Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Falling behind

There's one thing that strikes me when I read through past blogs and that is just how much rain features in them. This means that either I'm an inveterate whinger OR we've had a barrel-load (!) of the stuff this Autumn. I prefer to think it's the latter.

So, in a bid to break the habit, let me tell you about Saturday, Sunday and Monday. After the total washout that was Friday (DAMN!) we woke to clear skies, zero wind and hard frost. And it stayed like that for 3 days. Bliss. And by the Sunday night we had temperatures down to -5.

I can't tell you how good it was to see the sun again and to have some of the mud and standing water dried up. But there's a definite feeling in the air now and somehow you know that Winter is just around the corner.

It's not just because the trees are mostly bare, nor is it that the colour is leaching out of the heather and grass. The passing of the Red Deer rut and the spawning of the Salmon signal the last breeding of the year. The time for expending energies is ending. Now comes the time for conserving what reserves you have, living quiet, battening down the hatches.

To this end, there is no birdsong to be heard; the rabbits are done with their chasing and jumping; Roe are becoming increasingly apparent as they spend more time on their feet, feeding; and the Red Deer now favour the lee slopes whenever there is a wind.

That's not to say that anything appears to be struggling just yet. Apart from moles, maybe. (The glaring decrease in molehills around here makes me think they've all drowned.) No, our hinds appear to be in good nick and the farmers are saying likewise of their sheep.

In practical terms what this means is that the deer are very quick to show a clean pair of heels (.... should that be 2 pairs of heels?) should danger threaten. In the last 4 stalking days I've had 8 hinds and each one has been the product of a seperate stalk. And that means each has been extracted individually. And that just makes for hard work.

However, just when I was beginning to despair, events took a turn for the better (for me, anyway). I managed to get 6 beasts today, from just 2 stalks. Furthermore, they were all in an area where they could be easily dragged to the land-rover. Like a trip to the 'flicks', it didn't seem right leaving the larder in daylight. But, somehow, I'll live with it.

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