Young roebuck caught up in sheep netting

A young roebuck
A young roebuck

I FOUND this young roebuck caught up in the fence too late. If only I had gone round that way in the evening as I normally do I might have found him then and cut the netting.

He had been dead some time. His mate has just had her kid in the coppice. The youngster was curled up among the bluebells a few feet from the path. The doe is often seen on the path a few yards from the house.

But the father was, as they sang in the First World War, hanging on the old barbed wire. He had been busy in the past weeks claiming his territory. All down the path he had scraped the grass and the flower verges and grazed the hazel shoots with his little antlers, laying scent.

On my evening stroll around the coppice wood he had barked at me like a dog and bounded away into the cover, often turning round when he stopped, to stare back at me before barking again. Several bucks throughout the forest do this of an evening. It warns the rest of the deer society of danger.

So now another buck will move in on the territory and mate with the doe in a month’s time at the end of July and early August. There are plenty of deer about. Too many probably across Britain.

Roe are pests in some areas coming into gardens and eating the rosebuds. They come into my garden and they are welcome.

I don’t go in for fancy flowers but just let all the lovely wild flowers flourish on my lawn such as twayblades, fly orchids, herb bennett, gromwell, cowslips, primroses, hedge vetch and ground elder. The latter makes a pungent carpet of white at flowering time.

The doe eats ivy off the electricity pole outside the bedroom window. I can see her browse the line there all the time. One of her ancestors, possibly grandmother, always dropped her kid in the garden next to the house where we would find it curled up a few inches from the Landrover wheel track.

I always had to be careful to steer clear of its button nose as I passed.

This old doe lived to be about 10 and was by then grey and rather scraggy.

One day I came home and found her dead in the garden. She had lain down within two feet of my old Morris Minor Traveller, which she had known all her life and probably thought was mother.

She often stood next to it where it stood in the open in the dappled shade under the beech trees. I knew that because I could see her footprints around it.

She hardly ever showed herself but now and then we would catch a glimpse of her standling like a shadow looking at us.

When she, the granny, died, she was covered with ticks around her neck. I seem to rmember counting 300 or more. She was thin and had just had enough. A long happy life one supposes with perhaps eight sets of twins and once triplets.

Not so lucky was this little fellow tangled up in the sheep netting.

Richard Williamson