I just thought I'd like to share my experience from yesterday which was a really pleasant outing for me down on ELMER FUDD's ground in Monmouth. I always enjoy my stalking, but sometimes a total blank or seeing only a fleeting glimpse of deer is frustrating. Yesterday was the total opposite, as I got to really see the place come alive with deer.
I'd been looking forward to this trip for a while, my first outing since March, Barry (ELMER) texted me to say that he wasn't going to be at our agreed meeting place, and suggested I park up at the farm and have a walk to the same area where I shot a buck on my last visit.
I sorted my kit and began my mini hike through the fields to reach a hill overlooking a long stretch of woodland. Barry's advice had been to get in the same spot as last time as the deer might be active in the woods and spook if I tried to walk the margin. The high vegetation would pretty much guarantee I wouldn't see anything before it saw me, so I took his advice and got comfy standing well hidden being some brambles where the fence intersects a hedgerow.
Poppy was on her absolute best behavior, she seemed to grasp the seriousness of the situation and did a good job of sitting still and watching with me. I waited there for a good long while, watching hares and buzzards on the field the bordered the woods, but no deer were showing.
I hatched a plan, the fence I was stood against ran across the hillside, parallel to the woods I was watching. My view of the woodland ended off to my right where the margin turns left before turning back right a little further down the hill, obviously I couldn't see around the corner. I relocated via a scenic route to keep me out of view as much as possible to stand behind a bush further down the fence, more or less in line with where the woods turn the corner. It was a risk, as the wind would blow my scent slightly towards one part of the woodland, but the trade off was a much improved view of the whole length of the margin.
Immediately the situation started to look up. On the other side of the woods beyond the boundary where the ground rises again, I could see 5 or 6 fallow moving. The binoculars showed me does with young in tow. I watched, and then much further off on another field I saw another pair. And then more on abother nearby hillside. The place was coming alive with deer and I was having a great time quietly watching them all. After a while something caught my eye. Far off to my half right, on.the field I was overlooking, something brown had moved in front of a lush green bush and given itself away. I got the binoculars up. It was way out of range, but if needs be a crawl along the fence would probably get me in range.
Another doe. She was absolutely beautiful in her dappled summer coat, picking her way about. As I watched her I saw that she too had a young one in tow. They wandered around, blissfully unaware of my presence, and I felt really quite privileged to watch them in this quiet place.
Closer to me now, where the woods went downhill between turning away from me and turning back across the hillside, I saw another glimpse of unmistakable deer colour tentatively moving on the very edge of the field.
I watched through the binoculars, tall grass and little hits of bush in front of me blurred the lenses and for 2 or 3 minutes I waited for a decent view of its head. Finally! The deer raised itss head, the grass blew out of view, and I could clearly make out his antlers.
Time for action. I checked the dog was still with me, got the rifle on the sticks and got comfortable. I'm no good at judging range, but it felt like this buck was quite far off. I sized him up in the crosshairs, and decided that I was happy taking the shot if he presented one. I watched him and waited. My heart was racing and a felt myself going tense. I was putting myself under pressure, so I took my head off the stock and had a few deep breaths. Back in position I felt much better.
The buck was head on. He turned hither and thither, but never full broadside, he seemed to slowly be making his way uphill towards me. He turned to his left, perfect shot! But then as quickly as he'd turned he seemed to stumble and danced a few paces back downhill. For a second I thought something had startled him, but he calmed and went back to feeding, facing annoyingly in a non-shootable position.
After a few minutes of watching, he finally turned broadside. A couple of steps, and as he lowered his head to graze I brought the crosshairs up onto his shoulder.
The report from the .270 echoed off the woods and I saw my hares from earlier bolting for cover. I worked the bolt and had a slightly frantic moment where it seemed as if the buck had disappeared. He hadn't, the long grass and the slope had concealed him where he'd fallen on the spot, but his pale belly gave him away. I watched, and after a few minutes of no movement I texted Barry to tell him I had one down.
Slinging the rifle, I walked along the fence to the far end of the field and the only gate. I was gobsmacked to see the doe and fawn from earlier stood in the wheat on the next field watching me, only moving when I got within 40 yards. At 60 or 70 yards away from the shot site Poppy broke away from walking at heel and bounded off to check out the dead buck. When I caught up with her I could see he was in lovely condition. The shot had gone in high on the shoulder, deflected off the spine and exited very low on the neck/front of the opposite shoulder. I set about my clumsy but adequate gralloch, and Barry arrived just after last light to get it and me back to the farm in his truck.
I'm looking forward now to butchering it today, and the inevitable queue of friends and family on the scrounge for venison!