Stimulate your senses - The effect of stimulants on deer stalkers

In a break from the usual booze related reviews Rupert Mackintosh looks at the effect of other stimulants on your deer Stalking.

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This article is about a topic I can pretty much guarantee has not been covered elsewhere – the effects of the common or garden yuppie stimulant, the espresso based coffee, on deer stalkers seeking to ambush herding species of deer!

(Left: Coffee, medicines and drink can all have an effect on your ability to function)

So what is this all about then, I hear you cry – let me start by painting a pen picture of my current lifestyle. For the past ten years or so, coffee has played a big part in my life. As pretentious as this sounds, hear me out, for a cup of coffee has sat in front of me for a surprisingly high number of ‘make or break’ moments in my career and personal life. For example;

i) The cup of jet black coffee gold that rounds off a perfect meal at the club when entertaining those important clients;

ii) The cup of fluffy latte that helps you deliver that killer pitch during the everything-to-play-for meeting at work;

iii) The cup of horrible bulk-buy cash and carry instant rubbish... that I was half drinking when the nurse came out to tell me I was a father;

iv) The fifth flat white of the day, from the high street retail chain at the railway station, just the pick-me-up needed before heading out stalking on foot across the gently rolling hills (which roll less gently after doing a full twelve hours at work before) to glass a magnificent buck;

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(Above: Be careful what you have consumed before you climb into your high seat) 

You get the idea. But it’s the last that we will focus on today, because it’s also the most interesting for the shooting context.

Recently, out deer stalking with a friend, we pulled the car over and set off. I had only just started my latte (which was good and strong, from the reliable staple that is Costa) so with my friend eager to get going I necked most of it and jumped out.

Crossing about a hundred yards of field, we quickly made into the woods and climbed straight in to a highseat. Now, play that back through your mind all in one go: gulping down a strong coffee, ambled a short distance, climbed into a tree, sat down... with the express intention of sitting as still as possible, not making any sudden movements, and using binoculars to scan entirely repetitive and nondescript woodland closely for an hour.

Wooooooooooooooooohooooo!

Talk about high as a kite on caffeine – I don’t think I have ever felt like that before. Whenever I have a coffee usually, I’m moving around and doing things, and even if I’m deskbound there is the potential to naturally fidget or pick up some papers from the printer etc just to burn off the energy. Chatting with co-workers, walking to the toilets, whatever. In this instance, the express intention was... stay...still... do... not... move... focus... on... distance...

The caffeine rush was absolutely intense, moderately scary and had a really interesting effect. Scanning my eyes left to right, up and down, across the vast expanse of woodland glade in front of me became really difficult – my eyes were zipping, darting from one point of interest to another. I found it really hard to scan methodologically, looking for the telltale flicker of an ear above a bush line. The whole experience was made worse by a lack of water (or lack of fore planning, as coffee addicts would liken it), so I was relieved when we got down from the highseat for the opportunity to rehydrate – for by this point I was already starting to feel very dry in the mouth and thirsty and a little rattled my game face just wasn’t on today.

Frankly I’m glad I didn’t have the occasion to take a shot in those woods – as well as feeling discomfort from thirst, my heart rate was racing, my breathing was faster and comparatively shallow, and I could feel the adrenaline pumping through me. My body didn’t want to fight in the 21st century sense of the word with a high powered rifle; it would rather have taken a running jump and a wrestle with a fallow.

Thumping heart and pumped adrenaline is all fine and something many a stalker would describe, but it’s scary when it is externally derived rather than the sense of expectation in your mind. Clearly this isn’t the best condition in which to take a shot – imagine taking one from sticks, or even worse, offhand, while tweaked up on caffeine; it could have a really negative effect on the animal being dispatched professionally and humanely with minimum suffering. You should probably pass the shot and attempt a different approach, but if so pumped up, would you consider that? Truthfully?

I was then able to walk the caffeine off, drink a lot of water, and all returned to normal within twenty minutes or so. Alcohol and shooting are of course the holy grail of difficult bedfellows (and I abstain completely whenever the gun is out of the locker as simplicity is often the greatest safety); I wouldn’t go so far as to say caffeine and shooting don’t mix, but do be mindful of how you handle any substance before undertaking a stalk (I’m sure medicines also come in to this category, especially ones that make you drowsy).

It will be the last time I ever boost up on coffee before climbing in to a highseat, no matter how tired I feel – or maybe just a decaf! And here closes my very “different” blog, the effects of espresso based coffee on stalkers seeking to ambush herding species of deer!

For more from Rupert follow this link: after-dinner-smoke

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