I couldn't get out yesterday (1 Aug) morning but today was fine. I was on the ground by 04:30, although I disturbed a nice 4 point buck on the drive in I sat by the hedge glassing the valley for 20 minutes but nothing showed, so with it now being light enough to distinguish different colours I started stalking. Heading down the side of the corn field I saw a spiker roe buck heading towards me. He slowly came on and I got my back against an oak tree ready to take the shot. I gave him a couple of squeaks and he started to trot, but then disaster - a doe in the first tramline in the corn showed her head. My calling was given the brush off as he chased her across the corn field and into the wood.
I carried on up the side of the field, approaching the coppice at the top where I'd been told a roe buck had been seen - and missed - earlier in the week. I sat down with the dog beside me and put the rifle up on the bipod. I squeaked a couple of times but nothing showed. Then, about 100 yards to my right, a muntjac doe came out of the hedge and headed over towards the coppice, closely followed by a buck still in velvet. I had the doe in my sights but she looked quite thin so I just tracked her into the coppice. Then, opposite me and about 75 yards away two muntjac does came out from the corner of the coppice. One was following the other, repeatedly sticking her head under the others a*se and 'bumping' her. This carried on for a couple of minutes until the one saw the other off and returned to the coppice. A munty buck then came out and followed the line of the first doe across the field followed, 5 minutes later, by another buck that went 50 yards into the field and then turned round, came back 30 yards away from me and disappeared into the the coppice. All the bucks were in velvet and all the does looked thin, so no point taking a shot.
I got up and re-traced my steps, eventually crossing the cornfield into the big wood. I stalked into the glade and saw a roe doe watching me. Eventually she disappeared off into the wood and I got my back against a tree and gave the Buttolo a couple of goes. Nothing showed, but patience is a virtue so I kept still for another 10 minutes. Then, looking behind me I saw a movement - a muntjac doe almost totally obscured by undergrowth. She played hide and seek with me for 5 minutes, with me only occasionally catching a glimpse of an ear being twitched or a mouth of food being chewed. I had the rifle up on the sticks but instead of coming towards me she turned tail and slowly walked away - another lost opportunity??
By now it was almost 08:00 so I stalked back through the woods and down into the valley. As I came past the pen I saw a splash of chestnut on the other side of the valley. Looking through the binoculars I could see a roe doe and, 30 yards to her right, a buck - another 4 pointer. I carefully dropped down to the green lane that bisects the valley, knowing that there was a gap 50 yards to my right. Making my way there I told the dog to sit and then carefully dropped to my knees and crawled out into the field. The buck was still there but the doe was walking slowly away into the wood opposite. I'd have preferred to get closer but I got the distinct feeling that time was running out - another couple of minutes and both deer would be gone. The field is uncultivated with a nice lot of clover that was currently occupying the buck. Lying prone, and putting the rifle up on the bipod, I could see the buck slowly turning to follow the doe. I turned up the power on the scope and waited for him to turn broadside on and stop. Knowing that the far side of the field was roughly 200 yards away I put the cross-hairs half-way up his body and, when he stopped, gently squeezed the trigger.
Through the scope I saw him leap in the air and then chase the doe who had high-tailed it into the wood already. Confident of the shot I took the few steps back to pick up my sticks and call the dog to my side. Having waited the obligatory 5 minutes we crossed the field, pacing out the distance up to where the buck had been standing. Looking on the ground I could see blood as well as pieces of lung. I kept the dog at my side and got her to follow the blood trail (thanks again MarkH and Stone ). Going from splash to splash she kept at my side as we moved into the rough long grass and then there, lying on its side, was the buck.
Having done the eyeball reflex test I then gralloched out the beast. The shot had been good - heart and lung. He had one tick near his scrotum but otherwise was in good condition - he weighed 32lbs back in the larder. Checking him over I noticed a graze across the brisket, so maybe this was the same buck as had been missed earlier in the week.
Once completed I headed back down the valley to the car. It was a beautiful sunny morning and promised to be a fantastic day.