I had worked for a solid week to make the 35 cents necessary to purchase a copy of the “True Hunting Annual”. I had been eyeing it on the newsstand at our local “drug store”. It rested there with numerous hunting and shooting magazines. I really wanted those too, but knew I would get to see at least some of them after my uncle had finished reading his copies. “True Hunting Annual” was full of articles about hunting distant lands, and article I wanted to read was about hunting roe deer in Germany. I am not sure what drew me to that particular article. It could have been the European style painting of a “great” roe deer “stag” that illustrated it, or a photo of one of the buck’s antlers the author had taken. Or may it had to do something with my German heritage? Regardless I was fascinated by full-grown deer that were about the same size as one of our four-month whitetail fawns living in the woods behind our rural home.
I read the roe deer story at least twenty times. The words of Shakespeare, I was supposed to memorize in school were nearly impossible to remember and recite, but the words written about hunting roe deer I could quote word for word! And…I did to anyone who would listen. I am certain my mother grew tired of hearing them. My dad, too surely grew weary over my asking again and again if we could go to Germany to hunt roe deer.
That whitetail season, while some looked for 8 point bucks, I looked for a buck that had antlers like roe deer…three points per side with a mostly straight up main beam and two points coming off of it per side. I did not see any whitetails with roe buck style antlers.
As I grew older, I hunted throughout North America and a few other parts of the world. Then one day, visiting with Bill Jordan with Realtree Camo he introduced me to Merwin Manningham Buller who at the time was the Realtree rep for Europe. Merwin lived in rural England. No sooner had we been introduced he said, “Understand you’ve long wanted to hunt roe deer, why not join me this summer in England. Bet we can put you on to a pretty good buck!” I could hardly believe his invitation.
I said “Yes!!” so fast I didn’t even think about how I would get there, what rifle I would use or any other “minor” details. I was going roe deer hunting!
A couple of months later I was hidden in tall grass glassing three different roe deer bucks, Merwin at my side. For the past three days we had been hunting roe deer, often walking the same trails and paths used by “knights of old” as they moved from castle to castle. We had seen numerous roe deer does and a few bucks. But all were not yet mature enough to pursue. Merwin practiced quality deer management on his property no different than what I did on numerous properties I managed back in Texas. As we hunted we compared management notes.
“Larry, the one farther away is the one we want. He’s no monster but he’s mature and one we want removed. If we can take him, we’ll then spend the rest of your stay looking for a bigger antlered buck. I started crawling on my hands and knees, most of me hidden by tall grass which was just about as tall as the back of the roe buck I was after. I cautiously inched by the first buck, then by a couple of does. I moved only when the roe deer had their heads down feeding. Thankfully they were quite hungry!
I cut the distance to less than a hundred yards. There I got into a sitting position, aimed carefully and gently pulled the trigger. At the shot my roe deer went down! I was thrilled! I had finally taken a roe deer, something I had dreamed of doing since I was about 8 years old.
Later in the hunt, Merwin and I found a true monster. I was truly fortunate to take him. It was declared one of the top roe deer bucks taken that year in Europe!
After spotting the big buck, a long stalk, and we finally cut the distance to about seventy yards. Using a nearby tree as a rest, at the shot the long main beamed, long tined antlered buck pitched over backwards. I watched for any movement. There was none. A few minutes later we found him. For a roe deer he was huge in terms of antlers! In weight, he would have weighed about sixty or so pounds fully intact. His gutted weight was forty-two pounds. Now, not only was I a successful roe deer hunter, I had also taken a huge one!
Since those two English bucks I have hunted roe deer in Austria. But unfortunately we never saw a buck that was proclaimed “shootable” by the game keeper. On those hunts rather than spot and stalk, and still-hunt, we hunted from a “hochsitz”. We here in the states would call them an elevated deer blind. Even though I did not pull the trigger on these hunts I was thrilled to be hunting roe deer. More recently I was back in Austria, this time to hunt primarily alpine ibex and mouflon. During that hunt I saw a couple of young roe deer, but again none considerable “shootable”.
