So I bagged my first roe on Thursday morning thanks to Rob (and of course Mark) at Bunwell Wood Shoot, Norfolk, I'm elated to say the least... and here's how it went...
My first outing with BWS last year had proven unfruitful (even though we saw quite a lot) and being very welcoming and having some wonderful stalking ground I was keen to get back. So, following a few exchanges of text messages, Mark confirmed he was able to fit me in on Thursday AM... a chance for me to sneak off from the family holiday (in-laws, out-laws, etc.) for a few hours of sanity... 04:45 RV at the cottage with Rob, that meant up at 03:50 and just the one or two glasses of red with dinner the evening before (unlike the rest of the week).
I managed to bypass the holiday centre security without rousing too much suspicion and quickly made my way to Bunwell - driving down the lane I saw a munty doe and classed that as a good omen. I met Rob, did a quick check of gear, jumped into his motor and headed off for a short drive across a couple of fields where we debussed and made our way to a rather comfortable and windproof highseat (thank god) to await the arrival of dawn. At this point I must add that for some reason unbeknownst to me I had decided that a pair of lightweight summer hiking trousers, a t-shirt, a microfleece and a standard, unlined British army issue combat jacket would keep me warm whilst sat completely still for an hour or more at 5am... IDIOT. Well, at least (a) as mentioned the highseat was not some rickety windswept lean-to affair and (b) being freezing kept me awake (just! - having young kids means sleep is a luxury these days).
As dawn began to break we heard first the bark of a nearby munty and then that of a roe, neither cared to show their face however so we continued to watch the world waken around us, pheasants, pigeons, rabbits, crows etc. The surroundings were stunning. Rob explained to me that where we were sat was an arboretum, the late (farmer) owner had a passion for trees and he'd made it his mission to bring into this wood every species he could lay his hands on, over 1200! The place was also littered with massive swathes of daffodils and in some ways it felt like I was sat in a botanical garden, not a wood.
Just after 6 Rob said we'd jump down soon and begin to stalk the surrounding area and if nothing showed we'd head across to a different patch.
Come 06:30 (ish) a flock of crows lifted about 100m meters away dead ahead and after a minute or so out walked a roe doe (Rob explained later he'd been concerned it was a trespasser). That was enough to rouse me from my cold induced coma and set the heart racing. We watched intently through the binos to see what she would do, and importantly if she was on her own. Soon enough out walked a buck, 'BRILLIANT' I'm thinking. I wasn't 100% sure if he was still in velvet, but Rob assured me he was clean, 'DOUBLE BRILLIANT'. I could see he was a 6 pointer but not much beyond that. As I tracked him through the scope I was buzzing. He stopped, dropped his head to eat and I then increased the pressure on the trigger until 'crack'... 'thwack', a 100gn Federal hit him right behind the shoulder. Well, off he set at 100mph and I'm thinking, 'Christ, that shot looked and felt bang on target', but after no more than 50 yards he dropped, kicked out for a few seconds and then lay still. Heart pounding we watched for any further action.
My first roe in the bag!
After about 5 minutes we jumped down and stalked in a wide arc to the buck (to see if anything else was nearby that hadn't bolted). The doe was still hanging around, looking a bit confused as to where her buddy had gone.
With nothing else showing we made our way back to the buck, carried it the short distance to the motor and then drove back to the larder. A quick gralloch showed that my round had decimated the lungs but clean missed the heart hence the shot reaction. On inspection he was definitely one for the cull, a six pointer alright but one point was broken and he looked like he was getting on a bit/on the way back - nice to see these guys manage the deer rather than hammer them.
After getting the deer into the chiller Mark knocked us up a hearty breakfast, we had a good chat about all things stalking and I then got myself back to the 'holiday'... not a bad morning considering I was back by 09:30am.
Many thanks again to Rob and Mark, they have a great set-up and I thoroughly recommend them to anyone in, or visiting, Norfolk.