Everyone has the time of their life on a hunt. There is no such thing as a bad time on a hunt: some are good, some are great and some are just bloody amazing. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, you will remember it for the rest of your life. These kinds of stories make the best memories.
A difficult awakening
On 22nd June 2019, the alarm went off and I desperately tried to hit the snooze button on my phone: 2:25 am. I can’t stand this time of the year as I have to wake up much earlier to go hunting than to go to work, taking into account this is the only weekend I get off at the moment. I got up and went downstairs for a cup of very strong coffee and to get the kit sorted for the big day.
Recently I have noticed that every time I pick up my Browning X-bolt Eclipse Varmint my face naturally breaks into a smile (I just love the rifle); it is built like a tank, very well balanced and as steady as a rock freehand and obviously on sticks, too. I slide my rifle into the bag, along with the bolt, ammo and all the checked relevant paperwork. I finish my cup of hot, bitter coffee and set off to the stalking ground.
Heading for my observation post
The roads are empty and quiet, with just an occasional fox, caught in the car headlights as he trots across the road, followed by darkness again. As I pull in to the ground, dawn is just breaking and it’s possible to make out the tree-tops.
There is still time to get ready and make my way to the point where I plan to watch the sun rise and hopefully meet my long-awaited trophy. The magazine loads with a smooth rotation, the light movement as the bolt pushes the first round into the chamber and the safety catch makes a very short and dry “click”.
A first encounter
As I walk slowly to the place, I make out the shape of a roe doe in the tall, wet grass about 50 m away from me. I actually think she heard me coming, but didn’t see me, so she bent down again to the grass and continued ruminating. After waiting for 10-15 minutes, I made the decision to move on and by doing so had to get past the doe.
What I didn’t want to do was to stress her and make her bark! So… I whistled, very quietly, just enough to get her attention. She looked up and started doing that funny thing with her head that deer do whenever they are trying to see or understand where a noise is coming from, or when they are curious.
I whistled softly once more and the doe bounded away into the fog.
I thought that would be the last that I’d see of this doe and moved on to the next field. By the time I got to the other side of the paddock, my pants were soaking wet and very uncomfortable – but you’ve got to love what you do – and I didn’t take much notice.
There was a further surprise waiting in the next field, in the shape of 4 fallow bucks which, at this time obviously, were out of season. So, I just watched them for 20-25 minutes as they walked away towards the border of my permission. After spending the next hour watching over these two fields, I started moving back to the car, trying to retrace my tracks to avoid getting even wetter.
Again with that roe doe.
Unusually the fog still was low and I couldn’t see the edge of the wood clearly, which made me think: Did that roe doe actually leave the field or did she just change location? So, when I got to the same place where I first spotted her, I whistled again…. And what do you know?! Her head popped up in the far-left corner of the field. I was surprised about how quiet I must have actually been, to cross that field TWICE without spooking her.
Being a YouTube blogger, I had an idea: “How cool would it be if I could show how you can stalk wild deer in an open field.” So that’s what I did: the camera started recording and I started moving slowly towards the deer, following the edge of the field, as I explained what I was doing and what I was looking for. I remember when I was about 50 meters away from the doe I whispered: “You need to be very careful and to move slowly, as there is a big chance that another deer could be around!”
And that’s the surprise!
And at that point my eyes caught a brief movement 30 meters away, in very tall grass. I squatted down, thinking it must have been a bird moving a branch as it took off. But when I Iooked through my binoculars, I was very pleased and surprised to see another deer: and not just any deer, but a six-point roe buck which was calmly bedding down under the branches of an oak.
There was no time to move or find a better place to take a shot. I only could see his antlers and head. So, I whistled again: the buck raised his head and presented a clear neck shot. I was kneeling and holding my rifle up, looking down the scope and counting my heartbeats, the cold stock was touching my face and I could see how the light wind was moving fog particles in front of the scope.
Breathe in, and out: that’s the moment, squeeze; a slight pressure of the rifle in my shoulder followed by a bullet report, reload and rifle back on the target.
The buck is down!!!
But the doe is still there: she is not aware of what just happened, the camera is recording and I couldn’t have come up with a better scenario even if I wanted to. So, I continued filming….
Now knowing that I’d “bagged” a beautiful buck, I was a bit more relaxed and felt very privileged to have had a chance to record all of this. After I cleared another 15-20 meters and the doe could actually see my approach through the tall grass, she got up and bounded into the woods, giving me a final bark as she went.
Approaching the roe buck, I was happily surprised to see that his head was perfectly symmetrical and his overall body condition was very good. What a beautiful morning and what an amazing trophy!
I couldn’t be more pleased with myself and my new rifle.
And what is your best memory?
To see the video of the stalking, click HERE (video in Russian).