Saturday, 24 August 2013

Deer Stalking In Wiltshire Pt3

"I am SO going to blood you" HunterX

What is it about hunting? Really WTF is it? How can it be so hard to leave town in a timely manner? Especially as out of the season we could all gather together with our tools. Now with the prospect of yer actual shootable animals we struggle through the treacle of work commitments. Ai Yi Yi!

I'm on a construction site all day on the Friday, receiving regular changes and updates to our plans from HunterY who is at a fever pitch of excitement. By this time I'm just too dog-tired to care. The work get's done and I set off across town to meet HunterY who is still receiving regular travel updates from HunterX, he'll be leaving the office at 5.30 sharp, not before 7.00, make that 9.30, at the latest. Really. Anyone would think he was a plumber!

I'm passed out on HunterY's sofa by about 7.30 and oblivious to any further news of delayed departure. HunterX arrives at about 11.00 and we're off into the night. The truck blows a hole in its exhaust and we roar our way west.

The night is thick, all we'd need is the chirp of cicadas, and we'd be in Virginia on a summers night. We grab a little more sleep on the floor of a cow-shed and are on the ground a little late with the dawn is already breaking.

Leaving HunterY in a treestand HunterX and myself creep down a ride and deposit ourselves in a seat which overlooks the intersection of four rides, the long horse riding lanes that intersect the forest.

A Doe and her fawn appear from nowhere and mooch about for a while, out of season and in and out of view. Another Doe with a fawns and a follower appears. Again as if teleported in. Still and with baited breath we watch entranced, one of the Does seems to catch a hint of something on the eddying breeze, she acts weary but not enough to spook her and her young. A third group stroll into view Mum, this years fawn, last years fawn and hello who's this? Bringing up the rear with his nose to the ground is a rather handsome pricket, in his first year of having antlers, his coat white with a tinge of orange to him, strawberry blonde if you like. HunterX whispers "do you want to shoot him?" Muttering "that's why we're here, no?" I settle over the stock of the SAKO 85 and watch the shot present itself. One squeeze later, he staggers, describes a quick circle and crumples to the ground not 20 feet from where he received his .308 dinner invite.

To the disappointment of one commenter/troll I put a couple of fronds in his mouth, and wish him well. The deer not the Troll. I'm not what you'd call 'blessed with faith' myself but something atavistic stirred in my soul and it seemed appropriate to wish him well on his next adventure. I find all that whooping and high-fiveing on youtube a bit, well not to my taste, but at the same time some reflection of the moment seemed appropriate.

Just as I get to work bleeding the beast, HunterX surprises me with a handful of blood all over my face, this seems only to add to his delight. He keeps repeating 'I cant believe you're so calm" While it is exciting and wonderful to have meat on the ground again after all this time, I'm battered, I can hardly keep my eyes open. Wearily I accept his directions, "left a bit, no right, back a bit" as he takes the snap he shouts "that's animal husbandry right there!" As you can see in the picture at the top of the page - perfectly posed. Bah!

The gralloch is interrupted by the distant crack of an un-moderated 30-06, HunterY has meat on the ground too. As we work HunterX cuts off a slice of liver telling me
"In my family we always eat a bit of the liver when the animal is on the ground"
I'm not sure if this is actually true or he was just trying to claw back some dignity after being proven to be afraid of his dinner at the Kebab shop the weekend before.

Lots of stalkers abandon the liver and other offal at the gralloch or view them as dog food. What a waste! I've gotta recommend this practice to you, quivering, still at body temperature, fresh liver is one of the most amazing foods I've ever eaten. Delicious and then some. Woodland Sashimi.

With meat in the larder and all of us feeling battered-tired we beat an early retreat back to town, where I treat my flatmate to the surprise of finding me doing home butchery on the kitchen floor, before collapsing into bed to sleep the sleep of the dead.

An armed ramble with The Bambi Basher and Keeper Du Bois next and maybe another go at the Fallow Bucks.

More soon