Turns out wild/stealth camping during hunting season doesn’t prove for the most restful of nights spent in a tent.
About 20 minutes after I had finished eating my beef bolognaise and was about to start thinking of the first of several deserts and snacks I usually eat throughout the evening, I noticed several very powerful lamps in the field next to the woods that I was camping in.
I guessed it was probably hunters, ‘lamping’ for their quarry (dazzling animals with bright lights causing them to freeze, allowing you to get a clean shot at them).
After a while the lights seemed to diverge in several directions some I could see, others I watched flank my camp, then they all vanished.
A good hour or so passed, I daren’t make a sound. I couldn’t turn on my head torch or use my phone, watch, GPS tracker, iPad, or charging device…anything with a screen lights up my tent like a big green disco light in the woods.
Another hour or more passed and very heavy rain meant I couldn’t hear anything (if there had been anything to hear) but I figured if these guys were trying to catch deer, (I’d spotted deer tracks earlier and seen two run to the woods) then there shouldn’t be any sound to hear…they were waiting.
Very cautiously I unzipped my tent just a couple of inches, and peered at an angle through the opening so that there was little chance of their light catching my eyes. The lamps had gone only to be replaced by intermittent ‘firework night’ displays of semi-automatic rifle fire lighting up the sky either side of my camp.
I was already desperate for the toilet, but no chance. I would be stepping out of my tent to do so and as I’m not much taller than a roe deer, if my eyes appeared out of nowhere in the woods, there’s a good chance I would have been mistaken for a target!
Very hungry and tired from running 30 miles that day but wide awake all night…not fun.
The next morning I finally left my tent at day break and very slowly striking camp in a very tired state. I came out of the woods and noticed a hunter’s hide about 40 metres around a bend. There was a track to the side of it that snaked behind the woods I was camping in and another hide across the field.
It was very scary and very stupid; I now make sure I check around the bend before I make myself comfortable!