Sparring English Roebuck & English Fine Wine
- Friday, 11 September 2020
Just how heated does the sparring between Roebuck get and just how good is English wine? We reveal the aftermath of one epic battle and the details of one of England’s finest wine makers.
Above: Proving how brutal the rivalry between Roebuck can get, here we see a broken tine of one animal and the snapped off antler tine of its opponent, embedded in its skull.
It was a glorious, warm summer’s evening in late August, when I was stalking with my friend and Capreolus Club member Ulrich Hoffmann over our County Deer Stalking grounds in Surrey. I always enjoy outings with Ulrich, not just because we share a love of hunting and the countryside, but also because we share a passion for wine.
Ulrich has had an impressive 20-year international career in wine, that has taken him from the prestigious Rolf-Willy Estate in Baden-Württemberg to Chateau de Fieuzal and Chateau Haut-Gardére in Bordeaux to Napa Valley and finally the UK.
Today Ulrich work as an International Winemaking Consultant in Italy, the Lebanon and the UK, he has also established one of the finest labels in English fine & Sparkling Wine, in the form of ‘Hoffmann & Rathbone’.
On this rare occasion, Ulrich had managed to find time away from his busy schedule to get out into the field during the tail end of the season for Roebuck and astonishingly, it was on the initial short drive through the estate that we spotted our first Roe, a doe couched up against the edge of the wood, with accompanying twin kids.
(Left: Ulrich Hoffmann)
Now even after the rut it is my experience, that where there is a doe there is usually a buck and so although there was no buck immediately in sight, we stalked in on the female with the intention of lying in wait.
It was in fact a far more ‘prickly’ crawl than I had anticipated, with the flat field requiring a belly crawl alongside a hedge, over freshly cut trimmings! Fortunately, any discomfort was quickly appeased when we were immediately rewarded with the sight of a Roebuck making his way up along the hedge line toward us.
When shooting over flat open fields and with bullets able travel up to 3 miles, it’s rarely possible to get a safe shot from a prone position, so although we were relatively exposed in the open field, with grass no longer than around 6 inches in length, it was crucial that we stand, thereby improving the downward trajectory of a possible shot.
Sometimes everything just goes right, carefully moving only when the deer moved and freezing the moment its head shot up, we gradually rose to a standing position, with the Sauer 202 rifle positioned perfectly poised on the Viperflex Quad sticks.
Now, with the whole family of Roe deer, doe, buck and two kids, ambling gradually toward us, we held our breath and took time to examine what we had in front of us through the Swarovski EL Binoculars. Not a large buck by any means, but undoubtedly an unusual one. The top right antler tine had completely broken off, undoubtedly as a result of sparring with a rival buck. Not a significant trophy beast, but a nice animal to take for the pot. Ulrich squeezed off a 100 grain Federal bullet from the .243 and after a short, text-book dash, the Roebuck collapsed in the grass.
There is an increasing trend amongst many hunters to keep unusual and 'freak heads' and so was the case with this one. However, it was not until the antlers came back mounted on a sheild, that the true extent of this little Roebuck’s sparring was revealed. Embedded in the skull of the deer was the top tine of an opponent’s antler.
We know Roebuck to be highly territorial and aggressive toward rivals however, to have broken antler tines on both animals, with the opponent’s antler still embedded in our Roebucks skull, the hostility between these two sparring bucks must have been immense.
As for Ulrich, not only was he rewarded with am extremely rare and unusual trophy, the wound that the animal had sustained, resulted in no infection or abscess and so he was also able to enjoy a summer harvest of wild, sustainable venison.
As for me? As thanks, I was gifted a wonderfully elegant bottle of 'Hoffmann & Rathbone' Pinot Noir. All things considered, a very fair exchange.
If you’re interested in reading more about Hoffmann & Rathbone English fine wines, then you can visit their website here: hoffmannandrathbone
Alternatively, to read more about how to measure a Roebuck trophy click here: how-to-measure-a-trophy