The hunting season is now just about over here in Ireland for our deer and I write this article with great memories from the 2017/18 season. The summer months were used to prepare as usual for the upcoming season to ensure my clients are, as always, comfortable and also to observe the deer on my hunting grounds. My first hunters had arrived from The Netherlands and the UK the previous day, August 31st, and over some drinks we discussed the weekend ahead and our strategies to hunt sika stags. September 1st was only hours away and despite trying to sleep it was inevitable as I tossed all night dreaming of sika deer. The morning was cool and dry with a light breeze, ideal hunting conditions and we departed for my hunting areas eager to see what was about. My Dutch hunter was hunting in woodland whilst my English client was stalking private agricultural lands where I had observed some suitable animals which were in line with my cull plan as meat for our table and to assist the landowners with crop damage. After careful observation with my Zeiss binoculars as daylight broke, I observed the dark shadow like movement of a sika stag as he cautiously grazed the grass alongside the forest edge. Patiently waiting for shooting light to ensure a safe shot, we stood still and admired the brilliance of dawn breaking over the Wicklow hills as our young sika stag stood perfectly calm now. He was approximately 18 months old male maybe 2 years old with a plump body indicating the grass he was devouring was of high nourishing minerals. A suitable candidate for the cull and one with organic meat high in protein. I placed the Viper flex shooting sticks into the ready position as my client slowly placed his Blaser Monza into position. Taking careful aim through his Zeiss v8 the crack of his. 308 broke the morning’s silence. The Sika reacted with the classical kick of his rear legs before darting off in an adrenaline filled death run collapsing some 40 metres later. I congratulate my hunting guest on his perfectly placed shot as we approached the fallen beast. It had been a successful morning and later that day my other hunting guest was fortunate to take a beautiful 8-point sika stag.
October is the month of the rut generally speaking and the stags soon began to make their presence known, scrapes upon the ground, frayed trees, the old wallows were soon again showing signs of use as the fresh slot marks of stags appeared along with the pungent scent of testosterone and urine. I had clients coming all over the world for the month, Germany, UK, Scandinavia and the USA to name but a few. IrishSafaris was fully booked up for the following 3 months as clients prepared for the annual and some their first trip to Ireland in pursuit of the Sika deer. The guides and I knew we were in a for long period without a day off but we were determined to ensure our clients were satisfied and that their wishes of securing a stag were fulfilled. The rut had kicked off and soon day after day, we were into non-stop action observing stags chase hinds and see the occasional seconds filled battle between the monarch and his predecessor. I was careful with my cull plan for the rut and the stags selected indeed proved to be the ones I had chosen from the previous year, older mature stags that were past their prime or any stag showing signs of inferior genes were all chosen. My cull plan has always been the vital key to the success of my business and each year we see the benefits of careful selection and a plentiful yet managed herd of sika the following year. With hunters from Rainsford hunting also visiting we seen some great hunting over the weeks. This year was my first season to guide female hunters and we had some thrilling hunts with Norwegian and Swedish and German huntress’s. It’s great to see so many lady hunters also getting involved in what was once a man’s sport and I thoroughly encourage it.
The season was without doubt our most successful one yet with visits from Team Winz from Germany who were here to hunt and write about their experiences with IrishSafaris, Harkila from Denmark visited in December also to hunt and film the hunt for a new promotional video with me as their Hunt Ambassador. Wir Jagen from Germany made the trip also to promote the hunt in Ireland which was given a huge positive response in Europe.
Many thanks to my sponsors Harkila and also to the journalists and film crews who have made Irishsafaris season one of huge success. As I conclude this article, I can hear the YouTube clip playing softly in the foreground in my small office as a shot rings out from another hunt, what am I listening to? and before the season concludes, just who will be my next clients this month of February 2018 to end the season on a high finale.