Barbours primed, it’s over to Showell Farm for a day’s simulation deer stalking
Words Lizzie Frainier Photos Justine Trickett
I’d never pulled the trigger of a gun before. I’d never really had the need to. But somehow, on an unseasonably cold and wet July morning, I found myself on a farm in Chipping Norton preparing to do just that. Bang!
Now don’t fret – I hadn’t got caught up in a real-life Miss Marple murder mystery. Instead, I was there to learn the art of deer stalking with a few colleagues.
Our instructor was Paul, a self-proclaimed deer guru whose 17 years of experience in the field (literally), was just who we needed to help us learn the basics.
We started off with a round of brilliant bacon rolls in an outbuilding adorned with hunting paraphernalia, before settling down for a lesson on the six different species of deer to be found across the country, as well as instruction on the best rifles, calibres, ammo and scopes to use. Safety rules and stalking laws were, of course, made crystal clear.
Target practice was next. Paul’s calm demeanour kept us at ease as we watched each team member take aim with a rifle at 100 yards. Damien was giddy with excitement, while Jenna had a cool confidence.
A quick sandwich refuel and it was time for some simulated stalking. Millie was up first, tasked with carrying the rifle, binoculars and shooting tripod. Then we each took turns aiming at cut-outs of deer across the fields.
‘When you’re stalking deer, you’re learning new things every day,’ Paul observed, explaining that set seasons of breeding, animal behaviour and laws all change. With such an unusual teambuilding activity, we certainly learnt a lot, too. And not all of it was about deer.
One-day deerstalking masterclasses start at £175pp, which includes ammunition, breakfast and lunch. West London Shooting School
corporate event packages start at £125pp, which includes cartridges, clays, a two-course lunch or breakfast, and afternoon tea.
Showell Farm, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 5TH | 020 8845 1377