This morning, as I walked in the sheep field, I sensed something. I slowly turned & looked over the gate to the regeneration area, where I felt this presence coming from. Whether I had unknowingly smelled their musk or heard them move I don't know. All I do know is that inside I felt them.
There they were.. The tips of the crowns of what I thought looked like two Red Deer Stags. I took a few deep breaths to still myself & control the adrenalin, when I felt that I was able to move without being clumsy, I crept forward and stayed low. Keeping below the height of the gorse & bracken, the middle of which the stags were resting.
The closer I got to them the more my heart began to beat. So I stopped & took three breaths to settle myself again before moving on. I couldn't see them as I was staying low but I still had this strong sense of their presence. It was as though I knew where they were without having to see them.
I came across their bed on the top ridge path & some of their poo. Which I took the opportunity to get to know for future tracking purposes!
Finally, I stopped & slowly raised my head above the level of the gorse and there they were. Not two but at least seven Red Deer Stags. All with a full, majestic, crown.
I was closer than I thought! About 15ft away. So much for my sixth sense! Of course they knew I was there, you can see it in their eyes in the photo. I again took three breaths to still myself & to hopefully communicate to them I wasn't going to harm them. This had seemed to work before.
We all stood for a while, me in an electric moment of timelessness & them probably thinking "shall we leg it?".
Finally the biggest of them started to posture at me. Raising himself up, stomping his feet & showing me his antlers. I was close enough to make out that his muscles were flexing. So I took a couple of pictures & slowly moved away. As mindfully as I'd walked up to them out of respect and out of gratitude for the experience.
When I got back to the old track at the top of the woods I heard what I thought was them running. So I hopped on to the bank & waited to see if they ran into the woods but I caught sight of one of them in the coppice. Too far away & dense for me to catch up with any stealth! So I stood on top of the bank looking into the woods for a while.
It was then that I noticed I was picking up on lots of sounds around me, crisp & clear, with my body reacting & at times my ears twitching. I had a real sense of where the sun was hitting my skin & where the wind was coming from. My body felt light, flexible & strong. Observing myself I realised I was experiencing an energy that was making me more keen & alert. Perhaps this is what a hunter feels. I've never hunted so have no idea but the feeling was strong and very welcome. After a time I felt it fade.
I've just now had a call from my other half & Chris Boyton. Today they were finishing turning my Ulrich Yew bow stave into a longbow. It was to be my forever bow, a special thing as the stave has strong provenance in the longbow world. However... At the same time as I was having this experience they were experiencing the stave break! So now I'm going to have a longbow made by them from English Yew. WONDERFUL!