I’ll keep this brief…for everyone’s sake.
I had a weekend in West Sussex with Sikamalc this weekend, and what a weekend it was!
I arrived about 16:30 on Friday evening and as I drove up the main drive to the estate there were already deer on the move – good signs! After a quick chin wag and a cup of tea we headed out over to a smaller piece of land which Malc covers.
We stalked though a wood block, and whilst there were signs of recent activity no deer were seen. We broke out of the woods into the farthest field on the piece and waited a short while as deer are well know to cross the field from one wood block to another. Nothing seemed to be moving so we decided head back to the truck and try somewhere else. Whilst we were slowly making our way back across the fields (still glassing as we went) we noticed three roe, two does and a very young buck. Beyond them were a few fallow.
Malc gave me the nod to crawl forward to try and get a better angle on the roe which had moved out of view, it turned out they hadn’t just moved out of view, they had buggered off all together. Still I was in a better position to view the fallow.
Well a few fallow turned out to be about 15 or so, all does except one male fawn, I could just about make out is little winkle hair which confirmed things. Malc (about 10m behind me with Todd was mouthing things to me about “the blonde one”; I presumed he was talking about the fallow with the little winkle and nothing else?
Due to the angle and position of the deer, getting a safe shot was not easy; until they started walking towards us (one was maybe only 30m to my front). I rested the rifle on a small branch of a tree stump next to me and waited until the little buck came in to view and then dropped him on the spot with a high neck shot as he was feeding. All very exciting stuff! No photo!
Malc then dropped me off at another spot, where I had shot a muntjac earlier this year (the first off the estate), to sit in a high seat till dusk. Other than a few does deep into the wood on the way in, not much else was moving apart from three rather fat chocolate Labradors and their two legged followers. Neither of which are legal quarry so I let them go unharmed ;-)
The following morning saw us at the same piece of land. We started a bit later than planned (due to me running late) and unfortunately missed out on getting into the high seat before dawn. Anyway, we stalked through the fields to the far end where we had waited a short while the day before. We stood under a sloe tree and waited to see any movement. After maybe 5 or 10 minutes Malc informed me that there was a pricket coming our way over the brow of the hill. It kept coming and as I tried to lift my rifle he started looking at us directly, so I froze, rifle half up, but most defiantly not on the sticks (school boy error…when waiting, have rifle on sticks!). The little buck kept coming until he was maybe 20m away. Todd was getting excited bless him – his teeth were chattering with the excitement. To cut a long storey shot, the buck clocked us and buggered off, only to stop and turn when Malc whistled. The grass was too long and so a neck shot was all that was on…I fannied around too much trying to line the scope up, by which point the buck had run off. Never mind, it was still exciting to see him coming in so close. Todd on the other hand was less than impressed. His look to Malcolm said “what was wrong with that, who the hell is this clown”, his look to me was “you complete ****, what was wrong with that”! My apologies Todd, must be quicker next time.
There was still some time left before breakfast and so we headed over to stalk the wood where I had sat the evening before. As we approached the high seat both myself and Malc noticed movement, it looked like a fallow doe through the trees. Almost instantaneously we both noticed it was indeed a pricket. Malc gave me the nod to move forward and take the shot when it presented. After a few minutes, I was in position and so was the pricket…a high neck shot saw him drop on the spot with a few kicks. No Photo! Back to the bothy for breckie.
That evening saw me in a 40 acre woodblock stalking into a high seat for last light. Other than a few very jittery fallow does there was not much else moving apart from the squirrels who rather inconveniently / conveniently kept waking me up as I was dozing in the high seat (I had very little sleep the night before and so was shattered).
Back to the larder to see that Joe, who was out with Malc, had managed to bag himself quite an interesting little roe buck. Two points (each about 6 inches long), but one had grown offset, the result of an injury to one of its legs, which had healed but the bone was still exposed. Nice little head and Joe’s first roe buck. It was at this point that Malc discovered that I’d never actually shot a roe buck before…that was the formulation of Sunday morning’s plan of action.
Sunday morning saw Malc and I stalking some newly harvested wheat fields, a few roe does, a few foxes and a few dog walkers (off the paths and bridal ways) were all making for an action packed morning. As Malc was educating one of the dog walkers, I noticed a very large buck in the next door field. I say it was very large; it was a good three or 400m away. Even at that distance it was easily the biggest roe buck I had ever seen. We decided to stalk around into the wood block that it had run into, but we didn’t see it again.
Those fields done we crossed over a road to re-check a couple of fields that we had passed that morning. As we walked down Malc noticed a deer out in the middle, as I lifted by bins we both realised it was a nice looking four point roe buck. “That’s a cull buck” said Malc, but due to the distance and the angle of the sun we couldn’t really shoot it from where we were. So we rapid stalked around a long thin thicket to come it from a different angle.
Thankfully it hadn’t moved and so we moved in. When we observed it more closely it was apparent it was limping, its back was arched (almost like a CWD would look like head down) as it hobbled along. It was defiantly a good one to take out, so I abandoned my sticks and crept forward flicking the bipod up as I went. As the grass / weeds in the field were so long I fully extended the bipod and got myself into a comfortable sitting position. Malc then whistled to get the bucks attention, at which point he lifted his head and I dropped him on the spot with a low neck shot.
The buck hadn’t run anywhere but he had dropped in long grass that was very dry and so providing very good camouflage for the dead animal. Even though he isn’t German, or in fact been taught “the right way”, sorry “the German way” Todd managed to find the buck in the long grass within seconds in a different area to where I was looking (20m to my right). It would have taken me a lot longer to find, and I am grateful to him for that. Again, no photo!
It turned out that the little buck must have either been shot in the past or hit by a car, the front right leg had fused at the joint with zero flexibility. He was also very small, smaller than nearly any roe doe I have ever shot. So I was please that I got my first roe buck and that he was a good buck to take out.
Back to the bothy for breakfast and then the drive home. Very pleased with myself: three deer, my first roe buck (and a good one to take out), a fallow calf in the boot for the freezer, and all in one weekend. I have also now completed the triple on this lease of Malc’s. Fallow, roe and a muntjac, it’s a shame it wasn’t all in the one weekend. Maybe you’ll have to arrange that for me next year Malc ;-) ?
If anyone is booked in with Malc over the winter, you should be in for a treat, loads of fallow about and a good number of roe does too.
Many thanks to Malcom, Sandra and Todd for a great weekend away. Great to catch up with Ken again and nice to meet Joe for the first time. Roll on Scotland in two weeks!
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t too brief.