Roe deerstalking in a Moray woodland
Earlier in this week, I had my first experience of roe deer stalking in a woodland located in Moray, in the Scottish Highlands. We were out to learn and help with the cull necessary in growing trees in that part of the country. We were also out to bring wild meat home to the table as well as connecting with nature. We stayed with a friend, for a few days, who rented nearby ground and managed the deer on this ground. The weather was cool with a still breeze, making it a challenge to move in a gracious and silent manner.
The first evening that we stalked, we were stalking for a few hours, placing each foot delicately on the forest floor. We spent a few frustrating hours in a high seat in a more open area before deciding that the vegetation had grown too high to see anything. We silently climbed down and moved on where the trees where condensed. We silently moved through the woods, searching for signs of bucks. As the weather had cooled the day before, it was naturally the end of the rut for the bucks.
It was beginning to get darker between the birch trees when suddenly we came across a young yearling standing about 60 meters away. He then decided to have a nap between several shrubs. I got the sticks ready into position with the rifle securely on top. We waited and squeaked the roe deer call. He shuffled, but didn't move. We waited. We decided after some time to move the sticks and rifle into a better and clearer position. I breathed deeply in the direction of the roe deer, focusing all my attention on remaining calm. He moved and my friend barked next to me. The roe buck stopped in his place, in a broadside position. In the space of a few seconds I found him through the scope. I positioned the rifle to his top shoulder, breathed deeply and took the shot. We both heard a thud.
Afterwards, we watched and I reloaded the rifle. It's important to reload, just in case the deer are injured or suffering in anyway, and just in case you need to take a second shot. I had placed the shot perfectly and it was an instant death for him. I was so relieved and the adrenaline rushed through my system, washing out all my anxiety in making sure that he felt as little pain as possible in the end of his life. I flicked the safety on the rifle and we walked over. It was now dark in the forest. We gralloched the yearling quickly in the dark. Gralloching is the act of disembowelling the deer during a hunt. Once this had been done, we packed him into my roe sack. I carried him back to the car with the meat and head ready.
Here's some pictures from the following day after Jamie had a long stalk and got a yearling buck. Unfortunately I didn't have time to get any photos during my stalk or the process of shooting and gralloching ...
When we got home, our friend showed us how to properly boil a roe deer head and we hung the deer in the chiller. We celebrated our efforts and finished a good day with a glass of bubbly.
A few days later we butchered the deer, giving a bone to our dog, Luna and packed the meat into our freezer. We estimated that we would have approximately 18 meals for 2 people. We used the rest of the bones to make stock and put our heads on the wall to remember our time in the woodland.