I've just been back at work after a fortnight in South Devon on the family holiday; weather wasn't fantastic, but we managed to do the 'family stuff'...swimming, a bit of fishing off the beach, barbecues, plenty of local (and quite potent in some cases ) cider....so a jolly good & relaxing time was had by wife, 2 children, and me....mainly 'cos I wasn't at work! (....a plus was that I managed to meet up with 2 mates who both just happened to be holidaying in that part of the world too, one of them being my mate that I've not seen since he returned from his recent tour of duty out in Helmand - a good catch-up, aided and abetted by a fair few bottles of Stella....)
Anyway - by the middle of our second week, I got to thinking (always dangerous).....as Devon as supposed to be thick with roe, snatching the chance for a stalk whilst down in the West Country wouldn't go amiss.....
So - having realised that we were staying only about 40 miles from him, I sent a text to IanF on Tuesday evening, along the lines of 'hi...short notice...blah, blah...any chance in the next day or two?'. Shortly afterwards came the reply: "Can you be at mine for 4.30am on Thursday morning?" Yup, I can!!
As I hadn't come with the intention of stalking, kit was the next question:
Bino's - a pair live in the Discovery door pocket
Jacket - blagged off my army mate!!
Trousers - £9.99 from Exter Aldi who had their 'fishing promo' on at the time
Wellies - had come with us anyway
Hat, gloves, buff - had some in the car
Estate rifle, borrowed sticks...job's a good 'un!
I set the alarm for 3.00am (), but to be honest, I was awake from long before that anyway. Excited, moi???
I arrived at Ian's place for the agreed 4.30am, tiptoeing my size 10's along so as not to wake everything within a 5-mile radius. We set off to one of his places about 7 miles from where he lives, and parked, slurping a very welcome coffee, and discussing the plan whilst awaiting the sun to come up a little more.
A last-minute change in plan saw us stalking the perimeter of a large pasture field; luckily I realised my bino lens covers were clacking with each step and muffled them before Ian saw fit to give me a thick ear..... We edged around, glassing as we went, the plan being to do a quick sweep of this field just on the offchance, before crossing the lane and stalking the field opposite, However - as we approached the upper half of the field, Ian froze, beckoned me to crouch, and pointed out the back of a roe....buck or doe?? All we could see was the curve of its back - and then 'he' lifted his head. Game on!! He was around 120yds away at this point, so we started to crawl forwards on hands and knees to close the gap, when Ian froze again after 25yds or so, having seen a 2nd - and better - buck.
The sticks went up (after confirming a safe backstop), and I knelt, waiting for him to come closer along the hedge he was mooching along. As he came closer, he dropped into a slight dip around 80yds away. Hmmm. He turned broadside, and at this point, I thought that he could slip back the way he'd just come rather than keep coming in, so I whispered to Ian that I didn't think I was going to get a better chance. He replied that he was happy if I was, so it was breathe, squeeze, bang, reload, apply safety, having seen the buck simply vanish from my view. I kept the rifle on point of aim just in case of any movement, but Ian was confident that the buck was down. The 'original' 1st buck seemed unfazed by this, and kept wandering about - we wondered just how close to us he'd get before spooking. (40yds is the answer). After a good few minutes, we made our way forward to find the buck stone dead. The shot had been higher and slightly further back than ideal, but I was relieved to see it down and cleanly killed outright. After making the rifle safe, the buck was gralloched, with Ian patiently and thoroughly answering my questions along the way (I still consider that I very much have my 'L'-plates on and want to take every opportunity to learn; I can thoroughly recommend the IanF gralloching masterclass.)
We returned back to Ian's house for another, equally welcome, coffee, before I set off, arrving back at our holiday cottage by 9.00am for breakfast. Job was most definitely a good 'un!!!
A huge thank you to IanF for accomodating me at ridiculously short notice, and for delivering a successful outcome. Cheers mate!
(....and you should have seen my wife's face when I told her that we'd have a deer carcass in the roofbox on the way home amongst the buckets and spades! It's now in the freezer, and bloody tasty it is too! That's the roe I'm talking about, not my wife. Although obviously I'm not saying that she isn't quite tasty...think I'd better stop digging now, hadn't I??)
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