Bit of a late write up as this all happened in January
I'd never shot Chinese Water Deer before so when I got the opportunity to tie up with Ian Farrington I leapt at it - it would complete my list of UK species.
We met up in the early afternoon and went over the details of how that afternoon and the following morning would pan out and Ian went to some lengths to explain the ground, what the deer were likely to be doing and at what times of the day, some tips on identification and generally what
to expect. I think that most of us have heard at one time or another the CWD just tend to stand around in the field offering wonderful broadside
shots carrying big placards saying 'please shoot me' . Not Ians deer. Whilst they do venture out into the fields this was actually stalking them in a young mixed wood plantation with an under storey of tall beige grass into which the deer blended perfectly and were wonderfully camouflaged.
We entered the wood and within about 30m of silent travel we spotted a CWD - who had also spotted us. We were only about 40m from him with only
the head being clearly visible. He was a young buck and seemed cautious but not to the point where he took flight. We moved further down the
ride to get a better angle but the cover was getting thicker and it wasn't possible to get a clear shot so we moved slowly off without him taking off.
After softly walking the rides and glassing every few steps we arrived at a high seat. This was just as well as the wind had changes direction and the wind was against us and Ian suggested we let things settle a little to see if the wind moved again. Whilst the high seat helped in covering our scent it was pretty bloody exposed and it was brutally cold. After about 30 mins a young buck broke cover and walked across the ride. Even on the open grass I was surprised at how well camouflaged it was (see the picture). It only stopped for a moment but that was sufficient to claim my first CWD.
I've shot quite a few deer and whilst I would never claim expert status, I would say that I have a pretty good grasp of what deer do when they are shot. Whilst the reaction to the shot was as expected, what I didn't expect was the massive explosion of fur when the bullet struck. A 7mm round (7mm08) is more than adequate for this small beast and probably considered OTT but, it's my general rifle and did the job with fine manners. The entry wound was calibre sized and the exit wound wasn't too much bigger but the explosion of fur was huge - it was a bit like that plume of feathers you get when you hit a pigeon in a car. Never seen that on any of the other UK species. It's certainly a memory I'll hang onto !
With the deer gralloched and packed into the Roe sack, it was time to get out of the cold and wind.
Ian is a great chap and did a fine job in tutoring me in the finer points of CWD. It was great experience that gave a good result. If you're after adding a CWD to your list, then I can strongly recommend Ian.