Just spent a long weekend in Norfolk hoping to catch the Rut (we were a little early). 6 separate outings from Thursday pm thru Sunday dawn. Doesn't really get much better.
My first three outings had drawn blanks although I had walked miles, seen plenty of Does and calves, some munties, owls, stoats, weasils, kites and mice...no complaints. The previous dawn I had finally caught up with a muntjac buck and got my first kill on the slate and the evening before had eventually found a buck (and then another). One was special...stalked down the side of a large field, popped through the hedgerow and crawled into the stubble at the edge of the plough, set up bipod, lay prone and saw a lovely 6-pointer dancing with a doe about 200 yards away. Was the first rutting activity we'd seen and I took him front on at 190 yards with my new rifle and scope which brought a big smile to my face.
So it's 3.45am on the final morning and the alarm goes ('Shot me Down', David Guetta... you know, the one that goes "Bang bang, he shot me down, bang bang...").
I feel, by this stage of the weekend, like I have been punched in both eyes.
Having walked so much the previous 5 sessions I opt for a high seat in an ancient oak. It has a 9-11 o'clock view out on the left hand side and a 12-4 o'clock view to the right. Another oak blocks the immediate view in front and the whole thing has a background of forestry stretching as far as you can see about 150 yards away and beyond.
Having sweltered for three days I was in lightweight kit and it promptly starts to drizzle as I get in position. I see a doe and a calf in some scrub 100 yards away, just in front of the forestry and a lazy, apologetic looking muntjac 200 yards away just nosing out of the bracken. It's 5am so I leave the muntjac thinking I'd rather wait for a buck. The rain gets heavier and heavier and I start to get cold (hungry, sleep deprived, damp).
Anyone who has sat in an oak as the heavens open knows it becomes like being under a shower after a while as the branches gather water.
Every time the pigeons above me flap their wings, another cup of water falls onto me and my gun and legs... I resort to sitting sideways, knees tucked into my chest, binos in my jacket, gun resting at the end of the seat and trying to remind myself that deer always surprise me and that maybe the rain will stop. They always come out after the rain, right.. please let this damn rain stop...
...which it did, after an hour. Within 30 SECONDS, no more, out of nowhere (how do they do that by the way...??) a little spikey buck appears in my right hand cone of vision. Obviously I am completely ill-prepared, sitting sideways, and gently wiggle my fingers so I can feel them and swing my legs down to glass him....as I move into position he looks around, yawns (kinda...) and sits down in some heathy, pale grass about 60 yards out. I'm suddenly warm, heart rate is up and through my wet binos I can see his ears and little spikes twitching in the grass. I think about squeaking him but then remember I gave my Nordik Call to the guy who was with me the previous night when I christened the new rifle. Doh....
Before I know it (2 minutes after the little buck appears) I catch something on my left hand side, moving at pace, and suddenly see a proper buck running full pelt, right past my seat at about 15 yards. He's got a grey beard, a lovely head, thick neck and there's rainwater flying off his coat as he gallops past me. Heart rate now 180, am feeling HOT now rather than numb and my wrinkled fingers are shaking. No chance at a shot or even a shout so I return to scoping the little fella on the right...he's still there.
5 minutes pass and I am about to whistle/shout/'oi!!' when suddenly the big buck roars round the back of the oak to my right , in front of the little one lying up in the grass and they both take off down to the scrub where I had seen the doe earlier, so maybe 120 yards away. There's no obvious agression but the big fella looks like he's had a few Red Bulls, snorts a bit and, once again, before I can get him in the scope, sets off at full pace up the side to my left where I first saw him a few minutes before....leaving the bewildered little fella in my sights at 120 yards...boom.... was my last morning and I was keen to have one more and he was a good little cull buck and I kinda admired the big fella so it felt like the right call. I couldn't see much of his neck/head so went full-on engine room and he collapsed like a sack of spuds.
It's about 7am at this stage , I am damp but warm on adrenalin and pleased with the shot and sit back and contemplate life. No more than 5 minutes pass and the big fella comes round the back of the oak again, like last time, at full pace...except it's NOT the big fella, it's a whole new buck who's obviously been told to get lost by the drug fuelled, grey-bearded psycho who I kept seeing. He runs into the forestry to my front, reappears 10 seconds later and goes to settle/feed in the scrub about 10 yards from where his colleague was lying dead. Taking no chances, I slide off the safety and wait until he's almost facing me and bends his neck to have a look at the forestry and place one just under his chin and he crumples.
I waited around another 40 minutes until 8.30am, waiting for the Boss to reappear but no such luck so I called it a day. He's still there, somewhere, and probably tucking into a lot of does at this very moment.
Goes to show a few things I guess:
1) Never give up, however grim it may feel
2) The old adage that deer love to come out after rainfall is seemingly very true
3) Where there's a young buck there's often an older one...and where there's an older one there's are often others being chased about as well!
Sorry for the ramble...got a bit carried away. I could have gone with:
"In high seat, nowt happening, rain stops and it kicks off and I grasssed 2 bucks"
....but for anyone sitting at a desk right now or simply not out in the woods I hope this makes you smile. Was a special few hours.
Good luck to you all.