Champagne and gunpowder

Speaking to Sporting Rifle contributor David Barrington Barnes, Miles Kaye explains his enthusiasm for rifles and ammo.

00 LEAD_IMG_182001Whereabouts are you based, Miles?

I’m a wine merchant by necessity and a deerstalker by choice. I sell champagne in London during the week and stalk at home in Suffolk and other parts of the country at weekends.

What deerstalking experience and qualifications do you have?

I have shot all my life and been stalking for 10 years. I have DSC1, courtesy of the BDS Jim Taylor Page Bursary.

Where do you stalk?

I stalk at home in Suffolk, and by invitation elsewhere in England and Scotland. I predominantly stalk muntjac, fallow, and roe, and have an annual trip at the red hinds.

What’s your rifle set-up?

I am re-barrelling my .243 Win to 6.5×47 Lapua. I home load and this round is suitable for a woodland rifle. The 6.5×47 is a relatively new wildcat. It is reputed to have the equivalent of .300 Win Mag ballistics, use less powder than a .243, and has reduced recoil compared with a 6.5×55. Being able to shoot 130 grain hunting heads through an 18” barrel will make for a serious ‘Muntjac rifle’. My hill rifle is a .30-06 Tikka T3 bedded into a Robertson synthetic stock, topped with a Zeiss Conquest 6-20×50 and an ASE SL5 moderator. Both scopes have my preferred mil-dot reticules for speedy adjustment for elevation and windage on the open hill.

What other kit do you take out?

My Bushnell Legend 8×42 Binos are excellent value for money, and I find my Leupold RX-1000 laser rangefinder invaluable. In woodland I favour a Stoney Point monopod stick – it’s swift and stable – but for longer standing shots at roe I prefer the fantastic stability of my homemade quad pod.

Why do you hand load?

The benefits are improved accuracy, personal enjoyment and cost saving. The last box of factory ammo I bought worked out at £1.65 per round and I can produce mine for 50p a round. The trouble is, that since starting home loading I now shoot many more rounds! By home loading I can wring every drop of accuracy out of my rifle, which in turn inspires confidence in making a clean kill when a beast is engaged within an ethical stalking distance. In my opinion, it’s that confidence in your kit and one’s own ability that is key.

Have you stalked abroad?

As a student, during a summer vacation, I was lucky enough to stalk in BC, Canada. In exchange for six weeks work in a hunting camp I was generously allowed to take a 12-point elk and a 5ft black bear. This rounded off a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding trip.

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