.303 Lee-Enfield for Deer

Ever considered a Pre-World War 1 .303 Lee-Enfield rifle for deer stalking? Professional stalkers Paul Symons & Peter Jones set out to hunt Roe deer in the UK countryside with this iconic rilfe. 

Lee Enfield for Deer Stalking

Most readers will be familiar with the .303 Lee-Enfield, a bolt-action rifle that served the military forces of the British Empire and commonwealth between 1895 and 1957, but few these days, will have considered it’s use for hunting and dispatching deer.

This is understandable, by modern standards this formerly mass produced rifle is simply unable to produce the sort of tight groups to which modern stalkers and hunters have become accustomed. Add to this the challenges involved in using open, iron sights, rather than the more usual telescopic sight that most hunters use today, and the challenge of using this weapon in the field are abundant. 

Nonetheless, whilst recognising our responsibilities for dispatching deer humanely, and the fact that we were going to have to employ all of our field craft to stalk in close, when the opportunity arose to use a Lee-Enfield in experienced hands, we were not going to turn it down.

303 Lee Enfield deer hunting

The opportunity came in the guise of Paul Symons. As well as being an ‘Approved Verifier’ for the PDS1 Deer Stalking Certificate, Paul is also a former British Commando. Granted, he was not using a Lee-Enfield in service, but he had carried out sufficient research and practice with the rifle to be able to guarantee 4’inch groups at 100 yards. Something that, whilst also allowing a little extra leeway, meant that we felt confident enough to set out to try for a Roebuck during a recent warm summers evening in Hampshire, provided that is, that we would be able to keep the range within Paul’s capabilities.

In our aim to keep shots on live game well under 100yards, we decided it best to stalk a particularly dense area of woodland where deer are usually engaged at close range.

303 Lee Enfield Deer StalkingNot wishing to disappoint, and with time to do some research of my own, I had noted the presence of an immature young buck on recent visits to the wood that fitted the cull plan perfectly, and when the day arrived with Paul, I was pleased to find him not far from where I had last spotted him a few days prior.

Roe are territorial animals and so whilst spotting him again was not entirely surprising, getting close enough in the thick cover was the challenge.

Fortunately, Paul is an experienced stalker and so we were soon able to get into a comfortable 60 yards for a perfect ‘boiler room’ shot off sticks.

The .303 calibre is a devastating round at close range, and so it proved to be. Easily adequate for thin skinned Roebuck, the little deer was taken cleanly and quickly with no fuss, something that is always important to any self-respecting deer stalker.

What a privilege, firstly to be able to harvest these elegant little deer from the UK countryside and secondly to be able to lay hands on one of history’s most iconic old rifles.

What makes the whole thing even more brilliant, is that the whole thing has been caught on film and will be covered in our next 'County Deer Stalking' YouTube film, due out any day! You can visit and subscribe to our YouTube Channel here: youtube.com/c/Countydeerstalking

If you’d like to read more about the Lee Enfield for deer stalking, then you may like to read a previous post. ‘A blast from the past’: a-blast-from-the-past

To read more about the .303 calibre, follow this link: 303-british

For some top hints on Roebuck stalking, click here: roebuck-stalking-everything-you-need-to-know

Or, if you like Paul you are interested in becoming an 'Approved Verifier' for the 'Proficient Deer Stalking Certificate Level 1', follow this link to find out the criteria and enrol: pds1-approved-verifier-course  (NB: We are currently particularly interested in more ‘Approved Verifiers’ registering in the North of England for more information call; 0203 981 0159).

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