Roe deer in Europe in some ways are not unlike whitetail deer in North America. His tribe is found pretty well across Europe and adjoining regions. So it didn’t really surprise me while on a hunt in Scotland for red stag with Stefan Bengtssen and his Scandinavian Prohunters, set up for us by Patty Curnutte with The Global Sportsman (www.theglobalsportsman.com) that my hunting partner Tim Fallon who owns and manages the FTW Ranch where the do the Sportsman All Weather All Terrain Marksmanship (www.ftwsaam.com) training said, “Where are we hunting with Stefan next year?” I liked how he thought! We decided to get together with Patty and Stefan at the 2016 DSC Hunting Expo to make our final plans. That, too would give me time to try to convince Tim we should among other things hunt roe deer. It didn’t take any arm-twisting. As soon as the DSC convention started, Tim called me. “Meet me at our FTW booth, and we’ll head over to meet with Patty and Stefan to plan our roe deer and reindeer hunt to Sweden and Norway…”
All I said was “I’m in!”
It took but a few moments to set up the hunt which would include not only Tim and me, but also Tim’s wife, Susan, Dr. Tim and Marrit Doucet, Mike and Ginni Boyd, Bob and Celia Scott, as well as my cameraman/field producer for my “DSC’s Trailing the Huner’s Moon” television show, Dustin Blankenship.
We were met in Copenhagen by Stefan and is lovely wife and fellow wildlife biologist, Sophia. It took about an hour to get to camp which was just under and over the water that separated Denmark from Sweden.
Camp was a well-appointed one hundred and fifty-year old spacious manor house situated on an extremely well managed estate which was involved in various farming operations with great commitment to wildlife. We arrived a couple of days before the roe deer season opened, which gave us a chance to sight-in and do some scouting! My choice in firearms for my roe deer, followed by a reindeer hunt in Norway, was my Ruger Model 77 FTW Hunter in .375 Ruger. This is a caliber/round I consider the “perfect one gun” with which to hunt the world. I have used my .375 Ruger throughout Africa for everything from the extremely small blue duiker, to kudu and eland, to lion to Cape buffalo to hippo and elephant, and just about everything in between. In Europe I have used it on animals from mouflon to alpine ibex to red stag, in Australia I’ve used it for Asian buffalo, and in North America on critters from huge brown bear and grizzly to elk and whitetail. My Ruger FTW Hunter was topped with a Trijicon variable scope. My rifle dearly loves Hornady 250 grain GMX ammo. With that combination all shots are essentially in the same hole at 75 yards which is where I sight-in. So set, I’m good with my “hunter zero” so the bullet neither rises above or drops below 3-inches at shots out to about 220 yards.
The day before the hunt started Stefan, Sophia and I found several truly big roe deer. Sweden and the area we hunted in particular, produces some of the biggest “real” roe deer in Europe. Some other countries produce bigger antlered bucks, but quite often these come out of breeding pens.
We knew Bob Scott hoped to take a true monster, so the biggest we found we allocated for Bob. Stefan also mentioned a buck that he hoped I could get on when the season opened. He lived right next to the sea that separated Denmark and Sweden. We also spotted numerous other really good roe deer, including a velvet horn, which is known as a “peruke”. Even though Stefan knew well many of the deer in the area we hunted, this was one he had never before seen.
The dark of night passed slowly as I waited with great anticipation for opening morning! I was up early making sure I had my Drake Non-typical down vest and coat packed in my backpack, along with my raingear, all just in case!
We started out hunting where we had found the buck we hoped to put Bob Scott on. In spite of fog, we spotted the buck at the far end of a grassy field. We watched as he headed into grass taller than he was. Sophia, Bob, Celia and Dustin took advantage of the situation and started quickly in his direction. Momentarily we saw him cross into another field across a narrow strip of trees and brush. The hunters continued forward but were caught fairly “flat-footed” when the buck reappeared and spotted them. The wily old buck ran to cover and disappeared into a small motte of trees and tall grass. The hunters returned and formed another strategy. Sophia and Stefan suggested the best thing might be to find a vantage point on top of several hay bales and wait for the buck to reappear.
