck aren’t great, we can open and close the door, but only just. Its a right tumble, so we rescue the shooters, ive brought a modest travelling sportsman’s battery, The Viking seems to have a cased example of every iteration of shotgun design in the last 150 years, we now have no space in the cab at all  my seat is so far forward that only the seatbelt stops me from nutting the windscreen  the upside to which is i can now wipe the condensation from it and occasionally see a little more than the taillights ahead  

We pull out of the slip road rejoining the motorway and join the que of stationary traffic. Bollox. 

Two and a half hours later i venture  tentatively into second gear, then with my heart in my throat, third, forth, and we’re rolling! The Viking celebrates by dozing off  Just me the road, and the intermittent sound of Radio 4, a station for muddle class people who aren’t  yet depressed enough about the state of the world  

The weather is now so bad even Audi drivers are keeping to the speed limit  Rain is overwhelming the wipers, the wind has really picked up. The van rocks from side to side a bit but nothing our payload doesn’t  counter act. A woman with a RADA-northern accent has just investigated the affect climate change will have on teenage girls who forgo university to be Tabla player in the punjabi wedding bands of the West Midlands. I’m steering with one hand and trying to pick the smug out of my ear with the other, a program about the history of the Duffle coat is about to begin, when the Viking awakens. 

To give him his due ges a tower of good cheer and sets about DJing a Bardcore set, where contemporary pop music is performed in monastic style   We then have a great chat about the routine racism of the 1980’s workplace  I'm about 20 years older than him and its great to hear that he’s totally unfamiliar with things that where once commonplace  Thankfully neither of us wishes to discuss football, he's kind enough to feign interest in the socio economic factors that lead up to the Spanish civil war, unfortunately we are not able to discuss the design history of Porsche 1967-1973 as South Side D isn't with us  so we do a quick lap of the calibre debate, shot placement on a Great Dane etc and its time for lunch  

So much for Fat Nav taking us the the fabled Cantina but we do get to visit the legendary Forton Services  

In a way a perfect explanation of the post war ambition of a few visionaries, shot down by the usual provincial NIMBYs determined to stamp out an irrational exuberance. Large part of why we are such an awful country 

 Sir Thomas Bennett, Founder of the practice TP Bennet  & Sons  saw the site, almost equidistant between london and Edinburgh both as a way point and a destination for local people. The tower is cleverly designed to need the bare minimum of internal support so it’s internal spaces can be easily reconfigured.despite his obvious interest in brutalism he was a believer in the ethos of the arts and crafts movement and held life drawing classes during lunch breaks  obviously you'll know a true genius as the dunces will be In confederacy against him, so the IMBY’s had him reduce the height from 30 meters to 20  

Although a listed building these days its all looking a bit shabby, i was hoping for hearty northern fare served up by feisty northern birds, you know where Abagondas di campo are still called Faggots. the only food on offer was McDonalds and on our visit the view was closed due to inclement weather   Perfect symbol of Britain 1945 to Date  

Fed and watered with the half way point under his belt the Viking falls back into the arms of Morpheus and i drown out his snoring with a visit to local radio. Theres a phone in about the economic chaos wrought by covid x Brexit People who phone in are clinging to scraps: they talk of pride, tradition ect, and are seemingly baffled that our prime minister is a member of the london elite, who told them he wasn’t a member of the london elite, and has turned out to be….

Every so often someone whoo actually does things, owns a fishing boat, factory or logistics firm will demand to know how they are supposed to fulfil their social contract with their community  The programs presenter then has do do some kind of verbal quick step, falling short of both agreeing with the bleeding obvious and denouncing the head of the chamber of commerce as a Trotskyite  

As Robert Anton Wilson and his pal George Carlin would have pointed out, if you give your groceries to a gang of monkeys all you’ll get back is rocks and monkey shite.

I was very excited about driving a panel van full of shooters over Shap, the highest road in England but the satnav rerouted us and i wasn’t about to stop and sightsee in the growing gloom. 

As we cross into Scotland the rain suddenly abates without the clouds we get another twenty minutes of daylight 

On we trundle, into the night. 

