ENGLAND: Ben Heath Deer Management Hunt

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Europe' started by LivingTheDream, Apr 21, 2019.

  1. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream AH Legend

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    Hunting In West Berkshire

    With it being spring break and visiting London on my wife’s bucketlist we decided to make it a hybrid trip of site seeing London and taking a quick trip out to the country side so I could complete an item on my bucket list of hunting England. So we spent 5 days in London trying to navigate around climate change protesters and 2 days in Newbury in West Berkshire. In Newbury, I would be “stalking” deer with Ben Heath.

    Executive Summary

    PH: Ben Heath

    Gun: Blaser 25-06

    For those not wanting to read a Hunt by Hunt breakdown, here is the executive summary. Hunting with Ben Heath was truly a first-class hunting experience. I learned a tremendous amount and plan to use some of these techniques on whitetail back home. Ben manages close to 18000 acres and most of the meat taken actually makes it to restaurants across England. Over the course of 2 days, I was fortunate enough to harvest 7 deer. I took 3 Muntjac, 2 Roe buck and 2 Fallow. Though this sounds like a lot of shooting in 2 days, all of the deer were truly earned and included some fairly tough stalks and quite a bit of patience. The Fallow Deer average shots were around 200 yards, Roe Buck were about 150 yards and Muntjac were about 50. This was mostly due to the different terrain in which we hunted. Stalks ranged from still hunting and calling through woodland to glassing open wheat fields. Due to the difficultly of bringing a gun into the UK, I used Ben’s Blaser and was extremely impressed with the accuracy and ease of use of the gun. The safety is a bit tricky but once you are use to it, it becomes a bit more natural. Being an hour train ride out of London or 45 minutes from Heathrow, I would highly recommend anyone who is in London to reach out to Ben and have some fun in the country side.

    Before Starting the real report – Funny Side note.

    One day while in London, my wife told be we have to try this Gelato place as it does some fancy waffle thing and it is supposedly awesome. So we were able to grab the ice cream and given it was a small shop decided to find someplace to stop and eat it and just people watch for a moment. Me being on a bit of high alert with hundreds of people in square and numerous street entertainers, I am quickly looking for a place but also navigating around the various street performers, beggars and onlookers. I see a place to sit, on one of the cement structures where no one is really around. I am thinking that is perfect and so we sit down and my wife and I start eating our ice cream and people watching. There is small group to our left protesting something and I am trying to figure it out, finally the have a huge sign that says “voice for the voiceless”…holy shit there are animal rightist protesting not 30 feet from where I am having ice cream. My wife has a laugh and jokes if they only knew. As I ponder my sitting choice, a pigeon decided to take a shit on my shoulder. At the moment it seemed kind of appropriate.

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  2. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream AH Legend

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    Day 1 – Morning Hunt

    Unlike hunting in Africa where hunts rarely start before 7 am, I was up at 4:15 and meeting Ben right outside my hotel at 4:45 am. The hotel receptionist was a bit puzzled with me walking through the lobby in full camo at 4:45 am but I didn’t have any time to explain it as I could see Ben pulled up out in front of the hotel. After a quick introduction and small chat, we immediately took off to the hunting area. We pull into what I can only describe as some type of wheat field with a small stream and numerous hedgerows. It is dark, like dark dark, so we get out and Ben discusses the plan…basically get to false dawn and slowly stalk around the field utilizing the wind and cover to navigate throughout the estate. The issue being that it was super foggy. No visibility foggy, so even in the false dawn we are only going to be able to see 50 to 100 yards. So in the low light, we are slowing working our way along the edge of field and for me there was so much anticipation every pigeon busting off the roost makes me jump. About 5 minutes into our stalk, a pheasant busts 15 feet in front of us and I am freaking out about it. 1) Being from the east coast seeing a pheasant is a big deal 2) I didn’t know that this estate is basically managed for pheasant habitat and there are hundreds upon hundreds pheasants on it. I could tell Ben was amused by how excited I was about the seeing a pheasant. And though the fog which made stalking difficult, it was truly enjoyable as we had mallards flying over and tons of pheasants running across the fields and hedgerows. The highlight was seeing a few roe does materialize towards us in the fog.

    With the heavy fog, we moved to a new location which was wooded and more conducive to stalking in the fog. We immediately upon driving on to the estate saw a Muntjac buck take off in the underbrush. And though this woods was more old growth, it has a thick underbrush that was made up of younger trees, some deadfalls and what looked like wild Rhododendrons. We started to call for Muntjac, which basically is a slow squeal. We did spot a few roe does on the edge of field but though we continue to stalk and call, the morning was not successful. The fog in combination with an east wind had pretty much everything shut down. It was not a bad first outing and I felt the long walks had broke some of the first day jitters.
     
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  3. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    :A Popcorn:
     

