For various reasons I've not been stalking for just over 2 years but managed to get out this evening with the hope of shooting something other than paper. Two things were missing from my routine of the last 25+years--- 1st was a 4WD vehicle, my last Jimny was replaced in December by a Fiesta and 2nd was a dog!! My last dog, Molly, sadly took her last trip in the car at the end of February and will not be replaced in the foreseeable future.
Stalking without a dog for the first time in over 25 years is a strange feeling but I decided to go as one of my farmers had mentioned seeing more roe than we consider normal for his land. I scanned some land on my way to the farm and saw 3 roe on the neighbouring farm but as the wind was wrong, I continued to my original destination. I carefully made my way to the area that had been holding deer and saw a doe ambling away from the small wooded area that the farmer had mentioned. All the while I found myself looked down to my left, sad not to see a companion testing the air, giving me feedback, via body language, if a deer was up-wind. Having cleared the small wood I started up the field towards the point where I usually cross the hedge to approach the next area to be stalked. Something twitched in the grass about 50 metres away and through the binos I saw it was a Buck, lying contentedly in the quite long grass. As the buck was skylined I gradually altered my approach until I had a solid hedge as a backstop for a neck shot taken off sticks at approx. 65 metres. The buck kicked a little as it expired but a clean, successful stalk was tempered with sadness not to have a companion to give a slice of liver to. This has been my ritual for the last 25 years with my several stalking companions. Also the liver, heart and kidneys have always been saved and cooked for the dogs. On returning home, I asked my wife for the dish we always used for this purpose which resulted in floods of tears, not having a dog to give these treats to is not easy.
So-- a strange old evening, successful in one way (Venison soon to be in the freezer) but very sad in another.