On Friday last week, I took delivery of the new scopes Swarovski had promised, a Z6i 2.5-15 x 56, Z6i 2-12 x 50 and a Z4i 3-12 x 50. I spent Friday afternoon scoping up the various rifles with particular emphasis on the 6.5 x 55 which is now wearing the bigger of the three. I took the decision to have both the Z6i’s supplied with the ballistic turret as they will both be on rifles which are occasionally presented with longer shots.
Anyway, by Friday evening the 6.5 was at the range for a quick zeroing session. The first thing that struck me about the scope was how unfussy and good looking it is, now, I’m not too fussy how things look but it does sometimes make a difference when clients are using the rifle and it has to be said that even with the ballistic turret the scope still looks nice. Secondly was the reticle, nice and fine and in the second plane meaning it stays the same size throughout the zoom range meaning at long range, the target is obscured as little as possible. The illuminator is above the eyepiece and is so easy to use and adjust with a day and night setting – all in all a beautiful piece of engineering. I have used all the top makes over the years and between Swarovski and Zeiss there is absolutely nothing that the human eye can detect, however, the Swarovski has it for looks and clarity as well as customer support. Setting up the ballistic turret was childs play, I load the 6.5 fairly hot giving me an 8cm drop at 250 yards, the ballistic programme on Swarovskis website is absolutely bang on providing you feed in the right data, something that cannot be said for other scope manufacturers data which is woefully lacking.
04.00 Saturday – Alarm goes, no rain but a moderate wind. I only had a few hours before the first range clients were due to arrive and I had promised to deliver some venison to a particular farmer whose crops were being ravaged by fallow last year and which we eventually got under control. It’s only a small farm of around 500 acres but with a very healthy roe population as well as the fallow, too healthy as it is with a lot of very poor quality animals, so it was an ideal opportunity to try the new glass.
I arrived at around 05.00 just as light was coming to the sky and decided to take the top of the farm first – the farm is mostly small fields of around 10-20 acres all with hedges, with larger fields of grass leading down into a valley where they meet a huge area of woodland which supplies a steady stream of deer – I’m sure that if I eradicated the deer from the farm completely they would be back in numbers within a couple of months, such are the numbers present.
I had barely gone 400 yards when I noticed a deer shape browsing on the hedge, 5 minutes observation and it was obviously a young buck pushed off from his mum so she can give birth in peace and quiet! There was no way I could stalk him in his position and the wind wasn’t helping. I pushed up to try and let him scent me without seeing me, hoping it would unsettle him and he would move back towards the main body of the farm. It sort of worked although he was more unsettled than I would have liked as he went bouncing off across the field to safety! However, he did stop once around the corner of a hedge and appeared to settle a little. The field in question was perfect for approaching with the wind from the South East with an entrance in the corner from which I needed to approach. I waited for a few minutes to allow him to come along the hedgeline, hopefully unaware of me sneaking to the bottom corner of the field. Once I reached the corner, I crawled around the edge of the hedge and there he was, browsing happily on the new shoots on the hedge. I crawled back around the corner and knelt with the rifle on the sticks waiting for him to present a shot. At around 60 yards he decided to make his way across the field to the other corner, a quick whistle stopped him in his tracks giving me a simple, safe neck shot. Swarovski christened in style! I looked at my watch, 05.35, barely light but I hadn’t noticed, both the EL binoculars and the scope were outstanding.
I bled the buck and pulled him under a hedge to deal with later, if he was about another one probably wouldn’t be too far away! After another hour or so of fruitless searching I decided to go down into the valley to see what was about, just as I was climbing over a gate leading into the grass fields I leant back to get the sticks and saw a munty crossing the field from which I had just come – back over the gate and off in pursuit! This field has a particularly high spot which enabled me to get above the deer without being seen. This all happened in about 30 seconds such is the speed with which these little things move. Having got above it I put the sticks up ready for a shot if it stopped, it did, briefly. The scope was set on 6 from the previous shot, I quickly spun the zoom in and could clearly see it was a buck with no antlers, he took two steps towards the hedge, turned and looked and that was that! On further inspection he was a mature male and had probably been wearing a decent set of antlers only days prior to his demise as the pedicles were still slightly bloody from casting. I pulled him to the gate and bled him to be fetched later.
So that was that, 06.50 and two bucks, one roe one munty in the bag. The glass was stunning even in the gloomy conditions with fantastic edge to edge clarity and crispness as well as stunning colour rendition. By 10.00 they were both at the butchers ready to be turned into burgers for Withington Wild Venison.