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“Call at Last Light”

I collected Stephan from Sue’s at 6.45pm and after an introductory talk and safety briefing. I explained that the stalker has a selection process to enable them to reach the decision as to whether a deer can be shot. It must be understood that the hunter only takes the shot if he is given the opportunity to do so by the stalker. After that we set off to the hunting area. After many weeks of heavy rain a warm balmy evening was to be enjoyed and appreciated. The sun was a dull yellow disc starting to turn an orangey red in the late afternoon sky After a short walk we settled down under a large oak tree looking towards a wood that had a small stream running through it. Suddenly a Roe doe came out of the wood 150 metres away and started to feed on the grass.

She was not easy to see as the field had not been cut due to the long period of rain and there were hundreds of russet dock plants that had gone to seed around her I tried to call her with a fawn call but she showed no interestThen we saw why, she was ready to mate. A yearling buck, a small 4 pointer had just entered the field from were she had previously appeared. Before I said anything Stephan’s immediate reaction was to say he thought the buck was too young to shoot.The doe trotted round the edge of the wood running around with the young buck in hot pursuit. She stood and allowed him to mate with her several times in between bouts of feeding. Stephan and I watched these two and their antics for about 1¼ hours.

 As the light started to fade, a flight of 6 Canada Geese, quietly honking, flew over us on their way to the reservoir. Several pheasants went to roust around us and one even perched in the oak tree under which we were sitting. It was now 9-50pm and the light was poor. I asked Stephan to check to ensure he could see through his scope well enough to take a shot if a buck appeared. He said he was still able to see well enough.

Suddenly there was a noise in the wood of something large moving about and braking twigs. We heard the alarm call of a blackbird, but saw nothing. I was just going to ask Stephan to unload when, a large black object pushed through the hedge and rushed into the field from or left, it was a mature buck. The large clumps of dock made it hard to spot him when he was still. Then he moved and gave his position away, even against the black background of the wood we could make out his silhouette. We could not see his antlers properly or take a shot due to the poor light. He then ran down the side of the wood and turned to the right and was now 250 to 300 metres away in an open gateway with the light behind him. He looked like a good buck and there was possibly the chance of a shot.

 Stephan asked, “Can you call him?” I told Stephan to get ready on the sticks and I would try.

I have been practicing for some time in calling bucks by mouth during the rut. I had learned how to call Pink Footed geese from the late Mckenzie Thorpe over many years of wildfowling in Lincolnshire and firmly believe if you can perfect it; the use of your own vocal cords is more effective than anything else in the right conditions. Watching through his binoculars, I called twice, from the base of my throat a sharp, loud, OOH! OOH!

The reaction surprised us both; the buck turned in a defiant posture, tossed his head and stamped one hoof and barked back. I replied with three more short barks. With that the buck started to trot towards us. The buck and I exchanged barks and calls. The buck’s approach speed started to quicken, at about 40 metres from us, I called in a different pitch, unlike a deer. The buck stopped in its tracks and faced us.

Stephan fired; in the poor light the muzzle flash appeared very bright. The buck lunged backwards as the .243 100grain bullet hit its mark. The buck then turned to the left and ran off disappearing in the poor light. We heard him run and then it was silent. By now there was a heavy due forming on the grass and there was a chill in the air. Although it was tempting for us to look straight away, we left it 15 minuets and then we both walked across the field to see if he had dropped in the grass. After about 35 metres Stephan called across, “I have him, he is a good buck” I walked over to see a perfect shot placement.

It was a good start, from what was appearing to be a blank stalk; Stephan had shot his first Roe buck in England, and was taking home at least one good trophy and story to tell. After the head had been prepared the antlers weighed in at 320 grams.

After several more days of hunting Stephan was still showing his true sportsman like attitude. He enjoyed the countryside, watching the deer and all the wildlife around him and by being very selective and patient managed to bag another 4 good Roe buck. It is important to remember that when you are out in the field, it is not just about the size of the trophy or the number you shoot.

As a sportsman, it is the whole  experience of just being out there. What you see, what happens during the stalk and  the many  memories you will have and the stories to share with others. As can be seen in the picture on the right, Stephan and his new wife Marlene will have some good trophies to take back home to Denmark and when people ask and what did you do on your Honeymoon? I wonder what they will say.

 

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