Join us next time as The Viking and SBW finally arrive in EKB, meet The Master At Arms, and open the door to schrodinger's panel van. 

More soon

Your pal


Tuesday 21 December 2021

Scotland 2021 Pt1 Goatland A Viking Saga

"If this doesn't work I'm arresting you for wasting police time" 

Both the coppers piss themselves laughing. I laugh too, by this time it's all wearing a little thin. The smells of boiling piss and burning clutch hang in the air. But all that happens much later   

Spontaneity  its a wonderful thing.  I love surprises and the words “ lets sack it off and go Deerstalking” have crossed my lips more than once This time it was all booked a month in advance. Still turned into a bit of a saga.

A Viking saga for our times, featuring: a viking, an ambulance chasing lawyer, a lightweight rifle in the 6 to 7mm range, some stout boots, the finest german glass, the infuriating loss of a bipod,  300+Kg of rare books, a panel van, a mob of goats and a rather handsome Roebuck. In an earlier iteration of the plan there were also three 17th century cannon, but for reasons both practical and fiscal. they are being saved for another day

There are always unintended consequences, they abound. When that first wolf decided to saunter over to the campfire and maybe catch a few scraps, he had no idea that a few millennia of civilisation later one of his descendants. with nearly all the wildness wrung out of him, would wear a pink bow, sunglasses and travel around in a Kardashian’s handbag. The feral goats of Scotland have made the opposite journey, forgoing the easy life of food delivered by bucket and a bed of straw, they live wild and free  amongst the crags and feast on seaweed and juniper. 

Somewhere on that continuum there are a few wild hairs left in us all, and I'm easily lead.  

The Viking is a crafty one, like Loki the blacksmith. Unable to drive himself he lights on a simple but effective plan. He asks me how many goats I've shot with the rifle lovingly known as The Money Pit  having heard the answer he already knew, zip niltch nada, he happens to mention that he’s going to be moving to the industrial belt that crosses Scotland and will therefore be within spitting distance of Stranraer home of the delicious Juniper feasting Goats  would i perhaps join him?

The cast and crew

SBW: Your pal and humble Scribe of this chronicle 

The Viking: blacksmith and vintage firearm enthusiast the sort of person who wouldn’t own a gun made in his lifetime. Tidy shot with a side by side. He doesn’t own any rifles that meet modern standards of accuracy so his precision shooting remains cloaked in mystery  

SSD: South Side D some time dispenser of cab driver wisdom, some time arborist, traveling sport, and now Working Stiff  

Matriarch In Waiting: all gun clubs are ruled by a matriarch, it's the only way to keep order. Our club has two  

ACL: Ambulance chasing lawyer Monday while Friday, dad taxi on Saturdays, niche firearms enthusiast and stalker on Sundays. 

When heading out of town its not a bad idea to see who might be about I contact a chap I know on Facebook, our West Cost Correspondent, and suggest we meet up for a few beers  

"East Kill-feckin’-bride! Wha? Does he like single mums and roundabouts?"

It turns out im not the only one who fancies a trip to Scotland to pit his 6.5 against a wiley adversary. Some people know the ACL as a suburban dad, and partner in a law firm. Secretly he's an adventurer, a hunter and outdoorsman: ad-libbing freestyle poetry about lairy pistols around the campfire, living entirely on fried food and panic-inducing espressos. 

One afternoon at Bisley, we’re discussing the sporting opportunities made possible by dropping The Viking off on the west coast of Scotland, 

ACL: If you’re going goat stalking I thought id tag along 

SBW: I would love that, a tale of two 6.5’s, Creed vs Swede, we can share the driving and theres a farm shop with a cantina attached i want to visit  that’s basically on the way.

MIW: Is there anywhere you go where you don’t use food vendors as way points?

SSD: No. Never. It’s called Fat Nav 

SBW: we will be literally passing Cumbria have you ever had Potted Shrimp?

MIW: Are you going too?

