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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Half Time Strategy

At the moment of writing, it is exactly half way between the end of last Chinese Water Deer (CWD) season and the start of the next one but the 'closed season' months are not a time to do nothing, they are time to make preparations, observation and practice. The crops are so high at the moment, that small deer like CWD and Muntjac, can disappear in the blink of an eye and the challenges of cover and visibility are completely reversed from where we will be in the season, when we need to 'disappear' to stand a chance of approaching our quarry.

Sometimes this is all you see of a Chinese Water Deer, think how much harder everything is when the rape, wheat and other crops are four feet tall. 

Trail Cameras are a fantastic tool for the wildlife enthusiast
whether you are just watching or need to plan your approach
to next seasons cull. Check out my previous post on using trail cams
or watch some of the videos we have taken with them in the top right
corner of the page. 

These months of walking, watching and listening are very valuable reconnaissance for when the season starts, we need to know roughly what is out there and where it is. We can watch and listen as we pursue quarry species that are 'in season', we will often hear a CWD barking in protest at our presence, without ever seeing it, perhaps we'll see it's back as it bounds through the crop like a brown porpoise in a green sea. We will see them cross tracks and catch them on trail cameras, we will see their regular paths, though the hard parched earth does make tracking difficult.

There are species which can be harvested at this time of year, the little Muntjac being our primary concern, the one pictured was taken recently for a wild food / field to fork (Follow this LINK to book onto one of our field to fork courses) demonstration for a large group who have rarely sourced food from anywhere but a super market. Stalking these secretive and very nervous little deer can be a challenge, greater even than that of the more gregarious CWD. But the practice is always useful, the shot placement just as critical, the safety, the humanity and consideration for others, always high priorities.

Looking back at last years records, tactics and locations of shot deer are all keys to building up this years 'big picture'. Pictured here, one of last years representative yearling bucks, the last one of the season I think, plus some of the better tusks taken over the last to few years. The 'tools of the trade' need to be sharpened and maintained, the dedicated stalker never stops observing, planning and preparing.

This final picture is of some CWD steaks on the griddle, tasty with red berries or with onions and peaches, always happy to try some new combination, venison is becoming more popular, you should try it.

 If your interest is piqued by these little deer, pop down to the Wood Walton Fen nature reserve and tiptoe around at dusk or dawn, you will see what we see, hear what we hear and hopefully enjoy what we enjoy.

Good luck!


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