For a change I headed over to the normal stalking ground but this time with the rifle rather than the camera. After the outing with Pine Marten on Bank Holiday Monday I'd then been out guiding on Friday evening, so didn't feel the need to take the rifle.
Arriving around 4:30pm I pretty quickly bumped a muntjac as I headed over to a favourite area. Although the woods are heavily used by dog walkers, mountain bikers and others, this area is a little more inaccessible so doesn't get as much human traffic.
Sure enough, within 15 minutes of being there a muntjac doe appeared in the afternoon sunlight:
About 20 minutes later this small buck came from the same direction:
He was then chased by another muntjac doe that was clearly following him, and the pair disappeared down into the thicker woods at the bottom of the valley.
Things seemed to quieten down, so I carried on for another 150 yards or so. I bumped a roe that was bedded down in some thick firs and then, glassing back to where I'd been, I saw the muntjac buck and doe had re-appeared. Looking a bit further on, I saw another roe doe which was grazing pretty much where I had been standing before. It must have emerged after I'd left.
With the wind largely in my favour I started heading back to see if I could get some better shots. The light was beginning to go as this side of the valley was out of the sun. Making my way cautiously, and trying to keep some trees between me and the doe, I eventually got to about 75 yards away:
The doe then disappeared into the base of a tree that came down during the recent high winds, so grabbing the chance whilst she was hidden I moved forwards another 25 yards. She re-emerged, but was still incredibly well hidden and if I hadn't known she was there I would never have spotted her:
She eventually came out from behind the tree root, still oblivious to my presence, and I grabbed a couple of photos as she slowly grazed her way through the undergrowth:
If I'd had the rifle I guess I could have shot the muntjac, but the pleasure obtained from simply observing, and then the practice in stalking into the doe, left me with the feeling that it had been a pretty productive outing anyway.