It's a bit of a long one so please bare with me. Here is the report on my first Roe Doe os the 2015 season:
I was determined that I was going get out and try to get my first Roe Doe of this season this morning so I set the alarm accordingly.The alarm woke me at 06:00 and after a fumble to the bathroon and then on to the kitchen to put the kettle I looked out of the front window and nearly decided to go straight back to bed - The fog was so thick I could barely see the other side of the road - About 40 yards away. Oh well, I was out of bed and awake so I got dressed had my brew and started cursing my luck while browsing through "The Stralking Directory". I guess that for once the cursing might have worked as the fog slowly started to burn off and by 07:30 I had visibility of over 200 yards so that was it, I was going stalking!
Within a few minutes the rifle and stalking equipment was in the car and I was on my way to my local stalking permission. This permission is relatively small and has a woodland of about 30 acres which I know regularly holds Roe, and is less than a 10 minute drive from my house which is an added bonus!
On arrival the landowner (Steve) was just starting to sort the livestock (Mainly ponies) out so we spent a few minutes chatting. While we were talking I noticed a bit of movement way off in the bottom meadow (The house and stables overlook the main part of the grounds and the woodland) On getting my binoculars out we could see that there was 5 Roe Deer about 4-500 yards away, all steadily making their way towards the wood, no doubt ready to bed down for the day. I should say now that these deer are used to seeing us about the place and as such don't tend to scare very easily, so it gave us a few short minutes to observe them.
We noticed that there was one of the really old and scrawny looking does that I had already earmarked on my cull plan and decided that was the one that I was going to try to stalk in to, but then we noticed that one of the others which looked like a yearling that was limping rather badly on one front leg. Our initial thoughts were that it might have been clipped by a car or maybe got caught while jumping a fence or something, but we were only guessing at that.
With this in mind and after Steve watching it for about 30 seconds he made an easy decision for me. He said that rather than stalking in to and "trying to take out the old doe out" I might be better stalking the lame youngster and trying to end any suffering or pain it might be experiencing - The old doe would still be there for another day!
By the time I set the moderator on my rifle and got my shooting sticks ready all the deer had made their way into the wood.
Now this wood is not the easiest of places to stalk at this time of the year as it is left to grow with only a minimum amount of trimming and cutting etc, so as to make it as "wildlife friendly " as possible. I have spend many a morning and evening popping off corvids etc around this wood with my shotgun and also running a Larsen Trap - The owners hate magpies with a passion!
The grass and undergrowth at the moment is still almost waist high so I knew that it was going to test my stalking skills as well as my knowledge of the deer movements through this wood. Fortunately I have a very good knowledge of what tracks the deer here use and which direction they tend to head off in according to where they enter the woods ready to bed down.
The deer had headed off at about 45 degrees away from us which meant that they were going to head for the thickest part of the woods - Just my luck! This meant that I was going to need to enter the woods from the top (Which I hadn't planned on) and take the long way through the thick wet undergrowth to get to where I expected/hoped find them.
By the time I was within about 150 yards of were I expected to see them my outer clothing was soaked from the waist down because of all the dampness from the fog and mist that was lying on the undergrowth, but I knew that if I was going to be successful this is where I had ignore the dampness to pay very careful attention to how I progressed from here onwards while keeping my eyes peeled and my sences on full alert for the slightest sign of movement.
About 5 minutes and 50 yards later I spotted the top of a head and ears showing just level with the top of the undergrowth. Fortunately by now the route that I had taken had put the light (But warmish) wind directly in my face - Perfect I thought! I immediately slowly and very steadily and deliberately lowered myself right down on both knees so that only my head and shoulders was above the undergrowth.
After watching for what seemed like ages (But was no doubt not much more than a minute or two) I spotted the movement of several of the other deer that Steve and I had been watching just a short while earlier. They seemed to be completely oblivious to my presence so my "slow and steady" stalking skills were paying off.
At last I spotted a the top of a head and ears of a small/youngish deer that was moving rather eratically. It was almost certainly the one I was after. My heart started to beat much faster and almost went into overdrive!
Once again I had to wait for what seemed like an eternity for the young deer to get more into the open so that I could get a clear look at the animal. When it did appear in the open it was clear that it was very lame on the front right leg and was struggling. However the undergrowth was causing me a few visibility problems so I had to wait for it to show itself in an even open spot.
Eventually it came to a bit of a clearing and stood for me. The only problem was that now it was standing and facing directly towards me - The question immediately entered my mind "Has it sussed me out"? When I was readying myself I had set my sticks to take a standing shot and I immediately realised that these were going to be no good to me as if I stood up all the deer would most certainly see me and spook as I was within about 50 yards of them, so I carefully and slowly readied myself for a kneeling shot moving to I was kneeling on one knee.
It's funny when you are faced with a situation like this (With a deer facing straight towards you just 50 or so yards away) you dare not move for fear of being spotted by your quarry. It was a bit of a "stand off" which seemed to last for ages. However with me not moving a muscle the deer started to turn slightly away from me offering a clear broadside shot. With the rifle already shouldered I started to line the crosshairs up on my target and tried to control my breething. It still took a good few seconds for me to feel that the deer was in the right position for the shot to be taken - I had decided by this time to take a high neck shot so as not to have a runner on my hands in the heavy undergrowth.
Eventually I was quite happy and gently let the safety catch off and slowly squeezed the trigger! The moderated 270 let out a sharp crack and the deer dropped on the spot. I stayed kneeling there while the other deer went leaping off showing me their white back sides.
I was certain that the shot had been good and I was confident that the POI was exactly where I had wanted it! After a few minutes for the adrenalin to ease off I stood up and slowly approached my "prize"!
The deer had in fact dropped exactly on the spot it was stood on when I took the shot, and on turning the animal over the exiting bullet had taken a fair part of the neck clean out just below the head There was no question about it, the shot was perfect and the animal was dead before it even hit the ground!
I immediately "spiked it" and used a short piece of cord I carry in my stalking bag to hang the animal on a tree by the back legs a few feet from the ground to bleed it.
I returned to the farm and told Steve about the outcome so he got the quad out for me to do the recovery - All right this yearling was only about 40 pounds (All in/dead weight) but I didn't really fancy carrying it back through all the undergrowth, and of course being a lazy little **** why waste energy when there is a quad that can do the job for you.
When I got the animal back to the car I lined the back of my car (A large estate car) with a waterproof lining (I carry one specially for this sort of situation) and lifted the beast into the back and then covered it over as I knew that I needed to get some diesel and it might not have looked good having a dead deer with it's four feet sticking up in the back of my car in a large and busy petrol station.
The deer was taken to a game dealer who is a very giood friend on mine where we removed the lower legs and did the grallock and inspection. The inspection showed that there was a bad dislocation of the knee joint on the front right leg. It will be skinned and dressed and ready for me to collect tomorrow.
All in all even though I was going to cancell the idea of a stalk this morning due to the mist and fog I am glad I found a bit of patience as the the stalk turned out to be quite testing but extremely satisfying. - And the eventual outcome has left me as happy as a pig in the brown stuff!
I hope that any of you others who were out for their first Roe Doe of the season fared as well as I have this morning!
Here's a few photos of "My first Roe Doe of the season" - Which I have to add that I am delighted with - A really great morning and a fine, satisfying and productive stalk! Steve (The landowner) is going to have some of the venison for Christmas and I will keep a cut for myself - The rest will be given out to my elderly neighbours!
(I do have a photo showing the exit wound but have decided not to post it as some might find it offencive or off putting!)