UNITED KINGDOM: Stalking Between, Amongst & Along The Hedge Rows

We are up and gone in the dark the next morning after a chunk of bread and cheese with Orange Juice. No matter what, I want some food in my gut before I go traipsing around the countryside.

In the pre-dawn darkness of the second morning Tom was rushing a little bit as we made our way through a small locality. I get to experience another local revelation, a lightning bolt from the curbside straight into my open pupils. I literally thought a transformer had exploded beside the road. Turns out it was a speed camera. If you could view that photo you would see a stupefied Canadian, stunned and wide eyed. They have number plates on the front of their vehicle, of course we do not. The ensuing discussion on the laws of the land and the resulting differences was interesting. They take speed fines very seriously in the UK. Admissions of guilt, fines, points, courses. Damn. More education.

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The offending Equipment. (Google Street View)

Soon enough we roll down the lane way into the farm yard. Tom pulls in beside Lee’s office door, which is wide open. We get out and stretch. Lee is already out and about checking his critters and he arrives shortly to plot the mornings plan. This morning we will be walking from the yard.

I loaded up the pack and the rifle and we are off down the lane. We are chatting as we go slowly walk along between the mature hedges along the lane.
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The rain last night has left everything wet and it is quite cool this morning and surprisingly quiet. There is a breeze but with the hedges it is very hard to tell if it is having any affect.

We begin working our way along the field edges searching for our quarry.
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As we jump through a ditch and a small hole in a hedge we come out into that short grass margin and immediately see two Muntjac turning a corner to our left and we trotted after them hoping for another look. Sadly, they disappear before I can get on the sticks. Listening to Pheasants crow as we walk, Lee’s sharp eyes see a Fox making his way into a small piece of crop that is still standing. It is a strange little island of uncombined crop that can only have been left for wildlife to feed on. How this Fox escaped us I have no idea. He obviously had an escape route down a small drain and did not need to come out of that island into the stubble again. Lucky for him. I was quite ready to do my part for game management on this farm.
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What an amazing countryside. I marvel at the amount of cover for the wildlife that is provided by the ditches and hedges. I remark that I would love to take my Spaniels through this area as I am quite certain they would be thrilled the entire time. The moisture, temperature and cover would make it just ideal for my dogs to hunt. Alas, we are after Roe and we are not seeing anything moving. That overnight rain and cold front have them all bundled up in the lea somewhere. We move through several fields glassing as we go and have no luck.

We pop out on a farm lane that heads directly toward another shed that I have never seen and about 200 yards down the track there is a Chinese Water Deer (CWD) bedded in the lea of the hedge row. We jumped off to the side of the track to hide and get closer for some pictures. After fifty yards or so the CWD’s head swung our way and the jig was up. Gone into a standing crop never to be seen again.

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At the end of this lane way we take a 90 degree turn to the left. If I have my bearings right, we are now heading generally back toward the farm yards some ¾’s of a mile away. After several hundred yards of quiet stalking along this lane way we approach an entrance to a combined field which looks like wheat and, as we poke our heads around the corner, we are surprised by a Roe Doe standing in the lea of the lane’s hedge on the crop side. No panic on her part as she watches us and slowly makes her way deeper into cover. Again, what a pleasure to see such a pretty little deer so close.

Lee and Tom are now feeling the pressure waves requiring success. Their glasses come up and they are scanning this field’s edges like their lives depend upon it. I am also joining in at this point and have not seen anything that suggests an animal in this field.

Suddenly Lee says he sees something down the field. I try my damnedest to understand what he is looking at and I end up looking at three weeds at the other end of the field. As we move closer, moving to the right edge of the field, which happens to be the lea side of the wood, the quarry decides to stand up. It is a Roe Buck. We are all excited now and Lee says we should take him. Tom tells me the bullet drop at the distance. They ask if I am comfortable with a shot of 250 plus yards off the sticks and after having figured it out the other day I am certain I can pull it off.

I get settled and then Lee starts wondering out loud if we should move closer.

I am settled and the cross hairs are on this buck and I am waiting for a decent angle. I would like something more broadside but our nerves are up and the concern about the Bucks stage right exit is on our minds. The buck has not seen us at all, when he starts to circle a little and presents a hard quartering away shot. I squeeze off the shot as soon as the back rib clears that delicious hind quarter. He drops instantly. He has fallen in the same grass where he was bedded

Both Lee and Tom are surprised by the shot and elated that I have pulled it off. We were not reticent about celebrating.

We make our way to the buck and I reload and ensure that he is indeed dead.

Then we all break out in smiles and serious congratulations. Lee is commenting that anyone from the continent would give their eye teeth for this buck. There is nothing typical about him. What a weird little trophy.
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An impressive, weird trophy.

