Well I finally managed to get out for a buck Sunday & it nearly ended badly, here's the story which is a bit of a marathon one so you might want to make yourself a cuppa!
The land is a 250 acre arable unit here in deepest Oxfordshire planted with Rape & Wheat. Largish fields with good hedgerows with a disused railway line running the length of one boundary.
The Roe use this disused & overgrown line as a roadway & access the land at various points along its length. Over the last few months we've pretty much sussed where they come & go from & what fields they favour so with this in mind my stalking partner Richard (RichA) & I set out hoping to find them sunning themselves late afternoon as it was a glorious weekend.
We parked up the vehicles behind a small copse which is also the highest point on the land & immediately spotted 3 Roe around 600 yards or so away moving parallel to the railway line. They were soon lost over a crest so we set out a brisk pace to catch up with them.
We reached the rise & carefully moved up but they had gone through into the next field as Richard spotted them moving through the hedgerow. We carefully moved up to the gap but they had moved off away from the railway line into the field & again disappearing over a crest as we got there. It looked like we would be chasing this group around the farm as has happened frustratingly twice in the past few months.
By this time we had ascertained there were 2 bucks & 1 doe in this group & the 2 bucks were like peas in pod, still in velvet & last years youngsters so one of these could go as we've seen at least 5 different young bucks on this farm.
We moved diagonally across a rape field trying to cut them off before they got through into another field when Richard whispered loudly FREEZE! They had stopped at the hedge line & were browsing along it perfectly camouflaged in the dappled sunlight, I had not spotted them! We were now caught out in the open with one of the bucks looking straight at us.
I whispered to Richard to keep perfectly still & for over 10 minutes they alternately fed, looked up, fed, looked up knowing there was something wrong but as we kept perfectly still their sight picture didn't change so they seemed to accept us as part of the landscape. I should say we were both cammoed up, Richard favours Realtree & I Flecktarn so I think against the Rape & the hedgerow our outlines were pretty much blurred to the Roe.
Eventually they moved through another gap into the adjoining Wheat field so we crept up & peered through only to find the field empty! They could have gone left into yet another Wheat field or down back towards the railway line. We decided to check there first so carefully crept down the field until the line was in sight to find them feeding in the corner.
I had the long bipod on my rifle as I'm useless shooting off sticks so decided to get in closer as we were around 200 yards away, Richard stayed back as I moved down & just over the crest of the rise until I could see all 3 at around 120 yards. I slowly sat down with the rifle ready & picked out the left hand buck & at that point he decided enough was enough & ran off up the field to my left. I tracked him through the scope hoping he would stop & look back but no he kept on going.
Fearing the other buck would follow I swung back luckily to find him staring at me at a slight angle to face on. I decided on a chest shot but as I pulled the trigger he seemed to moved a step to his right & the round must have nearly grazed his side as I saw it hit his left rear leg, dismayed I had automatically chambered another round, he took 2 or 3 steps & stopped so my next shot flipped him over backwards.
Richard moved up to me & asked what had happened as he could see too well from where he was so I explained & we moved over to find the buck very dead. I was relieved to find when I gralloched him his heart was totally destroyed from my second shot so he only suffered for a few seconds. I think I was very lucky & should have waited until he had presented a better broadside picture.
The rifle was my Mannlicher Classic Half Stock in 6.5x55 using Federal 140 grain Power-Shoks.
Cheers & good luck to all trying for their first of the season.