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  1. There comes a time in most shooting careers when the thrill of pulling the trigger starts to become outweighed by the other areas of a shooting event. I think that most of us as youngsters want to shoot, and that’s the interest, shooting things. As we get older so the friendship and the tradition become as or more important. The people, the places and the environment begin to feature far higher on our list of importance.

    I have been shooting, as a gamekeeper, for the last 30 years. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoying it but it is work and I am not worried if I take the gun or a camera on a shooting day or leave both at home and take the dogs and pick up behind the line.

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    However when it comes to stalking it’s a totally different feeling, it takes me back to those days at the start when I would creep up a hedge row with a .410  after a rabbit at last light or wait on the marsh for an elusive mallard to make its mistake. This is even more so, when it comes to boar. So it made sense that I should evolve my business to take in the things that matter to me. When stalking, I get as much of a buzz from seeing a client achieve their goal. It may be their first roe buck or muntjac, it may only be a cull animal, but the thrill I get is no different to the one I get if I were squeezing the trigger myself. One gentleman who I took out, and who, like so many, has become a good friend wanted a muntjac buck. We tried but had awful weather for 2 stalks so I asked him if he could stay on for another stalk as our guest. He agreed and that night he got his buck, only a small one, but his. After the shot which was from a high seat, we sat giving the animal time to breathe its last. I noticed the whole seat beginning to shake. He was so emotional he wanted to cry. 15 minutes later and I had cleaned the animal out and we were on our way back to the larder he was still shaking.  This thrill is what I experience on the boar. Now I love France and boar shooting so the idea of putting the two together was my idea of heaven on earth, and as luck would have it we were able to do just that. Running boar trips in France has made a huge difference to my work and enjoyment of life. I have met such a variety of people, the guns who we take out with us as well as the local guns and shoot owners in France.  Friendships and working relationships that have been forged have been second to none. I have been asked to shoot, from my first visit to France, as a guest. It seems that the whole country is full of friends I have yet to meet.  The traditions that we have lost, to a great extent in the UK, are alive and well in France.  The food and the wine, as well as the respect for the quarry makes for wonderful days and again it matters not if I shoot or guide, just to see the faces of our friends and clients who shoot their first driven boar with us if enough. It seems that in some cases the shooting is just the excuse for the party afterwards!  That said the rush that I get when I hear the hunting horns and the hounds followed by the unmistakable sound of full boar rifles is second to none. Le Chasse is so much more than just the shooting, it is the whole ambiance of the hunt and the day. For our stalking and hunting we have picked the very best sporting shoots in England and in France. The idea of shooting a medal animal from an area that is less than flattering means very little to me. I look for the whole thing, the whole picture.

    And thanks to my good friend David, who has been the inspiration behind this venture, it has worked both ways, and some of our French friends have travelled to England to shoot driven game with us, and they enjoyed every moment of it.

    Last year we had an Italian stalker here who brought his father. The son was very keen for his father to stay with him and for both of them to carry a rifle while I guide.  Not a chance. I had my under-keeper take the son out while I took father. When I questioned the son as to why he was so keen that they stay together, the son explained that his father did not speak much English.  Father looked at me and smiled and then in broken English said “it is ok we will speak the language of hunting” and he was right, we did.

    We have stalkers booked in and French trips to run through to March next year so it’s all exciting at the moment and with the dates to fix for France for 2016/17,  we are going to be busy. 

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  2. My two daughters are, in many ways, so alike. They both beat, both enjoy the shoot days and the countryside and are both involved with the shoot. My oldest, Hannah, is company secretary for Glemham Hall Shoot ltd and Deer Stalking in England ltd and knows what she is talking about when it comes to shooting game and deer stalking. She is also a good and safe rifle shot and is very good with the dogs that we keep. However, when it comes to shooting live targets herself, she’s just not interested. She’s happy to pick up dead game and enjoys seeing a good bird shot, but just draws a line when it comes to doing it herself.

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    My youngest, Kimberly, my wife, Sue and my oldest, Hannah.

    Our youngest on the other hand has, in the last 6 months, become far more interested in the job and has decided that when she leaves school next year, she would like to do a game keeping course at Otley collage and join the team here as an under keeper and stalker. She has always been fairly “hands on” and skinned her first deer at around 12 years of age. Then she shot her first rabbit and has since moved onto deer. At night with the .22LR she’s deadly on the rabbits but also very calm and collected. So after a little range work and many trips out with me on the shoot, I felt it was time to try to get her onto her first deer and see how she got on. We did a couple of stalks and a bit of high seat work but although we saw deer none were the right ones. However we changed all that on a warm August evening last year. Now before I go any further, I must just say that I have shot a lot of stuff and it has all become a bit mundane, but I really do like taking stalkers out and I get so much pleasure from seeing them take their animal, in particular their first. Also at Deer Stalking in England we do get a lot of stalkers who are first timers and we try to give all the encouragement we can. Together with the Introduction to deer stalking courses and the DSC1 and 2 courses, we have our fair share of newbies. And that’s great.

    Kimberly came home from school and was soon changed and ready to go. As I said, she had stalked before but we had just been unlucky. We arrived with plenty of time to spare and parked up. Having gone through the safety and kitted up and loaded my Remington 700, we very carefully stalked into the entrance of a wood. Now I have release pens in here, so there were plenty of pheasants about and it was difficult to stalk without them giving the game away. However, as we looked down the side of a release pen we spotted a muntjac feeding on the ride where we had fed the birds earlier. Very carefully we both glassed it and it turned out to be a young buck, which through my Leica binoculars, I ranged it at 98 meters. Quickly up on the sticks and taking aim at the buck, it became apparent that it was not going to stand still for long, and with Kimberly on sticks I whispered instructions. “not yet it’s got to be side on, no there’s a pheasant in the way, no its head on, not yet wait till it lifts its head, take it if your happy” BANG. The buck kicked out backwards and ran forwards. I knew it was a good strike. She was shaking like a leaf and had really got the buck fever. I was literally jumping up and down on the spot and shared her excitement.  She wanted to go straight away to find it but I made her wait.

    We gave it 10 minutes and then slowly walked forward. As we got to the area we found a lot of lung matter which backed up my theory on the strike being high lung. So explaining to Kimberly what we had to look for and that we now needed to find it, I let her track the animal. It was not long before I spotted it about 25 yards into the woodland but I didn’t let on, instead letting her follow the trail. A few minutes later she spotted it. I explained that we should now approach it slowly and we did with Kimberly checking for eye blink reaction. We pulled it out into a small glade and had the normal “grab and grin” photo, and then we hung the buck up and Kimberly gralloched it under my watchful eye. She did a great job, and two firsts in one evening.

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    The point of all this is that I was so happy for her, I wouldn’t have felt a thing if I had shot it myself, only the knowledge that the job had been done cleanly and correctly. The excitement that I felt when I knew what she had achieved, the time taken, the patience she had shown and on the gralloch, the position of the shot being perfect, off sticks at 100 yards. I was thrilled.

    We had a go for fallow later in the season, but my broken ankle meant that I had to get my cousin to take her out. One night, they got into a heap of Fallow but my cousin had to step back to try to switch his phone off that had rung at just the wrong moment. With the rifle up on sticks, Kimberly was left for a few minutes to make the correct call herself. She didn’t shoot. One animal behind another, heads down, animals moving all added to the problems but she held her nerve and put it down to experience. My cousin was full of praise for her, her safety and decision making were smack on.      

    Now she’s really got the bug, her next stalk will be for Roe in the next few days and then a small fallow buck  later in the season, and I must say I am looking forward to it.

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