Becoming a Trophy Hunter - Part IV
- Thursday, 19 February 2015
In the concluding part of Matthew Rogers series on becoming a trophy hunter, Matthew finally bags a truly epic beast.
My previous articles have worked hard to change your perceptions about how easy it is to shoot deer in a park. If you have not had the chance to read these articles or didn’t come away with that impression, please trust me – it’s incredibly hard work and very challenging!
Leaving off at the point of absolute despair, I intend to finish the narrative in the way the stalk finished, exploring and explaining what happened and how my journey for a trophy beast concluded.
We were already half way back to the car, having abandoned a huge mixed beast herd of a hundred or so animals in the bottom fields. We accepted that watching them for another twenty minutes would not herald a change; they were all grazing and watching us carefully at a safe 350 yards, but with the major beasts being closer to 450. The difference in yards between the start of the group and the end of the group gives testimony to the sheer number of animals.
However, we had the high ground. While undoubtedly the most famous, it is unlikely that Sun Tzu was the first strategist to recognize the strategic advantage of an elevated perspective in combat. We elected to put this to good use and controversially began by advancing, some 75 yards directly at the herd, with the purposeful confidence that a stalker tries to apply to cross exposed ground whilst not appearing as a threat. As expected, the herd began to move to the right, first at a trot and then a march.
Adjusting with it, we began matching their trajectory by moving gradualy up the incline of the slope that we were on. Walking faster now, the herd moved as one long train of animals, often four or more abreast and stretching across a whole field. We slowed, hoping they would stop, and to see what might present itself with the refreshment of perspective; but they continued. We moved further up the hill, and prepared to escalate our movement, perhaps slightly further out of sight, to pre-empt their next move. It should be noted that the deer had by this point crossed three entire fields and a little copse of woodland and showed no sign of tiring of this game.
(Above: A truly superb Sika Stag and the culmination of an arduous stalk)
On shifting perspective towards an upward incline in front of us we saw an opportunity to ascend and make shorter work of keeping up with the herd. However there, in front of us, at 250 yards exactly (as spied by my trusty Swarovski EL Rangefinder binoculars) was the most handsome Japanese Sika Stag I have ever seen – standing directly in front of us on the gradient, regarding us with interest.
We dropped straight to the ground, already soaked and tired, so weary limbs moved quickly to embrace the strain for the umpteenth time that day, and spied him through the scope. Expecting him to trot away at any moment, I took a breath and thumbed off the safety. The prospect of shooting at 250 yards was offset by the sheer size of the stag – even at this range he seemed enormous in the fixed 8x magnification scope – making allowance for drop, I aimed approximately two thirds of the way up his chest, as he turned broadside from quarter. Releasing half the breath and squeezing the trigger provided that split second of sheer terror, wondering if the shot was good. From the prone position I had excellent command of the rifle, and by the time my body had recovered from the recoil and the adrenaline, I caught a brief glimpse of the stag kicking out in surprise as the round struck him perfectly, one hundred and fifty yards of adrenaline fuelled sprint later, and he was down.
Thus on the 29th of October, 2014, I was lucky enough to secure a gold medal quality Japanese Sika with County Deer Stalking. This was the first Sika that I have taken, and what an animal to have on the wall. Estimates indicate it is comfortably within the top fifty largest Sika in the world at the time of shooting, testimony to the quality of animals available. The day concluded with the gralloch and a tipple of whisky to celebrate the occasion.
This stalk was a first for me in many ways; the first stalk in a park, the first for a trophy animal, the first four-figure day while stalking, the first Sika, and the first when I would gamble against a hundred animals to hold out and take the one that I wanted.
This concludes my short series on the journey that I have made in becoming a trophy hunter. What is in no doubt, is that I will be undertaking further trophy hunts in the years to come.
If readers would like to experience the thrill of going after big medal animals, contact County Deer Stalking directly for more information: contact-us
If you'd like to read Matthews previous entry follow this link: becoming-a-trophy-hunter-part-iii