After three trips stalking with yorkshireroestalking (John Robson) I thought it was time I did a write up.
I have been working through my DSC2 for the last two years, and after a number of trips with other stalkers without only one success (thanks go to Ian Farrington), and often without seeing any deer at all, I was getting a little weary. The preparation, then the drive to some remote location, only to be met with a long walk around and no end result had begun to leave me feeling a little disheartened.
My first trip up to John was around the middle of March.
On meeting John I can describe him as nothing other than a Yorkshireman. He states what he wants done and what he will do to get it done, and he delivers. What more can you ask for.
The evening was very sunny and warm, with an intermittent breeze of around ten miles per hour.
It took some time to drive to the shoot, which gave a fair amount of time for John to ask the questions he needed answers to, and for me to get to know my guide/AW. John explained the what, where and how. The ground which John had selected was new stalking for him and it had only been granted a week before so the deer where not used to being taken.
After parking up, and me getting all my gear on and ready, we set off.
We slowly hugged a hedge for around two hundred metres, stopping to glass the surrounding fields of rape and wheat for signs of life, but nothing was showing. As we neared a feed bin at a ďTĒ in the hedge John whispered that the deer would normally be deer in the next field. Creeping forward we glassed the field and sure enough, at a little over four hundred metres away there were six deer grazing off the wheat.
I noted that the wind was now behind us, which made stalking in difficult as there was only the hedge we were stood in and open field between us and them, or a long detour to allow an approach from the opposite side.
As John had counted twenty one deer on the same field only a few days before, and it was still only early, we opted to look for other opportunities in the surrounding fields.
A quick about turn, and glassing the field behind the one we were in showed another two deer had emerged from their daytime resting place.
We made a steady retreat to get some cover between us and the new deer, then made a beeline toward them, closing down two hundred metres in no time.
A little patience on our part, and within five minutes we counted six deer in the new field, but with no way to close down the four hundred metres quickly it was going to be a round about route.
I was scouting the best option, and John was glassing the hedge we had just left.
A whisper from John and lo and behold, there were three Roe does stood no more than twenty metres from where we had been not five minutes before. As we had both glassed the area they could only have been laid up under the hedge right next to us.
We were making plans to track back when I clocked a dog walker, acting more than a little suspiciously, approaching the deer along the hedge line we had first followed.
Sure enough he got close to the deer, and his dogs went after them.
We yomped across the field, but he had apparently long gone by the time we got back, or so it seemed.
We stepped into the field where the six deer were seen feeding on the opposite side, and the dog walker was making his way back down the inside of the hedge heading in their general direction.
John wasted no time in intercepting him and squared him away, dismissing his excuses in a reserved Yorkshire style, and drawing his attention to the correct exit route several times.
Miraculously the far away deer were still grazing, and a few were lay down apparently unconcerned.
I opted to stalk into them, and once we had made our way into the field we found that the wind direction had changed again and was now on our side.
I had noted that around a hundred and fifty metres along the hedge it butted out into the field and, with a little care, this would help to conceal our approach up to this point.
With a mixture of keeping tight into the hedge, keeping low and at times very low, and moving in small slow stop start jumps, we had made the abutment in around twenty five minutes.
With the easy part done it was more of the same but very slow, and stopping any time a deer popped itís head up.
Every time I stopped Johnís dog Breeze would tuck in against my back, which was a bit odd until I realised what it was. She is well trained to say the least she never moved until I did, and yet when we were walking about in the open she would always be a few metres ahead checking the ground and indicating when she felt something was around.
Fifty metres after the abutment there was a break in the hedge, which I happily stepped into as it meant I could stretch my legs and cool off a little.
By this time we were around two hundred metres of the grazing deer, and they were all still showing no concern, so I made plans for the final one hundred metres, from where abouts I should have sufficient height to be shooting into the ground.
Glassing up both sides of the hedge I could now count eight deer, but only two were possible targets due to the season. Unfortunately as the deer were all around the final stalk would be very slow.
I noted a tree a further thirty metres along the hedge, which was on raised ground, and decided to make for it by continuing along the side we had already been on.
We gathered ourselves again, and out we went.
Keeping as low and tight in as possible we made the tree in fifteen minutes and slipped into the gap.
I glassed up the opposite side of the hedge and the deer had gone.
I glassed up the approach side of the hedge and the deer there had also gone.
The light was now fading fast, so with little options we agreed that I would set up in our approach field and, guessing that they were all gathered at the end of the hedge, which was around the 150 metre mark, John would move out into the leeward field and hopefully push them back and toward me.
I set up the sticks, and as John edged forward a large buck, which had been making its way toward us on the leeward field, spotted him and raised the alarm, with which all eight deer showed us their patches as they sped off in the direction we had come from.
All in all it was a great experience getting as close as we did to the deer, and although the end result was a bit lacking it wasnít for the lack of deer, which was more than a little reassuring after the blanks which had been drawn on previous stalks and, had I been willing to take a longer range but not as safe shot, I could easily have taken at least one of the does which were available.