On tonight’s show I’m out with the amazing
Howa 1500 in the beautiful Chilterns to help out with a little deer management. The beautiful
Chilterns is a landscape not only offers some amazing scenery, but also some amazing Muntjacs.
Our very own Ian Harford has hunted these hills on several occasions with Cervus UK
and he’s taken a few Muntjac. However, the biggest of the lot escaped his grasps. This
time Cervus UK’s head honcho, Owen Beardsmore, has invited myself down to help out with the
management on this estate. There’s game everywhere here and the numbers are very healthy. There’s
large numbers of muntjac and fallow, but also roe deer. However, numbers can be too big.
The more animals there are the more strain there is on the food resources available in
these hills and woods. To ensure that numbers stay healthy, but also that the game remains
healthy each year a number of animals will be culled. It’s all part of ensuring the strength
of herds and the health of the animals. The stronger the gene pool, the bigger the bucks
grow. Ok we are here today in the Chilterns with Owen Beardsmore of Cervus UK. We have
come on to this estate, and we have seen some deer moving about already so the signs are
looking good. Now we are out today with the Howa 1500 in.243, Nikko Sterling 3-12×56 Scope
on. Now you have seen us put some rounds through this and go over the specifications, but today
we are out to see what it can do in the field. I head down the hedgerow towards a high seat.
Owen assures me there’s been plenty of activity in these parts over the last few weeks. I
haven’t gotten to the seat before I can see movement in the woods. We have just seen,
literally as we got out of the car, ten minutes in, stalking down this corner, I was looking
down at the bottom of this bank, to where the high seat is, to have a look to see if
there was anything feeding in front of there. One was in the undergrowth here to the left.
He has gone up over the bank, but I don’t think he has gone far, so we are just going
to stalk down a little bit further here, and try and get him back into the banks if he
is still there. I keep my eyes peeled, but all has gone quiet. Before heading up into
the seat I decide to take a stalk down the ride to my right. However, someone isn’t happy
with me. That little buck squirrel is not very happy at all. We are disturbing him,
disturbing him as he is eating his feed, he won’t like us tomorrow when we come back with
the air rifle either. I unload the rifle to ensure its safe. Then, I head up into the
high seat. Although the woodland is fairly dense there’s great visibility at this time
of year with there being no leaves on the trees. I wait patiently and then I hear a
dog barking in the woods. Someone has lost a dog, I can hear them shouting it. I guess
it is chasing something. Then there’s movement! 3 fallow deer come running out onto the ride,
they stand, wait and then leg it again. However, I cant take the shot! Ethical shooting is
all part of the routine in deer management. With a dog running loose in the woods and
its owner trying to call it back I cant shoot. I cant see them and could never say my shot
would be safe because of that. With there also being no moderator on the rifle the bang
of the shot ringing out through the woods could cause unnecessary panic in the dog owner.
I hold fire and wait for them to pass, but the deer aren’t sticking around. Im back to
patiently waiting in silence. All is still. As the day wears on there’s movement to my
right. At the very far end of the ride there’s a
group of deer meandering through the edge of the woods. However, with branches across
my view and the deer not stopping I can’t take a shot. There is a group of about 4,
maybe 5 deer passing, fallow, passed across the path up there. I would say maybe 100 – 120
yards off. I got the rifle on, but where I am, there are some branches that are just
to far over the track, and there are a couple of small ones that came in from behind, a
couple of young ones, and when they came in. One stood behind a tree, the one I was going
to have a go at stood behind a tree. Then the other one skipped down and bumped it up,
and the pair moved across, so I couldn’t get a shot. We will give it awhile, then if we,
that was a shot there. If we don’t see anymore we might go down and try and stalk up quietly.
See if they are grazing on the other side of there. There is more.
Two more skip through the edge of the tree line, but are gone before I can get a good
look at them.Soon enough its time to call it a day. There’s been no shortage of deer
in these woods today, but unfortunately for us we haven’t had the opportunity to make
a safe and ethical shot. However, tomorrow is another day and my fingers are crossed.
It’s Day 2 and before the sun has risen Im in the high seat. And theres movement. A muntjac
wanders slowly across the ride, but before I know it hes gone again. In the low light
we didn’t spot him until too late. Thats day 2, it is now getting on for about half past
8, we saw a little muntjac earlier on, about 150 yards on the top of this ride, it came
across the ride but it didn’t stop and I couldn’t quite identify if it was a buck or a female.
I couldn’t make out. We have seen some of them come across here earlier on. So we are
thinking that some muntjac have come into this bit of wood where we are, and got up
the bank and over the top. There was a bit of movement there yesterday. So we are going
to go down the high seat and stalk up the bank and have a look over the top and see
if there is anything moving around. Unfortunately our best chance here was yesterday, when we
had 3 young fallow dow, a fallow doe, and two young with here. About 50 yards off. I
had them in the crosshairs all ready to go, but I could hear a dog walker in the background
on the top of this bank. Now there are public footpaths all the way through here. But I
think he had lost his dog, he had strayed off, and he was looking and shouting for his
dog. I made the call not to take the shot, and I think it was the right thing to do in
the end. There is no point in taking the shot, freaking the guy out and having him on the
phone to the police or something. I think we did the right thing by letting them go.
there is always another chance. So lets go see if we are going to get another chance.
I head out of the high seat and again there’s a dog on the loose. As I have just come out
of the high seat there, as we were just saying there is another walker over this bank. As
I was just coming down at that point, there is a spaniel chasing 2 rabbits, they were
darting off and the spaniel has gone up after them, come back down and has been jilted by
a collie dog, or a collie type dog and has joined it, and they have both ran off back
through the woods, so there are another 2 dogs here. So I don’t think we are going to
see anything up over the top.I take a stalk down the ride in the opposite direction to
the dogs. If theres any deer in the area they wouldn’t have hung around, but we may be lucky.
And we are. There are fallow up over the top, I head up the hill through the brambles, but
when I get back to the top a fallow has skipped on. They are all sheltering under the tree,
one clocked me and bumped off. We call it a morning and head back to base!. We call
it a morning and head back to base. After a spot of lunch Im back out again and get
set up in another high seat in a good area of the woods. Before long Im joined by a young
roe buck. He’s spotted us and doesn’t hang about. However, he hasn’t been spooked too
bad and he meanders up the road and slowly away.As the light begins to fade we are joined
by a muntjac moving through the tree line on the edge of the clearing. However, he’s
heading away from us and disappears behind the trees. It’s been a great 2 days in the
beautiful chilterns and ive seen absolutely loads of deer. However, deer management isn’t
about shooting anything in your sights. Its about taking your time to observe the deer,
picking the right one to be taken from the herd and ensuring that the numbers are healthy.
Ive not managed to pull the trigger on this trip, but…. As a keen woodsman who loves
my outdoor sports ive enjoyed seeing so much game on the move and thoroughly enjoyed my
time in the woods. Sometimes its just as fun to observe and keep the gun in the holster.To
find out more about the Howa 1500 from Highland Outdoors visit highland outdoors.co.uk