Last week I had my first Roe Buck of the season. However it also represents my first from my home made portable high seat, my first from this plot of land, and also my first successful totally solo stalk.
I have been shooting this ground for some years now, mostly pigeons and corvids to the shotguns and rabbits to the rifles. Now and then I see deer but nothing regular and much of the land is not really safe for deer stalking. So, for all this time I have accepted that deer are not a reliable resource here, and most of my deer stalking to date has been as a guest elsewhere, paid or otherwise.
In January, I was picking off feral pigeons and collared doves, when I spotted Fallow in one of the pastures. The field usually has cattle in it but the farmer brings them in over winter, as much because it gets hopelessly waterlogged as anything. I decided to watch that field more closely, and figured out a place where I could get a safe shot from a high seat.
I had gone ahead and built one last year, from a folding ladder, a folding chair and some tubes and rod rests. Now was the time to put it to the test. I also placed a trail cam in a spot I thought would be the safest place to take a deer, and also where I have seen slots. Needless to say, over the next two months I ended up moving that camera all around the field in an attempt to see if there was any pattern at all to the deer movements, and basically there wasn't really. Too much of the time the fallow were out of legal hours anyway.
I resolved to spending some dawn sessions up in the seat, some of which showed me deer but sadly I always blanked, for all the usual reasons of safety, deer not stood to shoot, in front of each other etc. However, if I did hang around long enough, now and then I would see a group of four Roe come out, usually on the neighbour's land, but sometimes on "mine".
Last week, I got myself in the seat for about 10:30 and watched. The young buck of the group, still in velvet came out, but was too far away and not in a good spot. I watched and had a resigned sigh as he melted into the woods. 20 minutes later, out came the older buck, and he was in a perfectly good spot in terms of safety, 175 yards from my seat.
I watched him a while, hoping he might come a bit closer, and also deliberating if I would take him or not. I could see he looked good, and after a while he had closed the gap to 160 yards, but had begun to move back a bit. I considered my options a little longer and decided to take the shot. He dropped at once to 139gr Interlock through the shoulders.
Once gralloched ( I was slow about it, usually suspend but this time it had to be done flat) I bundled him into the roe sack, and I must admit that at the car 1200 yards later including climbing a five bar gate, I felt I had lugged him far enough!
Larder weight was about 38lbs so not a bad little beast at all.
In some ways I wish I had not hit the shoulders, as I lost some meat as a result, but that plot of land is not that big, the woods are close by and I really did not want my first solo kill to require anything much in terms of search/follow up. I prepared the head, and there were a few strips of velvet still on the antlers. I peeled one off and the others peeled in the steam as the skull was boiling. In any case, this is my best Roe Buck to date.
The window of opportunity will close soon, as within a few weeks the cattle will be back out to pasture, and I will probably not shoot that field much if any till winter. However, I will be watching adjacent fields with new interest from now!