I went for my first morning stalk with my professional guide last Friday. I had to creep out of the house at 03.30hrs to be on the motorway and at the RV point for a 04.15hrs meeting time. I was under strict instructions not to wake wife or children - youngest daughter woke up!
As arranged I met with my guide and exchanged greetings. He handed me the skull mount of my first ever deer – a muntjac buck taken last December, which is going on the wall in my office. We discussed the plan of action and that we were either after a muntjac doe or a cull Roe buck. The bigger bucks are beyond my price bracket at present.
I was using the estate rifle and we loaded up and had the obligatory safety brief. This was the last time I’d be using his rifle as I’ve now purchased a second hand 7x57mm but it was being screw cut and proofed so hasn’t had an outing yet.
There had been heavy rain and very strong winds overnight but as dawn broke the sky was clearing but the wind was still fairly blustery. My guide explained that the deer may still be couched down but that they may start moving.
We had walked only 15 metres down the track and promptly flushed a good roe buck which had been lying up in a patch of nettles on the edge of the corn field! It didn’t stop and we both cursed. We figured it was earwigging our plan of action in the briefing and was off to tell the others.
Moving on a further 5 metres and we spotted a muntjac about 300 metres away on the edge of an oilseed rape field. However it was right next to the motorway and wouldn’t have presented a safe shot even if we could have closed the gap.
Slowly we worked our way down the farm track which slowly descended into a valley. Plenty of deer were showing and we quickly identified a further 2 muntjac bucks and a doe. However, the wind was swirling and doing us no favours. We tried closing in on a pair of muntjac but they skipped into the hedgeline and weren’t seen again.
We took things really slow and did plenty of scanning around with the binos. On moving around the hedge into a field of tall rough grassland, we spooked a young roe buck. My guide had the sticks up and I placed the rifle into the V and took hold of the sticks. The buck stopped 40 metres from us and looked back. However I couldn’t see as much of the target as I would have liked due to the long grass plus my heart was racing too much and I wasn’t steady. The buck didn’t give me a second chance and was off and away.
I explained my reason to my guide and he reassured me that I was right not to take the shot if I wasn’t happy.
We moved on up around the edge of a pheasant pen and promptly spotted a large roe buck and a doe out in the middle of a corn field about 300 metres from us. There was no way that we could stalk into range but we enjoyed just watching for about 10 minutes. The buck then promptly gave us a clear indication that the rut has started by chasing the doe around the field for another 5 minutes. They both then went to ground.
We moved into the woods but didn’t see anything moving and tried the buttalo with no results. Stopped and had a chat with the underkeeper who was out checking his trap lines.
We then started stalking back towards the vehicles past the field where we saw the rutting behaviour. A roe buck suddenly jumped up from behind a pheasant feeder in the hedgerow and ran away from us across the set aside margin. My guide indicated to get ready on the sticks as it may stop. Sure enough it made that mistake and I had a clear shot at about 75 metres. I had already determined it was the same buck that I had in the sights earlier on.
It was slightly quartering away from me and I adjusted my point of aim accordingly. The .308 didn’t have a moderator and the recoil meant I lost my sight picture. I reloaded as my guide said “good shot he’s down”. Sure enough he dropped on the spot.
After a short wait we approached and my guide did the eyeball reaction test. The shot had gone slightly high but took out a lung and then exited via the base of the neck. It was 6.50hrs when we took the photos and completed the gralloch. Then my guide got the landrover and we loaded the buck and the dog in. Needless to say I was thrilled to be out in such beautiful countryside, see so many deer and to shoot my first roe buck!
I purchased the carcass and then went home with it in the boot of my mini to surprise my family with it. Mother-in-law was staying over and almost fainted when I walked in with it. They went out for the morning whilst I skinned and butchered the buck. Very satisfied that I now have a lot of venison in the freezer but I also realise that I need to go on a butchery course!!! Next time out should be with my own rifle.