Well, I headed out on Sunday morning with the dogs and the camera to see if I could catch up with the roe, as from the action on Saturday it looked like the rut was pretty much imminent.
Arriving at the field where I've seen roe before, this buck was standing by the hedge. He looks to be the same buck I had seen with the doe on the Saturday, but standing there on his own my first thought was that the rut had "gone off". A quick call on the Buttolo saw him step out into the sunlight:
He seemed reluctant to come any closer, and kept looking towards the wood to my left rather than at me and the squeaking. This was explained a few seconds later when a much larger buck, accompanied by a doe, came tearing out of the woods to see off the intruder.
The smaller buck was soon dispatched, whereafter the "new" buck turned his attention to the doe. He pursued her (or perhaps she enticed him) around the field for pretty much the next hour and a half, interspersing the chasing with periods where both would lie down and recover. What was noticeable was the buck's rasping breath - he was clearly being put to the test by the doe. It was fascinating watching him chase her, cutting her off as she tried to evade him. They reminded me of a lurcher pursuing a hare, jinking this way and that. This chase, though, would end quite differently to that of the hare!
Eventually the buck chased the doe through a hedge and into a hay meadow that had only been cut the day before. Giving it a couple of minutes in case they returned, I then decided to go with the four dogs to the path that bisects the field I originally looked into and the hay field. Sure enough, there was the buck and doe at the far end of the field, adjacent to the path. Going along on hands and knees, holding both the camera and monopod together with the dogs, I used the long grass by the side of the path as cover in order to get closer.
No sooner had I taken a quick photo than the "happy couple" then ran through the hedge you can see behind the buck and into the field beyond. Fortunately there is a Permissive Path here, so gathering the dogs I took them into the next field. I could see the buck standing in the corn, clearly nonplussed as he'd lost the doe from sight. However he put his nose down and followed the scent until the doe appeared and bounded down to the far end of the corn field. This was still accessible from the path, so collecting everything again I cautiously made my way down the path. As I neared the end of the field I could see the buck hidden behind some longer grass. I was taking very slow, deliberate, steps until I could get close enough to get him in my viewfinder:
Then the doe's ears appeared, and the buck decided to follow her:
My luck was in, as the buck moved into a clearer position for a shot.....err, a photo.
The doe was now very close, and mixed tempting the buck with tempting me!
Just then the buck's head went up - glancing around I could see a dog walker.
This was not just any dog walker, but instead one of the owners of the estate on whose land I was lucky enough to be watching the roe. She had a pack of dogs, including two hound pups, but from 80 yards away she could see me standing on the grass track with my camera trained on the roe. She waved and moved on, but the roe had been interrupted and bounded away into a small wood beyond.
Although there was another path that I could take that would get me near where the roe had disappeared, I decided I'd had enough luck for one day and so gathered my kit (and the dogs) together and headed back along the path. The owner reappeared, waved again, and took her dogs back towards their home.
Passing back through the hedge to get to the path next to the cut hay meadow, I glanced to my right and saw the last thing I expected to see - the same buck and doe now lying by the hedge, clearly in recovery mode.
Tying the dogs to a post, I stood just by the hedge to see what would happen. Sure enough, this was to be my lucky day as the doe got up and made her way towards me, quickly followed by the buck:
As 6pointer mentioned on Saturday, this is a much bigger buck and has clearly usurped the youngster
He was constantly testing the scent and never let the doe get too far away from him
The doe was also scent testing - or perhaps spreading scent to make sure the buck kept his wits about him.
They came closer and closer, offering some great photo opportunities.
The doe could see me, but fortunately the dogs were just out of sight
Eventually they tired of "taunt the human", and the buck decided it was time for a bit more pursuit:
He then stood nicely broadside on for about the 100th time that morning
The buck then took the decision to head back through the hedgerow, at which point - after three hours close observation - I decided to call it a day myself.
It had been fascinating to watch the scene unfold before me, and other than not actually seeing them mating, it had been a real privilege to behold the rut in action.
Hope you enjoyed the sequence above.