Rifle Nights Part 2.... The Quest For The First Roe Buck
Taking up deer stalking I was keen to get my first Roe buck this year. This is my storey after the illusive animal and how I prepared for that all important stalk....
After numerous years game, pigeon and rough shooting with the shotgun I was keen to pursue other avenues of the country pursuit. Deer stalking had been on my agenda for some time and after acquiring Sako A7 rifle I was keen to get started. I was however not ashamed of the fact that my knowledge of these graceful animals was limited apart from observing them whilst in the shooting field. I swiftly booked my DCS level 1 as I wanted to be fully prepared. For anyone who is thinking of this course I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. By the end of the course you walk away with in depth knowledge of your deer species, feeding habits and very useful shooting techniques/positions.
After the course the only thing I lacked was the hands on experience of the garlloch (Gutting the carcase in the field) and the butchery for completing the journey from field to fork. With the help and expertise of a contact in the gun trade I accompanied him on culling some Sika deer. During my few days I learned how to gralloch and dress the deer, something that can’t be learned from a book or classroom lesson. I then decided to build my high seats as the ground I shoot is fairly flat in topography. This was a nice project in itself and with the help of my woodwork handy uncle Brian the two seats were ready to erect. I had already had my Dorr trail-cam out for several weeks and in combination with my own observing I had a good idea of the main deer hotspots.
Towards the end of the Doe season I had kept an eye on a good sized buck on my ground, he looked to be coming towards the end of his prime with good looking antlers with significant height. I selected him as the cull animal but typically after several stalks in April through to May I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. The summer then came and he disappeared completely, and even during the rut I saw other Bucks but not the one I was wanting, so I held out and decided to play the patient game.
It was getting to the beginning of October and I knew I didn’t have long left to find him as the season comes to a close on the 31st of October. I was often scanning the fields on the way to work in the morning and with utter surprise I spotted the illusive buck several times in the morning not far from one of the high seats. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I had not seen him in over two months. Armed with fresh knowledge he was back and his location I frequented my stalks more often with hope of catching up with him.
On the second of the frequented stalk I made sure I was in the high seat early in the afternoon at 4:30 as the deer were coming out earlier and earlier to feed with the colder and shorter days. I was kept warm by the superb combination of the Browning feather-light dynamic jacket and trousers, lightweight but warm and toasty and perfect for stalking. After gracefully observing a multitude of wildlife such as hares, rabbits and song little songbirds I caught a glimpse of a brown like shape not far from my position, perhaps 60 yards away.
It quickly shuffled forward and at this point I knew it was a deer of some sort. The adrenaline was going but often this is quickly subdued when you discover it’s a Doe out of season. It took a few steps forward and at this point I saw the unmistakable light colour of the antlers, knowing it was the buck I had been chasing for several months. At this point my heart was beating out of my chest. I slowly and very carefully positioned myself on the front rest, clicked my scope caps up and viewed the elegant best through the Swarovski scope. A second or two to calm me nerves and control my breathing and I was ready for the shot.
The buck was broadside on for text-book heart and lung shot and with a gentle squeeze of the trigger the shot was taken. He displayed the classic signs of a successfully heart/lung shot, with the lunge forward but did so heading towards the bushes giving me deep tension as at this moment I thought I may have lost him. I gave it 5 minutes, and then climbed down from my seat and approached the area with caution, wondering if I would find this glorious deer I had been searching after for months. When I got there he had only gone five yards or so, what a moment of relieve it was.
I knew my next task was getting him out of the field cleanly and quickly so moving to a nearby tree I began the gralloching process. Within 10 minutes he as in the trusty roe sack and the trek back to the car began. Within 30 minutes of being shot he was gralloched and hung neatly in the fridge chilling.
Being the first Roe buck of mine I wanted the preserve and cherish the memories so keeping the head was a must. I was wanting to mount him on the shield as a skull style which I quickly discovered was another project in itself. After an afternoon shopping of gas stoves, pans and other accessories I was ready to begin the preparations. After boiling scraping and numerous hours hard work it finally made it to its pride of place on the sitting room wall.
A week had passed which meant he was ready for the next part of the journey towards the table. Previous to this I had been busy building a little butcher’s workshop in the garage, perfect for cutting the deer up and preparing it, nothing too fancy. This part is what I really enjoy, taking pride on turning this high quality meat into either steaks or roasting joints. It’s a shame so many shooter give them for someone else to cut up as it’s a real important part of the country pursuit. After an hour or so the full carcase had been turned in to two full haunch joints, four loin fillets, saddle on the bone, a large dosing of diced stew and another bag of diced steak. I couldn’t wait to give it a try!