On my bit of ground there is a long wood, and at the western end of this wood is a pheasant pen surrounded by mature oaks and understorey hazel coppice with a dense Holly thicket in the middle. This holly thicket is about 70 yds long and wide and is roughly square. In the spring the whole area is covered in beautiful bluebells and later on the bracken grows up and the whole place is hidden under a green jungle for more or less the rest of the year.
The resident territorial buck is nothing special, and despite all our best efforts has held the territory for the last FIVE YEARS!!
Why five years I hear you ask........... well this territory is right at the end of the wood, and in any direction, the wind forms a swirling vortex, which always gives our presence away to the buck which just retreats into the safety of the holly thicket and sits it out.What is even more frustrating is that once we have been busted by the buck it just sits there barking from the holly thicket for hours. Well we have taken countless stalkers after this buck, nicknamed the pheasant pen buck (of course) without success. Some came within a whisker of pulling the trigger, but each time it got away to continue its charmed life. I have been within 10 feet of the buck on about three occasions, with clients only to be busted each time before the clients could react, or they did try and react and the buck caught the movement, and legged it......
Here is a picture I took of the buck four years ago, when the bluebells were out in the clearing next to the thicket, all I was armed with that day was binos and camera.
Now normally we see this buck around three or four times at the start of the buck season and again a few times whilst out after it with clients then it just disappears in the bracken for the rest of the year. Last time I saw it was the middle of may last year.
Well tonight, I waited below the wood with a German chap, against the hedge that runs up towards the pheasant pen, overlooking a young corn field in which I have watched up to four different bucks feeding over the last couple of weeks. I had a already seen a young velvet buck emerge out of the wood to feed, looking very nervous, and a three or four year old walked in, over from the boundry and into the wood further up when suddenly a young buck burst out of the wood in front of us being chased by the long lost pheasant pen buck.It chased the young buck up over the hill to the boundry of the next farm, before turning back, mouth open panting, and retracing its steps into the end of the wood and the safety of the holly thicket again. Antlers were exactly the same spindly shape as in the picture, and seeing as the buck was mature four years ago it must be getting pretty old by now. Sadly the nearest the buck came to our position on his return trip, was about 180 yds which was well out of the capabilities of the client, even off a bipod.
On the one hand it is nice to know that he is still holding his territory after this time, however on the other hand he is well past his sell by date so maybe needs taking out to free up the prime spot for something better to take possession.
What do you think, leave him be or take him out???