“The Beagler” was the first person to offer me the chance to shoot a fallow deer, and with his skill and help I have been close twice. On the first occasion I was handed his full stock rifle and told “Don’t you dare scratch it”.
Then he dragged me around hundreds of acres of undulating ground as if I was two year old beagle, only I don’t think that beagles cough, splutter and wheeze as much as I do. After about an hour we spied a small herd of fallow, “Now you shoot the one I says or else” I was instructed.
The fallow were grazing about 80 yards into a field and “The Beagler” and I had stalked to a gateway where I could take a prone shot, I set the rifle, “Take the one on the far right”, I was instructed. I lined up on it confirmed it was the one “The Beagler” wanted, I set the trigger and breathed out, when a car came belting along the road along side the field and startled all of the fallow and off they went, back to the safety of the woods. Trigger set, reticules aimed, that was a very lucky fallow. I lifted my face from the stock of the rifle, “Um how do I unset the trigger?” I asked.
“I don’t know I’ve never not shot anything with this rifle” came the reply I didn’t want to hear.
Before my second near fallow experience I had obtained my own FAC. “The Beagler” and I set off for Devon to collect my new rifle. As is the want with us, the conversation soon turned to shooting. “The Beagler” was telling about one of his stalkers, who on a recent trip out with “The Beagler” was able to shoot two of the best beasts he had ever seen. They had found a very good Fallow buck along side a hedge and after a relatively short stalk had managed to add this very fine trophy to his collection. Whilst they were on their way back to the vehicle, they spied a very large Sika stag. This evening the rifle made a rather spectacular promise. If he was able to shoot the Sika he would be willing to “Carry the beast to the Town Hall steps” and “I’ll see your alright, know what I mean?” Who could refuse such an offer. “The Beagler” and the rifle went into stalk mode and after a long and difficult stalk, they finally managed to add a Sika Stag to the list of bagged species, that the gun had shot. After the dressing was finished, “The Beagler” tied a rope to the Sika and went back to the fallow he was dragging and set off for the vehicle. After a few hundred yards he turned to see how the rifle was getting on. Was he heading for the town hall steps? Now he was sauntering behind puffing on a well earned cigarette. The Sika remained all alone at the bottom of the hill. Needless to say “The Beagler” had to return for the prise and drag that to the top of the hill. Never mind thought “The Beagler” at least he’s making it worth my while. The final nail in the coffin of return trip for the rifle happened two evenings later. The rifle called to visit “The Beagler” with a large brown envelope in his palm. “The Beagler” started to think it was all worth while. After several minutes polite conversation the rifle made his excuses and left. The anticipation was building and “The Beagler” returned to his prise. Picking it up he realised that it didn’t have the flexibility of the folding stuff. On opening the envelope, well you know the disappointment you feel when you think that the nice box under the Christmas tree must be a telescopic sight. Only to be greeted by cleverly disguised and wrapped pair of slippers. “The Beagler” had this feeling and worse when he was greeted by a box of matchmakers.
This is not quite “The Beagler” understanding of the phrase “I’ll see you’re alright”.
Anyway after collecting my rifle we zeroed it at “The Beagler’s” and he proposed we blood the rifle. A prospect that I was quite looking forward to. Off we set, this time in his truck, glassing the fields as we went. We got out and I loaded removing the scope covers we set off across a field. “The Beagler” froze in front of me, both of us dropped to our knees, “About 300 metres in front a heard of six or seven fallow, “We’ll have to crawl as they are down hill to us”. We set off on our hands and knees. Before crawling to within about 100 metres of them.
“I will follow you now” “The Beagler” said, “Get to where you feel comfortable and shoot which ever one you want”.
Off I lead, until I was in a good position, the meadow grass was high and offered good cover, I pulled out the legs of the bi-pod and raised the rifle. No road here to spoil it I thought, I lined up on a nice buck (they are all nice if you’ve never shot one) at the side of the group, I slid the safety forward, and placed the crosshairs just behind his shoulder. I breathed in, and watched as the whole heard of deer turned and ran off. “What the…….” I was cut short by “The Beagler” saying “it wasn’t us, they were just spooked” we sat in the grass pondering what had almost happened again, as the barks of a dog carried across to us on the wind.
Two stalks with “The Beagler” and two almost opportunities, I look forward to my third invite when I hope I fair a little better.