Early Season Roebuck
- Friday, 14 April 2017
Peter Jones takes a break from the office and heads out in search of early season Roebuck in Hampshire.
The sorry truth is, that as County Deer Stalking and the Capreolus Club have grown, I have been unable to get out with clients as much as I would like and have instead been confined to the office and the chores involved in the day to day running of a small business. Whilst I am not complaining, it is a far cry from the days when I would be on the ground almost daily.
When I do at last get an opportunity to accompany a client stalking, I welcome it as a refreshing break, especially on those occasions when the stalking is enhanced by beautiful early spring sunshine and blue skies.
And so it was that with the Roebuck season having just commenced, I met new Capreolus club member Arthur, at our ground in Hampshire for my first trip out of the office since the start of the season.
I have to admit that as I drove to our meet point under the silvery light of a full moon I was not filled with hope, regular readers will be aware of my thoughts about full moons, however we were pleasantly surprised to see a small family of Roe jostling playfully in a nearby field within minutes of setting out, something which thankfully set the tone for the rest of the morning.
Now on a clear morning the light comes up fast and so it is my policy to set off at quite a pace, my tactic being to cover as much ground as possible whilst it is still gloomy and before the deer start to retreat back into the woods. This plan played dividend as we approached the first of two plots that I had in mind, to find not two but four Roe grazing out in the open. A hasty stalk along the adjacent hedgerow, prone on the bipod, but alas not to be. At 270 yards the bucks were just too rangey to be identified in the early morning gloom before they ambled off into the wood.
(Capreolus Club member Arthur grasses an excellent 6 pointer, the first of the new season)
Marching quickly back to the car and feeling the weight of Arthur’s expectation, it was onto the second of my two favoured plots and straight into one of the most memorable and rewarding stalks that I have had in a while, and one that brought back to me the sheer excitement and joy of deer stalking.
Stalking slowly and quietly up a narrow finger of woodland, a Muntjac buck appeared as if from nowhere, pausing broadside for a few seconds 50 yards in front of us. Quickly on the sticks....but these animals never hang around for long....and this one was off before Arthur could squeeze off a shot. Buoyed by the number of deer that we were seeing, we moved on cautiously a further 30 yards before again freezing on the spot, as we spied a Roe Doe silhouetted against the edge of the woodline in the early morning light as she entered the wood ahead of us.
“She won’t be on her own” I whispered to Arthur and so onto the sticks again and wait....With the deer pairing up at this time of year I felt confident that there would be a buck in the vicinity however, where? Minutes passed and the doe sauntered off back into the field from whence she came. Perhaps the buck was in the field ahead? We moved on and out onto the field only to be stopped in our tracks by a gruff bark. There he was 100 yards out in front of us and face on with the Roe doe by his side.
Now it is my experience that at this time of year, with their rising levels of testosterone, Roebuck can act unpredictably and often are undecided as to if they should follow their urge to make for the hills, or follow the urge to challenge an encroaching rival to their territory. Thankfully it was the latter that seemed to grip this buck and would eventually be his undoing.
Moments later with another bark, the buck took to its hooves and was off across the field without pause. Now normally I would have left it at that, nine times out of ten, there is little point in pursuing a deer once it has clocked you, however with the animals initial challenge, I was hedging my bets that he was the dominant animal on the ground and would not give up his territory without a fight and so I followed him with Arthur across the field to the point where he had seemingly disappeared.
‘Baow’ another bark stopped us in our tracks. There he was, not running away, but instead making a beeline straight toward us, eyes locked on our position and inquisitive head and neck canting, before again nerves appeared to get the better of him, only to send him off in a wide circle around us to appear 100 yards off and broadside against rising ground, here again he paused to challenge the intruders that had dared to threaten his territory. A gift for Arthur, who had been following his progress with the rifle. A ‘crack’ from the Sako 85 and a 150 grain soft point was on its way. ‘Thump’ I knew instantly that the shot was good, an opinion that was immediately compounded by the buck's reaction to the shot, kicking out its rear legs and running. “good shot” I whispered to Arthur as the deer ran on some 30 yards before staggering and losing consciousness.
Each species has its eccentricities and Roebuck are no exception, the more you observe these animals the better you become able to predict their behaviour, something which on this occasion resulted in a happy client and fine six point Roebuck, the first six pointer of the season.