This particular patch has a pretty narrow window of certainty for roe bucks and thats before the pasture gets silaged and the cows are let out - after that its game over and you can only hope to stumble across one. At only 100 odd acres of fields and hedges surrounded by much better, varied ground its not exactly a magnet but serves as a vaccume for yearlings when they're booted out and the occasional decent buck which follows the does in spring to fawn in the long grass. Sadly most of these get chopped up in the mower despite my best efforts but thats another story.
Whilst I've been lucky to have had some good animals from here over the years I still make an annual mistake of leaving an exeptional animal, seen clean in early season, for the rut which either never happens or does... but not on my ground as the cows have wrecked it! The cull policy is quite hard here as they drive the farmer mad - if he new i had a management policy at all he propably wouldn't be too impressed so with this in mind I hoped for a good start when I went out last Sunday morning.
It was perfectly still morning - cold & crispy and after one field I saw movement on the other side of a hedge. Approaching carefully I found an opening a peered through to see a buck happily browsing along the hedgerow on the far side. Remembering a gap further up I moved carefully up and half expected to get rumbled as the hedge was quite sparse and the light was coming up behind me but I made it and did the last few feet on my belly. As I put the bipod down I saw a doe looking at me to the left of the buck and another doe to the right of him doing the same. Fortunatly both were young animals and uncertain so I had plently of time to check the buck out who was a small 6 pointer still in velvet which was good enough for me. All the time in the world to pick the spot and after the shot a huge puff of grey pins and a flick of his legs saw him run and disapear into a thick hedge. Although I'd market where he'd gone in tracking is part of the game I get a lot of satisfaction from so I found the paint & pins and followed them - there he was 10+ feet into the briar quite dead.
He was probably a bit better that I originally gave him credit for but it was too late now and I gralloched him in the warming sun and hung his haunches over a fence to drain. No sooner had I reloaded I saw a small buck far up the a hedgerow a further field away and no doubt about this fella who was a young 4ptr. The lay of the land made the approach quite straightforward and he was neck stretched and munching when i took the chest shot off sticks at 80 meters which he folded to.
After a shortcut through the hedge (which I won't be doing again) I reached the buck and went to bleed it when a doe, so far unseen, burst out the hedge with her cordel patch flared out bright white and run 20meters before jumping back in. I got back up on the sticks and cycled the bolt hoping what might happen next did as the doe re-emerged with a spindly clean malform buck with her. I thought they wern't going to stop but second or third whistle they both did and down he went as well as around 100 meters.
It wasn't a long carry back to the car but after the 3rd go I was happy to have a sit down and wonder about whether that big buck from last year was going to make an appearance later in the season.....