The last two months has been a blur, my parents always told me that the older you get the quicker time goes by, they were right! Today is the first free day I’ve had since December.
January saw another busy month at the range surprisingly although the weather was kind which helped, it also enabled me to finish my local cull work early ready to start again in February down on the estates in Hungerford with Hunting club members. The first weekend in January saw the first level 1 course of the year with 12 successful candidates all passing with flying colours, the next course is set for the 24th-26th March and is already fully booked, we will likely be running a May course but have yet to decide on a firm date, watch this space.
Early in the new year I was contacted by Swarovski about an open day at the range later in the year, Mauser were also keen to get in on the act so the date for the diary is set, Saturday and Sunday the 26th and 27th of May will be the next open weekend with everything Swarovski and Mauser on show, there will be all the usual plus some prizes to be won – further details will follow on my blog as well as in the shooting press.
As I mentioned earlier, February sees me heading south to start cull work on some large estates who have finished their game shooting and need a dent making in the deer population, what I wasn’t prepared for was plummeting temperatures with ice and snow, the deer went into hiding and moving around to find them was impossible but clients came and clients shot deer although not in the numbers I was hoping with a few “firsts” mixed in for good measure. A week later the temperatures were 23 degrees warmer but the deer were still being difficult often presenting longer shots and less time – this is when being a professional stalker gets harder, the client wants an animal, I want the animal, but a 150-200 yard snap shot isn’t easy and many opportunities went begging, very frustrating for both parties. So it was we limped into March already behind on numbers, between February and the end of April I need to take 50 animals, mostly fallow, the animals are there no doubt about it and clients are getting an idea of what a deer manager has to do to get numbers down – thankfully over the last few days the animals have started to behave a little more predictably so hopefully March will see me catching up.
What has been highlighted is the huge gap between not so much the ability but the self belief between a recreational stalker and a professional stalker/deer manager and whilst the inevitable “buck fever” or rather “deer fever” is always going to be an issue, the ability to acquire the target and get a shot off can most definitely be improved, hence the reason I included discounted range time in the Hunting club package, and here I will pull no punches, if you want to put more deer on the ground get some trigger time in, nerves I can’t do a lot about but reaction time I can. There has only been a couple of occasions where nerves got the better of someone but reaction time has saved many a deer – the ability to put the cross hairs on the target and pull the trigger – I do the hard part, getting onto a safe, shootable animal, the easy part will always be pulling the trigger!
Moving on, the nights are drawing out, the sun is higher in the sky (although you wouldn’t think so today – its snowing as I type this!) and thoughts are turning to the impending Roe buck season. The range always gets very busy from March onwards plus I now have the pressures of clients wanting more “buck for their bang” (apologies!) so some early season practice should be in order – Dave the deer is ready and waiting along with various other steel targets to help you get the most out of your practice. Also the Blaser/Mauser/ Swarovski fitting centre goes from strength to strength so if you are considering a new rifle or scope for the coming year come along and actually get behind one.