Saturday, 28 January 2012

Waiter, This Venison is Tough!

Well things aren't getting any easier. The mild weather continues and the deer are playing hard-to-get. Very hard-to-get.

Every year we stalkers get a beast each for ourselves. Needless to say, they're usually the biggest and best beasts of the season, and clean-shot. But getting near enough to them to be sure of a neck shot is no walk in the park just now. More like a walk in the minefield, in fact.

It dawned on me that, with the end of the season fast approaching, I was running out of time to get my beast. As Tuesday was a horrendous day of driving rain, I thought I'd make getting one good hind my sole objective for the day.

The good news was that the foul weather had pushed a herd onto some handier ground. (Relatively speaking.) The bad news was that they were in a spot that turned out to be nigh-on impossible to get near.

I snuck up a wee burn and waaay before I was anywhere near the beasts I was crawling-to avoid disturbing sheep. (The Red Deers answer to NATOs Early Warning System.)

Anyway I crawled into the next postcode and to within 250 yards. The deer were still on their feet and grazing towards me at this point. Then, one by one, they lay down. Nooooooo!!!!

Dismayed, I crawled up and down the same stretch of burn 4 or 5 times trying to find any way of getting closer. With 150 pairs of eyes looking down the hill at me? Not a chance.

My only option was to wait. And wait. And wait.

I was starting to feel decidedly chilly (and not a little frustrated) when the weather took a turn for the even-worse. The freezing rain started coming down in sheets.

"Thanks very much!" I muttered heavenward. .....then the deer started getting to their feet. Perhaps this cloud really did have a silver lining.

The filthy weather was too much even for these tough hombres. They got up,turned their bums to the rain and walked away. When the last pair of lugs disappeared over a nearby rise I could have wept with happiness- I could move!!

I followed them on and as I crept around the corner I found most of them already out of range and still moving into the vast open stretch of a sheltered bowl. Utterly unstalkable. Lifting my head a little higher I found that a handful had stalled- and lain down just after entering the bowl. And looking through my binoculars, I could see that one was an absolute clinker.

I started crawling forward to get a clear shot- all the time aware that I was coming into sight of more and more deer. And as I crawled I noticed the 'stragglers' were, one by one, getting up and following the herd again. It was a case of 'take your time but hurry'.

When I got to my firing point there were only 3 beasts left in range- but the clinker was one of them. As I got the crosshairs on her I saw her looking about as if to say "Hey, where has everybody gone?"

She became the dearly departed just a moment before she deerily departed. Getting her two companions was the icing on the cake. Albeit a very moist cake. I was ecstatic....right up until I contemplated the monster drag that awaited me.

Boy, she had better taste good.

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