The Norfolk double

01B Brian Phipps 0742

In February a keeper had contacted me about a big muntjac he had seen in Norfolk. I decided to go down to see if I could get it.

After driving down there and checking in to the B&B, the keeper and I made a plan for the stalk on the following morning. It was cold when he picked me up at 6am.

We drove to the ground and he said, “There is a high seat overlooking a clearing.” It was foggy, so visibility was not good. Even with my Swarovski binoculars it was difficult to see. I stalked down to the high seat and climbed in.

I had my trusty .243 Tikka rifle with me. Mounted on top was a Zeiss 2.5-12×56. After 10 minutes of being sat there I spotted a muntjac doe with a follower, which I would have said was about half grown.

Just then, a roe doe and buck ran across the ride. The six-point buck looked heavy in velvet still. At 9.30am, the stalker came to pick me up – at this point I still had not seen a muntjac buck.

We went for breakfast and between us hatched another plan.

01A Brian Phipps 0651The muntjac was definitely in that area so the keeper asked me if I wanted to go back there again. By this time the fog had lifted and it was starting to get warm.

The stalker dropped me off, and round two began. After looking down the first ride, I saw a muntjac doe and a buck. The keeper had said to me earlier that I would know the buck when I saw it.

Even though this looked like a good representative, it was obvious this was not the one. I carried on down and heard the tell-tale sign of the muntjac bark. I froze for about five minutes while everything settled down before setting off again.

I looked down another ride and saw a muntjac doe grazing. I thought I would watch her for a moment when suddenly, through my binoculars, I saw the buck coming through the trees.

The keeper was not wrong. He said that if I saw him I would know, and I certainly did. It was at this point I realised I had left my sticks in the truck, so this would have to be a freehand shot if one presented.

I watched him through my binoculars for what seemed like an eternity, waiting for my chance. This buck was not foolish – if anything I would say he was very wise.

At approximately 80 yards away when he first broke cover, he stayed there for approximately two seconds and then went straight back in.

My heart sank. I thought I had missed my chance but he had only just got back in and the doe did not follow.

She was unsettled and walked towards me.

By this time she was about 45 yards away. I said to myself, “If she offers me a half-decent chance, I will take it.” The hunting goddess was on my side.

The buck came out and stood broadside, but I could not shoot because the doe was stood directly behind.

At this point, I removed the safety catch. The doe took six paces away, put her head down and started grazing. I don’t know why but the buck did not move.

I placed the crosshairs on its shoulder and the shot rang out. I was relieved to watch him drop. I automatically re-chambered a round and kept the crosshairs on him.

Having put the safety catch on, I slung the rifle over my shoulder and approached the deer. I touched its eye and there was no response.

At this point I de-chambered to make my gun safe, dropped my bipod legs and placed the gun on the ground. It was time for me to look at my trophy.

As I pulled the deer’s head from out of the grass, I noticed the top two centimetres of one of its antlers had snapped off. That did not bother me as I saw how thick and long the other antler was. This was an old warrior.

One-sided: Though missing an antler, the first buck was still a fine specimen

One-sided: Though missing an antler, the first buck was still a fine specimen

While I was admiring my trophy, another muntjac stepped out on the ride about 100 yards away. I thought this was too good to be true. There was a big bank behind the buck.

I immediately lay down, chambered another round, placed the crosshairs on the sweet spot, squeezed the trigger and watched him drop. I again re-chambered and put the safety catch on.

I approached the deer, made sure it was dead, and de-chambered to make the gun safe before stopping to admire him. I carried this muntjac back to the first deer I had shot and began to admire them both.

I couldn’t believe how lucky I had been to get not one great muntjac but two. I then thought, not many people can say they have managed to do a Norfolk double.

I rang the keeper and he came down. When he saw the animals, he shook my hand and congratulated me. We were both pleased to see such fine specimens.

I will be getting both the muntjac scored because of the quality of them, which you will be able to see by the photos.

Simon Crook

Two for the price of one: It's a red letter stalk for Simon

Two for the price of one: It’s a red letter stalk for Simon

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