Yesterday evening I went out for my first stalk on a new permission I've picked up. I went out a couple of weeks ago without the rifle for a wander around and spotted a Roe buck (well actually he spotted me and legged it!) so decided to go back with my old mentor, Mike, and my rifle to see if we could spot him again.
We got to the farm at about 6ish and sussed the wind out. It wasn't ideal so we had to walk out of the yard and right around the outside edge of the land and then head up from the bottom. Bugger, it's steep too! Anyway, we had a good look around on the way down but couldn't spot any signs of life. As we started to head back up though, Mike spotted a tell tale "brown rock" at the top of the field where I had seen the Buck last time. We got down low and glassed the hedgerow and sure enough there he was happily munching away in the grass totally unaware or our presence. I got the rifle down on the bipod and watched him through the scope, but as he was up hill and against the hedge there was no chance at all of a shot. We watched him for five minutes or so then he led down! As the better stalker Mike decided we should move, so it was a long creep along the hedge (at least we had a good dark background) and up the side of the field towards him. Luckily there is a pretty big tree about half way up the field, so we got behind that and then just quietly walked up to him using the trunk as cover.
45 minutes later we arrived at the tree. I slowly edged my way around it hoping the Buck would still be there. He was, no more than 60 yards away and still unaware of us. I brought the rifle up and rested on the tree, still un-noticed, but got a serious case of "buck fever"! Sod it! Back down with the rifle and behind the tree again for a breather and a moment to calm down. The bipod on the rifle felt awkward against the tree, so I spent a moment removing it to get my mind onto something else for a second or two. Then it was take 2. Back up with the rifle, steady on the tree, backstop was good, I fired. The Buck slumped where he was sat, not even a kick! As I heard the report of the rifle I heard the (very distinctive) sound of Mikes .444 Marlin having a round cranked into it, but there was no need. He's a good mentor. I hadn't reloaded because the Deer just dropped, so he did instead then told me to!
We left it for a couple of minutes and watched it. Nothing, not even a twitch, so we took a walk over to him. It was a good shot. Because he was at a slight angle and was sat down the shot went in through his left shoulder and exited well behind the leg on the other side.
Now for the nasty bit. Get the knife out. I did the grallock under close instruction from Mike. I know what I'm doing in a rough and ready kind of way but I wanted to do this by the book (or at least close to it!). So with that sorted we did a photo shoot and then tied him up with the drag rope and made our way back to the truck. I made it most of the way up the hill then decided to "handbag" his legs together and carry him the rest of the way. Mike offered to help but I was keen to extract him on my own. Next time I may well not have the option and a Roe isn't heavy anyway. As we got back to the truck the farmer spotted us and wandered over. He was really pleased that I'd got one the first time I went out and was very thankful for my help. I thanked him for the oppertunity and said I'd drop a cut in for him at a later date (a good gesture I feel). We then headed home at about 9.30.
Back at home we cleaned out the carcass and removed the pluck, then I set about skinning him and cutting him up. There are pictures of this too, but they're not pretty and I wouldn't want you to laugh at the mess I was making so I'll leave those for now! I have some scruffy cuts in the fridge that will tase as good as a professional job would, so I'm happy!
Here are a couple of pictures. He didn't have the best head on him but he was healthy and I don't shoot for trophies so it doesn't matter. He upped my limited Deer count, didn't spot me stalking him and went down cleanly. These are the most important things to me.
A good one....
And a terrible one (thanks for making me laugh Mike!).....