Fallow Rut 2013 - How has this years Rut shaped up?

Peter Jones reports on how this years Fallow Rut shaped up? 

corfallow250

The beginning of October started off very mild and was absent of the cold snap that is usually required to bring on true rutting behaviour. However despite the warm weather nature will find a way and the bucks were not going to miss out on their annual opportunity to pass on their genes.

(Left: Cor Timmerman with an excellent specimen taken just beore the Rut)

So despite remaining relatively warm the Rut in Oxfordshire was underway by mid October. A stalk through the estate grounds was invariably accompanied by belching from some distant corner of the woods. Master Fallow Bucks do not get old and big as a result of stupidity however by mid October sightings of these otherwise shy beasts increased dramatically as they patrolled their grounds.

In fact our first major buck was shot well before the Rut in September, a regular client of mine Cor Timmerman had received some rotten luck on several previous occasions however today his luck was to change, no thanks however to my efforts as I blundered straight into a small buck herd of about 8 – 10 mature bucks that had been sat up in a quite woodland glade in long grass.

In a burst of activity the bucks rose as one, just as we rounded a nearby disused pheasant run, however perhaps due to their not having been hunted for some time they did no more than dash fifty yards into the shade and perceived safety of the surrounding wood.

With little time to waste Cor was up on the sticks and placed a well aimed shot at one of the bucks who was thankfully positioned broadside. Well done Cor! Who did not have long to think about the shot and was able to place the 150 grain bullet from the Sako 85 estate rifle perfectly under stressful conditions.

MRFallow250The second stalk of note was with another regular client Simon. Having recently been given permission to stalk a nearby block of thick woodland and with visibility down to appallingly short distances we headed into the wood in the direction of an area where I had previously seen a large amount of thrashing and some very evident Wallows.

(Left: Matthew Rogers makes an excellent shot to grass the second Fallow Buck of the 2013 rut)

Not ten minutes into the stalk and there was the unmistakable sound of belching coming from the spot that I had seen the activity. How close would we be able to get to our beast in this thick cover?

We stalked forward at a painfully slow pace glassing deep into the cover as we went, the belching getting closer and closer. Shapes passed through the wood in front of us as many of the satellite animals bustled around the dominant buck. Then there he was.... a fleeting glimpse not 50 yards ahead of us. On the sticks and wait.... belching now loud in our ears.   

Sadly it was not to be. Possessing what must have been an uncanny sixth sense the buck was heard no more and we were left waiting in silence. That same evening Simon had to make do with a pricket which also by way of some small consolation allowed him to complete the second cull required for his DSC2.

Onto stalk number three! For some time I had been observing a dominant buck as he patrolled his ground at the same time every evening, 4.10pm in fact, regular as clockwork he crossed the ride not 100yds from a well positioned high seat.

Knowing Matthew Rogers was after a decent buck this year I had this one in mind for him. Having arrived at 2pm in plenty of time Matthew had already dispatched a Muntjac which we had gralloched in double quick time to have ourselves in our high seat at 4pm! Just in time and sure enough just ten minutes had elapsed before our buck came ambling out of the woodland shadows and across the ride to our right, a shot from the .308 and.....To read more about this stalk in particular read Matthew’s article here:  fallow-buck-stalking-during-the-rut 

Rayfallow250With the end of October now just a few days away I once again found myself heading out with a client in search of a mature buck.  A change of tactic this time, no high seat would be needed. On this occasion with agonisingly slow progress we slipped into a large block of woodland.

(Right: Ray Soison and a superb Fallow Buck taken as a result of some excellent woodland stalking)

Stalking Fallow deer in cover is no easy task and so when at first I spotted a large palmated buck laying up in the fallen leaves just 90yards or so in front of us I couldn’t help but feel a moment of exhilaration and self congratulation.

Perhaps exhausted by the rut this beast however had no inclination to do anything and so it was for nearly an hour we watched as he lay motionless with heavy eyelids.  Forget all that you have read about Fallow Deer not tolerating other bucks in close proximity during the rut because something happened next that broke the rules.

It never ceases to amaze me how such large animals can appear so well camouflaged, so after fifteen minutes or so it didn’t surprise me to notice a previously unseen satellite doe just 70yards off to our right observing us as we kept vigil over her male companion. What surprised me more however is what happened next.

Just as our intended buck rose, like apparitions so did at least eight to ten other unseen animals, amongst whom were at least three other large bucks all evidently laid up just yards apart! So much for having independent rutting stands, and perhaps testament to the manner in which deer will learn to adapt to each other given an over population, instead learning to tolerate rivals in close proximity and forgoing their own turf.  

.......To our frustration our chosen target ambled off away from us with only it’s rump on display, however we were rewarded for our patience as one of the larger beasts chosen path had him broadside in front of us. A shot from my client Raymond’s .308 Ruger Scout and this beast’s fate was sealed.

Brad250fallowWith three sizeable master bucks accounted for and a good number of prickets besides we could not have anticipated what the following day would bring. And the answer was a monster. No remarkable stalk, no clever tactics just simply the right place at the right time. There stood a hundred yards away from us down the ride was a huge tree stump....or was it....surely there was something odd about it? I hadn’t noticed that before? In the growing gloom I glassed one of the most remarkable and memorable images of this year’s fallow rut. A truly awesome old beast stood facing us down the ride. The huge ‘U’ shaped antlers rose above his grizzled face as he craned his neck to identify us.

(Above: Brad Rigden at the right place at the right time with a grizzled old warrior)

Onto the quad sticks and Brad thumbed the safety on his Blaser R8. Seconds later and the .243 round sped its way straight toward the boiler room of this old warrior. No boiled out skull to serve as a trophy for this one. Instead capped and intact with all his scars and wounds sustained over his many years of battling on display, this old master was destined for the taxidermist and a full shoulder mount.

So at a very respectable 126lbs larder weight and with the biggest beast we had off the ground this year that’ll do for master bucks in Oxfordshire this year. Prickets yes and Does plenty, however with the word ‘Management’ ringing in my ears the other numerous masters would be left until I can better gauge the makeup of the population that exists in these beautiful ancient woodlands. 

For more on Fallow Deer Stalking Click on this linkfallow-deer-stalking 

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