Hunting for me is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It’s not about medal heads and bragging rights, over the years I’ve grown out of that mind-set. What is important is setting and beating personal goals. I have yet to complete my UK six surprisingly and to be honest I’m not too bothered, it will happen one day so I’ve always got an excuse to plan my next session.
I’ve shot more Chinese Water Deer than any other species, in fact the first deer I ever shot was a Chinese a doe that is on my wall and has a very special place in my heart. Others followed but until recently two deer species alluded me these being the mighty Red Deer and the beautiful looking Sika.
Now this may touch a nerve and believe me when I say that I do not mean to say this in any derogatory manner but a Red to me means one thing a lowland red from Norfolk. These deer are much bigger bodied than their Scottish counterparts due to more abundant food and not having to climb hills and mountains as one thing Norfolk is famous for is being flat!
I had a recent trip to the East coast in search of these illusive transient deer but alas the two hour journey saw me arrive to gale force wind and rain. No Reds were spotted on the day although there was masses of sign to show they were not far away perhaps holed up deep in the woods keeping a low profile out of the terrible weather conditions. The weather however didn’t put all the deer down and it was a pleasure to see a dozen or so water deer meandering in and out of the reed beds. I could have easily taken several but I elected to leave them be vowing to return…
A few weeks later I was kindly invited back by Lowland Stalking along with two friends and fellow members of the Muntjac Hunters Group (MHG). Daniel Wallace and Ben Eyles both of whom were after medal class water deer bucks, whilst I was all set for a return match with the red deer.
Just before sunrise I left my friends with their guide whilst I set off with Sam my guide in his truck to an area Sam assured me had recently seen a lot of activity from a group of around 12/15 hinds I was secretly hoping that a stag maybe close by but deep down I knew that because the rut was well and truly over most if not all the stags would have split off and doing their own thing but not to say one couldn’t put in an appearance.
We got out of the truck after a short drive I loaded up and made safe before we silently set off in the pre-dawn gloom with Sam leading the way stopping every couple of minutes to glass the area with a hand held Prad NV unit. After no more than ten minutes Sam turns to me and whispers just over this ridge there’s an oak tree where they have been couching up overnight this is it, our best chance of success today I think? We slowly make our way in to a spotting position and Sam suddenly stops dead in his tracks. Yes mate there’s at least a dozen red deer but I think they are all hinds?
To be totally honest it really didn’t matter. A Norfolk red has been top of my tick box list for many years and this was my time finally…
We moved closer and closer until we dare not move any further without being bumped by the herd. Thankfully there was zero wind and the conditions this time were perfect. I got the rifle up on my Viper flex Quad sticks absolutely rock solid and all that was required now was to select the right animal and wait for a clear shot to present itself. After what seemed like an age a nice hind moved away from the group to my left, and I took her at 70 yards with a perfectly placed heart shot that dropped her on the spot. I was elated! After all this time I’d got a Norfolk red in no more than ten minutes from getting out of the truck.
We walked over to our beast and the sheer size was instantly apparent she seemed enormous to me, as someone much more used to our diminutive Muntjac! Sam informed me she was one of the smaller animals in the group. Was I unhappy? Not a bit of it.
Just what a stag looks like close up heaven only knows? I’ve seen trail camera footage of some monster stags on Sam’s ground including a 22 point dinosaur!
My patience finally paid off for once, now I require a Sika to complete the collection. Until then enjoy your shooting and stay safe.