Don't know how the rest of you are getting on but the large blocks of maize are making the usual hotspots a little unreliable at best for the time being with several blank trips out putting both that and late rape squarely to blame. Even when a beast has been seen its been in very close proximity to what is in effect a large block of dense cover making me question if its even worth risking the shot as, with no dog, even a few meters ground could make finding it a hell of a job.
Anyway - two not so lucky bucks, taken in consecutive nights compliments of Foxdropper of sunny Wiltshire, were accounted for recently but in circumstances where the odds of a needing a dog were very slim (that FD had access to some, all be it a drive away, was reassuring). The first was a nice wee buck in a patch of rough the other side of a hedge from a block of Maize. I'd assumed the maize had beaten me again and was not concentrating as we strolled back to the truck.. I didn't even see him and it was FD that pointed him out playing the 'you can't see me' trick only 50 yards away in the high grass - his white chin only just betraying him. The dusk was well on the way and my Minox bino's, which are almost faultless were sadly lacking clarity in this light where you really do get what you pay for. Fortunatly the S&B 8x50 on top of the 6.5x55 turned the lights back on and there he was - an alert (but quite compfy) malform what was elsewhere when FD had done his early season cull. He wasn't going anywhere (aside from the Maize if he got too spooked) so I settled on the sticks and tried to find his neck but because of his position I was looking straight down his throat. As the risk of upsetting people I decided on a head shot - but, I hasten to add, with such little room for error decided the bipod the best option. The reasoning was if he scarpered as I was positioning, ces-la-vis, rather that than fluff it and injure him. From the bipod he was brown bread - and he was. Apologies for the pic but hey, thats the reality of headshots. Still, an unusual set of antlers which I always find interesting.
This other fella again had me on the hop. I was sat up with FD waiting for a buck to emerge from the maize as expected and join a group of Does enjoying the sanctity of the closed season in the open ground. After cursing the layers I was wearing at the start of the session I was wishing i'd piled on more and the sky cleared, the sun began to set and the cold set in. FD booted my leg to get my attention and inticated to the other side of the field where a deer was moving towards the Maize accross the middle of the open field. There then followed a few minutes of insistance on both sides over who should take the shot with each of us wanting the other to have the opportunity. It was eventually decided that I needed the practice more and so I settled down for a bipod shot but contour of the ground obscured him. Gingerly standing up with stiff limbs I got on the sticks and waited til he paused and presented at just shy of 100 meters from us and the Maize. The shot felt good although the strike wasn't convincing with the soft backstop quite able to produce a similar light slap sound. I called the shot we both watched with increasing cynicism as the buck trotted off in the direction of the crop without a care in the world and no indication of a hit He didn't get far (although in the circumstances 20 odd meters is quite far enough and felt like a lot more) before stopping to turn a few circles and collapse. A nice young six pointer.
With thanks again to Foxdropper for the sport - lets see what Friday brings