I’m standing completely still. Through my binoculars I can see a big roebuck in front of me. The distance is 147 meters according to the range finder. The only problem is that the roebuck is looking straight at me too - We are staring at each other. It is still early in the morning and the sun has not yet warmed the air. I can clearly see the white smoke of breath from his nose when he snorts suspiciously, looking my way. I’m totally frozen, I don’t even dare to blink. It feels like an eternity before the buck seems to calm down and starts to eat the grass again. I know that he’s still alert since something did disturb him. Now I have an opportunity to make a move and I reach out for my 4 Stable Stick…
This day starts early. The alarm on my phone wakes me up at 04.45. It´s still pitch dark outside and there´s no sign of the sun yet.
It´s June the 1st and I’m in the south of France for the roebuck season opening. I dress quickly and bring my pack and rifle down to the kitchen area where I have a quick typical French breakfast; coffee and a croissant. Soon my friends from Bowland - Jesús, Jorge and Juan Carlos - join in. Yesterday we all met at Toulouse airport and after a couple of hours drive we arrived at this fantastic little rural country house just outside Simorre. For three days we´re going hunting and photo shooting together. The hunting trip is organised by Actéon, a hunting company based in the south of France. Our hunting area is more than 5000 hectares and a high density of roe deer offers good opportunities for successful hunting.
While we wait for our guides to arrive, we all check our equipment again just to make sure everything is packed; rifle, ammunition, binoculars, 4 Stable Stick, camera, lenses, garments etc. Every piece is important. Today I have decided to use a thin Windstopper jacket for wind protection. It is a bit chilly in the morning, but it´ll be very hot later on. This is new experience to me since I normally hunt in cooler conditions in Sweden.
After our guides arrive and give us a quick introduction we split into two groups; Jorge and Juan Carlos in one group and Jesús and I in the other. One of us will be the designated photographer for each hunt just to make sure we´ll get the photos we want. Jesús starts as photographer and I start as hunter.
We jump into the car and our guide Julio drives us to the hunting area. It’s Saturday morning and still very early. All the villages we are passing through seem to be deserted. No one is outdoors at this time of the day - just a couple of dogs crossing the street in front of us. Finally, after a 30 minute drive, our guide stops the car. It’s time to start the hunt. I check my equipment for the fourth time today, Jesús checks his camera and we are off. The scenery is fantastic with rolling hills of fields, separated by small forests. Far away we can see the Pyrenees rise.
Suddenly the guide stops. He´s spotted a deer in a field not too far away. We start to move in a circle to get into a better position. We move to a small height where we have a better view of the field below. It is a female, so we continue our walk down the hill. Suddenly I sense a movement in one of the bushes on my left. A big roebuck appears. It seems to have a beautiful set of antlers and my heart starts to beat harder. The buck is looking my way and snorts a couple of times. He can’t see me in my Optifade outfit, especially if I don’t move. I can see he´s confused but I guess he eventually decides that there is nothing to worry about and continues grazing.
I slowly reach out for my 4 Stable Stick and put the rifle in place. The buck suddenly rises his head once again and looks in my direction. He´s had enough and starts moving, but I whistle and make him stop. Now I have the chance and I squeeze the trigger.
Text: Michael Canderhed
Photo: Jesús Alonso