To tell you the truth this hunting did not start well at all. I woke up in the morning with a terrible throat ache. I packed my hunting bag with medicines, but I decided not to take any painkillers before hunting. I think it is still better to have that pain in the neck than a slow brain. I also promised good meat for the Christmas table for my wife and the kids, so I had a job as well, not just having fun.
I arrived to the hunting lodge at around 2 PM so we did not have too much time for preparation. I took my Pedersoli Jäger flintlock rifle, my hunting pouch with all the accessories, the binoculars (this old Zeiss 8×32 used to be my grandfather’s gear and I am sure it will serve my son well as well), my range finder, and there we go. My guide was Károly Csapó again. We are the same age and we pretty share the same values about hunting as well. Not just about hunting, but about the happenings of our times as well.
The throat ache did not fade away. My only help was the hot tea in my bag that offered a few minutes of ease after each cup. But it was not easy to concentrate I have to confess. So we packed the gear in the 4×4 and drove to the location where Károly believed the herd of fallow deer females spending the end of the day. It was cca 3 PM when we reached the area. This left us about 1.5 hour for stalking with good light conditions. I have my front sight painted to white, but my flintlock Jäger likes the daytime. No scope or any modern gear on the gun, s the light is necessary for a clean hit.
The previous days were quite damp, so there was extreme mud on the dirt roads, and even in many places inside the woods. After the few first steps I felt like something was strange… I felt something unusual in my feet. And then I realized that the only thing I forgot to change was my shoes. I left my hunting boots n my car parked near the lodge, and went hunting in my business shoes. Not a good start either.
So what could I do with my shoes? I decided not to return. We walked a few kilometres in the forest, playing hide and seek with the fallow deer, but we could only get close to bucks, not females. We decided to climb a hill where a shooting stand is placed and remain there for the remaining 30 minutes. We climbed the hill in complete silence, and when we finally reached the top, immediately saw that there are two females very close to us. I checked the distance with the range finder: only 50 meters. Excellent distance! My most preferred distance is between 30-70 meters, so this is just what I was waiting for. Karoly handed me his cross sticks, I lay the rifle on the rest, cocked the hammer silently and aimed the young fallow deer. I put my sights exactly to the centre of its body where the leg meets the chest.
The Jäger broke the silence of the forest, and as the smoke faded away we saw the two deer running away without any wound or injury. We spent the rest of the time examining the area for possible signs of injury, but no blood drops, no cut fur, nothing in a 500×500 meter area. I missed. At least without causing suffer to the game. And I knew of course what I did: I aimed to high. The side of the body of the young fallow deer in on 20-25 cm tall, and I put my sights in the centre, while the rifle shoots 8 cm-s high at 50 m… Silly me.
We went back to the house and I felt miserable. But in fact my friend Sándor, also a blackpowder hunter, did much better: he shot a young fallow deer at 50 m and a young wild boar at 55 m with two nice shots from his .54 percussion Pedersoli Traditional Hawken rifle. These were his first successful blackpowder hunts so we had a reason to celebrate. The good Hungarian pálinka and a sauna after did its job. I felt much better the next morning.
It was still dark when we arrived to the hunting grounds. A beautiful hilly area with the sun waking up just in front of us. The sea of long yellow grass gave a beautiful background for the herds of fallow deer bucks. Károly suggested to stalk all along the edge of the forest, and that’s what we did. Just after a few hundred meters we alerted a female wild boar with her pigs. The distance was only 30 meters. I lifted my rifle immediately to get on of the small ones in my sights. The bead is at the right place so I pulled the trigger immediately. However the rifle had different thoughts about quickness this time. I forgot to clean the frizzen and the stone after yesterday’s firing, so the shot went off extremely slowly: ssssssssssBANG….. When the rifle fire the pig was already 1-2 meters away. How could I be so silly? I have fired many-many thousands of flint shots in my life and never forgot to prepare the flint and steel for the next shot.
I walked in the direction of the lodge as soldier of the beaten army. Missing two games from such ideal distances is something I never did before. I tried to find a good excuse, like having that throat ache, etc… but it was no use.
As we walked like this, stuffed with bad feelings we silently ran into a female young fallow deer again. The distance was cca 70 meters, but I was not so self-confident that day. I sneaked another 20 meters to get into my ideal range. This time the flint was clean and sharps, so I knew there will be no problem with the lock time. I aimed lower as well. The rifle went off like a percussion gun. The dense smoke obstructed my view so I was not able to see how the game reacted to my shot. Károly watched the happenings thru his binoculars, so he was in a much better position. As the smoke faded away all I noticed that the deer disappeared… How this can be I asked myself… Everything was perfect now. What could happen??? Károly already knew that it was a good shot, but decided to play with my nerves a bit more, so he did not confess that the deer walked another 5 meters and collapsed immediately. He left me in my insecurity, with increasing vapours. I walked to the spot where the deer stood originally and saw the strong blood trail leading to the fallen game. Perfect shot, right thru the heart. I hugged Károly with a great happiness. Finally the game is taken, my first deer in Gyulaj, and also the Christmas table will have the noble food for the whole family.