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Friday, 11 September 2015

From the high seat; time to move!

What a difference 10 days makes! Since my last visit, the cereal harvest has finished, cultivation has started and headlands have been mown down tight. All this activity is likely to have pushed the normal deer residents to deep cover to await the return of peace and quiet to their more normal range.

Sometimes, a view from the high seat serves only to confirm that you should be somewhere else, maybe because you can see something specific which needs to be pursued on foot or maybe because you can see nothing and that prospects are not ideal (not always easy to judge but experience and a weather eye will help). So it was on Saturday, a visit to a high seat and a survey of the multiplicity of agricultural activity which has occurred in the preceding days, all added up to a day that probably wasn't worth investing 2 hours in the high seat. So off I go on a tour of the area to see what I could see and because it's such a big area, I choose to drive from point to point and then explore small areas on foot.

I watched an unusual number of herons exploring the freshly dredged dyke edges, stopped to watch a buzzard feeding on a small rodent and saw a host of kestrels cashing in on the reduced cover for their prey.

My first deer sighting was a pair of Chinese water deer at very close range, poised ready for flight and in a few seconds, did exactly that, launched from rest to flat out in the blink of an eye and they were gone!

A Chinese Water Deer making it's first explosive bound as it accelerates away from danger. 

I drove on at 'tick over' just watching all around, stopping regularly to scan with the binoculars and generally having a very gentle and enjoyable morning. As I got to a regular Muntjac haunt, I had a quick peak around the hedge and sure enough, saw a doe in long grass, with inquisitive head stretched up to max height on a slender neck. I backed away to get everything to hand that I would need to convert this sighting to productivity. My initial view provided neither the safety required or the confirmation that this animal was in an appropriate state to take, so I watched, ready to act should all of the pieces drop in to place, there was little opportunity to affect this, it was a waiting game as the little doe moved away from 75 yards to a 100 and more, all the time heading towards cover. At this point there was no 'flag up' which is the raised white tail confirmation that the deer is alarmed and off to safer places and usually at some speed!

A pair of Muntjac, doe to the left and buck to the right. 
As it moved to shorter grass I could confirm it was a 'taker' and around 120 yards gave me the clear broadside presentation I needed for a shot with a safe backstop, so I took the shot and the little doe rolled over with scarcely a twitch and accompanied me home. I drove on and 'glassed' the patch as thoroughly as possible but to no avail, I only saw the 3 deer all morning but I was more than happy with the result. As harvest becomes a distant memory and the fields are re drilled, the deer will become more comfortable again and be seen in greater number as the season approaches. Many more visits will be made before then, to clear paths, check seats and verify population numbers. This may be a quiet time but it's not an idle time, nor is it an onerous task, in 9 weeks the season will be open and our labours will start to bear fruit (or so we hope!) time will tell. 

If you want a chance to experience life 'from the high seat' why not come on one of our field to fork courses

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