September Roe


Well, we’ve all been bored and on the verge of suicide over the long hot summer months. Since March I have done nothing with the dog, save for a little mooching…But…Septembers here to save your sanity…because September is…Deer time!

I suppose I am pretty fortunate to have some great mates that help me out. If they see anything of interest whilst they are driving around they will be on the mobile straight away. On a few occasions each year these “tip-offs have produced a good run and often a prime lump of venison on the ground. Of course, these informants receive a few free joints for their troubles. Only last year a good mate of mine rang and told me of a nice buck he had seen in a very urban location. Scooby and I had a walk very early one morning and he managed a long slip on it. The slip was daft really, well over a hundred yards away, in long grass that was up to the top of my wellies. In such negative hunting conditions it should be expected that you go home empty-handed. I can tell you I was very surprised when I heard the bleat of a secured roebuck and I ran as fast as my little legs would carry me towards the grappling pair. That buck was in amazing condition and was transformed into a few tasty Sunday roasts, but just think, I wouldn’t have even known it was there if it were not for my mate ringing me up and putting me on the scent.

All through the summer months the Roe will have been travelling well into the fields feeding under the cover of beans, corn or rape. Once these dense crops have succumbed to the harvester during this ninth month then the deer often still appear to travel about as if the crops were still there. I wait with anticipation for the beans to be cut on some local permission because I know that’s where all the roe are living. An early morning trip out onto the bean stubble will often produce a fine run and, if we are lucky, a fine catch.

If they are undisturbed Roe are creatures of habit, they feed in the same places and run the same routes. We can use this to our advantage sometimes too. I had been watching some roe feeding in a field of long grass for a while, the small copse adjacent to this field was run to death with deer slots and a gap under a fence was churned up with their cloven hooves. A combination of long grass and hard ground had stopped me from running the buck and I waited until the conditions became favourable before I attempted a hunt. There’s no point in just teaching the deer and running them when the odds are against the dog, you may as well wait until things seem right. The best things come to those who wait, well, that’s how the proverb goes and for once, things went to plan.

Scoob and I entered the grassy field through a gap in the barbed wire and within five seconds he had pulled a roe to the floor. I ran over to make sure everything was done in the most humane way possible, and then I happened to turn around and see a buck coming walking towards us! I just couldn’t believe it! I pulled Scoob off of the, now dead, roe and got him sighted on this brazen buck. The rest was a mere formality. That was two on the floor in the same field within 2 minutes! I had done my research and reaped my reward. It doesn’t happen like that often, but it’s nice when it does!

Although, as a general rule, roe are not disturbed by farm machinery, it must be realised that when the fields are being cut the roe may be lying low for a day or two. If you are one of the many that like beating the woods for deer then this is the time to concentrate your efforts on the larger pieces of woodland rather than the transparent wooded strips and thin cover. The roe will soon move back within a day or two as they are lured by food. This is not always the case, but it can happen.

A few days after the harvesters have finished are often a great time to find deer out feeding on the grain spilt from the harvester. I have taken a number on these stubbles and they do become somewhere preoccupied with snaffling up the fallen grains, not paying enough attention to danger that could be creeping up on them. Early morning is a great time to walk silently along a woodlands edge keeping a close eye out on the cut wheat fields. I have even seen roe sat down in the middle of the day on stubble too.

During early September the last crop of silage is cut and it is worth taking note of when this happens for about two weeks afterwards the newly emerging shoots can attract deer like a magnet. Another benefit of running on this lush green grass is that it will cushion the running dogs feet too if there has been a deficit of rain of late.

In front of a stately manor house is a massive grass field. And in that massive grass field are several patches of mature trees. If you cared to look under those trees early one September morn, in the long grass that the mowing machine cannot reach, you would be very likely to spy a roe or two sat down chewing their nights food. We take a good crop of roe from this location each year without fail. One morning, three years ago, my good mate Tom and I had a walk with our lurchers, just to see if anything was abroad. I was accompanied by my dog Jack and Tom had his fast dog “Tye”. A good buck sprang unexpectedly and I slipped jack. Unfortunately it escaped and my dog followed this deer for a while through the dense woodland, predictably loosing it soon enough. As we stood and waited for my boy to return we got a shock. Not thirty yards away, sat in only six inches of grass was another roe! How we hadn’t seen it was beyond us! I guess we must be blind or just plain dumb. With nothing to loose Tom slipped Tye as soon as the roe stood up. Well, Tye straight-lined the roe in no time at all and we ran over to find that this unfortunate critter had only got three legs! What a strange morning that was!

I know several places where the roe live purely in the fields during the lush summer months, they shun their usual woodland haunts during the warm times in favour of being surrounded by food, food and more food. For most of the summer the cover is often too long to do any feasible running, but the best things come to those who wait. Bide your time and get ready for the fields to be dropped. Then your chances will come.

It was many years ago now when my cousin and I found such a place. Back in those days our dogs were certainly not the best in the world, but it’s just that we didn’t realise it at the time! We managed to get both dogs slipped on a huge roebuck feeding well away from cover. This beast had nowhere to run except a thicket two fields away. Fair play to the buck because he outran the dogs and made sanctuary. Had I owned a decent dog I’m sure this roe would have been on the ground. Such is life. It’s with humour that I look back now at the pair of dogs we ran back then. One was called “Kim”, well, she was devastatingly fast but just would not tackle deer solo, the other was my old dog “Rocky” and he was generally too slow to catch up to them! What a team Eh? It’s a wonder I didn’t give up the game a long time ago! A few weeks after running that big buck the leaves started to succumb to the seasons, turning brown and fluttering down to ground. We revisited the thicket, but by this time the deer were long gone. I guess what I am trying to say guy’s is, if the roe are there go get ’em! And good luck.