Stefan and I moved around to the other side of the property where we could see the area where the buck had disappeared.
A few minutes later we watched the buck, along with a doe and an intruding buck move to another area with even more cover. We were hunting the tail end of the roe deer breeding season. We doubted the buck would leave the doe.
Stefan eased down to where the hunters were sitting in wait, told them what we had seen and suggested Dustin come with us. While Bob, Celia and Sophia remained where they were. We headed to where Stefan had seen the buck he hoped we could find for me.
Once in the area we soon spotted a big buck with extremely dark antlers that were tall and massive. “That’s him!” said Stefan. We watched as the buck fed to the back side of a series of transmission (electricity) lines structures. There he bedded down. After a quick discussion we decided to use those structures as cover to make good our approach. We moved into the field and aligned the “power pole structures” so the bedded roe buck could not see us. Slowly and cautiously I crawled to within about seventy-five yard of where I knew the buck was bedded. Problem was when I got to that point I could no longer see him. I looked back at Stefan about twenty-five yards behind me. He motioned the buck was still bedded and he would use his “butolo call” to hopefully make him stand and come our way.
Stefan blew on the call for five minutes. The buck paid it no attention. Stefan called louder and more frequently. No action of any kind.
I looked back at Stefan. He motioned he was going to stand up and walk to his left, hoping the buck would get up, look at him, giving me a shot before running. I pushed the Ruger FTW Hunter’s safety forward to the second of its three stage safety.
Stefan started walking. The buck stood up. Problem was tall grass and the roll of the land kept me from seeing his vitals. The buck stepped forward. I tried to reposition myself for a shot. The buck stood about two seconds before running. I tracked the buck in the Trijicon scope and waited for him to stop.
The dark-antlered buck kept running to my right! I repositioned for a shot. He stopped about a hundred and fifty yards away. Before I could fully adjust to shoot from a sitting position, he started running again. I followed him in the Trijicon. Thankfully he stopped this time time about two hundred and fifty yards away. I was ready. Letting out what breath I had. I settled the crosshair on the buck’s shoulder and gently tugged the trigger. At the shot the buck started to go down. I bolted in a fresh Hornady round and got on target. I pulled the trigger and watched the buck go down, this time for good.
I was ecstatic! I knew the buck was a good one. But it was not until I was at his side with Stefan that we realized how big and handsome he and his antlers truly were. He was very massive, had good tine and main beam length, fabulous “pearling” and was almost perfectly symmetrical.
I received Stefan’s extended congratulatory hand, as well as Dustin’s who assured me he had gotten excellent footage.
After photos we loaded my buck and headed back to the manor house, there for more photos. Someone else picked up the other hunters. We took care of the meat and prepared the head and cape to be sent to The Wildlife Gallery for them to do their taxidermy magic. Right before we finished our roe deer hunt, Stefan told me my buck score 515 CIC points. I was tickled, but what mattered most to me was my buck was extremely handsome and one I was truly proud of having taken.
After my hunt was completed I had an opportunity to hunt with Bob Scott and Tim Fallon. I was there to watch them take their roe deer.
I was once again bitten badly by the “roe deer bug” and I cannot wait to hunt roe deer in other European countries with Stefan and Sofia. Before leaving Sweden for our Norway reindeer hunt, we had come up with a roe deer plan for 2017.
In months to come I will let you know more about future plans of hunting roe deer and other big game in Europe with Scandinavian Prohunters!
Larry’s roe deer hunt was filmed for a 2017 episode of “DSC’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon”, which appears on Sportsman Channel. The show airs on Sunday nights at 10:30 pm eastern, and at least two other times during each week, every week, 52 weeks a year. Please join Larry and his co-host Blake Barnett each week as they hunt some of the finest game lands in the world!