Tuesday 20th July 2010
Sunny, hot and humid, with strong S breeze, 29°c
I was determined to get out and look for a deer this evening. I set off around 18:30 and arrived at My ground twenty minutes later. I had thought of standing in the game strip and try to call a deer from the spinney. However, the maize has grown a lot since the rain last week and I decided to walk to the look out, have a spy over The Down and perhaps draw a deer from that direction. On my way there, I realized the wind would take my scent to the spinney so that option was out. As I arrived at the lookout I spotted a buck in the wheat, about three hundred yards out. I tried calling and he started to respond but turned back after a few yards, then a doe stood up around thirty yards further out. Something caught my eye to my left and it was a doe that had come off the down, responding to my call. She had a well grown kid with her but no buck. I stopped calling and let her return to the wood before concentrating on the buck in the wheat.
After about ten minutes the doe decided to run to the wood over the boundary and the buck was off like a shot after her.
I then scanned the down to see what might be there and I spotted a doe closely followed by a buck. They were on the bottom of the down and they were circling a couple of hawthorn bushes and forming tight circles in the wheat. This may have been the same pair but I thought that his antlers were a different shape to the one in that had just run off. This activity was much more intense and I felt that mating was imminent. I watched this activity for a good ten minutes before deciding to attempt a stalk. The walk up on to the down left me fairly breathless and I stopped to re-assess the situation. I would have liked to have stalked along the top of the down and look down on the deer but the wind was right behind me. I had no option but to go right around the barley field and approach from the east.
fifteen minutes later I was approaching the top of the down on the border fence and once again I felt the wind from behind me. I decided to make my way very slowly down to the wheat field in the hope that my scent had not carried. This took another fifteen minutes or so, due to ant mounds, rabbit holes, tall grass and nettles.
Once at the bottom I peered into the wheat field and there was a doe about twenty yards in and about two hundred yards from me. There was no sign of a buck in the wheat and I wondered if he was on the down. There was also the possibility that this was a lone doe and not the one involved in the mating activity I had seen earlier. I walked very slowly under the bank and stopped at around eighty yards from her when she took an interest in me. I stood still and after about five minutes she walked deeper into the field, grazing as she went, then laid down out of sight. Light was beginning to go and I could see lights appearing on the power station a few miles away. I felt I had about twenty minutes of daylight left and shortly after a deer appeared on the bank, about a hundred yards from me. A look through my binoculars confirmed that it was a buck and I gave a couple of squeaks to draw his attention. The doe stood up in response to this but the buck took no notice and walked off the bank and over the brow.
I now had a doe alert, a buck disappearing and light fading. another ten minuteswent by before the doe lost interest and laid down again, allowing me to stalk along to the brow. I spotted the buck in a tramline walking slowly and grazing as he went, about a hundred yards away. I put the rifle on my sticks and I fired as he stopped. I waited a couple of minutes and looked round to see the doe about thirty yards from me, grazing as she came. She had taken no notice of the shot, but suddenly spotted me and sped off through the wheat, barking as she went. Well, that was the fun bit over, now for the work.
I walked down to the buck and noted the time (21:10) a stalk of around two hours. I dressed him out on the spot, noted the amount of fat around his kidneys and on lifting him onto my shoulder felt that he was well up to weight. I then had two choices regarding where I could bring my vehicle. The shortest walk involved thirty yards steeply uphill then down and two hundred yards up again. Or fifty yards down the tramline and about four hundred on the flat to the edge of the wheat field. I chose the latter but had to stop and change shoulders twice on the way. I left him on a straw bale, then had about half a mile to walk to the car.
I drove round, loaded him in the car and arrived home just on 22:00. Rifle and kit was then stowed indoors, the deer in the chiller, wash hands and dinner. Finally to bed around 23:45. Sweet dreams.