I popped out early this morning to a wood that we don't stalk much other than in the summer, as it tends to get used by a lot of walkers. It's basically a valley, wooded on both sides but with a lovely glade running through the bottom. I have a "favourite" tree I tend to stand by and wait for the light to improve, and 04:15 this morning found me there. A couple of muntjac were barking like billy-o whilst I waited. I'd bumped one as I walked into the valley and it and its neighbour were doing their best to wake up the wood.
I'd heard movement from the woods to my left, but never actually saw an animal and then, further down the valley, I saw a roe doe grazing in the gathering light. I stalked down the valley and then, at about 100 yards she saw me and bounded away, barking for all she was worth. Kicking myself for spooking her I turned into the woods on my left and stalked carefully through the woodland edge, though the crispy leaves underfoot were doing their best to embarrass me.
Emerging back into the valley I glanced down the glade and there, facing me, was a buck. Quickly getting the rifle onto my sticks I could see that he was watching me intently. With no time to wait for him to turn broadside on I took a neck shot and he dropped like the proverbial sack of spuds.
Fallow, my labrador, worked her way up to the beast and a quick gralloch saw him in the bag by 05:15
His front brow on his right hand side is missing - it looks as though it has broken off - and on the left hand side there's a lump about half way up the main beam, so he's seen a battle or two. I've seen a couple of six point bucks here in the last year or two, but our policy here is basically to shoot what walks out in front of us.
I then had to carry him back to the car, at the end of which I was well and truly knackered. Back to the larder, where he weighed in at a shade under 50 pounds and, from his teeth, aged somewhere between four and five, and then home by 07:30.