A few nights ago I went out for a little walk before dark with the rifle on the hunt for an early fox and to have a look and see what the deer where up to so for the record this is February. A bit late for shooting Roe Doe's in the opinion of some and a little early for bucks which are still out of season.
I was slowly working my way down a particular track glassing a strip of woods that lay of to the left and paying no particular attention to the field to my right. After a few minutes and a few hundred yards down the track whilst lowering my binoculars I spotted a Buck some 200 yards away in the field to the right, the exact field I was paying no particular attention too. At first I was concerned about him having spotted me and bolting in the direction of where I was heading. Instead he continued to gorge on the greenery underfoot without a care in the world. With the light failing I knew I didn't have much choice but to try and creep past him. Which I managed with ease, a little to easy. Standing now maybe 75yards from him I decided to take a closer look at him.
He had small yet thick set of 6 point antlers, a shabby coat and what looked like a very dangly pizzle (no giggles please I'm serious). I sat and thought about this unsure whether my stalking ability was much greater than I had thought or that this deer was blind. With the failing I was unable to get a better idea of his condition so like and idiot I waved my hands wildly at him, nothing. So I decided I had to get closer but between myself and him lay a boggy ditch, two fences and about 20 years of growth, twigs agricultural debris. I ditched my roe sack and sticks and very slowly made my way closer. Just as my first welly descended below the surface of the boggy ditch my ass landed on a twig. SNAP! The bucks head shot up in my direction and fixated on my direction, what felt like a lifetime passed before the buck went back on to eating although he did do that pretend eating and looking straight back up thing that roe seem to do. Having made my way across I spied him from what was now no distance at all. I could make out the slits of his eyes, some signs of swelling below the lower jaw and a very emaciated rear end.
I decided that he was indeed suffering and based on that fact alone decided to cull him, although I had to wait for him to move as he was standing on the sky line when I saw him, to see him walk you'd be convinced there was nothing wrong with him. Obviously as per my location this incident happened in Scotland and despite this particular deer being out of season I was covered by section 25 of the deer act Scotland.
At first I was quiet concerned with the state of this deer. Emaciation, swollen jaw line - TB?, blindness (There is no Oilseed rape near here). What ever the cause I believe I'd done the right thing.
First I checked the gum lines and tongue, nothing, between the hoofs, nothing, the eye - swollen around the socket and eye appeared dehydrated/prune like. I could clearly feel his spine, large patches of his coat were missing and I could feel the joints on his pelvis clearly through the remaining muscle. The gralloch- stomach, rumen and spleen appeared fine as did the mesenteric chain although the anal passage was devoid of pellets. Liver and portal lymph nodes appeared OK. Kidneys appeared to be smaller than they should and had black spots to the surface. The lungs showed signs of hard edges and black spots and there was nothing really left of the heart from the shot, no abscess in the rib cage either. Retropharyngeal lymph nodes and the ones below the jaw also appeared fine. Finally I cut back the jaw line to expose the teeth.
I'm pretty convinced the reason for this deer's down fall is purely his old age. What do you think?