Thomas Lindy Nissen eventually gets the buck – and a hard lesson in the importance of knowing your gear inside out before taking it to the field
The better hunter you are, and the more you know about the gear you use, the more luck you will normally have – but not always. This story relates an occasion when things went the opposite way, unfortunately within the earshot of a certain Mr. Loud Mouth.
I’m sitting in a high seat in the beautiful German Rhineland. I’m there with German hunting guide Michael Jacobs. Behind the high seat, there’s a valley that contains old vineyards, which have now turned into a real wilderness. In front of us, we have an open field with fresh grass, clover and other herbs that roe deer and wild boar find attractive. Our mission is not only to shoot a good roebuck or a young boar, it’s also to test the new Zeiss Victory V8 scope in action – for which I soon will get the opportunity.
In another area, not far from where we are sitting, another hunting journalist is stalking roebucks with public relations manager at Zeiss Sports Optics, Armin Dobat. This might not seem relevant, but I will later be sorry about this, and for good reason.
As it becomes darker, a roe doe approaches the field, and starts to eat the grass. For some minutes I study the elegant deer through the new Zeiss Victory HT 8×54 binoculars – which we also have the opportunity to test on this hunt. Some minutes later, another roe deer arrives at the scene. This time it’s a roebuck, with six points, which means it is a buck the guide will allow me to shoot.
I find a nice rest for the rifle, adjust the magnification and turn down the red dot in the crosshair. The roebuck starts to eat; as he does, he presents himself broadside towards me. It’s perfect, a chance I can’t miss – nearly a little too easy. I take the shot. The roebuck jumps two steps forward and looks back over his shoulder. The shot was – in my opinion – good, but the signs the roebuck makes tells both Michael and I that the bullet missed the target.
The roebuck disappears seconds later in the bushes. My guide agrees it looked like a clean miss, and suggests that we wait for 10 minutes before checking out the site where the buck stood when the shot was taken. I agree, lean my body back, and try to relax. After five minutes, a roebuck shows at the same location as the previous shot. I sit back bolt upright, check it out in the binoculars, and realise that it is exactly the same buck. I look at the guide: can I shoot again? He nods. I adjust the same things as earlier and find a good rest.
As I shoot, the roebuck does the same jump forward and looks over his shoulder. It looks like I missed him again, but this time I was not that sure that my shot was perfect. I therefore take advantage of the chance to shoot once more before the roebuck disappears. Cycling a round, I pull the trigger again. This time I hear the bullet hit something, but the roebuck just stands still, looking amazed at something behind him. The buck hasn’t moved.
It’s perfect, a chance that I can’t miss –
nearly a little too easy.
I take the shot
I shoot again. This time the guide sees that the bullet has gone over the roebuck with several centimetres to spare. The roebuck jumps away and disappears into the high vegetation to the left of the field of short grass. I look at the V8 scope – it’s clearly an excellent unit. Surely it can’t be at fault? Quickly I realise the ASV tower for adjustment, is adjusted for shooting at 300 metres. I just shot four times at a target that was 100 metres away. Swearing ensues. The worst part is that the other hunting journalist, who is hunting nearby, has heard everything.
How could this happen, you might ask… and with good reason. It happened because I’m not used to hunting with a scope that is adjustable for long-range shooting. It happened because, earlier that day, I had been playing around with all the nice features on the scope, during the recording of a video about the Victory V8. It happened because my focus was split between hunting and doing an article. It happened because I wasn’t sharp enough. It happened because of lots of factors – but most of all, it happened because my confidence with my gear wasn’t good enough.
As I adjust the ASV tower back to sight in at 100 metres, the roebuck suddenly shows again on the left side of the field. He starts, nervously, to move in a direction that brings him closer to where we are situated in the high seat. He comes closer, closer and closer. After some seconds, he’s only 30 metres from us. Then he chooses a new direction. He turns right out on the middle of the field, where he stops broadside to me and gives me – incredibly – yet another easy chance to take him.
Did I get him this time? I did – when the chance was available I made it on the fifth shot. I got my roebuck. I didn’t deserve it, but everything went my way in the end this evening. Or, to be more specific, nearly everything.
Had I been alone with my German hunting guide we might have been able to keep this minor incident between the two of us, but as I mentioned earlier, we were not alone in the area. In addition to us, the other hunting journalist, whom I will only refer to as Mr. Loud Mouth, had heard all my shots. He was sure that I had shot a handful of wild boar, and was happy on my behalf at my presumed success. When hearing the true story, his happiness reached even higher standards as he – as opposed to me – found this story one worth spreading.
Some months later, I attended another shooting event with lots of other hunting journalists. I arrived after a delay because of some airline problems but, as I arrived, I felt as if I was already a well-known person at this event. Shortly after I realised that a certain Mr. Loud Mouth had been telling stories about my field test with the ASV tower, a test that showed that the system works perfectly. If it’s adjusted to be sight in at 300 metres, it shoots – as it is supposed to – over the target at 100 metres.
Every journalist in the northern Europe knows this story, so I thought I might as well tell it to the readers of this magazine too. You might have a quick laugh over my stupidity, but I hope as well as that this story reminds you to know your gear, to practise with it before a hunt, and never lose focus on what can go wrong when hunting. By any means, it feels a lot better to tell the story myself than to hear it from some guy who heard it from a guy who heard it from Mr. Loud Mouth.