Our Pro-Team member Alexandra Hellström visited one of our professional outfitters in Ireland, Norman Mulvany from Irish Safaris. It was her first time sika hunting in Ireland, and what an experience!
“The dream of hunting sika stag finally became reality! My boyfriend and I got a good deal through Rainsford Hunting, where we got direct contact to our outfitter Norman Mulvany from Irish Safaris. It made it easier for us to plan our trip, and much easier to match our expectations. After a little correspondence between us and Norman, we were off!
When we arrived in Ireland we rented a car at Dublin Airport, after which we drove to Tinahely, which was about 1.5 hours’ drive from the airport. We stayed at Murphy’s hotel in a small town. From there, there was about a 15-minute drive to the hunting area.
The sika hunting was the best early morning, and from afternoon to sunset. So, it was in those hours that we spend the most time hunting. In the morning, it was usually stalking, where in the afternoon / evening we would use a high seat. The sika deer are most active in the morning, because they rest during the day on the hills or in the dense forests, after which they begin to be active again around sunset. Sika deer is one of the most shy and cautious game I’ve ever hunted!
It was a little too hot while we were there, because sika hunting is best if the weather is cold because of the insects. The weather was perfect for stalking around in the beautiful landscape, but not for hunting. Unfortunately, there were two hunting days where we couldn’t go hunting in the morning due to bad weather conditions – too much fog and rain. According to Norman, our guide, weather like that is not good for hunting sika deer. We clearly saw most sika deer during the morning hunts.
Hunting day number two, Kim, my boyfriend, got lucky! He was out with Norman’s son, Oisin, during the whole trip. They went hunting this evening, and the luck was on their side! A few minutes before sunset, a sika stag came out at 70 meters, and it was heading directly towards them. Oisin whistled after it, after which it stopped and focused directly on them. The shot went off and the sika stag dropped on the spot. After this the hard part of the hunt started. They dragged the sika stag down from the hills, and then we took a few pictures. It was a beautiful 8-pointer sika stag! Sika stags often only gets eight points, and therefore he was extremely pleased with this sika stag. Perfect start of our trip!
The landscape is very changing due to the many hills and valleys, which puts your physique on test when you go through the landscape. Great setting for stalking! We spotted the most game during the morning hunts, but they were almost always too far away. We often saw beautiful sika stags at 500-800 meters. The days went by and I had not really been lucky yet!
But Kim had – on the third day he got two sika deer! After just 20 minutes of hunting, a group of sika deer came out of the woods. There were only hinds and calves, and they were on their way to another area. Kim and Oisin didn’t have the opportunity to shoot from the tower, so they went stalking after them. They got within shooting distance, and then they put up the shooting stick. There was both a calf and a hind, and they both dropped on the spot. Two beautiful shots at over 300 meters! After that the hard work started! They had to bring the deer to the nearest road, and it was tough due to the hills! Both Kim and Oisin were both very tired when we met them on the road. Ireland offers really exciting and challenging hunting! Physics come to the test in the hills, and also the long shooting distances up to 300 meters. That’s not what we’re used to at home!
Unfortunately, on hunting day number four we were unlucky. We could only go hunting in the afternoon due to fog and rain in the morning. The sika deer didn’t come out this afternoon, and we were unlucky to bump into some on our way to our spot. When we got to the spot, we saw a group of sika deer 450 meters out. There quickly ran over a hill and disappeared behind it. We didn’t have a chance to stalk after them, so therefore we chose to wait in the tower, hoping something would come out in the passage ahead of us. Unfortunately, there came no sika deer this evening. After the sunset it turned really cold, which was good for tomorrow’s hunt – the last hunting day!
Last morning everything was covered in frost and ice. It was the kind of cold that causes red noses and cheeks. A perfect morning for sika hunting! I was very nervous, but at the same time I had high expectations! I crossed my fingers, and hoped that this would be my day! We divided ourselves again this day. Kim went with Oisin, and I went with Norman, after which we spread into two different areas. Kim was hunting in an area with more forest and I was going to hunt in a more open area with open hills – and more specifically somewhere we had been earlier on the trip. When the weather is cold, the sika deer want to go out and graze for a little longer, and are therefore active for a longer time before they rest in the afternoon. So that was very promising!
We had a good way uphill before we got to a plateau. We started scanning the area all around us with our binoculars. The frost was all over the grass and bushes, and therefore it made a sound every time we took a step. We tried to move as quietly as possible, but it was difficult to be 100% silent. Suddenly, Norman stopped, and looked into his binoculars. He turned and sneaked to me and whispered “Stag”! Just over 300 meters away, a sika stag walked alone, and it had no idea that we were observing it. Norman slowly put up the ViperFlex shooting stick and I got ready. I could feel the fever started to hit me and my heart beat faster. Norman measured the distance and it was 267 meters. The sika stag just walked around and grazed the yellow flowers on the bushes. The stag was very black in color, and it looked really beautiful in the white frost landscape. I made my Browning X-Bolt Composite caliber 30.06 ready, after which I found a very comfortable shooting position. My heart hit faster and faster when I got the stag in my sight. Norman said, “Just take a deep breath and relax before you shoot”. I calmed down, after which I breathed deeply, and then broke the silence with the shot. The stag dropped on the spot! My first stag had been shot and it fell on the spot – it felt so unreal! We stayed there for a few minutes before we started searching for it!
Norman took a well-deserved smoke break after which we tried to locate the stag in the open landscape. There were many bushes and therefore it was difficult to find a particular characteristic of the specific place. We recognized the shooting site and walked towards it. Shortly after we located the stag! A beautiful 8-pointer sika stag! The stag had broken an antler during the rut, but it just made it a little more characteristic! Norman was very pleased with the age of the deer, and considered it to be 7-8 years. The stag was also a 100% pure sika stag, judging from the appearance, Norman says. It is normal to see many, and to shoot many hybrid stags in this area, which is a mix of sika and red stags.
This stag was the perfect way end to our hunting trip in Ireland, as we did not have the evening hunt the last day. But that is hunting, sometimes you’re lucky, and sometimes you just have to be happy about the moment and nature. We were very pleased and happy for our days in beautiful Ireland!
- Alexandra Hellström / Kim Preducic
Norman is a professional outfitter, and we can highly recommend him! Check out one of Norman’s special offers for sika stags here.
Text taken from this link – https://www.rainsfordhunting.com/en/hunting-trip-inspiration/sika-hunting-ireland-alexandra-hellstrom-2/
Rainsford Hunting is a hunting portal with more than 500 huntingoffers worldwide. As a member you get into direct contact with the outfitters on the site. You can ask everything you want and it doesn’t cost anything too be a member. You save money and can find great huntingoffers. So go and check their website and find your next hunting adventure!