Team Wild’s expert Doug Wheeler has been out stalking deer recently. Deer stalking is a necessary to protect agricultural crops and forestry and indeed deer, as they’re prolific breeders, if increasing numbers go unchecked herds would eventually become vulnerable to starvation and disease.
Whilst out staking about a fortnight ago my good friend JR and I spotted a great Roe buck. Dark chestnut in colour, and from his impressive antlers, I would say he was about four to five years old. My skill in ageing bucks isn’t scientific, more a case of estimation from condition and previous experience. He had taunted us throughout an evening with his barking, and his failure to provide us with a shot. Our evening hadn’t been wasted, as I added a fantastic muntjac buck to my freezer, but the feeling of frustration with this buck was cause enough for another trip to our tower seat.
We set out early and were soon sitting enjoying the warmth and sounds of the spring woodland. The sun was breaking through the tree cover, and I was pleased that I had worn a lightweight jacket. This was the first evening we have had of this quality, and the weather wasn’t the only thing hotting up. We had been there for about half an hour when the first deer appeared, a fleeting glimpse of a muntjac tail as it vanished into the ferns.
Our tower seat is situated at the junction of three rides, with two large clearings, and a feeder station it is rare not see deer. We had just had a few days of rain and so I was confident that the sudden warmth would be a welcome relief to the woodland inhabitants. I was right, in front us was the unmistakeable russet of a roe doe, closely followed by twin fawns. They must have been early births as these fawns were large and looked very healthy. They browsed and played in a carefree manner, obviously relaxed knowing that their mum had a close eye on the surroundings. These three ambled on past us and vanished from sight.
Then, appearing from the same ride as the roe, we spotted a muntjac buck heading to the feeder. JR instantly referred to this chap as ‘fatty’, and through the binoculars it was clear that this was a potential medal class buck. I put the glasses down, and readied my Steyr to take the shot. I soon had this chap in the crosshairs, and was smiling to myself at the prospect of another good munty. He was heading towards the feeder, confident steps as if he owned the wood. I’m sure this buck has taken over from the one I shot a few weeks ago as the alpha of the area. He was level with the feeder when he jumped, turned and ran. Something had spooked him from behind the drum. He was soon out of sight. I hadn’t had time to rest the rifle when to my left, fifty yards out stood a roe buck feeding. Not our previous chap, but a younger buck, approximately two to three years. He was slim, and his antlers were thin, and he was a good cull specimen. Before I could get into a firing position he was out of sight.
This evening was really a case of ‘now you see me, now you don’t’ and as soon as I lifted the rifle another doe appeared from the tree line. I had brought along my buttalo caller as I have heard that muntjac find them irresistible, and each time I have used them I have seen many, and to gain the attention of then doe I squeezed out a few squeaks. It worked. To each squeak she looked up at us, she knew something was different about the view; luckily the Realtree masks disguised us enough to not scare her away. Within minutes she had also disappeared in to the trees.
I’m not sure if it was the call, or luck, but within minutes from the ferns crept another muntjac buck. Smaller and still with his antlers cased, he clearly was an inexperienced youngster. He walked on, his side in view as he hurriedly ate the vegetation. He was totally unaware of the .243 round travelling towards him. The muffled crack was the last sound he would’ve heard, and he was dead before he hit the ground. A good result, as we have added muntjac to our cull. Throughout the pheasant season we were seeing them on every drive, and the tenant farmer was concerned about what impact they would have on the area. I enjoy seeing them, and they provide some great stalking. Considering the height of the ferns and vegetation this time of year, it’s a miracle we see them at all.
To find out more information on Doug Wheeler visit his Expert Page over on Team Wild TV.