The past week has seen some interesting new movements from the local roe, and I’ve been seeing immature bucks in all kinds of extraordinary places. I assume that these are young deer being jostled out of their homes by the advent of hormonal unrest in their seniors, and some of them have ended up in areas where I never see deer. Many have been killed on the roads, and I watched two of the laziest stalkers I have ever seen driving slowly along the track below the house a few days ago, spying out of the open window of their ludicrously enormous pickup truck and only deigning to pick off a young buck when they had driven to within one hundred yards of where it stood in the rising meadowsweet.
Swathed in the smartest, most pristine Realtree camouflage (complete with matching baseball caps), the two stalkers stepped out of the car, took a few paces up to the dyke, assumed a rest on a set of brand new shooting sticks and hammered the buck as if it was a plastic duck at the fair. I daresay a huge number of deer are shot like this each year, and as much as I would prefer to get in amongst them on foot (or hands and knees), many people consider it fairly normal to let a car (or a ridiculously macho treble cab pickup with a name like “Warrior” or “Tarzan”) do the walking. Young bucks must be grist to the mill for stalkers like these, particularly since they lack the sense to conceal themselves and often spend extended periods within sight of roads or tracks.
I’m heading into the hills for a fishing trip at the end of this month with some friends, and I took advantage of this movement of roe when it came to organising supplies. I met a footloose young wanderer in a totally unexpected spot on the back hill at the end of last week, and after a short game of cat and mouse, I brought him down for the sake of his haunches, which will be greatly appreciated on the table after a hard day at the trout. The fillets will be smoked (with peat from the Chayne), and I have already ground a few pounds of mince off the carcass which will go into one of my prodigious venison lasagnes.