August endurance

From inclement weather to incessant phone calls, Paul Childerley endures every setback imaginable on a quest to bag a buck in the rut

The roebuck rut is one of the most exciting times of year to put your stalking and calling skills to the test, but as all roe stalkers know, it’s dependent on the weather and if the deer are moving and active. You hear early reports of activity in early July and everybody rushes out to try and find the rutting action, but I feel the areas that I manage are always best the first week of August. Again, this is always weather dependent.

The aeroplane wheels had barely touched the ground after my family summer holiday and I had organised to get to one of my favourite estates to try my luck and experience this fantastic time of year, but also put my roe calling skills to the test, to see if I still had it. But like I say, it’s all about the weather. There’s no point trying to call bucks when they are not interested – you will end up educating them to become wary to the call. Unfortunately, the weather for the next three days was windy and cold, so I decided to work my way through my pile of jobs to free me up for a few days’ time.

That evening I noticed the wind died instantly at about 7.30pm. Presuming the next day would be the same, with cold and wind during the day before easing during the evening, I decided it would be worth powering through the workload and hoping it might give me a good window of opportunity to do some calling. Also if the deer haven’t been active during the day, then they will be raring to go.

If the weather’s not on your side, the stalk has just got a lot harder

During the day the weather was not looking promising. The wind was gusting through the trees and it was still cold for this time of year. The ideal scenario would have been overcast, humid and still, but this was never going to happen so I just needed to take my chances. On finally getting to the estate, the wind was still in full force and making the whole evening look like a waste of time, but I decided it was worth a look anyway so I stalked around the main rides just to see if there was any activity to be found in the thicker parts of the wood. There was no movement. Even the birds weren’t their usual chirpy selves.

I decided to go and have a look at a nearby ash plantation, thinking that I’d seen a nice six-point buck there earlier in the year and also that it was one of my hidden ‘go-to’ places when all else fails. Approaching the young wood, there was a small four-point buck laid down only 15 metres to my right, on the edge of an open bracken area. He was facing away from me and it was too thick to even consider a shot, but I prepared myself ready, hoping he may stand when he sensed I was close. I waited and waited but he was obviously waiting, like me, for the wind to calm. Showing my impatience, I decided to give him a couple of peeps on the Hubertus call, to get his attention. My plan was for him to be interested and stand up for a closer look, which would give me the window of opportunity. Instead, on the second peep, he sprung up like a gazelle; his feet didn’t touch the ground as he disappeared into the thick bracken. Obviously that plan didn’t work…

Paul’s patient calling pays off as a buck emerges…

Feeling quite chuffed to actually see a deer in this weather, I was feeling quietly confident and ready to explore further, heading up towards the plantation. On approaching the perfect viewpoint of the plantation, I committed the ultimate sin of having to answer my buzzing phone! After a long conversation and finally ending the call, I noticed the wind had stopped completely. Luckily, the wind would have drowned out all my talking and I could head on to my favourite viewpoint.

I walked a few metres inside the plantation and put my back up against a young ash tree and set up on the sticks looking down through the rows of young trees. I could see in excess of 100 metres in front, but to my left, the trees were crossed, which impaired my vision to about 30 metres.

Imagining a buck slowly emerging into the middle of one of the rows, I decided to start the first series of calls: three peeps, wait, three peeps, wait, and final three peeps. On the final three peeps, a doe stood up about 70 metres in front and looked straight at me. She didn’t seem to be too worried about what she heard and the shape she could see. She was more concerned looking back down to the middle of the plantation, where I could not see. I repeated the sequence over the next short while, trying to keep it slow and calm, not rushing it. The doe was still more interested in whatever was going on in my blind spot, but I daren’t move.

All of a sudden, I heard a couple of squeaks come from the middle of the wood, so I presumed there was a little bit of chasing or something going on down there. Time for the Buttolo with some louder and more exciting calling, so I blasted out eight loud squeaks, moving my hand round, making it sound like there was movement in my area, to hopefully entice some action. Within seconds of the final call, crashing noises were heading straight towards me, but on my blind side, so I could not see what, where or who.

The ash plantation, one of Paul’s secret hotspots, again proves a fertile stalking ground

Bursting from the grass, a doe appeared panting, out of breath and with her tongue hanging out, running directly at me with her head hanging down. She passed within a couple of metres and in hot pursuit, followed by a fantastic six-point buck with a white face that was unique. He followed her path step by step until he lifted up and saw a strange shape, which broke him from his rutting spell and brought him back to reality.

He immediately side-stepped and bolted away, but not sure and not wanting to give up the chase, he looked round and stopped. Still confused and not happy, he decided to put some more distance between us and give out a warning bark. At about 40 metres he decided the distance was enough and stood proud and gave another angry bark, giving me the opportunity to take a shot.

The buck jumped and kicked upon impact and he was soon to his end. For me this was a fantastic result, not only because of the weather, but also because the forestry had been complaining of damage on the young trees in the area.

To hunt with Childerley Sporting, contact Paul on 07715 638934 or visit www.childerleysporting.co.uk or email paul@childerleysporting.co.uk

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