Thursday, 31 December 2009

First Roe Deer

After several uneventful trips I was beginning to lose all hope that I would take a roe deer this season. I awoke on Saturday 21st November to be greeted by thick, heavy fog!, nevertheless, me and my brother, who was visiting from England at the time, geared up and drove the half hour to meet a friend at his house. When we arrived he was readily awaiting my arrival, cigarette in hand, car packed and ready to go. We hopped in and made our way to an old derelict barn which was overlooking some fields on his terrain. We entered the barn around 7am in pitch darkness and took our places by several windows overlooking the surrounding fields. I loaded the gun, (borrowed to me, as I had removed the scope from my rifle and had not had the opportunity to visit the range and re-center the rifle – note to me: don’t mess about with the gun during hunting season!) we could see barely 25 meters and inside I was beginning to think this was already a waste of time, but we took up positions and glared into the thick fog hoping to see something appear in the fields ahead of us.

At around 8.30-9.00am the fog slowly started to ease off and we could see the tree line starting to show in the distance at about 125 meters. We scoured the tree line left to right hoping to see a deer shape emerge from the forest and my brother, being the restless type decided to get up go and look through another window situated further back in the barn looking over the edge of the field with only a very small area for taking a shot. He turned and whispered over to me that there was a deer in the field, we quietly got up from our positions and I grabbed the rifle and headed over to the window. I could immediately see the doe at about 65 meters walking from right to left, but behind a small bush and just dissapearing over the brow of the hill was a small calf. We had decided not to shoot any mature females in the hope that they would breed for next season, so I knew this was out of the question, any way she continued walking and followed the young calf over the brow of the hill and out of sight. I thought to myself, opportunity over, if only we had checked a minute earlier I would have been in a shooting position. My friend, ever the optimist and speaking from years of expeience, turned and said, you never know they might turn around and head back over towards us, they’ll be in the area for some time feeding, inside I thought the chance was over.

My brother, now excited at the fact he had spotted the first deer, headed over to where my friend had been sitting, whilst I sat back in my chair looking over my area and my friend stood a little longer looking at the area where the deer had just passed. Seconds later my brother turned again and said, there’s three deer over here now, I slowly got up again, grabbed the rifle and stared into the field, I couldn’t see a thing. My brother with his hawk-eyes pointed me in the correct direction and I could just make out the shape of a deer hidden against the tree line at about 100 meters, he then told me to look 10 meters in front to where there stood another two deer in the middle of the field perfectly camouflaged in their grey coats, the only real giveaway being the white patches on their tail. I slowly positioned myself with the rifle and got the deer in my cross hairs, I was difficult to distinguish the doe from the young at first but as I watched more closely I could see that the doe was slightly larger. I followed the three deer in my cross hairs as they walked down the tree line constantly changing positions, whilst I constantly questioned in my head whether it was the adult or the young deer in the cross hairs.

My friend also struggling to determine which animal was the doe through the fog decided to go back and check the area where my brother spotted the two deer earlier, as I followed the three in my cross hairs. Then in the background I heard him clicking his fingers, I immediately knew, this meant deer, so I slowly made my way toward him. From the window I could see the doe had returned with the young calf and they were standing right in the middle of the field at about 65 meters. I again took position, got the deer in my sights, turned off the safety and followed the young deer in my cross hairs as it walked from left to right praying for it to stand still, when the deer did stop it turned facing toward me and started feeding, I needed to wait for a broadside shooting opportunity. The deer fed for a while, then turned and continued walking from left to right perfectly broadside, now the adrenaline was starting to pump and I could see out of the corner of my eye that we only had a shooting window of a few meters before the deer would be obscured by an old collapsed farm building. Suddenly the deer stopped and looked forwards, I placed the cross hairs in the centre of the body and behind the front legs and took the shot ...BANG... I could see by the deers reaction It was hit, but never the less it ran forwards and I questioned the shot in my mind, my friend dashed to the other window to try and get a view of where it would run in case we need to track it, as his view was obscured by the old collapsed barn. Fortunately I was following the deer in the scope and it only ran a few meters forward, turned and walked a few meters back then dropped. I breathed a sigh of relief, the deer was down and the shot must have been good. My friend patted me on the back, we all shook hands and just looked at the deer laying motionless in the field, my hands shaking like a leaf with the adrenaline rush.

We gathered together our gear and after giving the deer a few minutes I headed over to collect it from the field, as I approached I could see the exit wound and it was perfectly in the center of the body and behind the legs, just where I had wanted to shoot it. This was relief in itself as a bad shot on my first deer would be playing over and over in my mind and would have made me even more nervous in the future. I dragged the deer back to where the others were waiting for me. We loaded the deer straight into the back of my friends car and drove the few hundred meters back to his home where we gutted out the deer, we could see that the bullet passed through both lungs and took out the aorta at the top of the heart. It was at this point my friend pointed out it was a young buck, as my head was still in the clouds ;-) I then skinned the deer under the guidance of my friend and we hung it ready for butchering. My brother skinned out the head and my friend is going to prepare the skull so I can mount it on the wall of the living room at home.

A very happy Jonathan - Caliber 6.5x55 - Lapua Mega 155 grains - Distance 65 meters.

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