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Thread: Keeping the farmer happy....

  1. #1
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    Keeping the farmer happy....

    I was recently invited to manage the deer on a farm within 5 minutes drive of where I live. It's a small farm, roughly square and about five fields wide by four fields deep with a hill in the middle, so safe shots are difficult to come by. The farmer mostly raises cattle, but he has a field of rape at the back of the farm. On one side is a main road and on the other is an area of woodland and scrub.

    The farmer asked me to manage the deer as he's fed up with them trampling down his rape field. Unfortunately the farmer only got in touch in early March, so I went out three times in the last days of the doe season but never managed to strike lucky.

    The first time I was waiting on top of the hill in a strip of trees. Next to the trees is a game cover. A nice 6-point buck and doe appeared the other side of the game cover, barely 20 yards away, having walked up the brow of the hill. If I'd shot the doe when I first saw her, the bullet would have landed somewhere in South Wiltshire She knew something wasn't right, but slowly made her way through the game cover. Very slowly I'd manouvered the rifle on the sticks so that I could shoot her when she was between the game cover and the trees, since this was the only safe shot possible. All the time the buck, still in velvet, was trying to figure out what I was. I was ready on the sticks as the doe came out of the game cover. I clicked off the safety - and she bolted at the sound with the buck following closely on her heels.

    The second time out I saw nothing. The third time I was lined up in the valley with my back to a tree and the rifle up on the sticks. A muntjac doe appeared about 100 yards away, but as I was about to take the shot I heard a noise to my left as a man walking his two labradors came past me, along a footpath, and headed into the field. He never saw me, but I said a silent prayer of thanks to the gods above that I hadn't pulled the trigger.

    Last night I called the farmer and said that I'd be out this morning. He was very pleased to hear from me again as he was afraid that after three blank attempts I'd have given his farm up as a bad job I told him not to worry and that I was happy to carry on, but the lie of the land meant that it was going to be as much luck as judgement if I happened to connect. He understood, and then said that he was regularly seeing three or four roe in the field of rape.

    So at 05:30 this morning I parked the car in the farmyard and headed up the hill towards the rape field. From the wood to the edge of the rape field it's just over 200 yards. Keeping to the side of the wood I spied into the field and, sure enough, there were a couple of roe. Unfortunately although the ground rises from the wood to the rape field, once you're at the fence of the rape field it's as flat as a billiard table. Fortunately the farmer had parked two flat-bed trailers mid-way between the wood and the fence, so thinking one of them might present a handy shooting platform I dropped back to the woodland edge and made my way to the furthest trailer. Standing with my back to the trailer and the rifle on the sticks I was now about 90 yards from the wood and 120 from the rape field. I could still see the heads of the two roe deer but they both looked like does.

    Glancing to my right I saw two more roe heading down the middle of the field. Looking through the glasses I could make out a young, spiker, buck being chased by a nice 6-pointer. They came towards me at a quick trot as though on a piece of string, the older buck about 10 or 15 yards behind the youngster. Onwards they came, then headed to my right and moved towards the wood. They were now about 60 yards away between me and the wood, with a great backstop (not the wood, the field ). As the older buck stopped, I gently squeezed the trigger. At the shot he staggered and fell and I quickly reloaded. The young buck, now about 20 yards in front, stopped at the shot and looked back. Then, apparently without a care in the world, he started to graze. I had moved the rifle and the sticks, and as he turned broadside on I squeezed the trigger again. Like his older companion he dropped to the shot.

    Looking at my watch it was 05:45 - 15 minutes of stalking and two bucks already accounted for. Leaving it a minute or two while I let my heartrate go back down to normal, I made my way towards the older buck. Now that the roe were moving from winter to summer coat the plume from the shot was very visible:



    Having checked for eye reflex I made my way over to the youngster and did the same. Having now completed the easy bit I dragged them over to the edge of the wood and gralloched them.