SSD: nah Working Stiff

MIW: we'll have to change your name to Not Allowed Out

SSD: nah you’re alright, that one's taken

A quip that proves precinct. A few days later, I receive a phone call, ACL doesn’t sound quite as ebullient  

ACL: spoken to the missus, turns out I’m a suburban dad, a partner in a law firm who is preparing for trial, and that spontaneous six day hunting trips with a pair of anarchists are ‘taking the fucking piss’ 

I try to change the subject “ I've been reading Helen McDonald’s excellent book about falconary, H is for Hawk, did you know the falconers knot is so loose its kept closed with one digit? Its where the expression ‘ under her thumb’ comes from ? 

I know i heard it, but I'm still not sure if it was the roar of an enraged goat or yap of a lapdog that came from telephony or telepathy.   

No SouthSide D, no ACL, this is starting to look like a very long drive, knowing the answer full well I make a halfhearted attempt to engage MIW in the trip. She politely informs me "Sorry I'm, busy that day, when are you going?"  

More soon

Your pal SBW

Join us in part two, where the Viking and your chronicler make their way north, by route most circuitous, endure weather most precipitatious and arrive in Hibernia, the land of perpetual winter, single mums, wild goats, and roundabouts. 

Sunday 26 September 2021

Thoughts On The Gentleman's Stalking Rifle

These days I shoot my Tiktac a lot more than anything else, its a big black lump of cast aluminium and its latest barrel has turned it from tactical to bench-artillery.  I've taken it stalking a few times, not through choice. By the time you're dragging a deer across a ploughed field, you'll wish you'd brought something built for speed not comfort. 

The Stalking Rifle. It's lighter than a dangerous game rifle, both in the hand and in its chosen load - somewhere between .240 and .280 [6mm and 7mm in the new money].  
A modestly figured, svelte stock of  Walnut, you wouldn’t want to flinch at the sight of a shale bank or a barred wire fence, a recoil absorbing stock pad, at the other end probably an Ebony or Rosewood tip. Perhaps some case hardening. No engraving. 

To be carried for what feels like miles over rough ground, fired once, and carried back again. 
In England TT Proctor, John Rigby & Co., Westley Richards, Holland & Holland and a host of others made [or still make] iterations on this theme.  
There once was another contender. One who ploughed his own furrow, who’s insights are as valid today as they were then. Not to everyone’s taste and at £1000 in the early 1970’s (about £12k today) appealing to a limited clientele. You’d have had to make a trip to Pipewell Hall where a sport could commission Messers David Lloyd & Co. Riflemakers, who had put a lot of thought had been put into building such an instrument. 
The proprietor, an experienced stalker himself, coined the expression 'Attach a rifle to a scope'. While the others all made an open sighted rifle adapted for a scope, David Lloyd made his rifles solely  for use with one of the new fangled four or six power scopes.

Using the rifles that bore his name David Lloyd is rumoured to have accounted for more than 5,000 highland reds in a stalking career that spanned 60 years. Knew a thing or two about it then. 
For him name of the game was to create; an ergonomic, flat-shooting rifle, capable of dependable accuracy at 300m [+/- 100m] without recourse to adjusting the scope. His stipulation was that the scope be attached with mounts so robust that the rifle could confidently survive the rough and tumble of highland stalking without ever needing to be re-zero'd. To that end he silver soldered his mounts in place. That for ain’t rattling about. 

My somewhat more modest experience suggests that; he was right about the point-and-shoot requirement, up on the hill there's no time for fart-arseing about with adjustments to elevation and windage. The shot, and the Ghillie, wait for no man. 
Following my highland humiliation, where the scope was loose enough to rattle in its rings, no sportsman who still casts a shadow is a bigger believer in anchoring scope and rifle together than your pal SBW. Regular readers may remember The Ghillie also has strongly worded views on the speed with which clients cycle an action,

The stalking rifle, as bespoken by SBW

Chambered to shoot 100gr + lead-free Bullets. The weight means legal for all six species in the UK, and lead-free means the carcasses meet the coming standard to enter the food chain. 
A round that can be bought over the counter for use while staking on forestry commission land and other places where home loads aren’t permitted.  The Creedmoor revolution of the last ten years means that there's now an excellent chance of buying 6.5mm in any gun shop.
A slim wand-like Walnut stock. The laminates are too heavy, the composites are too chunky, and the full carbon are more than I want to spend on the whole rig. 
Magazine-fed. call me over-cautious but I prefer to do all that bouncing about in the back of a Landrover with an unloaded rifle, and clambering in and out of highseats without a loaded rifle will always be preferable. 

