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Hunting Story - Silkas on the Green Isle

Hunting Story - Silkas on the Green Isle

Who does not know them, the pictures of grazing cows on green meadows in the middle of an open, hilly coastal landscape? We Germans call it the green island and I’m told by my English friend Peter Moore that the Irish call it the Emerald Isle!

Harsh conditions

However, one should not forget how rough this island can be too. Ice cold winds and lashing rain are not uncommon here and then it can be quite uncomfortable in this idyll. Fortunately, we are experiencing it from its not so nasty side. It is windy and a bit rainy but we are well prepared. Norman Mulvany, our guide from Irish Safaris, had warned us how mean the weather might be in September.

We are on the prowl for Sika deer. This is actually no special challenge in this area with its high game population, problem is, we are almost two weeks too early! The rutt has not started yet and the typical whistling of the deer is over. So, Norman had all his work cut out and emlpoyed all his skills to do his best to get game for us in sight.

Shortly after dawn saw us stalking along a valley above cow meadows and involuntarily one thinks of the well-known television advertisement; green meadows, satisfied cows and golden butter. Logically, such a stalk on farm land means the opening and shutting of a number of gates and the pleasures of negotiating barbed fences, all set to rip our hands and clothing. But the calm and the colorful landscape are compensation for getting up early, as is the fact we are hunting, which makes up for most things!

Well hidden

Despite the open landscape, it is not so easy to discover the coveted Sika, which are known for their elusive and cautious nature. Between long stalks and small shrubs the dark brown/black coats of the little deer are hardly noticeable. We also try hard not to attract attention. On soft feet we stalk on a path through a small bog area. Here are particularly juicy grasses, just perfect for the deer, as it will provide the animlas with enough protein for the upcoming rutt. Our guide seemed to think so too and was confident. Again and again we stop and take a careful look at the marshland. Suddenly, I notice a brown spot and I think I saw a movement. Slowly, I nudge Norman and make him aware of the coloured dots that could be our quarry.

At this moment, I’m glad to have my Swarovski EL Range 8x42 laser rangefinder binoculars around my neck; as the combination of good optics for observation and an accurate rangefinder are essential tools for the serious hunter- certainly in an unknown hunting area. Their real beauty, apart from their quality and ability, is not having to carry seperate rangefinders and binoculars! Just point at the target and press the button!

Stalking in

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In this case, it is still 240 meters to the deer. For my tastes a little too far for a shot and therefore we stalk a little closer into a light headwind. We edge closer, stopping now and again to check the range and see if the herd has spotted us. The deer still seem calm and after checking my range, which is now 150 meters, I’m ready to take the shot. Jagdfieber (hunting fever) or buck fever as the Americans say, does not count now, though I never like to be complacent, as it’s too easy to make a mistake if you are over confident or rush! So, taking aim and settling myself, I pull the trigger and my shot breaks through the silence and my first Irish Sika drops on the spot with a well placed shot.

No matter how many times we hunt, and no matter how much prey we take, it is always a special moment to have killed a game animal. As always, we take this moment to stop and reflect on what we have done. So, we take this quiet minute; a break and a strong hunter’s part of it all just go together.

Full english

After this first game drive, it‘s back to the property to enjoy a full English (or should that be Irish) breakfast? This morning leaves nothing to be desired and we look forward to the evening. Unfortunately, the weather plays a joke on us and during the short drive from the hotel into the area it is already raining torrents. However, we are not discouraged and my Härkila combination Stornoway clothing gets a good chance to prove its worth. Luckily, it is not only traditional in look, it is extremely water repellent. A sharp wind whistles in our faces and Norman points to a makeshift seat in a tall tree, I look at him doubtfully. “Do not worry, so far only one has fallen down and anyway it’s tall grass below”, he jokingly answers my gaze.

At the top of the ladder, I let my eyes wander. A splendidly iridescent rainbow paints the sky in the most beautiful colors, the wind subsides and the rain start to slacken off too. It only takes a few minutes, when I see a fleeting movement at the edge of the forest. That is impossible! I’m just sitting and already a Sika deer cautiously enters a small clearing in the woods in front of me. But it seems too uncomfortable for him.

He seeks protection at the edge of the forest behind a thick tree and now is barely visible. Luckily, I had been able to assess him as shootable and now am ready, so it’s time to wait for a good opportunity. With my Sauer 100 at the ready, finger on the safety catch, I hope for the right moment. Then he steps forward and into my arc of fire, I take aim, flip off the safety and fire.

Unfortunately, I can not see him go down and the forest initially seems to have swallowed my deer. But it looked and felt like a good shot, so now it’s time to wait a moment.

Climbing down, we go to the woods, and as expected, the deer was down with a good hit, laying at the edge of the thicket. Apparently, not only Diana but also Peter thinks it’s fine with us tonight. The rain has stopped in the meantime and so we can enjoy this evening talking shop next to our Sika.

Contacts

Team Winz; www.team-winz.eu
Irish Safaris; www.facebook.com/Irishsafaris270/
Swarovski, www.swarovskioptik.com
Harkila; www.harklia.com
Sauer; www.sauder.de

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