I made my way down to my permission in the New Forest this week for my last opportunity to bag a Roe buck.
My first afternoon/evening stalk drew a blank, I saw one buck in the distance but the wind was completely against me and by the time I had worked my way around the fields and woods he was long gone. I couldn't even tell what sort of head he was sporting. I saw a couple of does with this years twins still in tow but otherwise not a buck in sight.
The next morning I was up and out just after 0700. Luckily my parents house backs right onto my ground. I entered the first field and on the far side I made out a buck going back to cover in a thick hedge. No chance to get close to him.
I made my way down the field and to a suitable vantage point between two woods with a stream in front of me, bending round to my left where it disappeared just behind me into a narrow strip of wood. There was a wide open field in front of which would offer a safe shot should anything be moving about. I stayed there about an hour. A doe and twins came out from my left and browsed on the bushes on the edge of the stream. Eventually they couched down in the grass and seemed quite happy to stay there.
I moved off quietly and headed off up the edge of one wood to over look a field which looks the type Roe would love to be in, sheltered, not far to reach cover, plenty of food in the hedges and in the field but in all the years I've been shooting over this piece of ground, have never seen a buck in there. Today was no different but for another doe and twins who were heading towards me at an alarming rate. Something had spooked them at the far end of the field. They stopped ten yards short of me and made off into the wood behind me without realising I was there.
I hung about for a while longer but the ground was now seemingly devoid of deer. Slightly disappointed my Roe season was now over I decided to head back to the folks for breakfast.
On a whim I thought I might as well see if I could catch up with the buck I had seen a couple of hours earlier. It was over on the far side of my ground and I don't venture there much as it is on the boundary and there are a couple of houses quite close.
It meant me walking up the narrow strip of wood I mentioned earlier to get the right side of the wind. I soon discovered it was a mistake. The ground under the trees was saturated being slightly lower than the fields. I made a hell of a noise so I gave up and came out, wandered up the field edge and got through the strip about three hundred metres further up. Unsurprisingly there was no sign of a deer.
I walked into one field had a look round, and went back into another. This one dipped down in the middle with a wet area lined with some sparse bramble patches. I flicked the binoculars around and walked on. As I did, buck almost magically appeared from behind one of the brambles. I looked through the bins and it was a buck I'd seen earlier in the season, a malform five pointer. I hadn't been able to get a safe shot on him previously and this was only the second time I'd seen him.
He looked a good beast but with a poor head and my mind was made up. He couldn't go to my left because of the houses at the top of the field, he could only go right and back to cover. This meant he would have to cross in front of me so I readied the rifle on the sticks and tracked him as he made his way across the field. He wasn't alarmed and I'm not sure he really knew anything was amiss. He stopped to take a look around and that was enough. I settled the cross hairs on his chest and from just under 100 metres away, touched off the trigger.
I heard the satisfying thwack of bullet meeting flesh and the buck took off like a scalded cat, ran down a hedge and disappeared into the strip of woods. He showed no outward sign of being hit, no reaction to the shot, just a straight bolt for cover at the sound of the rifle.
I reloaded and waited. I'm sure I didn't miss, I know I heard the hit so was a little puzzled and also slightly concerned at the lack of reaction.
I made my way across the field to the place he was standing when I took the shot. My concerns were immediately laid to rest. There was a massive blood trail, bright red blood was sprayed everywhere, all over the grass, on the surrounding vegetation with pieces of tissue mixed in.
The track the buck had taken was marked out clearly and I knew he would be dead not too far away. I followed the blood trail to where I has seen him enter the cover. He had gone under a barbed wire fence, the blood was clear to see. It was obviously a good heart shot.
Inside the cover, the blood trail was stronger. The buck had lost alot of blood and had struggled to make it as far as it did. I found him about fifteen metres inside stone dead.
His head although not great but to me a nice one as I like those which are a little different.
I dropped the guts out of him and removed the heart and lungs. As you can see from the photo, the bottom of the heart was completely shot away. The bullet had struck slightly lower than I wanted but the end result was a heart shot and a clean kill which is what we all strive for so I didn't beat myself up for shooting an inch too low!
Here are a few more pics. Apologies if there are a few but I've just got a new camera.......