Also this year my friend Vittorio invited me for the opening to the ducks in his Suffolk estate. As always, the hospitality is equal to the level of hunting, after two mornings dedicated to aquatic, with a game bag featuring mallards, teals, gadflies, wigeons, wild geese and Canadian geese, one of the guests asks for the possibility of trying an evening post at muntjac, a species present in a fair number in the company. It is a small Chinese deer, the males reach about 15 kg, characterized by the presence of small antlers and developed canines. These deer of Chinese origin were brought to England by the Duke of Bedford, in the park of Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire around the middle of the 1.800s. Others fled the Whipsnade Zoo and colonized the whole of southern England from there. Currently the population continues to grow and, in order to limit the number, hunting has been allowed all year round. Gianandrea, the friend interested in this hunting, he asks me to accompany him, I know the area well and over the years I have already taken several, including one that turned out to be a "gold medal". The afternoon is cloudy and characterized by short but intense thunderstorms, after a quick consultation with our Guest, we decide the hunting area. It is an area with three small but long lakes and two separate bodies of wood, all bordering the local railway which in turn forms a border with the Marsch, an area of alluvial and semi-marshy meadows. Once in the area, given the time, and now an expert in this hunting area, we cross with the Land Rover a large field between the two woods and lakes, where we meet a hundred grazing pheasants and partridges, in addition to the inevitable wood pigeons, to arrive up to the railway and, walking along it, go to an almost square field along the railway line itself. We park the Land Rover under a large tree, where once there was a roof terrace, and we wait confidently.
After about an hour, a muntjac from the woods on our left, time to realize that it is a male, it also seems to me with a good trophy, which always half-covered by vegetation, disappears among the trees and re-enters the woods. We have one rifle in cal. 222 Rem. And, rightly, Gianandrea did not feel like pulling with shrubs and branches that partially covered the vital areas of the animal, the risk of injury was too high. Another 30/40 minutes pass, with an impressive coming and going of pheasants, when at the end of the field, along the railway, at about 140 meters, I observe a reddish silhouette. We immediately take the binoculars and, as a first impression, I rate her a female of muntjac, but I am not convinced, the ears are too rounded, we are a few steps from the Marsch, when it is discovered and I can observe it distinctly I realize that it is a Chinese Whater Deer and, observing him better, I notice the whiteness of the long vampire teeth, he is a male and also with a very nice trophy, so I have never seen any.
Even the history of Chinese Water Deer it is very similar to that of their close relatives muntjac, also come from the Abbey of Woburn and from it after various hardships they have also expanded into Cambrigeshire, North Essex, Norfolk and, as in our case, Suffolk, inhabiting alluvial areas, canals and in any case where there is abundance of water. The little deer continually appears and disappears among the tall grass and bushes that line the train embankment, Gianandrea waits for the right moment, the minutes pass that seem like hours, then finally he stops almost sideways in an area with lower grass , takes good aim and the dull blow explodes, here the silencer is used, the deer discards to the right, then leaves to the left, towards the center of the field and, after 50 meters, disappears among the grass.
Gianandrea is afraid of having made a mistake, while to me it seems to have heard the classic "thump" of the return stroke, we wait a few minutes and head to the point where we have lost sight of him. Arrived at the place, after a brief search, we find him dead in the grass, I had well evaluated, it is a splendid trophy, a Vampire with about 6/7 cm of teeth protruding from the jaw, slightly arched and directed downwards. We went out for a Muntjac and come back with a much more difficult and rare trophy than Chinese Whater Deer, hunting in England is always full of surprises, often particularly pleasant.
Il Chinese Whater Deer, is about 100 cm long, 50 cm high at the shoulder with a small tail of 5 cm, the croup is located higher than the withers, due to the powerful hind legs visibly longer than the front ones. The running gait is in jumps, similar to that of rabbits. He is the only representative of the gods family Cervidae to be endowed with inguinal odoriferous glands. The ears are very short and rounded. Both sexes are hornless, even in adulthood, but the upper canines protrude from the muzzle, especially in males, like real fangs. The fur is blond-brown in color, with sparse darker spots, sometimes even black. Of a uniform ivory color in the ventral area.