Decocking safety. Stalk with one in the chamber, but still be able to safely use the rifle as a club if needed. 
A super slick fast action, a straight pull fills this part of the brief nicely 
Barrel of 20”max, and lightweight: this is rifle to clamber in and out of high seats and Landrovers, carry across muir, up monroe, and down glen.  Fire one shot, and then carry back to the cottage, hopefully dragging a dead beast along.  
Screw cut for a lightweight moderator. I use a B&T [Brügger & Thomet] which gives the rifle a nice balance. The new generation of 3D printed titanium moderators are still in the £850-£1500 range. So No. 
Ceracoat not blued; rough treatment, blood and guts, anti reflective. Welcome to the 21st century 
While we're on the subject of carrying, [and lessons learned from highland disasters], I want to anchor the sling to the rifle by the strongest fitting available, with the rear swivel on the flat of the butt to carry the rifle flat against my body, so crawling isn’t impeded. 
A robust scope in the European low-light class, with a simple reticle: cross hairs bob-on at 200m capped turrets so nothing to adjust or get knocked out of place.
The lowest rings possible. Spuhr do a hunting set at 19mm/4mm, milled to their usual super-high standard.  

For the action; its all personal taste. I'm still all about Heym's Fortner action'd SR30, sacrificing a little englishness for a little extra svelteness I chose the Bavarian stock, a little more 'pistol' in the pistol grip and a few grams shaved off, but still with the look of a sporting rifle

Of course you could just buy a Tikka off the rack and have done with it. But where’s the fun in that?

More soon
Your pal

An onboard cleaning kit wouldn’t go amiss, snow in the barrel only happens a couple of miles from the landrover. 

Thursday 24 June 2021

Review: TrueMiller - Circular Mil Master

If you do it with a First Focal Plane scope in Milliradians, you'll love the TrueMiller.
Target size, Distance, and Number of Mill in your scope; any two will tell you the third.

During the Viking Rifle Series' Midnight Sun Rifle Challenge there's a Mill-ing Stage, so you'll need one if you're going to join us in 2022.

More soon
Your pal

Thursday 10 September 2020

Hunting Goats In Scotland. Stalking Roe In Scotland.

An adventure in the Lowlands of Western Scotland featuring: your pal SBW, and South Side D a target shooter and sportsman who dives an electric taxi. 

Work, that curse of the stalking classes: 

Covid 19, overly emotional Milfs, air travel diminished by 97%, clients putting off having repairs done, annoying offspring, the range will be closed for the foreseeable, theatre-land may never reopen. A shortage of primers. I think its fair to say that your pal SBW and South-Side D are beset by difficulties on all sides. 

SBW: This is bullshit, shall we sack it off an’ go stalking?

SSD: Not doing much else.

SBW: Do you have a midge net?

SSD: What’s that?

SBW: Your only defence against Scotland’s apex predator.

I once read that the Scottish tourist board had conducted extensive market research. Scotland is a popular destination for all the reasons you might imagine; Whiskey, Salmon, Deer, Ginger Birds. 

The last two questions proved more illuminating: 

Will you be coming again next summer ? NO 

Why not? MIDGES!!!

Been a while since i made it North of The Wall, to the land where you can hunt Roe Bucks with a 22 centerfire, Mars bars are served fried, sausages are called Lorne and served skinless and square, Tablet is a cause of diabetes rather than yet another iProduct .

SBW: How much would it cost to go to Stranraer in a Taxi? 

SSD: Where’s that?

SBW: west coast of Scotland, south of Glasgow, for stalking purposes.  

SSD: £ LOTS, each way. But to you SBW, for stalking purposes, we can split the juice.

