Managed to find a morning to get out after having been flat out for a few weeks.
Alarm went off at 0500. I was enthusiastic, the dog was even more enthusiastic, got in the old Land Rover that I had loaded up the night before but that wasn't quite as enthusiastic as the rest of us. Jump leads required.
Landy sorted but having lost a valuable 15 minutes we shot off to the ground.
Parked up and headed for a spot the keeper had mentioned was being visited regularly and needed a look at. Lovely little morning sun trap on the east side of a 3 acre wood. Sure enough, a doe and last years calf (another doe) in the wheat, 300 yds off. Held up for 10 minutes to see if a buck would appear and sure enough out he trotted to join them.
I worked down the far side of the hedge which kept me just about out of sight but had to be careful in a few spots where it was a little sparse. I got myself as close to the woodland edge as I could and found a little hole in the bottom of the hedge to stick the gun through. The does were 120 yds off, the buck about 20 yds behind them, but from my positioned sky lined. Not safe. No worries, sit tight and see what happens, I was in no rush. Out of sight, cross wind.
The dog and I sat there for about 15 minutes. There was a bit of wandering about but the buck wouldn't come down off that sky line. He eventually decided it was time for a little sleep, trotted down to the woodland edge and lay down in the field margin. Didn't stop on the way for a shot unfortunately as it became safe about half way across.
And there he lay. I zapped him at 120 yds. You could clearly see him but there was some long tufty grass in front of his neck so I decided not to shoot and continue to sit tight. The dog and I were quite enjoying a lazy morning lying in the sunshine anyway.
After another half hour he stood up, turned around, and laid back down again. The does came to join him. It was a very peaceful scene. I even started to think about not shooting him and wished I had bought the big camera instead, but then remembered I had a job to do. Shame really.
His neck was in a better spot after he had turned around. A few wisps of long grass just in front of him, but nothing much. Loaded up with the Barnes I wasn't worried about deflection or fragmentation just a meter in front of him.
Having lay there watching the world go by for almost an hour and a half I decided it was time. They were unlikely to move anytime soon and there was a 50/50 chance that when they did I might loose the shot as they disappeared into the woods. Crosshairs just under his chin and it was all over very quickly.
We waited as we always do until the does had moved off before we moved. Don't want them to associate loud bang and mate falling over with people. Put the dog on the tracking line, just a discipline the dog understands, a change of mode for him and signal that it's time to move. And off we went to find him. A lovely old 6 pointer.
Great morning out. I have never been so close to not pulling the trigger. I hope that feeling doesn't get any stronger!