The White Doe
- Saturday, 02 March 2013
I had been seeing a white Fallow Doe for over two years on one of the farms where I stalk. She was very lame, walking in an ungainly manner with an obvious rear leg deformity but always appeared to be doing quite well despite her problem. She was able to run with the herd although always at the back, and never looked to be in poor condition.
I decided to try and cull her as a matter of priority after having first spotted her but on numerous attempts she had always outwitted me ! You would think a white Doe ( easy to spot ) and with a limp would be an easy animal to shoot. This was certainly not the case with ' The White Doe' as she became known to my family as I kept coming home to tell them that I had seen her yet again.
The problem that I had in this case was that although I was often seeing her, she would nearly always be just across the boundary of my land and this proved to be very frustrating. I was getting numerous reports for people who had seen her and I last encountered her during the snow when I spotted her some 400 yards away. She looked to be really struggling and had been left by the herd and was alone. Despite getting close enough for a shot she managed to get herself into a 'safe' position and I last saw her 'sailing' over a barbed wire fence and away into the woodland!
That was a few weeks ago now so I was pleased to get a call from one of the local farmers to say he was watching a herd grazing with an injured white deer amongst them, and would I be able to pop down and see if I could shoot it.
Within half an hour and I was kitted out and had arrived at the farm. I met the farmer who first asked me why I was whispering ! and then told me exactly where he had seen the deer. I set off in that direction with the wind in my face. So far so good. There was no sign of them in the area and after an hour I returned to the farm. After a brief discussion it was decided to go looking for them in the tractor! Shooting from a vehicle is not an idea I would entertain normally but as the deer are very used to the sight of the tractor and this was a 'mercy mission' we set off. The tractor would just get us close and I would get out to take a shot.This was my first time in a tractor which I stupidly mentioned to the Farmer.' It's £50 a ticket' was his reply!
We passed the area where he had seen the deer and a quick scan with the Bino's showed the deer to be couched down about 600 yards away in front of a log pile, perfect camouflage. We chugged along and got to within 150 yards before they stood up. In the typical Fallow style they bunched up with the single white deer in the middle of the pack. I got out with the rifle and resting on the bale forks at the front of the tractor waited for a few minutes. They kept dancing around and after a while moved off at speed over a small brow until I could just see their heads!
(A nasty injury. It is usually best to try and cull out injured and lame animals as a priority).
Back onto the tractor and we chugged a few yards closer and I got out again and rested on the forks. They looked like they were going to move back the way we had come and I decided to spur them on with a shout of ' go on then !' Off they went with the white doe lagging behind, just what I wanted. Now I just needed them to stop. The leading deer slowed and stopped followed by all the rest with the white Doe well clear of the pack with a nice backstop. They all turned to look at me from about 150 yards as I settled the crosshairs on the chest of the white Doe. The crack of the rifle was followed by a typical heart shot reaction a jump and a run of a 20 yards but the White Doe was finally accounted for and her struggling was over.
While we waited for the customary 10 minutes I explained to the farmer that this was a normal reaction to a chest shot as he had never seen a deer shot before. Then we made our way down to the deer and immediately spotted her problem. She was missing the lower quarter of her left rear leg. Her hooves had grown very long presumable unable to get the normal amount of wear of an active animal.
The gralloch revealed a perfect heart shot. She was pregnant and otherwise healthy with no sign of abnormality within the organs or lymph nodes. She was just very small for a mature Doe and after skinning it was noticed that her good haunch had very well developed muscles from doing all the work whilst the 'bad' leg was noticeably smaller. It was still an animal to enter the food chain and the farmer will be enjoying some saddle fillet before the week is out !
Stuart Morrison can be contacted at: www.eastsussexdeermanagement.org