I’m quite pleased that my first Roe Buck is something novel and not the biggest one in the country.

We do all the obligatory pictures and I help with the Gralloch on the spot and are about to start to drag/carry him back to the larder when Lee realises we are quite far from home at this point in our travails. He decides that he will get the quad and retrieve him later. Fine by me, as there are no Coyotes here.

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My introduction to the Gralloch.

We continue our stalking back toward the farm house and do not manage to encounter any further opportunities.

We part ways after instructions that I would like a Euro mount and Lee shows me a nice Red Stag in the chiller that he had taken a few days ago. That is an encounter I would like to have, but that would have to wait for another time.

Tom and I find a gourmet breakfast on our way to the BnB for a snooze. Apparently, the big yellow M serves up at a drive through here too.

We are bound to find another Roe and Muntjac, right?

We make a plan to be back for the afternoon. It was a bloody early start. (Did I say that already)
 
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Congrats, that is a very interesting trophy !
 
Love that roebuck! Very cool trophy as is the muntjac with one horn. Great story also, brings back memories from my two "stalking" experiences in England in 2019. One in April and one in August. I note the Viperflex sticks (which I now own) and all the hares. My guide also used a Pulsar thermal extensively to locate deer. Never seen that before. He'd scan with the thermal, then with the binos, then the thermal, etc until we found animals. Then we'd stalk in for a better look. I also used my guide's rifle for the hunting, err, stalking.

Stalking deer in the UK is a really interesting and fun experience. Not terribly expensive, and I was an hour's train ride from Paddington Station. Great trip for your better half as well. Lots to see and do in London and nearby!

Did you get to eat roe and muntjac while there? Both are delicious but muntjac especially so.
 
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Did you get to eat roe and muntjac while there? Both are delicious but muntjac especially so.

Tom brought some Mutjac backstraps along for us to cook, but sadly we were never in the place long enough to actually cook anything. Nor did we have the energy after the amount of time we put into Stalking.

I'm sure if you go on a fully catered Stalking expedition you would certainly taste it all.

It's one more item for the return trip. :)
 
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This afternoon we are heading to new ground, to me.

When we arrive in the farm yard we are told that we are going to drive over to the other side of the farm and start there. Honestly, this is quite an adventure.

We drive into another farm yard, park and hatch the details of the plan. Tom is going to head out, yet again, to another stand under a large Oak and watch a different field while Lee and I stalk down hedge rows on other field edges searching for that elusive little beast.

Off we go.

We make our way around a crop and cross another ditch on a small plank. It required a talented balancing act to remain dry. I have not even seen the high seat that is directly above me because I have remained so focused on staying on the plank.

Lee just quietly looks at me, I clue in finally and it becomes obvious what we are up to now. I unload the rifle and follow him up the ladder and grab my chair beside him in the twin high seat. We are not terribly high, but you will not be happy if you fall out. Did I tell you that I do not enjoy sitting in tree stands?

We start watching fields on our respective sides of the ditch. What a great spot to see these fields. If the crop was not still standing you could obviously see much more. These little deer can be standing in these crops and disappear or never appear at all.

I am looking over on Lee’s side while he glasses the edges and damned if I do not see an absolute monster standing in the crop within eighty yards just munching on the heads of the crop. He is oblivious to us. I nudge Lee, nodding and say have a look. I already know this animal is a monster trophy and I am not freaking out because the animal is oblivious to us.

When Lee gets his binos on this animal he nearly jumps out of his skin with excitement. I try absolutely everything I can to get steady enough in this stand to take a shot. I can only see neck and head and there is no way I am taking a crack at this guy without perfect support.

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The biggest problem is the damn cage for the seat is so big I cannot get my right elbow rested on it and maintain an aim on the beast. I have contorted my body every bloody way I can, leaning every which way and I cannot get support for my elbow. #$%^&*()_(&*^&%$^%#!

At this point the monster starts to walk away and comes broadside. I think he is gone and start to panic. Then I see him again. He is moving slowly and will come into a more open spot and I may get a shot at the chest. Good.

I try and settle on the frame and wait for this guy to walk into my scope.

He stays in the open for mere moments and I am not steady enough. He disappears again, now both Lee and I are starting to panic. That’s it, it’s all Lee can take and he starts to head down the ladder. I unload the rifle and follow. We start stalking into the crop. Stalking slowly…but steadily to the last row of the crop that we have seen him in. Hoping he is feeding slowly and not strolling out the end of the field already.

When we finally arrive at the proper crop row and have a look down he is nearly at the end.

Lee hurriedly sets the sticks up but the legs are stuck in the crop and I cannot adjust them and place the rifle at the same time. I am now starting to get panicky and frustrated. I finally get the damned sticks in a reasonable orientation for a down the row shot and set up.

