With all the beautiful weather recently it's meant early mornings and late evenings stalking. I was speaking with my friend and stalking mentor who said he would be out with a client on Tuesday evening, so I decided earlier in the day to tag along. By 17:00 the heavens had opened, with thunderstorms and torrential rain. The forecast was that this would blow through during the evening, and knowing how deer like to get out of the woods after heavy rain it was decided that it was still worth going out.
We arrived at the stalking ground at around 19:45, and having left my mentor with the client I then headed off to a nearby piece of the permission that I've stalked and written about before.
The main field lies between the big wood and a smaller strip of woodland, with the ground falling towards the big wood giving a nice backstop. It has been left uncultivated this year, so the thistles and grass are about knee high. Spying from the track I could see a doe and yearling grazing their way through the field, so I decided to keep to the smaller strip of woodland and see what else I could find.
Almost immediately I saw another doe, then as I stalked the woodland edge a further roe doe came out of the wood behind me and started grazing. Half crouching, half crawling, I continued stalking up the woodland edge. Then ahead of me I saw another doe bedded down at the top of the rise, so I dropped down to the ground while I gathered my thoughts. Knowing that the roe typically come out of the big wood at last light to graze on the meadow, I decided that it was worth staying where I was as I had a good view of most of the field.
This decision was rewarded about 5 minutes later when I spied a buck heading out of the woods. Sitting down with my back to a fencepost and the rifle on the bipod, the brow of the hill was still between me and him, meaning that the grass and thistles prevented a clear shot. A conveniently placed water trough higher up the hill 30 yards away looked ideal, but the bedded doe meant that the only approach was to crawl. Leaving my dog and stalking sticks by the fence I managed to get to the trough without spooking the doe, but the heavy rain earlier in the day meant that I was liberally covered in mud (and worse) by the time I got there.
Sitting with my back against the trough and the rifle on the bipod I now had a clear shot of just over 100 yards, so I waited until the buck turned broadside on and pulled the trigger. At the shot he leapt in the air and ran for the nearby wood. Returning to pick up the dog and the sticks, I walked back to where the buck had been grazing. The long grass and heavy rain meant that finding the blood trail wasn't easy, but the dog was on form and took me about 10 yards into the wood where the buck was lying dead (thanks again Stone and Mark H ). The light was fading fast, so only enough time to grab a couple of photos and perform the gralloch before darkness fell:
He's a nice 6-point buck, pretty representative of the type hereabouts:
I normally allow myself one good buck per season, so with the rut approaching fast I'll now concentrate on cull bucks.
I got back to the car, picked up the beast and headed back to meet my mentor and the client. For them it had sadly been a blank - they'd only seen one doe - so my pleasure with the evening was tinged with a bit of guilt, but not too much