Hunting Story - Is Jack there?
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- Last updated: 27/04/2020
With a family holiday to England planned for December 2019, I decided to get in touch with good mate Steve Kelly (Raytrade UK) and let him know that I would be up for a hunt. He suggested we head out after ‘Jack, that is Muntjac and he knew just the man to help us out. It sounded great to me, especially as I had never hunted them before, and had only ever seen them dashing in and about the hedge rows on previous visits.
At 5am one cold, clear morning I pointed the car South, and followed the directions to a farm where I met up with Steve, and our host, Iain Uglow from Simpson Brothers. With the coming light, the breeze picked up a little, adding to an already chilly start. However, wrapped up in my New Zealand Alpine hunting gear I was warm and ready to see if ‘Jack’ was about.
Heading into the breeze, we skirted some of the farm buildings to look over the near paddocks. After 15 minutes of glassing the still dim fields, we picked up some movement. In the low light, we collectively strained through our binoculars to determine what exactly, it was. Eventually the call was ‘Hare’, so we watched a little more, then moved on.
Keeping right with the wind, we followed a fence line towards what was really a narrow fi eld between opposing stands of timber. Finding some cover with a commanding view, we set up the shooting sticks and rifle. I was using a Remington AWR in .270Win with suppressor. A few minutes later, just on the edge of the trees, we spotted movement. The whispered call was Jack. Watching, it appeared to be a doe that quickly dashed across the open ground to the opposite side.
With our attention drawn to her, we didn’t immediately see a following buck. Luckily, he decided to casually stroll, rather than speed across. While his lack of pace proved fatal, I did try my hardest not to shoot him. You see, I don’t usually shoot off sticks, and I hunt with an empty chamber. So, when the hunting part of the brain kicked in, I firstly tried to lift the rifle off the sticks, so as to fire an offhand shot.
Being gently instructed to get back on the sticks, I then proceeded to cycle the bolt, ejecting a live round and chambering another. Drawing further comment from both Steve and Iain, I then lined up to fire. Once my thinking and hunting brains figured out who was in charge, I fired, and landed a shoulder shot that dropped the little buck in his very patient tracks.
I generally hunt Fallow, Reds and Rusa, so ‘Jack appeared very small to me. That being said, he did possess the excellent conditioning I have come to expect from English deer. Your green pastures are certainty kind and he looked fat and healthy, with a first rate hide. I also apologised for nearly stuffing everything up and promised it wouldn’t happen again.
With the buck photographed and hung, we began a big loop around the higher paddocks on the farm. Along the way, we were presented with a clear, cold English sunrise. In full light we were able to see the abundant Muntjac sign, along with Red Kites circling the fields.
It was turning out to be a hunt of firsts, as I also managed to see for the first time, creditable sign of Badger. Up till now, I’ve only seen them lifeless on the side of the road, so it was very interesting to examine the clear prints and sign of activity in and around the hedge rows. The Muntjac, however, weren’t playing by the rules and were staying out of the sight. Continuing, we checked out a number of likely ‘Jack haunts, all to no avail, so we decided to head to a very productive wood a little north of our location. Entering the tangled timber, there was again plenty of sign of Muntjac, however the only movement to be seen was the annoying dash of Pheasants. Each time one would break cover we would react, then whisper, ‘Bloody Pheasant’, before moving on.
It looked like Muntjac wood was going to let us down as we neared its edge. Up front, were the remains of an old game bird pen, with deteriorating wire, down sections of fence, a disused feeder and open swing gates. On the other side of the unsecure pen was a grass paddock with sheep in the far distance. To our surprise, darting around the other side of the disused pen was a Muntjac, but there was clearly no shot to be had. Considering our options, nearly all would result in a startled Buck, so we just watched him move about.
A pattern started to appear and there was a point where a clear shot could be taken, if I could get in position, and if the Buck continued to follow his little circuit. Deciding to take the chance, I began to move. Keeping an eye on him, I was very nearly there when I realised, I had lost sight of him. I stopped, and after a bit, began to wonder if he had become aware of my presence. Suddenly, he popped out again. I was really not in a good shooting position, although if I tried to reposition myself, I would probably scare him off. Deciding it was now or never, I shouldered the rifl e and fired. Luck must have been with me, as hitting the little deer squarely, he dropped on the spot.
It was probably the single most awkward shot of my hunting career, and to be honest I was surprised I had made it; however, the results spoke for themselves and I had my second little Muntjac buck for the day. After taking some photos and cleaning up the animal we carried him back to the farm for some late lunch and of course the opportunity to relive and retell the story of the silliest shot of the season.
With everything said and done, I then loaded up the car, grabbed some quality Muntjac meat for the extended family, gave my thanks to everyone and closed the day on another successful hunting adventure.