They are not perfect; I am not comfortable and decide to lose my mind and listen as Lee makes a call to stop the buck in his tracks. I squeeze a shot off while I am not perfectly set and you can guess what the result is. Would you like to know how quickly a buck of that age can manage to vacate the countryside when a bullet goes ripping over its back?

I try and delude myself that I might have hit it. We search and search and soon enough decide I have killed some very nice grass at the end of the field.

It takes a little while to shake that off.

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We enter the next field and glass and soon make our way toward what Lee thinks was the buck in a far field corner. We rushed, making our way toward that corner and then slowed down and found that he had already made it to safety in the woods.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Who said there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?


Turning 90 degrees right we start heading back to our point of origin walking slowly along the margins. Lee is looking way ahead to another field and thinks he sees something in the crop. Alrighty! We start walking quickly in hopes that this guy is more hungry than afraid. Does that sound desperately hopeful from a delusional man? I love this guy’s optimism.

We sneak to within 15 yards of this feeding buck and soon figure out it is not “the one”. It’s a CWD. Oh, well, some slight disappointment, but we are seeing critters up close.
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Making our way around the crop, staying away from the tar road at the end, we pass the high seat and start the stroll toward Tom’s field to pick him up and see if anything has come through the fallow field toward him.

It turns out some Does have come by, but nothing else.

We chat about the decisive screw up I did while we make our way back to the farm yard through the field.

We leave the Muntjac with Lee, as he knows a guy who prepares Euro mounts well. I trust him implicitly and we will see the results in a few months.


I thank Lee for his efforts and know that I want to return for that buck.


Tom and I will leave the BnB early tomorrow to drop by his Roe ground before sunrise. It happens to be on an indirect way back to London. Why not give it one last try?
 
This night I find out just how many vehicles come through this tiny little locality. The wind from the storm front banging shutters, vehicles, a dog barking at the wind. In the end, I have not slept and jump in the vehicle to make the last ditch effort.

We make our way through the countryside in the dark and with scudding clouds coming in from the south east. It has rained last night but has miraculously stopped before we arrive at the road side pull out for our last hurrah.
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Moving along those hedges, glassing, moving slowly we wait at a corner. We are on the windward side. Hindsight is pretty clear to me now as to which side we should have been on.

Tom knows the deer cross this narrow property at a particular place and that is what we are hoping for.

We turn the corner and start down another margin, there are fresh tracks in the mud, slugs and scrapes.

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I can ID it now.

My inattention is certainly due to the lack of sleep. We come out in a break in the hedge row and there on the lea side is a decent Roe Buck and we are way too close for his comfort and he is leaving. If I would have been on the ball I could have off handed him where he stood at that short 12 yards.

He slowed momentarily at three hundred yards, not long enough to bother to set up sticks or ever think about a shot.
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Hoping he stopped in the next wood side. We made our way quickly down the edge of the wood to the far side and around it eventually coming up against the property line and finally accepting this buck’s successful escape.

This is hunting.

We back track and cross the field to our west and poke along its edge and finally walk into a narrow wood lot and it is apparent that there are deer here at some points of the year. Rubs, scrapes, wallows, etc. Amazing such an apparently small tree lot can get that much attention.
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We make the final turn of the field and I unload the rifle for the last time on this trip.

I am pleased with our efforts and successes. Would I like the last one back? Sure, but I was not prepared enough and that is my responsibility.


We start our travel to London and stop at an road side stall that sells cider. There are bottles of homemade apple cider in this unattended stall on the roadside and you just leave the money in the small locked collection box that is integral to the stand. All on trust.

What a novelty. The cider was pretty tasty.
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We made our way to Woodbridge to walk the Fallow ground.

We cannot stalk here due to the Pheasant releases and the shoots coming up. This is not a concern for me. Seeing another new piece of ground and learning about stalking Fallow from someone who knows the place is priceless.
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We walked along trails and through Bracken and Heather and got to see some of the ground and was enjoying it fully and then I had to call it quits. I bonked. No sleep and my legs felt like lead and I was nauseated and needed a rest.


Backat the vehicle we went for breakfast at a local spot that the head gamekeeper liked. I had my English Breakfast again, and by good fortune and someone’s obvious habit, got to meet the head gamekeeper as he came in for his breakfast.

Afterward we again made our way toward London.


We made our way southward and stopped at a pub that was situated along a tidal estuary and we got to view walkers and fishermen trying their luck at crabbing off the shore and got some nice sunshine and fresh air.


