Monday saw one more outing in our syndicate ground in south Ayrshire for me. Setting off at 4am and battling through thick mist and roadworks I arrived at the syndicate ground at 06.15 to meet with a member from here who is the leaseholder and a good friend and mentor to me. He can reveal his identity himself if he so wishes. I was determined to get a deer today, as I have had an awful lot of bad luck in my previous few outings, with only does to be seen in the middle of the buck season...
Determined I might have been, but the deer did not care about that. None to be seen, despite the amazing weather and what looked to be ideal conditions for them to be out feeding. We decided to split, so we can cover more ground. I went staking, my friend went at a high vantage point with his dog and waited there. After a couple of hours I met with him and voiced my frustration that I had not seen a living thing. Neither had he, so we just sat down and chatted. It was around 10am and whilst making a comment I made about how I had read here that some people reckon most deer are shot around 10am, I quickly added 'hey, there is a deer'!
A young buck had just appeared right in front of us by a tree around 100-150 yards away and to the base of the clearing. The first buck I have seen in the ground (three other members have actually shot a buck each) and I obviously was excited. I set up my sticks, steady myself, and 150 grain made their way to the buck. Well, towards the buck anyway. After the shot, the buck turned immediately and bolted away from us towards the trees. Disappeared!
Sorry, I missed! That is what I said, totally annoyed with myself and rather embarrassed. No, you did not, was his reply. I am sure you connected. I saw him running in a funny manner, he added. Thankfully we had his dog with us, a lovely 3 year old bitch but I cannot remember the breed. He will probably explain if he sees the thread.
Anyway, after 15 minutes he sends the dog, closely followed by us. The dog was obviously excited, but could not find anything. We could not find any blood, there was no hair anywhere. I told you I missed, I said. No, you did not, he replied. I am sure you hit him, but we cannot find any evidence. An hour and a half of searching with the dog convinced him I did miss. Off we go to lunch, before we went back to search again for another two hours. Nothing. OK, you missed, he said. Let's go and sit at the high vantage point and hope for another buck. After an hour and a half of staring at an empty field we decided it was time to head to the cars so we go home. OK, let's walk down then and get to the cars, he said.
When we reached the bottom of the clearing and started walking towards the cars, the dog went ballistic. She run off and disappeared towards some hard wood pocket on the way to the car. After two to three minutes it became clear to us that the dog had left the wood and was on the other side of the fence at a field some 500 yards away, maybe further. She was barking like mad, but we did not know at what. A sheep, most probably, my friend said, whilst starting to walk to get her back. After maybe ten minutes I heard him calling my name from the distance. I had a suspicion what this might be about, but it did not make sense. It was way too far, and at a completely different direction than we thought possible. I arrived to see my friend and his dog with the buck from the morning. The buck was still very alive and had given the dog a run for its money. It was past 5pm by that time, some 7 hours after I attempted the shot.
It turns out I shot the buck a bit too high and further back than I intended, and for some reason there was no blood or hair to evident the fact that I actually did connect my shot.
And there you have it. Had it not been for the dog, we would have no chance at all to find the beast, or even entertain the possibility that I actually did get a bullet to strike his body. Thank God for the dog, I say.
I left for home with a great satisfaction that the deer was found (better late than never) and that after a long time I shot my first deer in my current syndicate. I wish I had the space at my current home to get one of the puppies my friend's dog will be carrying soon...