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


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