    (N.B. Bolt removed for photo )

    The sun was now breaking through the mist and it was going to be a glorious day. I shan't take any more bucks of this land unless the farmer notices some new ones come in. The frustrating thing is that I'd have preferred to cull a couple of does back in March, but those will now have to wait until November.

    willie_gunn
    Last edited by willie_gunn; 18-04-2010 at 09:25.

  2. #2
    Nice writeup Will, bet that youngster thought he had help from the gods,..........till he got the same!
    (The Unspeakable In Pursuit Of The Uneatable.) " If I can help, I will help!." Former S.A.C.S. member!

  3. #3
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    Thank finnbear

    It never ceases to amaze me how deer can seemingly ignore the shot that drops a companion. The youngster simply put his head down and carried on grazing as though everything was normal. Perhaps he was a good candidate for removal from the gene pool after all

    I meant to say, in the larder the big fella weighed 20kgs with the youngster about 5kgs less. Both were in great condition.

    willie_gunn

  4. #4
    Backstrap for lunch then?...........on the head going down to feed, next to the first buck,....we regularly get "followups" with our foxes.......during the dating season ! I think you get the picture.
    (The Unspeakable In Pursuit Of The Uneatable.) " If I can help, I will help!." Former S.A.C.S. member!

  5. #5
    Nice right up willie good result.

  6. #6
    Sounds like a really good morning, good write up I felt I was there with you lol

  7. #7
    Nice one Willie,i'm sure you'll have more bucks show up especially when the rut starts,if theres not many being shot on surrounding land i wouldn't be too worried about taking some more if they show.
    Neil.

  8. #8
    Agree with Dawnraider, Willie. If the farmer is only concerned with protecting his crops, and from the description of the ground I'm assuming the deer are coming from the neighbouring wood, you may have a regular visit from them for as long as the rape stands.

    Just out of interest, a gamekeeper friend of mine, who had no real interest in deer stalking, decided to shoot a buck he regularly saw on a tiny patch of new growth in the exposed mud on the edge of a reservoir on his ground. When he showed me the head I commented on the size and quality of it and on the blank expression being displayed on his face at the mention of medals, it became more evident how little interest he had in roe. It was subsequently measured at the Scone Palace Game Fair in Perth and made gold. Anyway, less than a week later I was passing his place and he showed me the head of the buck that must have replaced the one shot the previous week. It was every bit the same quality. He repeated this one more time, again within a week or so. Three medal class bucks off a patch of fresh growth half the size of a tennis court. Other than a dozen or so small birch trees and a couple of shrubs round the waters edge, the nearest good cover was a 1/4mile away. I can only assume that whatever the food was, it was worth the deer travelling for. Fingers crossed that you may get the same! Best of luck.

  9. #9
    Agree with Dawnraider, Willie. If the farmer is only concerned with protecting his crops, and from the description of the ground I'm assuming the deer are coming from the neighbouring wood, you may have a regular visit from them for as long as the rape stands.

    Just out of interest, a gamekeeper friend of mine, who had no real interest in deer stalking, decided to shoot a buck he regularly saw on a tiny patch of new growth in the exposed mud on the edge of a reservoir on his ground. When he showed me the head I commented on the size and quality of it and on the blank expression being displayed on his face at the mention of medals, it became more evident how little interest he had in roe. It was subsequently measured at the Scone Palace Game Fair in Perth and made gold. Anyway, less than a week later I was passing his place and he showed me the head of the buck that must have replaced the one shot the previous week. It was every bit the same quality. He repeated this one more time, again within a week or so. Three medal class bucks off a patch of fresh growth half the size of a tennis court. Other than a dozen or so small birch trees and a couple of shrubs round the waters edge, the nearest good cover was a 1/4mile away. I can only assume that whatever the food was, it was worth the deer travelling for. Fingers crossed that you may get the same! Best of luck.

  10. #10
    Nice one Dom

    I persume you got the lawns mown yesterday to allow an early outing
    Must of been the venison steak sandwich you had yesterday lunchtime that got the taste buds going then

    See ya soon

    Jon

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