First Try for a Devon Red
First things first, a HUGE thank you to Tony from the site here for letting me try for a red on one of his permissions on the edge of Dartmoor.
Tony, I loved every second of it and it was a great thrill to see the deer, very many many thanks.
Now, to the day.
Alarm goes of at silly o’clock and I head up to Chagford to meet Tony for 6am. Very very cold morning, hard frost at home as I drive up towards Widdon Down there is a dusting of snow on the ground.
We meet up and then drive in tandem to his permission, all I can say it is a stunning location. I have been there many many times but had no idea there were red deer in residence.
I sort out my rifle and sticks and we head off into the dark with the sky behind us just starting to lighten. The deer, if all goes to plan, will make their way back up a valley from their night time feeding grounds to dense conifer woodland to rest up for the day. The idea is to try and ambush one on the way back.
We creep along and down the side of a fairly steep valley to a spot under some gorse bushes to hid and sit down and wait for the light to increase enough to shoot.
I kid you not, Tony has amazing eyesight, we had not been there 5 mins when he nudged my in the ribs and said a deer was coming in from the right. I put my glasses up and well I be, there there was one but I could only see it when it moved as it blended into the trees behind so well at about 160/180 yards away. Too dark to identify exactly what it was and I could not see my reticule so no chance to getting a shot, just to dark to be honest.
As the light slowly increased we noticed 2 deer come down of the hill opposite us, not on Tony’s ground so we had to hope and pray they would come across but they drifted un the valley to our left with out crossing the stream to our side.
In the photo, which is not great as it was so dark and no flash, I have marked them up, you can just make out their shapes, probably in excess of 250yards away:
So three deer seen in about 35mins:
The light increasing minute by minute and at last get to see one a little clearer and though my scope properly. She comes out from the edge of the stream and cuts across the open zone to our front at our feet. I get down behind the rifle and Tony says I can take it if I wish.
She does not really stop walking and as she nears the treeline/stream she gets hard to see and before I get a chance at a shot the blends into the trees and is gone.
In the pic below she roughly followed the line right to left.
At this stage it was now chucking it down with snow and we had a nice sprinkling on us as we sat still chatting and watching, ponies and sheep getting the heart rate going a little as they moved about in the gorse but no more deer to be seen.
We are also treat to an amazing fly past of I don’t know how many starlings, the air is full of their wing beats and 2 huge flocks give us a curling show as they head down the valley, not seen a flock like it for many years.
So we try a little wander around though the gorse and across a few small fields and this gives me a much better idea of the lay of the land, again nothing other than a fox at a few 100 yards away which we just watched as we leant of a gate being watched ourselves by a good mob of sheep.
We work out way back to the trucks and have a coffee to round the morning off, having forgotten to put a watch on this morning I had no idea what the time was and felt it must have been around 10 to 11am.....nope, 9am. It seemed like an age we had been out but it was only a little over 2 hours.
It wont be a day I forget in a hurry, that is for sure, it was simply a privilege to get the chance to see them.
As I said before Tony, very many thanks indeed, you are a gent!