Thursday, 6 April 2017

FROM RABBITS TO ROE DEER, PART TWO

FROM RABBITS TO ROE DEER,

PART 2


Some time after joining the local rifle club I started to telephone around various numbers I had been given to book a stalking trip.  I had decided to try and hunt roe deer, and one of the first calls I made was to a stalking agent in a small Scottish village called Wigtown, the date for my first stalking trip was agreed and a deposit was sent.  The weeks went by and it wasn’t long before I found myself driving due north up the M6 on my way to the Scottish borders.  Upon arrival I was met by Jim, the proprietor of Galloway Country Sports, it was Jim that I had spoke to on the phone, and it was his easygoing nature and professionalism that had made the difference.  I had arrived at Jims at midday, and after our introductions and some lunch we discussed the chances of bagging a roe buck that evening, Jim was confident and me, I was just plain excited.

 
Roebucks are creatures of habit, and it is this routine that can be their undoing, they will regularly be seen on the same field at the same time, and the sharp eyed stalker can use this to his advantage and plan a stalk or sit and wait for the buck accordingly.  Jim had seen such a buck working in a small patch of conifer planting, he there for had erected a high seat against a tree that over looked the area.

 
At 5.30pm that evening we climbed into one of Jims short wheel base Land rovers, we went only a few hundred yards over the river and down to an old quarry, Jim took a target out of the back of the Land rover and set it up at about one hundred yards from the vehicle.  Then it was my turn to perform, I’d heard that most stalkers like to see their client shoot, but this was a first for me, and feeling more than a little nervous I got into a prone position, loaded my rifle and fired three shots. “Not bad at all” said Jim, as the report from the third shot died away.  If you can do that on a buck you’ll have yourself a deer to go home with.  Feeling more than just a little relieved I got back into the Land rover and we set off again to an area where Jim had seen a buck on several occasions.  Only a couple of miles down the road we pulled over into a gateway and up a forestry track.  We quietly got out of the vehicle and had a quick equipment check, rifle, ammunition, binoculars, knife etc all present and correct.

 
As we walked quietly along, Jim always the teacher, pointed out different things to me, like scrapes and rubs and how to tell the sex and approximate age of a deer from its tracks.  After a little while we stopped behind an old birch tree that was growing out from the base of a dry stone wall, the wall to one side of the tree had partly fallen over and leaning up against the tree was a high seat looking out across a small conifer plantation.  Jim gave me my instructions and helped me get up the high seat, from here I could see that the plantation was no bigger than a football pitch, and that it was flat for the first seventy yards with trees of no more than six feet, and then a small bank on top of which the trees were a little taller and much thicker.  It also became apparent that any chance of a shot would be on the lower ground as the trees on the upper part of the plantation formed a virtual solid mass.  Jim wished me luck and disappeared the way we had come, he was going to wait in the vehicle and only come back after hearing a shot or after it had gone to dark to shoot.
 

 
Sitting alone on that high seat was a feeling I’ll never forget; I was excited and nervous yet calm, and everything around me was calm too.  It was then, just half an hour after Jim had left me it happened, in amongst the small trees not sixty yards away a roe buck stood.  He had just materialised, or so it seemed.   It was a magical moment for me, with the evening sun illuminating the scene, it made a perfect picture. 

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