Another good day out with Sikamalc in Sussex.
After a rain soaked drive down, the morning stalk got off to an interesting start when two roe stalked up right behind US. As I sensed them and turned around our eyes locked and from a distance of maybe 7 yards there was mutual shock; me at being stalked by a deer and they at our impressive display of stalking ability meaning they hadn't noticed us until then (or perhaps they just weren't looking where they were going). Suffice to say there was a lot of frenzied barking and they tore off into the next county, nicely clearing the wood we had patiently stalked into.
Continuing on through the fields and into the next wood we came across three does and a couple of fawns feeding in a small clearing and wached them for a while, willing a wandering buck to appear and check them out. As the morning sunlight dappled its way through the trees we marvelled at the peaceful scene and continued on our way, leaving the little group to breakfast in peace.
As the sun came up and we ambled across empty open fields our hopes of coming across a buck faded, our guard came down and we were chatting away in hushed tones almost like a couple of washer-women as we entered the final wood for the stroll back to the truck.
Suddenly, Malc's dog stiffened and pointed to a tree ahead; there, not 50 yards away and partially obscured by two trees, stood a lone white buck, his light coat clearly visible in the gloom of the dark wood. Like the pro he is Malc had the sticks up and in position even as I took a bead on the beast and, finding a clear view of his neck available through the cover, the shot was off just a few seconds after the dog had stopped. The beast went down on the spot without moving a yard because of the neck shot and we had him bled out with the knife, gralloched and back at the truck shortly thereafter.
Though he was in great condition with plenty of fat in him - if I recall correctly he was 110lbs clean weight back at the larder - he looked a sorry and ugly mess with one broken antler and a leg that had clearly been broken in the past, though it had healed up quite well. A good cull animal. Interestingly he had a good pong to him, so perhaps the rut is going to start a little earlier this year.
After a good breakfast cooked by Malc and a chinwag with the other chaps down that day I had a restorative nap and then prepared for the evening session. Selecting a highseat in the forest with a lovely view down a ride (see pics) I settled in to wait for the fallow I was sure would move through as dusk fell. One other chap had seen a big one that morning so my senses were heightened.
As the darkness drew in I realised the error of my ways as, faced with two directions to observe, I realised I had a 50% chance of missing anything crossing the ride to head out and feed. True enough, just as I changed my viewing direction, right at the limit of visibility, I caught sight of a light shape moving across the top of the ride (right at the very end of the picture attached). Suddenly on full alert, in a swift and practiced move I was actually rather proud of, I had the Swaro up and a bead on the animal in less than a second, but - alas - I was only fast enough to catch sight of the rear end of what was clearly a very large animal disappearing behind the tree cover. I kicked myself, but put it down to experience and wished the beast well on his way, hoping to catch up with him again another day, perhaps when he had grown on even more.
Hope you enjoy the pics.