Straight into stalking by Audrey Watson

I am not from a shooting background. I was born on a big shooting estate where my dad was the farm manager but he didn’t shoot, nor did any of the rest of my family.

I didn’t meet people who were actively involved in shooting until I started working in my career in countryside management and I didn’t pick up a gun until I met my husband about fifteen years ago.

He is a deerstalker and game shooter and, as part of my work in forestry, it was natural that I took an interest in his passion for deer management and how doing so protected the species and their habitats.

I first followed him on a few stalks and then, of course, I borrowed his rifle and shot my first deer… and that was it – I was hooked! I quickly did my Deer Stalking Certificate Level 1 course and, despite only having shot once or twice before, passed the shooting test easily, first time.

I then bought my own rifle and started stalking seriously, went on to do my DSC Level 2 and now my hobby has become my full-time job as Deer Officer with BASC. I stalk with a Tikka T3 in 25.06 and I love it. It is light enough to carry all day but does the job brilliantly!

I have some memorable “firsts”: my first red stag was on a wet and windy day on the hill on Ardnamurchan, my first solo roebuck stalk was on a clear sunny morning in Dumfriesshire and, most recently, I was the first woman in the seventy-three year history of the Trakoscan hunting club in Croatia to ever shoot on their land. Just as well I proved myself with two lovely roebucks!

My shotgun shooting is a more recent thing. I have been picking up on our local shoot for about ten years and, initially, would only shoot on beaters’ day at the end of the season.

Suffice to say, “barn doors and twenty-yards” springs to mind, so I decided I needed to get this swinging the gun thing sorted as we rifle shooters tend to stop the gun, so signed myself up to some clay days.

Having now done a lot of ladies days with the Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire and Lancashire Fillies, and BASC, my shotgun use has improved for both clays and game… but it still needs work… and that’s always a good excuse to get out with my Caesar Guerini 20 gauge! And, as other bloggers have commented, I have met some wonderful people through a shared passion for shooting of all sorts.

Audrey Watson

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