An Article Published in 'Field Sports Magazine' Summer 2012

An Article by 'County Deer Stalking' Published in 'Field Sports Magazine' Summer 2012 

There lying lazily in some welcome winter sunshine the first decent Roe Buck of the year.  This was not April, still only January and yet there he was boasting antlers in velvet well beyond the length of his ears. This one had real potential!

We had first glassed him and an accompanying doe from a distance lying on the sunny side of a long hedgerow, two large masses of brown appearing alien against the green grass. Half an hour later and following a long crawl over cold, hard ground with Tony, one of my regular clients, we had moved within range of this magnificent animal.  

As a professional stalker this was great news, not just because we would now also be within reasonable range of the accompanying doe, but also because having just taken on this new additional parcel of land in Hampshire, this was clearly a precious animal and just the reward I had hoped for.  

Lying just within sight about 120yds away, its long ears betraying its presence was the accompanying doe and the target of our efforts. Aware that for Tony this was the culmination of an outings stalk for Roe does we set the .308, Sako 85 squarely on the bipod and watched patiently as the two animals lay with heavy eyelids in the bright sunshine  granting us time to ready ourselves and confer in quiet voices.  

To my mind this is the perfect scenario for any stalker who prides himself on deer management. For me stalking at its best is a considered sport and on this occasion I had time to weigh up the consequences of our proposed cull. The questions I had on my mind were this, just how much potential does this Buck have?  What level of disturbance will he tolerate before he decides to seek a quieter territory and with that in mind how will he react to losing his solitary companion?

The two animals abruptly stood up and as if realising the time of year, and sensing the danger she was in, the doe instantly broke into a trot and vanished over the brow of the hill into the nearby hedgerow.  The buck lingered a little longer confirming my initial thoughts of his potential by demonstrating a strong, straight back and powerful haunches, before also trotting off in pursuit of his companion.  

Only weeks later and aware of the requirements of conducting a sufficient doe cull firm in my mind, I visited the same spot again with another client. To my delight there was the buck again in exactly the same spot, but what is more on this occasion with not one but two accompanying does. This time the decision was clear and after mimicking the stalk I had carried out only weeks earlier a yearling doe was dispatched by my client with a text book heart/lung shot.

With increasingly high demand for quality Roe Buck stalking from both domestic and international hunters for many professional deer stalkers Roe Buck are becoming increasingly valuable animals. So it is from these early days in the height of winter that many guides and professional stalkers will have been putting in the ground work and making considered decisions.

The success of the coming Buck season will very often depend upon the stalkers intimate knowledge of the whereabouts and quality of the animals on his ground. This can make the difference between a successful summer's Roe Buck stalking and a flop.

Granted many will argue that come May, and the inevitable jostling for territories that will ensue, the result will be that many Bucks will leave the ground or indeed become the victim of traffic collisions. However with sufficient care of these precious animals more can be nurtured and allowed to mature into fine trophies.

Clearly the Doe Cull is crucial to any management plan and should be delivered with a certain sense of determination. However, to my mind what set's Stalking apart from other forms of shooting is the considered nature of the sport and the observable benefits one can get from careful and selective culling. 

 We should be clear that too much disturbance before the Buck season gets under way will have had a direct affect on the antler quality of our bucks. However we must also be mindful that if we have not culled sufficient does the antler quality of our bucks will inevitably suffer from an inflated pressure on browse. Herein lies the balance.

Of course not all of us have the luxury to be able to commit time on the ground to locating and selecting our animals, and for many, sufficient culling is the objective as opposed to the quality of the trophies. Therefore when on those rare occasions we get the opportunity to consider a proposed cull, it should be welcomed and careful decision made.

With the excitement of the Roe Buck season now imminent we will soon see if our earlier decisions will pay off, Good luck!!


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