Paul Childerley heads to Wiltshire to help with with a roebuck hunt
Many people ask what species makes for really enjoyable roebuck hunting. There are so many that could top the list but one of the best has to be hunting roebucks in the spring and early summer.
It’s the time of the year when every part of the countryside is full of life and it’s a pleasure being out there and amongst it all. The reason why relates back when I was a young lad, first heading out with my father for roebucks in the spring, and where my deer stalking passion began.
Being invited back to Wiltshire with my good friend Mark Bellamy and his son, to try for the old buck that had been seen the previous year, there was no hesitation; it was roebucks and it was early May, which ticks all of my boxes.
Meeting Mark and Della and their son Ross, we sat and had a cup of tea in the forestry barn and made a plan for that afternoon. It was a fantastic sunny day and the rape was in full bloom, but unfortunately for us the crop rotation wasn’t in our favour. Where the old buck had been seen through the winter months, was now a mass of yellow rape at least five feet high.
We decided to head out to the other ground to catch a young buck out on the grass set-aside fields to start. We toured round the top of the valley and glassed all adjacent banks to see if we could spot a brown dot.
After a couple of hours we were yet to see a single roe, but to our surprise we suddenly had a fox a few of hundred yards below us, basking in the early afternoon sun.
There is always excitement when a fox is spotted. We soon went from calm and collected into a manic frenzy, even though we probably had a good hour. He was clearly not going anywhere.
We grabbed the sticks and the rifle and headed out at an angle to get a clear shot. As soon as we could see him clearly over the ridge, the rifle was on the sticks and ready to go.
Mark gave a couple of squeaks and the fox slowly stood up, turned and met his maker. The 6.5 Creedmoor 120-grain Powerhead II bullet is reliable on all quarries I’ve been after.
After a fantastic start, we headed back to the old buck territory to see if we could catch him out on one of the fields adjacent to the yellow mass, or possibly catch out a young four pointer on the peripherals of the big valley bowl, where Mark had seen several does and young bucks earlier in the season.
We headed up to the valley bowl, stalked round the top, looking down to see if we could catch one of the young bucks out in the afternoon sun. We saw several does and a young six pointer, which Mark decided would be a fantastic buck to leave.
After a good hour, we headed back to the vehicle and drove to the top of the planes to see if we could find the old buck that we were planning for. We decided to head down the fence line where we had shot one the previous year.
It was always a good place to catch out a buck between the boundaries of different crops. We slowly walked down the old barbed wire fence line. We were starting to think this day was going to draw to a blank on the roebuck front.
Nevertheless we decided to head down another few hundred yards, just in case there was one laying down in the cow parsley, in the bottom corner, where the fields met.
As we slowly crept down, we could see a pair of antlers sticking up out of the grass; the next minute a buck sprung up and ran to about 150 metres on a wild bird cover, stood back and looked.
This was a young buck and a perfect one to take out. The shot was broadside and as soon as the shot was taken, he leapt, kicked and charged about 40 metres until he fell.
We were really pleased that we’d managed to get a young buck in this area today. We were all on the field margin gralloching the buck and talking about the fantastic results of the day with a fox and a roebuck. We couldn’t have been more pleased.
Then Mark was asking the questions about my rifle, calibre and scope choice. We were in deep conversation, laughing, joking and talking as if the hunt was all finished.
The next minute, Ross alerted us to the silhouette of a buck on top of a grassy roundel at the top of the rape field. Instantly we could see that it was the old boy, so Mark and I set off up the tramline towards the grassy roundel.
This was going to be a difficult task as the buck was on top of the hill without a backstop and we were approaching it from below. There was no chance of getting ground behind it unless the buck walked down towards us.
The rape gave us great cover stalking up towards the roundel but – once we got 130 metres from him – the wind was crossing towards him, so we couldn’t take another step or our cover would have been blown. I set up on the sticks, set myself and waited.
The buck slowly meandered off the top of the ridge but in the wrong direction. We patiently waited and waited until the sun started to set. Suddenly the buck appeared again at the top of the roundel and started grazing on the cow parsley as he wandered towards us on the grass bank.
There was a small window of opportunity, safety first, but I had to let him wander off the top of the bank. If he came further towards me, he would have been lost in the cover.
It was now or never. I stopped him with a quick bark. The shot was taken and the buck bounded over the hill but I was fully confident that the job was done. We waded through the tall rape to get to the roundel and searched to find him. He was back on the crest where we had first spotted him.
He was a truly old buck with velvet still on his antlers which is unusual for an older buck in the second week of May. He had Aladdin slippers and his nails were long and curled. It was a great choice of buck to take out of the area.
Myself and Mark were over the moon as this was the buck he’d been talking about the previous year and really wanted him out. We dragged the buck back down to Ross and Della where we all sat and had another cup of tea and a debrief of our fantastic afternoon stalking.
More stalks with Paul Childerley
- Paul heads to Slovenia for the hunt of a lifetime
- Opening day of the follow season
- Hunting in Africa
- Stalking the White Horse buck