Join a Deer Stalking Syndicate for 2024

With a handful of vacancies due to be made available on the Capreolus Club’s deer stalking syndicate in 2024, club syndicate member Peter Osborne reveals just how good the grounds are and recounts two exhilarating stalks for Fallow buck on one of the clubs grounds in West Sussex.

Fallow Buck Hunting ChartAs far as field sports go, the awesome thing about deer stalking, unlike game bird shooting, is that there is no actual season, rather an ebb and flow of open and closed seasons for bucks, does, hinds and stags. This short article focusses on stalking Fallow (Dama Dama) – arguably the most attractive of all UK deer species and from my short experience one of the more difficult to stalk.

Just how good is your Fallow Buck? Check out the chart above.

The open season for Fallow buck in the UK ranges from 1st August through to 30th April giving the buck a short respite of 3 blissful months over the early summer! Despite this seemingly long season, it remains amazing how many bucks you see in early summer, before they seemingly vanish on 1st August. I also like the fact that Fallow deer are now viewed as a native species, rather than an invasive species, giving them a sense of entitlement and belonging, and maybe that is why they remain incredibly elusive when stalked!

Deer Stalking Syndicate 2023In early November, I was headed to zone 5 of one of the Capreolus Club’s fabulous new grounds in West Sussex, a new zone for me and a good hike from the entrance and gralloching station. I had studied the maps and details that had been provided to me by the club and so had an initial sense of the topography and ground layout. After arriving, I discerned the best way to approach the zone given the prevailing North Easterly, albeit slight, breeze and decided to skirt the outside of the neighbouring zones 3 and 4 using a footpath.

Having done so, I entered zone 5 just within the zone boundary and headed towards the two-man high seat that was located in the middle of the zone. As with anything new there is the sense of excitement and discovery and every step the potential and opportunity. Nearing a clearing just inside the zone, I used my thermal to scout the surrounding area and spotted some Muntjac blissfully unaware of my presence. I then spent a time observing them (this is one of the pleasures of stalking the ability to just observe) until the deer decided to head East - I then continued stealthily towards the high seat.

I spent some time in the high seat, but after a sustained period of scanning and having seen no movement, I decided to spend the rest of the morning as a recce of the zone so I could memorise its nuances, and this decision created the opportunity for my first Fallow buck. Using both the thermal and the binoculars and accounting for the wind, I had walked most of the zone and was slowly making my way back to my car when I spotted a Fallow buck in full ‘palmated’ antler - the excitement was palpable. I distanced the buck at 230m, however as he was slowly walking up the track towards me, stopping now and then to browse and eat, I setup on the sticks and just waited and watched the buck through my Swarovski Z8i scope. The buck moved closer and closer and with each step I had to focus on controlling both my excitement and breathing.

The buck eventually stopped at around 150m and presented the perfect safe shot. I was concerned he would then take a few steps and disappear into the undergrowth, so took the shot and the placement was perfect. I must confess, that whilst being an experienced African hunter, I was quite ecstatic at having safely dispatched my first Fallow buck!

I decided to gralloch the buck enroute to my car, as anyone who stalks alone will know, a fallow buck is not that easy to transport and a gralloched carcass is a lot lighter to move. I had just completed the gralloch and was taking a breather before commencing the skinning, when astonishingly, I saw an even larger buck strolling nonchalantly up the path towards me.

All I could do was admire the sheer beauty and grace of the buck and after several minutes the buck headed into the wood and disappeared, leaving me thinking how many more times there would be the opportunity to see two beautiful fallow bucks in a single morning. I think this is why I love stalking, the great outdoors ensuring all your senses are working in harmony with nature, coupled with the sheer unpredictability that culminates to create that one moment.

Deer Stalking syndicate vacancies 2023

Fast forward to early December and I am stalking in the neighbouring Zone 4 and although there was no wind, it is bitterly cold and there is mild mist reducing overall visibility. As with many stalks I tend to head towards the designated high seat, but in parallel, I ensure the journey is optimised. I constantly use the thermal and the binoculars to scout the terrain looking for potential opportunities. I was rewarded near the seat as I spotted some female fallow just exiting the undergrowth and heading up the path parallel to the seat. I distanced the does at 100m and as they were browsing I setup on the sticks, ensured the shot was safe and waited for the ideal moment.

As with many stalks patience is a virtue, not a grace, and looking through the scope, I watched as the does sauntered slowly down the path, never stopping to present themselves. I was just about to move on as they turned into the wood at a distance, when a monster Fallow buck suddenly stepped out of the undergrowth from the same point the does had exited and started down the path after the females.

Peter Osborne Deer Stalking UK

After a few metres the buck stopped and presented perfectly for a shot. My heart rate and breathing needed instant management. To be honest, I was in awe of the sheer size of the buck and must confess to spending a little time just admiring before I took the shot with my Sauer in .308 calibre using Hornady 150gr ammunition.

The buck dropped instantly to the ground, but unlike on the first occasion with the last buck, thankfully, a fellow syndicate member was stalking nearby and was on hand to help me with the extraction. Thanks Ulrich!

I genuinely believe this buck was the one I had sighted previously, and I felt it was destiny that we had met again – what a moment and what a privilege to have dispatched these two magnificent animals. The intention now is to have both skulls mounted as a memory of these rare and memorable stalks.

As to where these antlers sit on the size scale, I’ll leave that for you to assess using the chart at the top of the article, but I think one of the two is pretty decent!

Which one do you think is the best and just how good are these Fallow? Why not let us know on Instagam. Follow this link to have your say: instagram.com/countydeerstalking

The Capreolus Club deer stalking syndicate is the finest deer stalking syndicate in the south of England and encompasses thousands of acres and seven unique stalk areas ranging from the Cotswolds to Hampshire, Kent & Sussex.

If you’d like to be considered for membership of the stalking syndicate, the club has vacancies available for 2024.

You will need PDS1 or DSC1 and have the ability to be able to extract, gralloch and inspect deer on your own.

To apply for membership just follow this link: apply-now

To read more about the Capreolus Club stalking syndicate follow this link: deer-stalking-syndicate-vacancies

If you need to get qualified, then learn more about 'UK Deer Stalking Qualifications' here: deer-stalking-qualifications 

To enrol on the nationally recognised Proficient Deer Stalker Certificate Level 1 (PDS1) - Accreditted by LANTRA & UK Rural Skills, click here: deer-stalking-course

 

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