- Friday, 01 November 2013
Charly Green recounts a superb outing stalking Sika Deer in Dorsets Poole basin.
(Charly Green and a magnificent Sika Stag)
As I sit in my office and think about the best moments in my stalking career there are several mounts on the walls around me that evoke memories that I will treasure forever. I keep very few heads these days because they are mostly taken by visiting clients but I have a respectable collection of UK trophies to keep me company. One such trophy is my Sika Stag. He was a real old fighter and I had him mounted sympathetically by one of the finest taxidermists in the south to reflect all the scars and rips he wore during life. He stares down at me menacingly now as I write with that typical heavy frown that only a Sika stag can carry off.
It was December when my friend called one evening to seek help getting on top of his hind cull. This particular friend covers a vast acreage in the Poole Basin and I have huge respect for his diligence when managing his herds. It was a great privilege to be asked to help out on such fantastic ground and I jumped at the chance. The following afternoon I collected my kit and set off on the one hour journey from my home in the New Forest. After the obligatory cup of tea and catch up, we discussed the plan for the evening. We loaded up for the short drive to a long sweeping valley with a large soft wood plantation on one side.
My companion explained that the hinds had been appearing at last light from these woods and that we should make use of a strategically placed high seat overlooking the pasture at the valley bottom. We ensconced ourselves into the spacious two man seat and settled comfortably waiting for the light levels to drop. Having not seen each other for some time the temptation to chat was overwhelming and we did so in hushed whispers with the wind in our faces.
(Left: A happy client, Sika Deer Stalking can prove to be some of the most challenging stalking in the UK)
Half an hour later we both picked up movement in the wood to our left, a roe doe with twin followers, nice to see but not on the agenda for that day. An hour later and rain had set in, a steady sheet of drizzle gusting down the Dorset valley. I was grateful for the roof on the high seat and made a mental note to modify my own seats as soon as possible with this simple but effective addition. Dusk was now upon us and the hinds were yet to show. Doubts starts to creep in and we wondered if a seat on the opposite side of the wood might have proved more productive. What to do? My host decided that as we could not view the entire six hundred yards of the valley from the seat we would descend and stalk on foot before the light got the better of us.
Back safely on the ground we began a swift stalk using a fold of ground in the sheltered lee of the wood to obtain a position from which the remaining ground could be glassed. Creeping round a slight dog leg and shielded by some low scrub each step uncovered fresh ground and progress was slow as we made a thorough check every six feet or so. These are the moments I enjoy the most, full of anticipation like the first few casts on a chalk stream, hope and expectancy building either to be dashed horribly or lifetime memories created.
Suddenly we caught sight of two black shapes grazing through the rain and gloom. A quick look through the binoculars confirmed we had two magnificent stags 300 yards away totally unaware of our presence. Not having come to shoot stags my hopes of a successful stalk faded instantly but I was happy to just observe such majestic animals in the wild. My host turned to me a whispered “you don`t have a decent trophy Sika stag do you?” I replied in the affirmative not daring to hope that that was about to change. He told me plainly how we would hope to stalk the beasts and then set off through some dead ground to get within range. I followed intently, trying not to put a foot wrong. My mind was doing circles at this point as it contemplated the fruition of a dream.
Five minutes later and we had gained a thick hedgerow which afforded us an approach route to within 120 yards of the still peaceful Stags. Closing the distance further to 100 yards my host spoke in hushed tones telling me to crawl slowly out of the hedge into a prone position and take the larger of the two stags. He said I was to reload immediately and if the shot presented, to slot the smaller beast as well. Keeping as calm as possible I did as instructed and lowered myself into the soaking undergrowth, crawling along on my belly the few yards towards the clear pasture. Then I deployed my bipod and took steady aim. My friend was alongside me now and, making sure I was comfortable with the shot, he left the timing to me. Both beasts were becoming twitchy, aware that something was amiss; I didn`t have much time.
Flipping up the scope covers and steadying my aim, I focused on the superb animal’s thick shaggy neck. At this range the 7x I had set my Swarovski scope at was plenty; giving the trigger of my Sako .30-06 the slightest caress the Nosler 125 grain ballistic tip dropped him exactly where he stood. A quick rack of the bolt and I was back on the now stationary beast. The second smaller stag had made an instantaneous exit at the report of the shot, disappearing into the dark woods leaving us with his more impressive comrade.
On approach it became clear that the stag was not quite dead so the swift use of a knife was called for. A few moments later, handshakes over, I stood before the most magnificent beast I ever beheld. A large dark stag with a tulip head shape boasting 8 full tines. Seven of the burnished points were intact, the eighth with only the slightest chip. As many of you will understand I cannot describe the emotion I felt at this point. The generosity of my friend, the beautiful stag before me and the stunning backdrop behind made for one of the most exciting stalks of my life and a truly memorable trophy.
For those reading this who truly love to hunt I cannot recommend the Sika enough as a worthy quarry for the novice or the most seasoned stalker alike to awaken or rekindle the passion for our work as deer managers.
For more information about Sika Deer Stalking follow this link: sika-deer-stalking
Or for more info on stalking all of the UK's deer species with Charly and the Shavesgreen team contact 07706 395979 or www.shavesgreen.com