SBW: I’ve found this guy on the internet… 

SSD:  I need to sort out someone to look after the dog

SBW: No worries my ex wife would love to help me out, I’m the only person taking her side against the kids. 

A long time ago: I was making idle chit-chat with one of the guns at a shoot, as we fell to discussing a sportsman's travels he said ‘ ah yes the Scottish stalking experience, I’ve been, you spend all day crawling through very soggy ground, shoot a deer, then the walk back to the cottage turns out to be 200 yards, I bet you love it” 

That very morning a member called Gallowaycountrysports had posted on the Stalking Directory that he had availability and accommodation. A few days later we were on our way north. By london black taxi.

The first six hours pass in a pleasant re run of: the calibre debate, chewing over the  design stratagem of Porsche 1967 to 1992, the latest outrage(s) perpetrated by my daughter against her long suffering family, and the lack of strategy being deployed by our lords and masters at this most difficult of times.  

Somewhere just the other side of the wall the roads narrow and out pace slows considerably. We pull into a Shell service station where we were surprised to lean that the sad-arse sandwiches they serve are now ‘By Jamie”.  Yes that Jamie Oliver the fat-tongued deceiver himself, has sunk so low that he’s now shilling for the sweat shop where they fulfil service station sandwich contracts.  

At the service hatch a bleached, shivering whippet of an Emo is manning the till. His stupid haircut reflected in the luminous glow of his pasty skin. 

SBW What kinds of sandwiches do you have? 

Having seen Jamie Oliver’s fat face I was expecting some kind of mangling of the cuisine of several nations, Jerk Chicken with a Mediterranean Herb Crust, and the like.

The Emo: What’s this the feckin’ Krypton Factor?  

South-Side D: Think of it as a job, what’s in the meal deal?

Some crappy sarnies, indistinguishable from crappy sarnies not ‘by Jamie’  later. 

Alan calls

‘So yer nearly here? oh aye what’s yer vehicle?’ 

“We’re In a sherbet” then I remember to translate “a black cab, a london taxi”

“Slurhh feckin’ heel, what’s that cost? Poond-a-mile?”

SBW “Nah South Side D is a cab driver it’s his whip”
SSD “tell him it’s £LOTS to Glasgow ’bout £X a mile.

The rest of the drive passes without incident and were soon following Alan’s seemingly vague but surprisingly accurate directions through the village. By the time we arrive Alan has gone to bed leaving his lad to welcome us to the self-catering accommodation end of the business. Alan runs a great outfit, or I suspect Mrs Alan runs a great outfit, and Alan fronts it. 

If you’re thinking of heading north I’d warmly recommend Galloway Country Sports, they have something for every kind of visiting stalker or Gun. Alan is dad-shaped and around 50, a fantastic host and an experienced rough shooting and goose guide. His lad is built like a racing snake with the eyes of an eagle. Between them they provide some fantastic days afield. The beds are comfortable and the duvets reassuringly weighty. I sleep the sleep of the self-righteous.

The following morning 

Alan’s birds have just arrived so he’s out looking over his pen and feeding them up. We stumble out of our rooms to find glorious sunshine, a neighbour enquires as to our well being, we ask after his. “sumingz rang, dez ner water fal-in from the sky” 

The village has no shops so we head into town, all of three miles, to look for a charging point and some breakfast. With me enthusing about the Scottish breakfast experience. Sadly no Lorne sausage is available but we do get a Tattie-Scone. It’’s a lot like the backing board for tiling. Which is a shocker as they are easy to make and usually delicious. 


mashed floury potatoes

an egg

some flour  .00 is best 

teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda 

perhaps a little cream or milk - emphasis on the little, the dough must be firm


mix into a dough

roll out and cut into pleasing shapes

Either fry or bake at a moderate temperature

Serve lathered in butter. Unsalted is my preference.  

SSD has asked that the record show that our visit to Stranraer was also the occasion of my saying the most Middle Class / English thing ever.

SBW “Is there a Marks and Spenser here? I need to buy pants”

Under-crackers un-purchased we return to the house in time to meet Alan and do my laundry in the wash basin. 

