I enjoyed a nice morning out, on Thursday, and thought that I would share it with you.
I had not been out on my stalking ground for a week, as last weekend there was a group, camping, and carrying out map reading excercises on the trails through the woods.
Best to let things settle down again, then.
Thursday evening was good, but I opted for an early start on Friday morning, instead. Not only do I think that dawn is the best time of the day, It is also the most productive on my ground.
The alarm was set for 03:00 hrs., but my head clock woke me at 02:48hrs. I lay there for ten minutes, thinking what a daft time it was to be getting up, then climbed out of my pit.
A double shot esspresso later, and at 03:30hrs. I headed off. This time remembering to turn off my mobile 'phone, after having a text message arrive when out a couple of weeks ago, when trying to stalk in silence.
Half a mile later, there were two roe deer walking in the road. A wee four pointer, and a young doe,which, for some reason, boosts my confidence for a good morning, yet I'm still ten miles from my patch.
Bang on 03:50hrs., I park the car, and set off, immediately bumping two deer, as I walk to the gate leading to my chosen route this morning.
Those two earmarked for another day, and a favourable wind, I slowly make my way along the track, stopping every four or five very slow paces, to glass the way ahead.
My plan was to try for a buck that I've bumped two or three times, of late, in one of the fields adjacent to the river. I have no route to that area without going through the wood, so my progress is painfully slow, as you will appreciate. I am quite likely to encounter deer anywhere enroute to the river, so my old Zeiss 10x50's, had plenty of use.
Once I reached the end of the track, the open field is in view, and so will I be, if not careful. So, glassing ahead, through the last of the trees, I see no sign of any deer, and turn South, to follow the edge of the woodland.
Reaching the corner of a stand of old conifers, which shelter the pool, I was able to see past the end of the field that I was stalking, and most of the length of the next. Still nothing showing.
I crossed the open ground to the river, and headed upstream, taking advantage of the old beech trees which line the river bank, giving good cover to approach the next field unseen. The trees stop abruptly at the cattle grid leading into the field.
Time to stop and spy.
From my position, I can see almost to the end of the field. A slight dogleg in the fenceline, as it follows the course of the river, shields the far left corner from my view. It is in that hidden spot that I have obseved, and stalked in to, two does, on a couple of occasions, in the hope that my illusive buck would be with them.
Before I move off, a good look along the edge of the wood, reveals two Roe. They are about two hundred yards away, heads down, feeding, between the fence and the wood.
They are close to the boundary, but on my side of it. I need to get closer to get a good look at them, although I am convinced it is the doe and calf that I have seen before, not two hundred yards from that spot.
Out of sight, I move fifty yards closer, until there is no cover left to take advantage of. I edge cautiously around the side of the last beech tree, and see nothing ! They must have walked into the wall of rhododendrons, and are now gone.
Mumbling the odd curse under my breath, I put to use the stalkers greatest asset. Patience.
Fifteen minutes later, it is rewarded when a young doe steps out of the rhododendrons and slowly walks along a low bank, but not stopping to feed. She looks in good condition, with her summer coat coming through, as I watch her walk into the tree line and dissappear from my view, heading Northwest. I fully expected to see the other one follow her, but there was no sign of her.
I glass the edge of the wood, following the fenceline South.
Sure enough, I see the second deer, and it is a buck ! He does not seem to have any intention of going the way of the wee doe, as he is slowly browsing his merry way South, will soon be over my boundary, but has stopped by an old, dead, tree, where there is some nice Spring grass growing.
With no time to loose, I drop down the river bank, out of sight, and try to get to a position for a shot.
Although I am out of sight, I can see the top of the dead tree, so have a good mark. There is a section of river bank that has collasped which I have to skirt. This entails going up higher than I would prefer, but there is no other option.
I am carrying my quad sticks in my left hand, and use then to help me navigate past the area of missing bank.
And that is where things went all to hell !
My sticks pressed against my left breast pocket. What was in that pocket ? My mobile 'phone !
Up until then, the peacful sounds of a Spring morning were birdsong and the flow of the river.
Now it was the T-Mobile jingle, blaring away. OK, I was down below the bank, but only about a hundred and fifty yards from the buck. There is no way he could fail to hear that ! The chances of him having a 'phone were slim, and i didn't expect him to hang around to see who was causing the din.
With nothing to loose, sticks and binoculars were disgarded, and I legged it to where I could approach a stile on the fence, giving a little cover.
Imagine my surprise when I see that the buck was still there, showing no concern, at all.
The stile is painted black, so offers reasonable concealment for me, as I crawl up to it. Kneeling, I slide the Sako forward onto the step, and place my left hand under the forend.
The 6x42 S&B give a nice bright picture of the buck, about a hundred and forty yards away. He is still on my side of the boundary, but facing me, head down, browsing. He turns, now rear end on, and walks slowly up the bank, stopping to brows new leaves from a low branch. Still no shot.
Another three steps and he will be in the trees.
I once read that the difference between success and failure, when stalking, is whether the stalker or the deer makes the mistake.
This morning, it was the deer.
He turned to his left, not quite broadside on to me, and lowered his head. It was now or never.
I settled the crosshairs, allowing for the slight angle of his stance, and touched off the shot.
There was the sound of a solid thump as the Federal soft point hit home. The buck jumped, turned slightly, and ran a few yards. Looking through the 'scope, I watched him stop, stumble, fall, and roll down the bank.
I looked at my watch. 06:15hrs.
The stile made life easy to get over the fence, and I walked across the field.
The buck was lying in the Spring grass that had proved his downfall.
A nice six pointer, his Summer coat coming through.
Gralloch completed, I left him where he lay, and started my walk through the wood, back to my car. Just shy of the end of the wood, a doe stepped out onto the track. A young beast, with her Summer coat just coming through. No way to prove it, but I'd lay odds that it was the doe from down by the river.
It was a beautiful morning to be out, and a successful one too.
Back home, the buck was 23Kg. on the hook.
I really must put my 'phone in a different pocket next time.