Mrs SimpleSimon told me today that she fancied going shopping. I told her that I'd rather rub my face in a turd, but that if she went the right way she could drop me off at a quiet corner of the Wyre Forest with the dog and I'd give her (the dog) some exercise and training.
Knowing this is a quiet spot compared to the visitor centre/go ape/cafe/Forest school/gruffalo trail a few miles off, and seeing the weather was a bit damp and chilly I decided to take my binoculars and see what I might be able to see. By all accounts the deer in Wyre are hit pretty hard by the FC, and probably kept on their toes by numerous dog wLakers, etc. but they're not totally uncommon to spy in the more remote parts of the forest.
I set off from the small empty car park and headed in the direction of a big fire break with some pretty good views. Dog walking well off the lead, which I have worked very hard on recently, I made the fire break, and sat down on the top of a concrete "bunker" which I think hides some kind of water pump (or something, there are a few of them along the length of the break).
o sat the dog down and began glassing through my bargain second hand Steiners. I couldn't believe it! Within 30 seconds I spied a fallow buck downhill, in the trees. I stood up slowly for a better view. He was totally unseeable with the naked eye, but my 8x42s were showing me every clump of his soggy hair and bat of his eyelids. I watched him for a few minutes, and even tried (without success) to get a photo through the binos. Though I had no rifle (obviously!) I found my heart rate going up as I watched.
I looked down, aware that Poppy was off the lead and prone to getting bored if left for too long. She was eating grass, still roughly where I'd put her. I watched the buck some more, then a distant noise attracted his attention, and as he looked up he looked right at me. I watched him, watching me, until I felt Poppy leave my side. She had only wandered a yard or two, and returned to a hiss and a gesture, but when I got the lenses back up my buck had gone.
I glassed the woods but couldn't see him or any evidence that he might not have been alone, but with plenty of time until the wife had agreed to meet me with the car I decided to see if I could find him again. I walked up the fire break, to a point where I remembered from a previous dog walk that a wide gravel forest track crossed over. It was uphill of where I'd seen him, running 90 degrees to the fire break and would give me, hopefully, some good views down into his area.
I made the track and walked a short way until I thought I must be roughly parallel to where I'd spotted him. I got the binoculars up in time to see a greyish shape disappearing from view. I sat the dog and in my sternerst most serious manner told her "stay" then I quietly moves off the track to look for a better view.
Twenty meters in, I looked back to see Poppy watching intently. I tucked myself under a tree and put the binoculars up.
That same greyish figure, a fallow deer's flank, just visible through some brown foliage. I called the dog to me quietly, Sat her again and told her "stay", then I moved again to find a better angle. Twenty meters more and the binoculars revealed a second animal, it's black-framed pure with backside and tail giving it away. The first animal was still visible, but only because I knew where to look.
They had made the bottom of the hill now and started back up the other side of a dip. I couldn't see as well as I wanted to, a bum and a section of belly were less interesting than the full head view I'd had earlier, and I was curious to see this new beast a bit better.
I put the binoculars down and looked around closer to me, for a route that would take me close and bring my angle back to one that would get me side-on. Until now I'd only been looking to watch them, but then the thought occurred. What if I was here with the rifle? Could I stalk and shoot one of these beasts?
Could I get into a position now that would make it possible? A dry run.
I called the dog again, left her, and moved away. Ten meters away, I looked back expecting to see her quizzical little face watching me. Instead I saw her arse, 5 yards from where I'd left her, with her face buried in a bramble bush! I suppose she'd finally got bored!
I went back to fetch her and put her back where I'd left her. Unfortunately she had other ideas and with a look that said "Chase me, useless human!" she ran for it. A minute of frantic crashing around me in circles and she came back and flopped at my feet. Resisting the urge to throttle her I put her on the lead and raised my binoculars, but my fallow were nowhere to be seen. A check of the watch told me it was time to leave, and the dog managed the trip back to the car off the lead without further stupidity.
I had a brilliant time, if the dog had been a little more patient maybe I could have got to a "shooting position", or maybe not. But watching the deer and practicing my skills was almost as rewarding regardless. No chance of venison as an end result in these woods, but a lot of fun to be had nonetheless!