I’m not sure if I nodded off in the vehicle. At this point I have got to arrange a place to stay tonight in London. I start the Airbnb search and found the perfect spot that would do the trick. Bed, shower, microwave and my own private space, all near Canary Wharf, the train etc.
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We said our goodbyes. Tom had a boy’s night out to prep for and a subsequent Rugby match to watch. Hard working people must pack their time off with activity.

My activity would be wandering London; deciding on Rigby’s and the Natural history museum. Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar, and Hyde Park because they were on the way.

I was just trying to avoid crowds and still see some spots.

As my walk closed on Buckingham Palace on my way to the Natural History Museum, I encountered 6 policemen on horseback closing from behind and heading my way. Another officer asked me to vacate the Mall. Not knowing what was up, I got to bump into the Changing of the Guard at the Palace. I saw it in passing and bolted as quickly as I could to get out of the crowds. QE was still not available, so I continued my way across London.

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The next morning to Rigby’s, had a chat and a tour from a very busy manager and then made my way to Paddington and the Heathrow express to get me to LHR and the long flight home.


All in all, going in the summer and not the fall made it a challenge for travel, but that is when the Roe Deer are in rut. If you want to see what a Call does, that is when you go.

Would I do it again? Certainly.

Tom was a great host and assisted me incredibly in seeing his country and Stalking these new species.

If you trust the people you are going stalking with, don’t bother with your rifle. I might rethink that if I were going out on the hills after Red Stags that might require a longer range shot. In the hedges and fields, I don’t think you need to worry. The only failure with the rifle was the operator.


I am writing part of this tale from a seat on a plane. I must say that AH manages to present opportunities for everyone through a common interest and fellowship in hunting. We have many differences, but the fundamental nature of hunters is present throughout the community. I am glad that long time members are willing to share their skills and resources with each other.

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Thank you, Tom, for your help and companionship.
 
A grand tale in the UK! Thanks!
The bases on your roe deer looked huge!
 
Thanks, enjoyed the story.
 
As always another great hunt shared masterfully with us. Thanks for taking the time to share. That Roe deer is very cool. Makes a great trophy. Congrats
Bruce
 
Thanks for the story, Wayne !
 
As usual, your reports are informative and educational. It is always interesting to see local customs through the eyes of a foreigner.

The AH community is a pretty special place where you can reach out to a member like Tom and have a great hunt.

All the best to you both.
 
A grand tale in the UK! Thanks!
The bases on your roe deer looked huge!

Thanks, enjoyed the story.


As always another great hunt shared masterfully with us. Thanks for taking the time to share. That Roe deer is very cool. Makes a great trophy. Congrats
Bruce

Glad you guys enjoyed the tale.

As usual, your reports are informative and educational. It is always interesting to see local customs through the eyes of a foreigner.

The AH community is a pretty special place where you can reach out to a member like Tom and have a great hunt.

All the best to you both.

After speaking this afternoon with @Royal27 it appears this finding friends on AH and going hunting with a buddy works to TZ as well. :D

Glad you enjoyed the tale Bob.
 
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As always Wayne, that was educational as well as entertaining I'm so far behind reading here and just read the entire thing at once.

Hunting in the UK is definitely on my list, but it's definitely gonna have to wait for a while now. :whistle:

Great to get to finally meet you here in Dallas and look forward to hunting with you at some point!
 
It was a pleasure to have you over Wayne and organise a trip for you. We certainly went through every experience and emotion you could encounter on a hunting trip. I'm glad you got the full experience and some unique heads to put on your wall. I imagine deer with fangs is going to draw some strange looks in Canada! I hope our paths cross again.
 
Excellent report and thank you for sharing
 
......... I imagine deer with fangs is going to draw some strange looks in Canada! I hope our paths cross again.

I have no doubt they will draw some attention.

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Great story and adventure and a very unique trophy! Enjoyed it thoroughly!
 
Very unique adventure, thank you for sharing and the education on stalking in England. Always enjoyed the culture there.

Was stationed in Germany for over 7 years total and spent some time in England and Ireland and driving there when use to driving on the other side of the road, I will say that I went round-about several round-abouts multiple times learning to find the correct exit:censored:

The speed cameras were also a revelation, when I was in Germany the second tour I was seriously into endurance sports (Triathlon and Bike racing) and the guys I trained with found that if we road three abreast in the front and two back in the centre we could set off the cameras. I kept waiting for one day where the Poltizei to pull over our group and hand us many photo's and issue a fine.
 

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Bill J H wrote on gearguywb's profile.
Do you still have this rifle? I'm in the KC area on business and I'm very interested.
Safari Dave wrote on CoElkHunter's profile.
I didn't get drawn for Wyoming this year.




Are you planning to hunt Unit 4 this fall?



(Thinking about coming out)
another great review


 
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