Thursday, 22 January 2009

Dragging you up to speed

Damn it! One always forgets something in a blog, and it appears I have missed something fairly crucial to this story (Derek, thanks for indirectly reminding me!) Back in mid November, the farmer told me that he had been talking to a deer and wild boar stalker in Gloucestershire who said that he would come down and take a look around the site, which he did. He took with him his rather large rifle (hoping to catch the cat in the glare of his spot light, then put a bullet between its eyes) which he left in the car whilst he had a look around the field initially.

It was dark at this point, but the light picked up a large pair of eyes shining, and I quote directly from him, “9-10 apart couler green little light gold”. Now, I must stress that his English was not superb, hence the incorrect spellings and lack of sentence structure, and the sentence seems ambiguous.

He was convinced it was not a sheep or deer as their eyes are not as far apart, and that they shine back a different colour. Remember that this is a professional deer stalker who would know ruminant eye shine when he sees it! The conditions of the sighting were a distance of 80yrds, dark but clear and calm.

He also provides evidence as he found one footprint (this was later driven over before I could get there by the same ******* who stole the CFZ’s trigger camera). He gives it as being 5” long with large digit pad marks and a tri-lobed convex edge to the main pad (a dog’s in comparison is concave). There were no claw marks.

Now, this is where things get interesting. I joined him and his two companions in a night’s foray into the field to see what we could see.

After chatting for a bit, myself and 2 of the hunters (not the main fellow, he stayed behind with the rifle) went into the quarry next door where we all thought the cat may be lurking. As we broke through the very thin line of forest and into the quarry we smelt a very very very strong smell of cat urine. Well, I have never had a cat so I wouldn’t know what their scent marking smelt like, but apparently this is what it was so say the two gentlemen I was with. We carried on down the quarry and found a frozen liquid on the floor which (again apparently) had the look of cat vomit (it did have the sickly sweet smell of vomit I can confirm), but as this was frozen it was probably a few days old and was inconclusive. We marched on.

Down at the bottom of the quarry there were some slag piles which were much taller than a man (about 14” high) and arranged in rough rows. They terminated about 15’ away from a dense but small wood. We walked between two slag heaps, me on the left, the fellow with the big lamp in the middle and the other chap on the right (who, like me, had a headtorch on). The chap on the right suddenly called “There! Large eyes in the trees!”. We ran up to see them, but we saw nothing but heard something big moving away from us through the trees. Again, I cannot confirm that this was, but judging by my experience with deer, they move much more subtlety through thick vegetation than this did. We could not follow it though the undergrowth as it was far too thick, but we had a look around, and we found a deep impression in a soft stream bed, about 6” deep, 6” long and 4” wide. There were no markings at the bottom. By the size, this suggests that it was not a deer.

I did not photograph it because I am a pillock.

By now the fog was thickening up as fast as the torch light was dimming, so we headed back. We saw nothing on the way back, but did manage to get ourselves lost in the woods before using the torch to guide us out by triangulating it with the stalker with the rifle. Then, the radio sounded: “Guys, you hear that scream?”. We looked at each other confused as our heart beats began to rise. “What scream?” we replied. “A very loud one” was the answer, “it sounded like a deer being taken down. Get the **** back here now.”

So, as the adrenalin began to flow nicely, we cut the faffing and got back to the field. Now, a long time stalker who has shot dozens of deer, would surely know what noises a deer makes after it has been mortally wounded, but why did we not hear anything?

There and only two answers. Either the woods we were in were thick enough to mask the sound, but the field was open enough to let it filter through loud and clear, or he was lying. I am really not sure what to make of it.

Unfortunately, the head stalker insulted me quite nastily, so I will not be working with them again. It’s always a shame when you realise that someone you respected and wanted to work with for mutual advantage turns out to be a complete prat, but hey, that’s life.

Maybe on my next blog we will manage to get up to the present? You never know!

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