Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Deer hunter

March 8th, 2003

THREE ROEDEER cross our path from time to time when the dogs take me out for walks. Sometimes they are disturbed if Macbeth gets wind of them and crashes off through the wood to see if he can bite a leg. Old Sheba's days of crashing anywhere are pretty well past now. Although every walk starts with a crescendo of geriatric caperings she soon gets it out of her system and settles down to a more seemly pace.

My first encounter with the deer was through the kitchen window. I watched them in the stubble field trying to reach the cover of a woody strip which is separated from the field by a tall beech hedge and the road.

Losing sight of them I pulled on boots and crept outside as quietly as I could. It was frosty. There wasn't a breath of wind. The tips of the topmost branches were motionless. The soft crackle of my feet on the rimey grass and frozen leaves was enough, I believe, to alert the deer.

They had reached the edge of the field but were prevented from crossing into the wood by the thick hedge. They were getting restive. There seemed to be a break in the hedge where a gate had once been. But beech branches had overgrown the gap long ago.

As I stood behind some elderberry bushes, hidden (or so I thought) from the deer, a couple of cock pheasants began crowing away to one another. Blackbirds in fits of indignation, flew in and out of the bushes. I heard the warning screech of a jay, although I can hardly believe it was close enough to see me. One of our local buzzards flew lazily round the treetops, mewing gently. Even a damn cow began to cough.

In the utter stillness of the morning every sound was magnified. It seemed every bird and animal in the neighbourhood was ready to betray me to the deer.

Tensions began to rise. They cantered up and down the hedge in some unease. One and then another took short, nervous, springing leaps. Then a decision was taken and they edgily loped off down the field-side to its far end where no hedge is planted. The deer could have comfortably jumped the wire fence, but at that moment a car drove round the corner.

Badly agitated they ran towards the opposite side of the field, and as luck would have it, the open gate out of the field. I watched them reconnoitre the gateway, then move back twenty yards or so to wait and see. No more cars. It seemed safe to go. They trotted warily through the opening, and my three deer were quickly lost to sight.

I expect they'll plough up the field outside the kitchen, so the deer may soon be feeding on the fresh green shoots of the spring sowing

Written on Saturday, March 8th, 2003 at 8:59 am for Weekly.