Roe-ming the Woods
Roe Deer were one of the first animals I really spent time tracking and spending time with in the wild. Given the right conditions you can get incredibly close without causing disturbance. I had another lovely experience with one yesterday in the plantation near Laverock bird hide on Langholm moor.
Although this was more of chance encounter as I was exploring areas I hadn’t been before. I came around the corner of a woodland track a caught a glimpse of the signature white rump of the Roe. I was following the Tarras water and the river was in full flow after all the rain. It was a still day with no wind and quite dense woodland so my approach direction didn’t matter too much. The sound of the river was quite loud so I know I had a chance of getting close with my sound masked by the water.
I placed my feet carefully as I inched closer, I used larger tree trunks to keep the outline of my body out of sight and when the Deer raised its head to look around, I stood like a statue until it continued grazing.
I got to within 20 metres and then took a knee behind a Larch tree. I prepared the camera making sure the flash was off and I was ready to take a picture. Then on hands and knees I crawled to the next tree, always keeping the deer in sight and freezing if it looked up.
At about 15 metres I decided I was close enough and settled into a comfortable position. At this distance movement of your bare hands or head will give you away so I had my gloves, hat and buff covering me up.
Most people will have seen Roe Deer as they drive past fields that border onto woodland, the deer emerging to graze early in the morning and late afternoon/evening. I always enjoy getting the chance to see them in a different setting and this was no different.
I think that you know you have done a good job stalking into the deer when at 15 metres away the deer decides to lie down and chew the cud. It still astonishes me that as a country that has largely wiped out its large mammals we can still have animals the size of deer living wild in the countryside.
To me Roe Deer, more so than Red Deer give me a very emotional response when watching them. I love how secretive they are and the gentle movements they make, as if they have all the time in the world. They are a true symbol of woodlands and a privilege to spend time with.
A Langholm Initiative Project