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Thread: Farmer's Friend

  1. #1
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    Farmer's Friend

    I am lucky enough to have the permission on a small farm next to our village. The farm is about 5 fields wide by 3 fields deep, bordered on two sides by roads, and basically with a hill in the middle of it. So finding deer is one thing, but finding deer in a shootable location is another thing entirely.

    There are few deer hefted to the ground itself, but it does tend to attract both roe and muntjac on a pretty regular basis from the surrounding farms. I got the permission because the farmer got fed up with deer bedding down in his fields of rape and messing up the combine. He likes to see them around, though, so he and I are happy to take just two or three roe per season.

    Last Wednesday at our village film club the farmer came up to me and said that he'd seen five roe ("those deer with the white bums") come from the neighbouring ground onto the farm earlier that day, so we agreed an outing was probably called for. With work being so hectic I can normally only get out at weekends, but looking at the forecast for last weekend Saturday morning looked a disaster area whilst Sunday looked a lot better. I spoke with the farmer and said I'd go out scouting on Saturday morning but take the rifle with me Sunday.

    Saturday 06:30 saw me on the ground. It was blowing a gale and there was (yet more) rain starting to fall. There is a footpath that runs around the perimeter of the permission so, not being sure exactly where the roe might be, I decided to keep to the path. Having walked three sides of the square I finally spied the roe - four does and a very nice looking buck - browsing in some woodland just over the border of the ground. I kept my eyes on them and eventually the oldest doe headed onto my ground, with the other four running away through the wood. Noting that the single doe had headed along a windbreak from the neighbour's ground towards the small coppice at the top of the hill that sits in the middle of my ground, I carried on towards where the farm boundary meets one of the roads. There were the four roe, now standing broadside on in the last of the fields on my permission. If only I'd brought the rifle it would have been "job done". As it was, I kept watching them until all four followed the path of the older doe up the hill into the coppice that sits in the middle of the farm. Well, it could have been a lot worse.....

    Arriving onto the ground at 06:15 on a clear and frosty Sunday morning, I made my way to about the only vantage point on the top of the hill that overlooks the small coppice. Waiting there for an hour resulted in nothing, so I kept to the brow of the hill and headed down the windbreak back towards the woods where I had seen the roe grazing on the Saturday. I'd seen roe here in the windbreak back in the Summer, as they treat it as a thoroughfare between the coppice and the neighbouring farm. I found a tree in the windbreak that would not only offer me a spying point looking down to the wood but would also - thanks to a small dip - allow a shot with a suitable backstop. Pausing here for almost an hour sadly resulted in nothing, so with the likelihood of dog walkers, etc appearing I decided to head back to the car.

    The farmer was feeding his cattle in the barn, so we had time for a quick chat and to commiserate about the first rule of stalking, this being that "all deer are b*stards"!

    As I was working from home today I realised that Monday morning would provide a final window of opportunity to get out this week. I called the farmer and he was fine with my additional visit, so 06:15 found me back on the farm for the third morning on the trot. I followed the same plan as on the Saturday, starting from my vantage point overlooking the central coppice. Again, though, it proved fruitless. After an hour I made my way to the brow of the hill and stood by the same tree. Looking down the windbreak I couldn't see any movement, but with the sun peeking through the clouds I decided there were worse places to be so kept still. Over my right shoulder I could see the traffic making its way to Oxford to start the working week. Looking back down the windbreak a movement caught my eye. Just the other side of a three-strand barbed wire fence a deer was making its way towards me. I kept watching and could see that it was a roe doe. She was now about 50 yards away and browsing her way along the fence line. There were a lot of branches in the way so I shifted my sticks slightly to give me a clearer shot should one become available. Another five yards and she turned and came through the fence and into the windbreak itself. She was now broadside on and fortunately the engine room was framed by three branches. Steadying the rifle on the sticks I pulled the trigger and a leap from the doe showed that the shot was true. She made a dash into the field on the far side and then collapsed. A quick follow up from the dog and then time to carry the doe back to the windbreak to complete the gralloch.

    With the doe slung over my shoulder I headed back down to the farmyard. The farmer was again out feeding his cattle, but seeing me approach from a distance he came over and we shook hands; the smiles on our faces being quite a contrast to the day before. The doe had been carrying twins - both bucks - and weighed a shade under 40lbs on the gambrel, so like as not it was the same doe as I'd seen on the Saturday. She's hanging in the chiller now and will be butchered later this week, sharing the venison with the farmer as per our arrangement.

    Three mornings out and only one doe to show for it might not seem like a great return, but persistence paid off and it's good to start the working week knowing that the farmer appreciated my efforts.

    Sorry about the lack of photos - I'll try to remember next time.

    willie_gunn
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!

  2. #2

  3. #3
    with my luck, on monday I would only see bucks.

  4. #4
    W_G, your Monday mornings are quite a lot more fun than mine!

  5. #5
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pine Marten View Post
    W_G, your Monday mornings are quite a lot more fun than mine!
    PM

    I was back in the house by 08:30 with the deer in the chiller and the rifle safely stowed away.

    Since then it's been all down hill........

    W_G
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!

  6. #6
    Well done you and an enjoyable write up too
    I'd say your one mistake was not taking the gun Saturday- that's what scope covers are for

  7. #7
    Well done for keeping the farmer happy, I appreciate it has to be done for those reasons or if cull figures have to be achieved. Personally I think there are only a few things more sickening than gralloching a doe carrying a foetus or two. I won't shoot mature does for that reason form February onwards, it only ruines future availability and there are plenty of foxes to deal with this time of year.
    I'm not having a dig or judging your decision it's just the way I set my stall out, I'm under no pressure to please anyone and only shoot for personal consumption.
    Nice write up all the same
    Wingy

  8. #8
    nice write up dom I enjoyed reading that

  9. #9
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wingy View Post
    Well done for keeping the farmer happy, I appreciate it has to be done for those reasons or if cull figures have to be achieved. Personally I think there are only a few things more sickening than gralloching a doe carrying a foetus or two. I won't shoot mature does for that reason form February onwards, it only ruines future availability and there are plenty of foxes to deal with this time of year.
    I'm not having a dig or judging your decision it's just the way I set my stall out, I'm under no pressure to please anyone and only shoot for personal consumption.
    Nice write up all the same
    Wingy
    Wingy

    Thanks for the post, and believe me when I say I quite understand your perspective on this.

    I certainly sympathise with the view that mature does should be left, and of course until a couple of years ago the season was shorter. But at the same time we shoot muntjac all year round and are positively encouraged to shoot heavily pregnant does, but I don't see muntjac as any "less" of a species as a result. Naturally with muntjac we might leave a dependent fawn if we shoot a doe that has only just given birth, but nonetheless I'd also rather we didn't have to shoot heavily pregnant deer of any species. That said, by studying the does we shoot we get a very good insight into their general fecundity.

    I'm not quite sure I follow the line of thought re: future availability though. The does have been pregnant since the rut last year, so whether you shoot them in December or February is not going to make any difference - dead is dead!

    Maybe a topic for a separate thread.

    willie_gunn
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!

  10. #10
    while some might find the sight of a foetus disturbing, you need to remember that Roe does are actually pregnant for the whole of the time they are in season.

    So apart from some finding it unpleasant it has no welfare inpact on the deer, in fact it could be argued that it is preferable to shooting does early in the season as youngsters orphened this early in life even if weaned do less well
    than the youngster that has its mothers support.
    Last edited by bogtrotter; 17-02-2014 at 18:41.

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