I went out this afternoon to cull a couple of does, I was on a new area that I haven't shot before so I walked up a woodland strip where I had seen deer from the road before. A doe and kid saw me first and set out across the stubble to another woodland block where I had intended to go next. I followed in a roundabout way and staying low came to within 200yds, they were hanging around fairly relaxed by now, I crept closer, to within 120yds and watched them for a while, The doe looked healthy and the kid looked small. I had pretty much decided already that I wasn't going to shoot either. They slowly made their way further out into the stubble until they were directly down wind, they still didn't bolt but I could tell that they knew I was around.
Eventually they ran off, I made my way further along the woodland edge to a point where I had high hopes of finding more deer. The woodland dropped away into a gully and after a few hundred yards the side of the gully was bare of trees, I was looking down into a steep valley which had a grassy flat area half way down the side. There were two does on the grass. I was behind some whins and couldn't see all of the grassy area, I crept along a little further to get a better look, there was a buck closer to where I had been, and in the distance another doe. I decided that the closest doe was the one to take as it didn't appear to have any young.
I had to move position again to get the rifle out of the grass, eventually settling on a fork in a bit of hawthorn, once settled I had a really nice shot a the doe which was about 70 yards away, and about 25 yards below me. I squeezed off a shot and heard the strike. The doe took off down hill and away from me almost colliding with one of the other does which was coming down the hill but towards me, my doe changed and followed the other, they disappeared into some really thick whins. I waited to see if there was any sign of movement but there was none. Getting up to make my way down the steep slope it seemed as though it had suddenly got a lot darker, I arrived at the place where I had hit the doe, I couldn't see any blood so I headed to the place where I had last seen it, the whins were seriously thick and after crawling through I tried to imagine where the deer would have gone, there was an animal track heading directly downhill, I followed it for another 20 yards or so where the whins opened out a bit, no sign.
I began to have doubts, had I hit it? Was the strike that I heard the bullet hitting wet mud? Had the scope been knocked? had the bullet failed to open up? what If I had pulled the shot and hit it in the guts? I was almost talking to myself, you can't miss from 70 yards.. the rifles fine, you'd feel it if you'd pulled it, etc etc. It was getting darker and darker, things were now looking almost black and white, I knew that I could never find it so I decided to go back home for the dog, I have never tried using him or trained him as a deer dog, but he's reasonably well behaved for a lab. I dashed home, apologised to the wife for going out again, grabbed the dog and went back.
I walked him to heel to the point of the shot and said "where is it" he immediately took off where the deer had gone even following the change in direction where it had met the other doe, then he disappeared into the whins, I followed but had completely lost sight of him. I had a head torch on and a powerful hand torch as well but the gorse was seriously thick and about 6' high, I had to wait and listen I heard him slobbering which got my hopes up, I crawled through to him and he had found some blood, then he was off again into the dark. Following the noise I continued to crawl forward, picking thorns out of my ears and hands, I was pleased to see lots of blood on the stems of the gorse and eventually came up on the dog who had found the deer and was attempting to retrieve it lol. It had taken him all of 2 minutes. The deer had traveled through 20m of seriously thick gorse, it was a nightmare dragging it out to open ground. WhenI gralloched it, the heart was in three completely separate pieces and the lungs were like mincemeat. So I can't blame shot placement or the bullet, roe are just tough.
I have always avoided taking the dog stalking because he is likely to get over excited and whine if I have to lay up for a while, I'll take him from now on, we'll just have to work on the whining...