My second trip up to John was spread over two days.
The stalk was through a set of three woods.
The evening was cloudy with occasional sunny spells and a light but steady breeze.
Again we discussed the plan on the way out.
We arrived almost two hours before last light to give us some time to reach our final wood which was to be around a mile away from where we would park up.
We walked slowly past the first wood, which we were going to go through but it proved to be impossible to stalk quietly and the paths were often blocked with newly felled shrubs and small trees.
We reached a path through the wood which lead to our second objective, and our first opportunity to stalk.
After spending twenty minutes glassing a new wood, where every hare and pheasant looked like a laid up deer, and every moving hare looked like a moving deer, we inched along the drainage ditch and entered the wood with the wind in our faces.
The signs of deer activity were everywhere, deep scrapes, well used tracks, slots and scrotties.
John explained that as there had been heavy rain over the preceding few days most of the slots were recent, and from the size of the slots it was apparent that there was at least one large animal on the move.
We spent almost an hour following the main track, glassing the wood ahead almost constantly, making our way to a point which John knew was where the deer like to lie up, the idea being that if we donít meet one on the way in we might ambush them when they start to move.
We reached the ambush line and waited.
Fifteen minutes later and nothing had showed, so we opted to make our way to the end of the wood then follow a track across to our main stalking wood.
We had only edged another twenty metres into the wood when a good looking six pointer, which had been in the field next to us, broke cover and went crashing through the wood and over to our next destination.
John was disappointed, I was laughing.
I had been glassing the edge of the wood, exactly where the buck had been, and hadnít seen anything except the feed bin he had been stood behind.
Undaunted we set off hot foot for the next wood.
The plan was clear, and on reaching the wood John pointed out all the angles, routes, and safe shots.
We edged through a deliberate clearing, stopped to glass the wood, and watched a stoat which was out hunting, then very slowly eased out of the other side.
To our right, only sixty metres away on the opposite side of a ditch and through the hedge, was a young doe.
On the opposite side of the field there were two deer working along the hedge.
As one of the deer on the far hedge was a buck we glassed all the areas and looked for possible routes over there.
I was looking back toward the doe, after being distracted by yet another hare, when a buck appeared twenty metres down from the doe.
Knowing that the track would lead them up toward our position John suggested I set up on the edge of the clearing and wait.
I had been there for some time but nothing was happening, apart from a hare stopping a few metres away from me and watching me for a good few minutes.
John saw another buck enter the wood and signalled me to move down, but as I did so the doe, which had probably been watching me from a nearby bush, broke cover and headed back down the wood taking the bucks with it. John and I just stared after it and you couldnít help but smile.
We slowly made our way down though the wood, but the light had almost gone by now and we stepped out into the field to see if any other deer were out on the neighbouring ground.
When we could no longer see the hedges we made a bee line for the truck. A
few of the fields were more like bogs, which made the going tough at times, but after thirty minutes we were at the truck and after I put everything away it was off home ready for an early start in the AM.
Once again a good day out, lots of stalking practice in good company, and John continually imparting information.