I think I set a record the other night for my shortest stalk ever. From leaving home to pulling the trigger was under a minute!
I am very lucky to live in the middle of a 2,500 acre estate where I manage the deer. We usually walk the dogs in the fields behind the house and myself, my wife and my eldest have all seen a young roe buck on the dog walk a number of times. Whenever I have set out with the rifle of course – no sign of the little fella!
I should point out that I usually leave anything I can around the house as I love to see them and we had a yearling roebuck in the garden one morning this spring which was fantastic for us all to see. However, this young buck in question is dividing his time between the silage fields behind the house and an adjoining winter barley field and the farmer has seen him too… As there is a promising six-pointer (seen on my trailcam in detail) in the wood above these fields I deemed the young 5 pointer was one for the cull.
I set out quite early on Tuesday evening and climbed over the fence behind the house. Although they tend to go quiet in July we have had some wet weather of late and as the evening was fine I thought they might be out in the open. Having put one up the spout (after two steps) I looked up to see the young roebuck in question feeding on the hedge the other side of the field, quick check with the binos confirmed he was the one I’d earmarked in the plan.
He was very content browsing away on the holly and hawthorn in the hedge thus allowing me to easily close the gap from 180 to around 140 yards. I then got the rifle up on the quad sticks and when he turned broadside gently squeezed off a round. The moderated shot allowed me to hear a good ‘thump’ strike. He lurched forward and did a low ‘death rush’ back to my left for about 70 yards before collapsing in the grass, one kick and he was still.
I waited the usual 3-4 minutes and then went over to check with an eyeball touch with the sticks. He was indeed a young buck with 3 points on one side and 2 on the other, the top of his heart smashed so exactly where I had aimed. I never fail to marvel at what beautiful animals all deer are but especially the roe in their summer coat.
As I was so close to home I thought it would be a good excuse for a bit of training for my 3-year-old little cocker Tula so I fetched her and took her in from the opposite direction to the shot site. She was immediately on to the line and, head along the ground went straight to the buck. She sat patiently (see photo!) and was rewarded with a bit of liver from the gralloch (I assume that’s why she gets more excited when the rifle comes out of the cabinet than the shotgun!) She’s coming on and has found four deer for me now that I could not find myself (a roebuck in a long hay crop, a roebuck under some thick Rhoddies in the dark, a roe doe in some conifer thinnings and a sika staggie in young restock.) Like most cockers she is a bit ‘fizzy’ so only comes with me when I’m sat in a doe box otherwise she is in the car or the kennel at the ready when I’m stalking. She is, however still calming down even at 3 (as is the way with some cockers) so I hope one day she can stalk with me (if not I have promised myself I’m going to add a lab or lab/pointer cross to the pack!)
All the checks on the carcase done I dumped the gralloch under the thick holly hedge (we live in a remote place) and dragged the buck back along the hedge to avoid flattening any more of the silage crop. The wee dog padded behind, both of us pleased with ourselves and each other!
I felt a bit of a phoney as had actually only stalked about 43 paces and had a very short drag back to the chiller at home but both me and the dog had performed and it was a buck I’d been after for a while - so a really good evening all the same!
Kit: Sako 85 S/S in 6.5x55 with Zeiss 8x56, Norma 120 grain, Hardy Gen Mod. Quad sticks 4x B&Q green garden plastic bean sticks with lamb’s rubber rings. Binos Swarvoski 10x42s.