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Somehow it was inevitable that the settled warm weather that we all enjoyed throughout July would break just in time for the rut! I was not one of those lucky enough to have early clients and so had to suffer the glowing stories of success that abounded at and just after the Game Fair.
The trouble is that the very worst conditions to stalk are just on the turn of the weather. Falling temperatures and air pressure guarantee limited activity from roe, and it often takes several days for the deer to get used to the new conditions. But despite pretty average weather the last week of July worked in my area of Hampshire, and over two days we called a number of adult bucks, including some of those really old ones which remain pretty well unseen through much of the season. We also took a nice old gold, which was in full rut. I usually reckon that the first week of August beats all others for calling, but not so this year. In cool and windy conditions we spent a full day calling with absolutely no result (no yearlings or even does) except on our first stand when, at 10am, we called three bucks to the same call – two yearlings and one unidentified adult. It seemed absurd trudging around the woods to such little avail. Our day ended fortunately with a lone old buck who appeared to be completely rutted out. The only consolation to an extremely disappointing rut was the number of phone calls I received sharing the same limited results. When it works, there is simply nothing more exciting than calling and it’s a great climax to the season– when it doesn’t you are left with the feeling that you have missed out on an important part of the stalking year.