My experience of a UKSHA call out.
I had a unsettling experience with a Muntjac which turned out to be a good experience with Jim Simson and Watzmann the UKSHA team who found the carcass in dense undergrowth.
A friend had asked me to harvest a Muntjac buck that came up out of her wood and into her garden every afternoon at round 16:00. I sat up a couple of times and at around 16:20, exactly at Sunset on the second visit 12. November, a Muntjac appeared 50 metres away. It was almost broadside on across the path running alongside the fence between some overgrown collapsed fruit cages and the orchard. It reacted to the shot with a couple of steps toward the fence, collided and then kicked itself away back across the path and into the fruit cage undergrowth.
I left it a few minutes and went out to find it, confident that it would be a few feet from the path…it wasn’t.
I looked for the shot site and found a spray of pins but no blood or bone fragments.
The runnel I thought it had gone down leads to a Honeysuckle and Bramble overgrown weld mesh panel fence 8 metres away which runs along the boundary between wood and garden. I thought it would have hit the fence and stopped, so I beat my way along the fence at the other end of the runnel. It was starting to get dark so I was using my torch to look under the undergrowth expecting to see the deer at any moment. No sign.
I realised that I was in trouble and needed help. I remembered having read on Stalking Directory that the advice was to leave a suspected non-mortally wounded animal to couch up close rather than push it on and risk not finding it at all, and also I thought that I should not muddle the site for the scent hound. However, having witnessed Watzmann’s ability I think you could probably hold a barn dance on the site and he would still have figured it out.
A call to the 0800 689 0857 UKSHA number at 18:14 was answered by George who listened to my tale of woe and said he would contact a team and call me back later that evening…at 18:44 I had a call from Jim Simson who asked questions about the circumstances, was reassuringly calm and understanding of my upset and worry. He offered to come down from Shropshire (2 hours away) arriving at 8:00 the following morning.
I spent a sleepless night worrying about whether I had pulled the shot and trying to recollect and replay the shot picture in my mind and whether I had misjudged the broadside/quartering angle of the deer.
We met at my home, Jim accepted a bacon roll and cup of coffee (he would not take anything else, not even cash for diesel) and then went to the site, where we had a chat to the landowner and then a look at the shot site. Jim spent ten minutes or so looking for signs but apart from the pins nothing else was obvious to human senses! He tied a marker ribbon at the site of the pins.
Jim put Watzmann on the long tracking lead and let him find the pins, he sniffed around the shot site, came back along sniffing the fence where the deer had collided but then came further along than I expected and sniffed down a different runnel than I thought the deer had gone down. He then thought better of it and went back to the shot site and along to the far end of the path through the gate and along a hedge in the next field where I have seen many Muntjac and had shot a buck before. Jim said he thought he was not on the deer track because he was pulling a bit too hard…he went in towards the hedge and a pheasant erupted from the other side….
Back to the shot site, and no hesitation this time, back to the runnel, and down the runnel towards the woodside fence. Jim called him back out of the runnel and found a way around the thicket to the fence where he let Watzmann carry on from where he had left off. At a small gap in the fence Watzmann showed interest and Jim spotted a piece of fat from the stomach, so knew he was on the right track.
Watzmann went through the gap.
Bent double, Jim asked me to hold his rifle, (having demonstrated no round in the chamber), and managed to climb up through the Honeysuckle and Elder blanket and over the fence into the Bramble bushes on the steep bank of the wood. Watzmann immediately found a lay-up spot, Jim explained I had probably pushed the deer off that spot when I first beat along the fence looking for it.
Then the team carried on through the brambles and down the bank another 30 metres or so and there was the Muntjac…well done that team…huge relief that the deer was not staggering around wounded.
The shot had entered in about the right place for a broadside shot but the exit wound was too far back clipping the rumen, the animal had been quartering towards me more than I thought. The bizarre thing from my point of view was that my disturbed night of memory racking ended up with an image in my mind of the deer facing to the left when I fired, but the entry and exit wound showed it was actually facing to the right. Which was logical given that it had darted forwards to collide with the fence on the right of the path. How or why my memory had transposed it I do not know, but despite my dodgy witness statement, Jim and Watzmann prevailed successfully.