Wisely Alan wants clients to confirm their rifles and marksmanship, he tries to be as polite about this as he can, I suspect he’s had some resistance from clients before, and seems a little surprised at my enthusiasm. 

I’m keener on shooting a confirmation than the in-house photographer at St. Ursula’s.  

Here’s for why. 

Having survived [just] the shame of having a loaned rifle where the scope wasn't moored to the rings and missing the first five deer on a previous trip to Scotland, to say I’m keen never to have it happen again, is what is known north of the wall as a feckin’ understatement.

The sheep rifle should above all be portable, handy, and relatively light, as the sheep hunter carries a rifle a lot more than he shoots it. "Notes on the Sheep Rifle," Jack O’ Connor

There’s a question mark hanging over my .243 so I took my Tiktac. Its a wonderful target rifle, but there s something deeply un-stalking about it, its heavy, the opposite of handy, and all those sections of picatinny rail mean it snags on your clothes, Its also laughably Black Rifle.

Alan: ‘does an Afghan campaign medal come free wii that?’ 

Its way more accurate than me and has no trouble mashing up the 4 inch square used as a zeroing target. Zeros established we break for lunch. 

As Roe are best stalked at the top and tail of the day, Alan has a suggestion. 

How about we go and look for some Billies? 

I’ve met people who have been to Scotland to stalk feral goats before and none of them has had a good word to say about the beasts: they are extremely wily, live in inhospitable terrain and are pretty smelly. They often reside in places called Heart Attack Hill, Fat Boy’s End or Dead Plumber’s Gully.  

Alan explains that he cant stalk Roe or shoot Foxes on this particular stretch of coast as the landowner has a sentimental attachment to both, however he is a Juniper Berry enthusiast and as the goats eat them he’s more than happy for Alan to thin the trip. 

These are coastal goats, living where the Irish Sea batters mini fjords. We spend a while glassing the rocky outcrops, things that move turn into tricks of the light, every shadow seems to be cast by horns.  When we’re finally sure only shadows are moving we turn south and our luck improves, a trip of ten or so goats are just the other side of a bluff, we walk the long way around and begin the crawl into range. Oddly its still not raining. 

There’s something about seeing your precision rifle and its posh scope lying in the muck that’s deeply disconcerting, later I’m to learn that loosing a round and seeing your fettled Lapua case disappear between the tussocks isn't much better.  All I can do in consternation is mutter “that’s £1.08p I’ll never see again”.

With the goats only about 50m away SSD starts crawling forward and I’m trying to deploy the Harris bipod without that annoying D’oing noise from its springs. The goats are suddenly on the move, towards us. SSD is between me an them so I’m still to set up for a shot. I’ve taken all of five off-hand shots with the Tiktac all of them were over a year ago, in Norway.  Heavy is a help, but the shape and balance point are unwieldy. We both fire. Someone hits the largest Billie and it disappears down the seemingly vertical cliff. As SSD and Lad pursue it 

Alan points to the next spur, “There’s yours, can you shoot it?”    

“The mountain sheep keeps his horns as long as he lives, and on them he writes his autobiography. He records his age, his species, his good years and his bad, and his battles.”

The Stories Sheep Horns Tell - Jack O’Connor

I love it when the leaves change colour - Hodgeman

He’s right, there on the next spur, partially concealed by the dead ground, my Goat is waiting patiently for his dinner invitation. Yet another outdoorsman’s skill that still eludes me is the ability to judge distance. Alan’s call is 300 yards, deduct 10% is 270m which the muscle memory in my fingers tells me is fifteen clicks aka 1.5 milliradians. The legs of my bipod are a constant annoyance to me, off the bench they are too long, prone, which i hardly shoot,  they are ok-ish, off the tussocks of scotland they are invariably too short. The first one sails over his head, which prompts him to make the fatal mistake of standing up, so after a bit of contortionism on my part he catches the next one on the left side of his spine. While I’m still listening to that resounding TWACKKK expanding ammunition makes as it hits flesh, as if by teleportation he disappears. 

