Deer Stalking Ireland
- Tuesday, 24 April 2018
Kevin and Marie from ‘Game Galore’ provide an insight into Deer Stalking in Ireland
‘Hi there’ and a big hello from Kevin and Marie at 'Game Galore', like you guys we are big deer stalking enthusiasts, so when we were invited by 'County Deer Stalking' to pen this article we didn’t need to be asked twice, because it gives us the perfect opportunity to give you - the readers, a good insight into stalking in the west of Ireland. I could start by saying “traditionally stalking in the west of Ireland consists of…” but this would only serve to confuse, as in the last twenty years or so tradition has all but gone out the window when it comes to stalking in the west of Ireland.
Let me try to explain, as I grew up the only deer you would find in Ireland, with the exception of a couple of native Red deer herds, were Fallow, and they were confined in the most part, to native woodland, but alas its quite a while since I was growing up! In the intervening years there has been an aggressive drive to plant Sitka spruce forest and these plantations have provided the perfect habitat and ducts for the already well-established Fallow herds to go forward and multiply, so much so, that they have become prolific in Munster (check out our Munster rugby team crest) but that’s not the full story.
(Below: A client with an excellent Fallow Trophy)
In the early 80s our Taoiseach or premier Charles Haughey a keen breeder himself set up an incentive to breed Red deer for the European market. Suddenly deer farms started to appear all over Ireland but by the early 90s with Haugheys tenure over and venison markets all but dead, the farm gates were left ajar and these escapees didn’t delay in making their way to the covers and have since proved beyond all doubt, their here for the long haul (happy days). It gets better, because as these Reds were being farmed for profit a few enthusiasts had started to breed some Sika and they are currently starting to make their presence felt, so that in a short space of time our stalking opportunities have trebled.
Now getting back to when we were growing up. If a stalker could boast ownership of a 22.250 he was a very lucky if not privileged stalker and to be honest it was a great gun, flat firing and effective, but today the guns are much more advanced from .243 .270 .308 .30-06 not to mention all the other zany calibres. Now I know everyone has their own slant on guns and it really is each to their own, but my own preference is to the 30-06. My reasoning for this is two-fold, as it is much to do with the topography of the land as it is the round you are firing and the quarry you pursue, and my own preference is the Red Stag. Now this is a magnificent beast and prior to the rut he takes some knocking down. A Red stag prior to the rut can weigh up to 200 kilos and typically has between 12-18 points. Fallow stags prior to the rut can weigh up to 75 kilos. Sika stags can weigh up to 60 kilos. So my way of thinking is a little extra thump can save a lot of tears. All too often in fading light a stricken Stag can make it back to cover and be lost, a result that no one wants, so that’s the reason I use my Mauser 30-06 with Swarovski 3-12x56. The gun and scope are both senior in age but they have always done ‘what it says on the tin’, the optic’s being as clear as the day of purchase and in my opinion the best light gathering scope one could wish for. And believe me when I tell you; a good light gathering scope is of the utmost importance in fading Autumn light for every stalker.
(Above: Ireland has some superb Red, Fallow and Sika)
Now you will hear of some super long shots been taken at three hundred yards and plus, but it’s so rare to have a vista in these parts to afford you that type of opportunity. Two hundred yards is a bit more realistic, not to mention good practice, as wounding deer is not the objective of good stalking practice. One good tip a friend gave me a long time ago is to get to know your gun inside out, know what distance you are comfortable shooting at and above all know how your bullet performs, i.e drop and drift. The range is the best place to get to know your gun. At ‘Game Galore’ we welcome all levels of stalker enthusiasts and we provide high seat, open hill side and woodland stalking for all three deer species. For those of you with less experience, a couple of things you can keep in mind, the ‘roar’ of the Red Stag will set pulses racing, and so now is a good time to have a little chat with yourself, because the end result will depend on how you perform under pressure.
At ‘Game Galore’ We can cater for a party of three stalkers at a time. We can work around any type of trip that suits you and while we endeavour to get you the best possible trip it will always be done in a relaxed atmosphere that complies with best practice guidelines. All of which ensures that it is an enjoyable experience and hopefully one you will want to repeat and tell your stalking friends about.
For those among you who might like to try your hand at Feral Goat shooting, we have some great shooting ground on the outskirts of the Burren here in Co .Clare. please google the Burren to get an idea of what awaits you.