I turned up at the farm yesterday nice and early and sat in the car drinking coffee as I waited for first light to start adding colour to the day. As it started the transition from dark to grey I got my kit on and started my walk towards the woods. I came to the end of a hedgerow and glassed a field of wheat stubble that I've seen roe on before. Sure enough there was a group of 6 roe at the far side of a manure pile. There wasn't enough light yet to tell for sure if the group contained a buck, but one of them did seem to have something between it's ears. As I waited and watched, the group was moving steadily closer and after a short while I could definately discern a pair of antlers. I slowly moved my position to put a cover crop between us so that I could close the distance a bit more and then took up position with my rifle on the sticks and waited for the buck to present a shot. As the group came to about 70 yards the buck turned broadside on and I took the shot. The buck hardly moved, but as I watched him through the scope his head started to sag and then he took a half step backwards and keeled over. The rest of them didn't seem too bothered, but did run a short distance away. One of the does kept walking to within 10 yards or so of the downed buck and then running to join the others, she did this three or four times, but then they all decided that they'd had enough of the buck's strange behaviour and trotted away into the wood.
When I got to him I was surprised to see one of his front feet was displaying a long "Aladin's slipper", but judging by the fact he had been walking normally, it certainly hadn't been causing him any lameness.
Gralloch completed I set off on my way again into the woods. My first port of call was to a line of feeders that sometimes attracts a muntjac or two, but on this occaision all that was to be seen was a few dozen pheasants and a squirrel.
I crossed a field then into the main wood and started my stalk proper. I'd gone about 60 yards and just passed one of the release pens when I saw a muntjac doe off to my left stooging around by the base of a couple of silver birch. I put my rifle on the sticks again and waited for a shot. She finally moved far enough out from behind the birches and bracken so that I had a clearly defined aiming mark, so I took the shot. At that she jumped forward and started to run. At this point I was confident of the shot, but after a few yards she did a 180 and started to run back. The last I saw of her was a white tail disappearing into the cover of the bracken. I'd heard the strike, so knew she was hit, but because I'd not seen her go down I now started to doubt myself.
I gave it about 10 minutes and then went to where she'd been stood when I fired. No sign of a hit, but Sinbad was definately showing interest in the site, so I was fairly confident I was in the right place. After about 30 yards we came to a spot where he seemed to get confused before taking off again, litterally straining at the leash. After about 100 yards he lead me to a pile of timber off cuts and started to sniff around that, but it soon became apparent that it was empty, and I suspect that he'd led me to where she'd been bedded down.
I took him back to the shot site and we started again. He started to follow the exact same path, and I was about ready to stop him, when we got to the spot where he'd seemed confused before. This time he did a smart right turn though and was going full on, coughing and wheezing trying to breathe and pull on his lead at the same time. After another 20 or so yards we came upon the doe. Very dead. I'd put the shot a fraction further back than I'd wanted to, but it had still taken out both lungs. I was chuffed to bits with Sinbad, and relieved that I'd not left a wounded deer on the ground.
Last time I posted with Sinbad as the subject, someone pointed out that even an untrained dog is better than no dog, and that's been proved to me yet again.