I've shot roe does before, and even a fallow sorrel, but have only been able to watch a roe buck as he chased his lady - never been able to get a shot on one.
I was very kindly invited out to stalk by a friend of a friend on the bank holiday. We met up at a pub near Okehampton around 6:30pm, drove down to the site and got set up. Another chap would be stalking the far side of the ground, and we had the bit closer to the farmhouse.
We set off under a darkening sky, and sure enough as we moved into the fields trying to assess the wind direction and the best course for the stalk, the heavens opened. The heavy shower happily only lasted about 5 minutes and the sun came back out. By the time we made it over to a raised hedgeline that was to be our first vantage point it was nice and warm again. We sat in the hedgeline scanning the woods - the deer could pop out either side of the hedge so it was a great spot to sit and watch.
It wasn't long before we were rewarded with the sight of a deer popping out to our left - and it was a 6point buck! He was swiftly followed by a doe, and then another. They browsed through the field completely unaware of us. I lifted the rifle and tried to see if I could get a shot on from where we were, but there was too much foliage in the way, so I shimmied down through the hedge into the field and set up for a sitting shot. The buck was about 150yards away and was not presenting a good target, so I started to crawl forward along the hedgeline to get a better position.
I got about halfway and stopped to glass - where had the buck gone? I could see the two does feeding - one in the field, one on the hedgeline - but I couldn't see the buck...
Then I heard the whisper from my mate Gavin in the hedge - 'he's lying down...'
Ah. Now I could see him. Curled up by a post under an oak tree on the far hedgeline - all I could see was his head from the chin up. After a few minutes the doe in the field also lay down, and a few minutes later the other doe lay down in the hedgeline so that I could see of her was the tips of her ears.
So began the long wait. The sun got lower, and lower. The shadows stretched out until the buck and the doe in the field were both in the shade. I could see that both buck and doe had their heads right down - napping... I decided to crawl forward to the spot I had picked out earlier, while they were kipping.
I got to the spot, put the rifle on the bipod and glassed the buck. He was awake and nibbling the grass around him, still curled up. 'Right' I thought, 'he's going to get up soon and have another feed.' Sure enough, a few seconds later he stood up, quartered away from me. I got set up behind the rifle as he moved off to the left down the hedgeline. He got to a tasty bit of foliage, stretched and stood perfectly, so I squeezed the trigger.
He jumped, turned, and ran about 50 yards off to the right, then fell, and kicked once.
I lay there and kept him in the scope (having cycled the bolt just in case) but there was no further movement, so I safetied the rifle and stood up. Gavin was already on his way down from the hedge, grinning.
The two does (wo had both stood up at the shot) were just standing in the field looking at us, but soon bounced off as Gavin walked into the field.
We made our way over to the buck and checked the shot placement. High heart, nice clean exit wound, very little damage. The buck was in quite a shaggy coat, in that transition between winter and summer, and had quite a white face, but only looked to be about 4 years old.
We did the gralloch right there - having seen a fox in the next field we knew it would disappear quickly - and I bagged the offal (for me) and the legs (for the dogs!)...
After a quick stalk in the fading light to see if there was anything else about, we headed back to pick up the carcass. Gavin bagged the carcass and I carried his kit abck to the cars.
No pictures as yet (I forgot the camera!) but the head is in my outhouse just waiting for me to prep it, so I'll post a pic later...
A great day - wonderful to be able to lay there in the sun and just watch the deer (for about an hour and a half), and a nice buck at the end!