To my delight I actually find one of the Lapua cases. £1.08p up on the day!

A deer that has been shot at will go around the side of a hill a quarter of a mile away and lie down. A ram will leave the country.—"The Bighorn," Jack o’Connor

Its a long walk around the spur tops and when we get to the patch where Billy was last seen there’s a patch of frothy lung blood, and no more. Nothing, zip, nitch, nada  no sign of a trail to be seen. There’s only one way to where we were when I took the shot and we just walked along it, there’s only one way down from where the blood trail starts and stops.  The mini canyons are treacherous under foot and the drop below enough that the medics would be well pissed off by the time they recovered you, or at least your body.

Alan is ahead of me and has taken a turn away from the direction of travel, I skirt round to catch him up and squeeze past him to climb into the line of sight he’s gesticulating down. There’s Billy sitting panting under an overhang, its just the place you’d want to shelter if you were going to overnight there. I wind the clicks back off and put an SST through his neck. Another £1.08p case tumbles away never to be seen again. 

High above us and 300 yards across a mini fjord Lad and SSD are struggling with two goats the extraction looks like the 200 yards are ‘feckin vertical’. Turning back to our own situation this isn't going to be easy, especially with the long dead black weight of the Tiktac to hump along. 

On opening him up, Billy has been doing very well for himself, easily the fattest wild animal I’ve ever butchered, great globs of shining white fat around his organs. I’ve still got his dinner pate sized liver in my freezer. Gralloched he’s lighter but not that you’d know it draggin’ him along.

You can see why the locals shoot ‘em with a little Tikka Triple Two. 

As I puff along the Tiktac seems to have trebled in weight .

A couple of words about Alan’s place

If you want to go shooting with a few pals and make a few days of it, you’re the customer alan had in mind when he set up shop. He has his own pub that you can stock yourselves. Being only three miles out of town you can call in a takeaway delivered or, you could copy a team from France who bring their own chef and use the fully equipped kitchens.  

A Galloway Roe Buck 

I’ve been having a run of luck, lucky for me not so lucky for the new people. At my gun club we have an unofficial hunting committee - if you express an interest we’ll hook you up with some stalking. 

I know a couple of people who I regard as as near to dead certs as its possible to be. We go to their ground, I tell the guide ‘this a newbie they need to shoot a deer’, they see deer, I shoot deer, they don’t. Sometimes I shoot more than one deer.

Lad and I hop out for the truck and as soon as we’ve negotiated the first fence we have a doe under observation. Not doe season but every night is ladies night, girls get in free, so it wont be long until a buck shows up. Sticking to the hedgerow we make out way up the field conveniently into the wind. About 30 feet in front of us, there’s a bustle in the hedgerow as a Roe fawn makes several frantic attempts to first ram and then jump the fence. We wait patiently until he thinks better of it and turns, sprinting across the field. Stooping down we do a bit of glassing. Lad is all over it, doe one, doe two which I could see but then the Buck which is both standing between them and invisible to me. Trying of suppress the hateful doioiing of the Harris bipod’s springs and get set up, I even had time to dial the zoom in a bit. The Buck stands at three quarters, Buck helpfully turns broadside, takes a step or two, I take up stage one of the trigger, one more step, “stay right where you are” and pop-TWACKKK. Lad awards me the accolade “Feckin’ textbook”. Buck runs on about 20 feet and slumps into the dead ground. The girls are now nowhere to be seen. We saunter over. he’s never going to win a medal but has  pleasing symmetry. I couldn't wait  to take him to dinner. 

In that great tradition of Scottish stalking, instead of dragging the deer across the field back the way we’ve come, we amble down a tarmac road that was just the other side of the hedgerow we’d crawled along. 

SSD is yet to score a deer.

About half of our trophy stash

Unlike most of the places I go stalking Alan has full food processing and vacuum packing facilities. I spend the last day in the chiller doing the butchery and caping the Billy and Nanny SSD shot. To my surprise, in a moment of wild profligacy, SSD commissions not one, but two rounds of taxidermy. I get the feeling he’ll soon know how the punters feel when they get out of his taxi.  

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