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Stalking Red Deer Stags

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!

hen xx


  1. What a beautiful experience!! A true magic moment. They are amazing animals, its great to see your photos of them. How special to have that kind of wildlife in your own space.

  2. Aww Hen, how lovely. I love your writings and relate so deeply to all of your interests too. We must have a natter one day. By the way whatever photo, you display of yourself, you always look so vibrant. I'd love to know more about you and your partner. Are they any blogs you have written about the area of land you co own and are planting on! We are at present creating our own forest garden, but on a far smaller scale then you. I wish I'd got into things like bush craft years ago now. I'm also beginning to learn carpentry too, well the very, very basics of it.

    By the way, did oyu know that your blogs seem to flow into each other?

  3. Just having a wee nosy on your blog. Very inspirational. As someone who has very little space, I like the idea of the permaculture herb garden made from bricks. I may have a go at making my own. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi there, I am doing my thesis on the Archaeology of Archery at University college Dublin, you have a beautiful picture of a 'knot' in an English longbow. May I have your permission to use the image as an example of how to corrector avoid knot weakness?



    1. Dear Steve,
      Yes, you're very welcome to use the photo for your thesis. Thank you for asking.
      If you remember and don't mind, I'd love to see your thesis when you're finished!
      Good luck with it,
      Warm regards,


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