I was in the highseat for 5am on Saturday at my small patch of ground down in Dorset. The priority of the weekend was rabbit netting & snaring but having said that it would be a shame not to get in the woods for a little of stalking and a dose the good stuff - crisp morning air, dawn woodland bird song and the sweet aroma of douglas fir. The gloom of dawn gradually gave way to daylight and as usual with any highseat shooting whilst scanning vigilantly stopped me getting board I got restless to get up and move about.
Ignoring my numbing posteria I was eventually rewarded buy the sight of a buck about 6.30 which, as they do, simply appeared about 70 meters away behind a fir tree scraping at the pins on the floor. From the action I knew he was going to couch down and thats exactly what he did positioned exactly so that all I could see was his face up up to the eye. I was regreting the half flask of coffee I had drunk in the car to pass the time before making the approach the seat and was dancing for a piss whilst and he casually lay there chewing and waiting for the dawn rays to light the the patch that he had obviously chosen for that reason.
Watching him there through the binos & scope was quite pleasant for the first hour but whilst I wasn't tempted to take a head shot I did begin to wonder how long he would couch, especially as I was busting for a piss by this point. His head eventually bent round to snuff the ground to scratch his balls or something and I took this opportunity to stand up in the highseat and take a pee over the back of the oak tree it was leant against. I never knew they were there up to then but two Sika hinds were milling about in a playfull mood about 60 yards behind the seat. No stag appeared to be present but knowing sika, or not knowing them as the case may be, I decided to concentrate on the buck.
I'd just checked my watch so I knew it was half eight when I noticed the buck stop chewing and lick his nose. Something from the action told me this signified a change of position was coming so I flicked off the safely and got myself ready. He pulled himself up behind the tree and thankfully made towards the track which, was more central to my firing position and paused, plumb broadside by some tree sleeves. From a glance in the scope you could tell he was the worse for ware, I know they look ragged during the change of coat but he also looked thin that the back and over the haunch. The shot struck home just behind the shoulder and he stumbled ten meters or so before collapsing.
Sadly he was heavily laden with ticks, the worst I have seen actually... almost like he was covered in grey peas. He also had a massive scar down one side of his head, possibly a RTA or old rutting wound which may accound for his condition as well as the lop-sided antler growth. On top of all this his teeth were pretty much worn down to the gums so I think age had a lot to do with it - maybe a harsher winter would have done for him?
As he was heaving in ticks and in a pretty gaunt state I decided to skin him in the wood and just take the back legs and saddle so that was this afternoons job. Rounded it all off with a nice brown trout the wood owner had caught the year before - not much wrong with that weekend in my book.