206 Roe Rut in Full Flow - warning VERY photo heavy

#1
Well, I headed out on Sunday morning with the dogs and the camera to see if I could catch up with the roe, as from the action on Saturday it looked like the rut was pretty much imminent.

Arriving at the field where I've seen roe before, this buck was standing by the hedge. He looks to be the same buck I had seen with the doe on the Saturday, but standing there on his own my first thought was that the rut had "gone off". A quick call on the Buttolo saw him step out into the sunlight:



He seemed reluctant to come any closer, and kept looking towards the wood to my left rather than at me and the squeaking. This was explained a few seconds later when a much larger buck, accompanied by a doe, came tearing out of the woods to see off the intruder.

The smaller buck was soon dispatched, whereafter the "new" buck turned his attention to the doe. He pursued her (or perhaps she enticed him) around the field for pretty much the next hour and a half, interspersing the chasing with periods where both would lie down and recover. What was noticeable was the buck's rasping breath - he was clearly being put to the test by the doe. It was fascinating watching him chase her, cutting her off as she tried to evade him. They reminded me of a lurcher pursuing a hare, jinking this way and that. This chase, though, would end quite differently to that of the hare!















Eventually the buck chased the doe through a hedge and into a hay meadow that had only been cut the day before. Giving it a couple of minutes in case they returned, I then decided to go with the four dogs to the path that bisects the field I originally looked into and the hay field. Sure enough, there was the buck and doe at the far end of the field, adjacent to the path. Going along on hands and knees, holding both the camera and monopod together with the dogs, I used the long grass by the side of the path as cover in order to get closer.



No sooner had I taken a quick photo than the "happy couple" then ran through the hedge you can see behind the buck and into the field beyond. Fortunately there is a Permissive Path here, so gathering the dogs I took them into the next field. I could see the buck standing in the corn, clearly nonplussed as he'd lost the doe from sight. However he put his nose down and followed the scent until the doe appeared and bounded down to the far end of the corn field. This was still accessible from the path, so collecting everything again I cautiously made my way down the path. As I neared the end of the field I could see the buck hidden behind some longer grass. I was taking very slow, deliberate, steps until I could get close enough to get him in my viewfinder:



Then the doe's ears appeared, and the buck decided to follow her:









My luck was in, as the buck moved into a clearer position for a shot.....err, a photo.







The doe was now very close, and mixed tempting the buck with tempting me!



Just then the buck's head went up - glancing around I could see a dog walker.



This was not just any dog walker, but instead one of the owners of the estate on whose land I was lucky enough to be watching the roe. She had a pack of dogs, including two hound pups, but from 80 yards away she could see me standing on the grass track with my camera trained on the roe. She waved and moved on, but the roe had been interrupted and bounded away into a small wood beyond.

Although there was another path that I could take that would get me near where the roe had disappeared, I decided I'd had enough luck for one day and so gathered my kit (and the dogs) together and headed back along the path. The owner reappeared, waved again, and took her dogs back towards their home.

Passing back through the hedge to get to the path next to the cut hay meadow, I glanced to my right and saw the last thing I expected to see - the same buck and doe now lying by the hedge, clearly in recovery mode.



Tying the dogs to a post, I stood just by the hedge to see what would happen. Sure enough, this was to be my lucky day as the doe got up and made her way towards me, quickly followed by the buck:



As 6pointer mentioned on Saturday, this is a much bigger buck and has clearly usurped the youngster



He was constantly testing the scent and never let the doe get too far away from him



The doe was also scent testing - or perhaps spreading scent to make sure the buck kept his wits about him.



They came closer and closer, offering some great photo opportunities.











The doe could see me, but fortunately the dogs were just out of sight









Eventually they tired of "taunt the human", and the buck decided it was time for a bit more pursuit:









He then stood nicely broadside on for about the 100th time that morning ;)





The buck then took the decision to head back through the hedgerow, at which point - after three hours close observation - I decided to call it a day myself.

It had been fascinating to watch the scene unfold before me, and other than not actually seeing them mating, it had been a real privilege to behold the rut in action.

Hope you enjoyed the sequence above.
 
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Highlandsjohn

Well-Known Member
#4
Just gets better and better. Your writings add wonderfully to the photographs. How you can take them while attending to everything else speaks volumes of your four dogs. Thank you,obviously a labour of love.

When you were down on all fours while holding everything together, would have been worthy of at least one picture. The link will be one many of us will remember and want to show others as I did.
Now how do I get these dam videos downloaded :D
I do hope the star of the show survives another season, I whispered...:thumb:
 

6pointer

Account Suspended
#5
Great write up Dom so that is three bucks in the area. This is why everyone loves the rut. I hope to be out over the next few days looking over the ground and taking some pictures my self. I am sure you would have removed a few had you had the permission Dom.
 

Highlandsjohn

Well-Known Member
#6
My favourite pic this time round, is the head and shoulders of the doe looking alert through the wheat...
6pointer, trouble with me I took a video of twin fawns in wheat m&f a few years ago. They are quite ordinary growing up. They have had a couple of passes but one of these days...honestly one of these days...
 
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smithp18

Well-Known Member
#7
Fabulous Photos they are the best I've seen capturing the Roe at the start of the rut, some of those could win competitions look out for the right comp.
Phil
 

JAYB

Administrator
Site Staff
#12
Dom, an absolutely spectacular set of photos that could quite deservedly grace any magazine or literary publication. There are some remarkable captures there but for me, although probably not the most technically correct or artistically pleasing is #3. I think the view of them running hard in your direction captures the essence of the rut exactly, they either do not know or care if you and the dogs are there or not, I think it is great.

John
 
#14
Thanks all for the appreciative comments!

I enjoy both stalking and photography, so it's nice to be able to combine them. Although I don't have permission here, as the old saying puts it "time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted". I find the photography - without the accompanying pressure to take a shot - gives me an insight on deer that I wouldn't have appreciated if I was only out with the rifle.

That said, when I was approaching the buck in the cornfield I found myself with a bad case of "buck fever". I had to slow down and take a few deep breaths. Funnily enough when I caught up with them in the field at the end I was cool as a cucumber, even though the buck was probably closer than he had been earlier.

John, I know what you mean about that third shot - they came screaming towards me and the dogs and didn't bat an eyelid as they turned into the field.
 
#15
When you were down on all fours while holding everything together, would have been worthy of at least one picture.
I lived in fear that a hare would appear through the hedge and take off, closely followed by my four dogs (two cockers and two labs) with me trailing be behind, prostrate and being dragged on the leads through the field of cut hay, with camera, monopod and everything else flying! Certainly would have put a dampener on the morning!
 

Casual-T

Well-Known Member
#18
I genuinely think you should take Chris Packham's spot at the BBC once they see the light.
These pics and the write-up show you are more eloquent, better with a camera and better informed than he will ever be.
Superb post, thank you very much...great way to start the week.
 

Loki

Well-Known Member
#20
Thank you for sharing your photos and the associated write-up - both superb.

I feel sure putting the right sequence together and the text must have taken as long as observing the couple.
 

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