Was up at 4:30 this morning to pick up my 11 year old nephew and head to my Uncles farm (which will be my permission when I get my FAC) to try and find some Roe.
When we arrived at the farm it was still pre-dawn half-light and we could barely see as we quietly got out of the car nudging the doors shut to make as little noise as possible.
We set off up the lane that leads through the woodland past the farm house and headed into the woods, we could hardly see and the dawn chorus was just getting started - so we quietly sat down and waited for the light. It was glorious as the woods slowly came alive around us, bird song everywhere and the skittering of woodland creatures as they started about their day.
Once the light had reached the point where we could just start to make out colours, we set off very quietly down the track to a gate overlooking a field which ran alongside the woodland, a scan of the hedges with the binoculars revealed nothing, so we made our way back through to the path and back up to the long field at the top off the woodland.
As we walked up the bridleway we spotted some deer racks and I explained how to look for either clear cleave imprints or long drag marks where the deer may have slid down the bank from a field.
We stalked on and checked another field, no sign. We then cut through into the opposite field and stalked across that sweeping with binos every few yards, checking hedgerows and fields. We spotted some sheep up at one end of the field and I explained how deer are unlikely to be seen near sheep. We made our way back down the field and then into the woods where I had seen a Roe Buck a couple of weeks before, but he wasn't there today. We checked around looking for couches, but no sign, I explained what a couch was and if you found hair, how you could bend it to see if it kinked - if it did, then that meant it was probably deer hair as deer hair is hollow and will kink rather than bend in a smooth curve like other animal hair.
We headed back down the lane towards the farmhouse and then cut through down a public footpath through the woods, quietly creeping down here keeping an eye on each footfall to check for treacherous twigs whilst flicking our gaze left and right to see any signs of movement of a tell-tale flash of white.
Still nothing, heading out into one of the fields and across to another piece of woodland, we crept through a hedgerow again checking the fields as we edged slowly through the gap. Nothing.
On into the next section of woodland, again watching each step and then flicking our gaze around - THERE! A Roe Doe browsing on a few bluebells in the middle of a ride to our left. We hunkered down very slowly and carefully. We sat and watched. Her head was up and looking at us, but she clearly hadn't made out quite what we were. I very slowly took the binoculars off my neck and passed them to my nephew so he could get a better look, whispering as quietly as I could to not make any sudden movements. As we watched she settled back down and began browsing again and we sat there watching her for a good five minutes. Then as I was watching through the binoculars my nephew whispered that there was another deer, sure enough a buck made his way through the woods. He had clearly either seen us or scented us as he came level with the Doe they were away through the trees, caudal patches flashing, and off across the field next to the woods.
It couldn't really have been a better end to a perfect morning and I am pretty sure my nephew is well and truly hooked and looking forward to his next trip out