I had been invited to stalk roe buck on a friends ground in the Scottish Borders last weekend.
The ground consists of large arable fields separated by scant hedgerows with the occasional copse of small trees and bushes which provide game cover.
We set out in late afternoon on Friday and eventually sighted a doe browsing on young blackthorn shoots. She was soon joined by a buck which we proceeded to stalk, however it became evident as the stalk progressed that, when in range, they would be on the skyline and therefore would not present a safe shot.
A patient wait resulted in the buck moving from the edge of the cover to a crop of oilseed rape without leaving the skyline, to be followed by the doe, except when reaching the edge of the rape she turned and moved away from us down the slope.Hoping the buck may follow her we moved carefully to the crest of the rise and saw the pair in a shallow ditch 100 yards away.
As the buck presented broadside my shot into the chest brought him down, however the anticipated pleasure of shooting my first buck was marred by the condition of the animal which can only be described as wasted. His coat was very thin along with the general condition with no meat on the shoulders, very little on the rump and a breastbone like a ships keel.
A further outing on Saturday morning drew a blank, but in the evening we saw a buck with two does one of which had a new born fawn at heel. The doe with fawn was extremely nervous and in fact shortly afterwards took it back into the cover of an oilseed rape crop without being aware of us.
Once again we commenced a stalk involving crossing gateways whilst the deer fed and proceeding around a copse using ditches and any available cover. We eventually managed to position ourselves at the base of the copse with a view along the blackthorn hedge in which the two remaining deer were feeding and began a wait until the hopefully stepped into the open.
At last they made their move with the doe partially obscuring the buck. However, there was sufficient of him visible to allow a heart and lung shot, which I duly took resulting in the collapse of the buck and the rapid departure of the doe.
Whilst my first buck was a disappointment the second made up for it, as can be seen from the photographs of the head which I intend to clean for possible assessment.