The ups and downs of hunting

I am now home from deer camp and enjoying a beer and a good book with my feet up. I decided to head home after the morning hunt instead of in the evening, since I am pretty tired and I have to work tomorrow.

This morning was for the most part representative of the rest of the weekend, except that I actually saw deer. Unfortunately they were either too far off, or moving too fast, or both, and I never came close to taking a shot. After they disappeared from my view, they reportedly passed by another member of the group who decided they were too small to shoot anyway.

I climbed out of the stand at 10am at the insistence of my bladder, and after taking care of that, I proceeded to get to grips with my new climbing stand.

I have been moved to remark recently, that, for a person who likes to keep things simple and in their place, I have a lot of hobbies that don’t let me do that. The shooting I do invariably requires bag after bag of clothes and equipment and stuff that all needs to be remembered, and then not forgotten again later, and this climbing stand is the icing on the cake.

It is comprised of two steel structures that individually attach to whichever straight tree I set my sights upon. I then stand with my feet attached to one, and my backside resting on the other, and alternately sit and lift my feet, then stand and lift the other part. I need to wear a safety harness while I’m doing this, and there are a bunch of bungees, ropes, straps, and cushions, that have to be tied up, down, and around, and invariably moved again a few moments later, that makes the whole affair rather frustrating, not to mention a bit scary.

It is awkward to carry, and noisy, and pretty heavy as well (because I didn’t buy the aluminium version), but when I sat down after climbing not very far up the first tree I could find, it turns out it’s actually quite comfortable. I think there might be hope.

Here is a picture of me in the stand after my first exploratory climb:

Next weekend at the cabin my plan is to do all my hunting from this stand, in the hope that I’m thoroughly versed in its operation before I venture out into the wilds of Wisconsin, where help will be a lot further away if I get into a spot of bother.

In other news, although I didn’t get a chance to fire it, I am fairly happy with the rifle I have been carrying this weekend. The Marlin 336 is fairly light, and easy to point and carry. The operation is slightly more complicated than the bolt actions I’m used to, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. With any luck, next weekend, I’ll get to see how it works on deer.

With me luck.

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The reticent shooter

Today was my last day at work in the UK. I was invited by one of the doctors to come for a drink after work, to which I said yes. During the chat my colleague mentioned that I am a shooter, whereupon the head consultant starts asking me all sorts of questions about the sort of shooting I do. It readily becomes apparent that he enjoys the odd bit of stalking (deer hunting for any US readers), so we have a good chat about deer, calibres, and experiences, and I get to thinking about how I have worked with this guy for six years but never had the subject of stalking or shooting come up in conversation. I know I am always cautious about mentioning hunting among new company in the UK for fear of a negative response, and it never came up from his end.

I think of the missed opportunities for a casual chat about the pleasures of venison, and I think that perhaps shooters in the UK need a secret signal that alerts other shooters/hunters to their involvement in the sport. As I said in the last post, to move forward in this sport it requires support from a community of shooters to enable us to develop and advance, but if we don’t know who is in that community we miss out on the chance.

In reaction to the failure to connect with another shooter because of my reticence in talking about my sport, I insert a photo from my last outing in the UK. This picture was taken around christmas and shows the first two deer I shot on an outing just after christmas. My rifle is shown for scale.

Roe and Muntjack 2012

Roe and Muntjack 2012

They are a Roe and a Muntjack. The Roe ended up in our freezer and the last of it is thawing now and will be eaten tomorrow. These two were shot from a high seat (tree stand for any US readers) on the Stonor estate in Oxfordshire. Shortly after this I shot two Fallow Does off the bonnet of the estate stalkers pickup truck. That is a day I will remember for a long time, and I will talk about in more detail in a later post.