After a frustrating day, Sunday evening I decided to breakout with the rifle and dog to see what was moving in the woods. I arrived at the farmyard and foolishly had a scout about to check in with the farm manager. Thirty minutes later having helped a Ewe with a lamb coming backwards I dived on the quad and made a hasty retreat before anything else could delay my plan.
Heading for my start point I made a quick detour in order to spy on some Roe in their favourite sun spot. Hoping to find a yearling buck, all I could see was a pair of young Does revelling on a carpet of Bluebell and wild Garlic on the wood edge. I pressed on and soon arrived at my chosen place driving just off the track to submerge the Quad in the deep shadows of a pair of Yew trees. I readied the rifle cycling the bolt to draw the first round from the magazine slowly closing it again before carefully glassing the immediate area. Having satisfied myself that I was not being watched, I dismounted silently calling the dog to heel from his box on the back.
I checked the wind which was strong and seemed to be in the wrong direction for where I was heading, but my knowledge of the ground assured me otherwise. We slowly made our way back to the track following the ridge for 50 yards before forking left and decending the side of the valley then following the path around beneath the hill. We made steady headway glassing regularly and occaisionally crouching to afford a better view beneath the the tangled Hazel and Elderberry cover. All the time I was questioning the faith I had in my plan that the shape of the terrain would have reversed the wind once we had reached my intended vantage point. Soon within 70 yards and the wind still wispering on the back of my neck I slightly dispondently glassed lefthanded down a long straight feed ride that stretched and bowed away to the boundary of the wood below. A squirrel rumaged away digging up the bitter Bluebell bulbs while a pair of cock Pheasants flitted and whirled in a attept to settle a territorial dispute. After more doubting of my plan I rounded a slight bend in the path and a huge Hollybush, I drew newly energized breath as I registered that the wind was now neutral. Another ten paces and I reached for my powder windchecker to demonstrate to the dog that I was right and the wind was now gently weaving its way from ahead of us.
Ten more paces and a break in the cover offered a tantalising view down a row of young trees for 80 yards to almost the edge of the wood. Another ten and I reached my vantage point now seeing 100 yards ahead where the path widdens out showing a pheasant feeder which is a favourite for Muntjac, but also a newly fallen Silver Birch that had succumb to a heavy burden of Ivy and crashed down across the Path narrowly missing the feeder on route. The lush green Ivy I hoped would be an added attraction with the feeder of wheat. Pointing to the ground the dog sat but as he avoided making eye contact to confirm he had to lie his eyes drifted towards the feeder. His eyebrows twitched followed by his ears raising, now he looked at me and then back towards feeder. As I turned to look I readied the rifle while sliding my left hand to the top of the sticks to create a steady rest. By the time I was in a firing position the Munjac was behind bramble cover on the right hand side of the path. Gently I opened the quadsticks and settled on the partially obscurred Muntjac. The buck was now grazing away from me and soon had his head submerged in the Ivy on the fallen Silver Birch. There was no chance of a shot with his arse facing me and his neck a head moving erratically, I deployed the rear legs of the quadsticks to rear of the stock in preparation for a shot. Having got steady I whistled quietly hoping he would turn to look..........no chance. Whithout hesitation he took off like a stabbed rat pushing under the Ivy and high tailing it off down the path away from us.
I stood my ground for a while hoping the buck may reapear to see what he had run from, I spotted movement through some dense nut cover but it wasn't stopping and moved on to my left and over a small bank. I remembered the clear view I had passed down the line of young trees and silently backtracked to it and set the rifle trained down the clear channel. After ten minutes the light was starting to fade and I was wondering whether the buck had gone and I'd be better off going back to the feeder. I had only just decided to give it five more minutes when my buck strutted into view, this time the only noise I made was loud and it signalled 87 grains of bullets setting off on a short journey. Safely navigating it's way past a couple of twigs it passed through the Buck removing an artery from the top of his heart on the way. He ran a short way before getting tangled in a Dog Rose and surcumbing. I called the dog in and let him start looking for the Buck without delay as the light now was fading fast. By the time I had made the rifle safe and laid it down he had returned and eagerly lead me back to the Buck. In the poor light I could straight away see that this Buck was an old campaigner, and some campaign too judged by his lack of one whole ear one side and half of the other accompanied by numerous scares and rub patches on his flanks.