I couldn't get up this early for work but for a dawn stalking session in Wiltshire with my mate Foxdropper it was no problem at all. I met up with him and Foxhunter who was down for the weekend just before first light and after a brief catch up we were off in the car with great expectations to visit a place which is known to hold some solid bucks. The general plan at this time of year was to trim off any cull animals in preparation for the rut which had been successfully done by the pair the two days previously but FD generously said that if a decent buck presented itself on this ground and was clean we were welcome to it even though he was not carrying a rifle himself that morning.
Arriving at the ground which holds a couple of large chicken sheds we geared up and devised a plan of action. Moving off a fox was soon spotted slinking way out in a field towards the chichen sheds - FH was quickly down on the bipod and nailed it with a well placed shot from the .243 at around 130 meters which turned out to be a barren vixen not far from a pile of feathers from where an earlier kill had been nibbled at.
The benefit of three pairs of bino's scanning the ground meant we quickly identified the first deer of the day which, despite being a long way off, showed all the hall marks of buck activity in the way he moved along a hedgerow and bobbed, weaved and shook hin head at the foliage. As I had been here recently and new the lay of the ground FD gave me the opportunity to stalk into him while they went round the other side to a corner known to hold a good animal. We had no sooner parted when through the gloom of the coming day what looked like a white bag blowing in the breeze came bobbing up the hedgerow. It was a fox with a white chicken in its mouth, the wings of which were flapping over its eyes screening me. I had the 6.5 up on the sticks and whistled to stop it, whistling again when it paid no attention and then again when it was no further than 30 meters away. Head on I decided to shoot it on the move so after a muffled crack, large puff of white feathers and a meaty thump the cheeky charlie dropped in his tracks without ever knowing I was there.
Leaving him where he lay (and swapping thumbs up with the other lads just behind me) I switched back to buck mode and approached the area where the buck had last been seen but on the other side of a narrow strip of mixed wood that acted as a wind break between the two fileds. Moving cautiously and using the focus on my binos to look through the foliage I spotted him unaware browsing in the corner exactly where expected. Backtracking to a gap in I slid down and crossed a small brook before moving on all fours towards a prone shooting position with him not seventy yards away.
Carefully selecting the spot I let him have it to which he hopped, span round and then staggered towards the boundry hedge pausing broadside by a hole and looking like he enough about him still to attempt to cross through. I gave him an insurance shot and down he went with what was a fair bit of relief. Following up a deer accross a boundry when a guest on someone else's ground isn't a position I really want to be in. A nice young buck and no light-weight either and I soon realised when carrying him back to the truck.
Using a convenient stack of fresh pallets we set about about trimming the appendages of my buck and exploits from the previous two days ready for the hook and they were duely delivered to Martins larder. If the wife saw this picture she'd have my nuts.
Thanks again mate