I was out with the Larks, this morning.
In fact, well before a lot of them!
There are, as strange as it may seem, some "positives" to having the BIG C. One of them is that, after radiotherapy treatment, I have to get up a couple of times during the night, to pee.
This morning, my bladder caused me to awaken at 02:48 hrs.
What better than to get up, piss, and head off stalking!
Consequently, I was on my patch at 03:50hrs., on a beautiful morning. 11.5 Deg. C., with a light SSE wind.
I had it in mind to try and meet up with an illusive buck that I have been after since the start of the season. My problem is that, to get to the spot where he has been seen to date, I have to disturb the rest of the Eastern half of my ground.
With this in mind, I set off, from my start point, when it was still too dark to shoot, by, maybe, ten minutes, or so.
Trying to walk the woodland track, with its accumilation of Beech mast, sticks., leaves, etc., quietly, is, shall I say, a challange.
Several pigeons, and a couple of buzzards, did their best to foil my plans, but I made the short approach to the field adjacent the river, in reasonable silence.
I followed the edge of the wood, where I had shot two bucks earier in the week. On that morning I had spotted a very agitated buck, one still in velvet. Low and behold, he was out again. Only this time he saw me first, and legged it across the field to the safety of his woodland retreat. This at 200 yards +, by the way. Oh! to have young eyes again. I try to blame the poor light!
Having been rumbled, I had a spy with my binoculars, right up to the Sourthern march, where "my buck" usually shows.
Some 200 yards off ( sorry to all those that have gone metric ), in the near distance, I noticed a dark coloured spot, along the fence line,where there is usually nothing. Gaining focus, it is just a coil of drainage pipe, left by the farmer.
Adjusting focus to another 400 yards, I see a deer, feeding, right on the march fence, but on my side of it !
Now, this buck that I've been after is a canny one, usually appearing at very last light in the evening. So, I'm guessing that he will be away into the wood once the sun is up.
With no time to loose, I crossed the narrow field to gain the shelter of mature beech trees along the river bank, that being my only viable approach.
Hurrying slowly , South, along the bank,, out of sight, with a nice steady wind in my face, I followed the river until I was level with a spot where a shot would be on.
Leaving my sticks, pack, and binoculars by the waterside, I edged very slowly up the river bank, to the fence.
Bugger ! Where the hell ?? There was no way that the deer would have heard, or scented me. It must be there !
And it was. A quick look through the scope unfortunately confirmed that it was a doe, happily feeding, at 80 or so, yards.
A buck could well be with her, out of sight behind the whins, so I waited, kneeling in the wet grass. Ten minutes, and very sore knees, later, saw my patience pay off, when I spotted the back of another deer. This one feeding over the fence, on the river bank.
After a working life as an electrician, my knees are not my best asset, about on par with everything else, really, so after ten minutes, they were getting nippy.
I shuggled forward a couple of yards, to a style, and was able to park my rear end on the low step, and achieve some semblence of comfort.
Still the second deer was head down, facing me. Eventually, up came the head. Another doe!
There was a chance that "my buck" was there, but still out of sight, so I waited.
In fact, I waited, watching the two does, for half an hour, or more. It was a beautiful morning by now, of course. The sun was up, it was pleasantly warm, and so peaceful, as the countryside awoke.
The one doe was a mature beast, well on in her pregnancy. The other, a younger animal, for sure, last year's calf.
Eventually, Momma doe jumped the march fence to head back to the security of the wood. The youngster followed, and they walked off into the trees.
I dropped back down the river bank, picked up my gear, and headed on my way, walking a route to take advantage of the wind, back to my car, arriving there just on 07:00 hrs.
With no shot fired, nor venison to take home, some would say, an unsucessful morning stalk?
I would disagree.