The Roe rut usually finds us on holiday slap bang through the middle. However, not so this year and the wind being favourable, I slipped up to the local permission with the lad yesterday evening. Packing the kit, it was immensely irritating to remember I hadnít re-sharpened the knife after the last outing. Thankfully, just five minutes on the Lanksky and we were good to go.
Having already spoken to the farmer earlier, no time was wasted getting out onto the ground. We exited the farm, making our way down the main track running through the middle of the ground, with the wind blowing hard off our left. After a quick wave to the farmer and his son harrowing in the large field directly behind the farm, we slipped into the middle of the ground, moving slowly, glassing frequently and making the odd squeak on the Buttolo.
As expected, nothing was showing. However, just one field later approaching a small pond surrounded by humanly impenetrable thicket, I spied a Doe moving around in the thick tall grass, very closely followed by a buck, just forty yards or so away. The rifle was quickly and smoothly brought onto the sticks and ear defenders slipped down from the head onto the ears preparing for a shot. However, it was not to be. Despite being upwind, the Doe clearly sensed something was not quite right and made her way out of view with the buck in tow.
The lad and I paused briefly to decide what to do next. If we made our way beyond the small copse, we would likely catch them making their way down the hedgeline on the other side. Equally, what if they had just hopped back into the undergrowth. Suspecting there may be something in the latter, we made our way very slowly around the side of the copse through the waist height long grass. I knew that if we did get sight of the Roe again, getting a shot could prove challenging. However, rounding the corner of the copse and thinking positive, the rifle was again brought up onto the sticks and I gave the Buttulo another gentle squeak. Voila, out popped the doe just ten yards away, thankfully upwind and clearly not able to see me clearly given the long grass. I wondered if that was going to be it, but seconds later, out popped the buck just five yards behind. A small adjustment and the buck filled the sight picture. He was absolutely head-on, with rising ground directly behind giving the ideal backstop, but with the only conceivable shot to the neck. A split second calculation of an aim point just above half-way up, I slipped off the safety and gently squeezed.
The poor lad, still desperate to witness his first deer dropping to the shot, still hadnít seen a thing thanks to the grass coming up to his chest and obscuring the action just fifteen yards to our front. However, the buck had dropped on the spot and a nod of acknowledgement to his excited hushed question ďdid you get him dadĒ and it was a high five for the old man behind a grin from ear to ear. Reining in his keenness to rush straight over, we paused for several minutes to let the buck stop kicking and allow the doe and a few friends to make their way into the adjacent fields.
Reaching the animal, he was clearly in fine condition, quite a young one with nice symmetrical antlers and a lovely rich summer coat. I was just slightly saddened to find the first tick Iíve ever encountered hanging off his underside, the ground having previously been completely clear of the horrid things. Still only taking two to three animals a year, the gralloch went pretty well again under the circumstances, especially having forgotten the chest saw and being forced into the first solely green gralloch. Tipping the hat to the farmer on our way out, the promise of his share of the meat in the morning was given.
Deciding to try and get as much of the butchering done as possible before bed, it was pleasing to finish in the fastest time yet of four hours, including an hour stripping the head. The straps and offcuts are still in the fridge to be finished off this morning, but at least the missus is happy there isnít still a beast swinging from the garage roof. The shot placement proved almost spot on, entering the neck absolutely central, but slightly low, grazing the top of his spine on the other side and coming to rest in his skin a third of the way along his back. Thankfully the straps werenít affected.
A very different and the briefest stalk yet, but very satisfying that all came together so well