  4. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream AH Legend

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    Day 1 – Afternoon Hunt

    We met up in the afternoon around 3pm. It had warmed up considerably and was probably getting close to 70 degrees. We returned to the 2nd estate we hunted this morning which was the more wooded one. I think the reason for the early pick up was to get some Muntjac calling in as it seems they can be called at almost any time of day. We get out at the first stop and after a short walk, we immediately get to calling. Almost instantly we had a female Muntjac barking/growling/roaring at us. If you have never heard this sound it sounds like it is coming from a much larger animal, and when it is coming 30 to 40 yards in front of you it really gets the heart pumping. She never did pop out of the Wild Rhododendrons and we were off to try calling a different spot. Though the initial calling was unsuccessful we ended up walking right into the middle of about 3 Muntjac, as it seemed they were everywhere. Their movements are very much like a Duiker, in the fact they never seem to sit still and have a nervous jitteriness to them. Seem like about the time I get on the sticks in the right opening they would be moving on. This game of cat and mouse went on for about 20 minutes. We finally spot one bedded and all I could see what the top of head in the bush. So we waited for him to stand up, but of course when we decided to stand up it was at a full on run out there. But to be on the sticks and to be that close, though frustrating it was still early in the afternoon and we were having a lot of activity. We then decided to take about a mile loop walk around, stopping to call but essentially still hunting through the good spots. This resulted in another close encounter, with a doe muntjac who just would not turn board side and only offered me a Texas heart shot. So with use seeming striking out we made our way back to the truck. Basically, chalking this up to getting the afternoon cobwebs out and with the truck insight, a Muntjac buck took off into the woods. Game On!! We start sneaking up, up on the sticks, walking away again! Into a bush he goes, we sneak around, we hit a gap in the bushes and there is staring back. Sticks go up and quickly take the shot, a perfect heart shot and my first Muntjac was down! Quick pictures and we got to cleaning. And by we got to cleaning, I held the legs. This was a pretty good one and I could not be more thrilled.

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    We immediately loaded up and got back to stalking, we see a few female Muntjacs and a few female roe deer, but nothing to get too excited about. There was one good Muntjac buck, that I didn’t get a chance to see. We loaded up and quickly headed back to the estate I started on that morning and started to sneak into the various fields. Given the time of the day, we felt there would be quite a few deer moving. We had about 30 minutes of light left so if something was going to happen it was going to quick. While glassing a female roe deer, a small male muntjac came out 50 yards on our side of the field. Now we had to turn and get into position and without completely scaring away the little guy. Right before he could sneak back into the woods, I was able to get a clear shot, and just like that I had my second Muntjac. I know I mentioned I earned most of my animals, but this one was one the hunting gods smiled on me. After getting it clean, we quickly and quietly left the area so not to distribute it too bad. Can't believe we were able to make it happen so quick!

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  5. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream AH Legend

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    Day 2 – Morning Hunt

    Up at 4:15 again today and actually woke up before my alarm went off. We were going to try a few different places with the goal to try and find a roe buck. We get to a little field and it is again dark dark, Ben mentions the deer like to be out in the field, we just need to get in position and be ready, because if it is going to happen it will happen quick. We get out in the field, no lights and get to as far as I could tell about the center of the field. Ben quietly gets the sticks set up just in case and then we wait, at the very first of light we catch movement going along the edge of the field. Now we have to wait for more light to tell if it is male or female. Get the news, it is a female. But there is another deer behind it, in the weeds. I get the hand motion to come up to the sticks, Ben says, “I think this is a buck and if it is you can shoot it”. I get on the scope and can see antler, and it looks pretty good, Ben says “once you confirm it is a buck and it gets broadside you are clear to shoot”. It goes broadside in a matter of seconds, breath and squeeze, the beautiful thud sound confirmed the shot and my Roe Buck was down! It wasn’t even 20 minutes into the hunt, I took a minute and just soaked in the moment. Not sure why this little deer struck me so much, but they are noble little deer and truly magnificent. Obviously, this won’t make the record books but I couldn’t be happier.

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    We quickly take some pics and get it loaded up. I am on cloud 9 as we go to the next area. We get a swampy area with a long hedgerows and a boggy wheat fields. It was picturesque and we immediately spotted a female roe deer. Getting out of the truck we see a female and baby Muntjac chasing and playing in the field and just watched them for a minute. We start still hunting the first hedgerow and about 150 yards into it, we spot a female Muntjac coming out. Up go the sticks and with a little re-positioning, she finally stood still. The shot was great and I now had my 3rd Muntjac.

    Some quick pictures and we are back to stalking as we still had 3 more hedge rows to work. The second hedgerow was unproductive other than the occasional pheasant paying us a visit and immediately running off. The third hedgerow we spot a Roe Buck laying back in the corner of the field. We put a plan in place, check the wind and start to stalk towards him. Halfway through the stalk, we see 2 roe deer running, we freeze and watch them. This time of year is call the dispersal, due to the fact the groups of deer are dispersing and Roe Bucks are claiming their territory. So these two deer were not running from us, but basically just being deer. They run smack into our buck, and it is starting to look like the hunt might be over. There is some chasing and running and all three take off towards the original hedgerow. We keep up pursuit and get to the 2nd hedgerow, and here comes our buck working his way back towards us. He had claimed his territory and have successfully ran off the other deer. We basically froze and he slowly worked a ditch line right to about 150 meters. We were waiting for him to turn broad side but I had a perfect slight quartering to shot, and it was too good to pass up. This shot I saw the impact and watched him immediately go down. I had a complete adrenaline rush and was shaking. These little deer are so cool and though it doesn’t have the traditional roe buck look, it had some mass and was a good deer to take. We get the deer cleaned up and loaded up and headed back to Ben’s to get the deer in the Fridge. A cup of coffee and I was back in time to take my wife out for a late breakfast.

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  6. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Congratulations on all the success.
    What dates were you hunting?
     

  7. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream AH Legend

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    April 17 and 18, so seemed more like turkey hunting weather than deer hunting.
     

  8. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    No doubt. So bizarre hunting deer when its so green.
     

  9. UKHunter

    UKHunter AH Fanatic

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    Glad you had a good time over here!
     
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  10. huntermn15

    huntermn15 AH Fanatic

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    I have got to do a Chinese water deer and munjac hunt at some point! Thanks for sharing.
     
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  11. Shootist43

    Shootist43 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Did you get to try any venison entrees while you were there?
     

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