Get Your Equipment Ready for Roebuck
- Tuesday, 09 April 2019
With a change in weather comes a change in focus to the pleasant pursuit of stalking Roebuck. Professional stalker Peter Jones lists the items that he carries with him when setting out in pursuit of this elegant little deer.
(Above: Early season Roebuck, this time with an unmoderated 'Highland Stalker Rifle' from Rigby)
One of the joys of stalking Roe is that they are relatively light weight. A Roebuck, in its ‘jacket’ once gralloched, with pluck, head and forelegs removed, a condition which is often referred to as the larder weight, might typically weigh something in the region of 35 – 40lbs. Half of that which is typical of a Fallow or Sika and at least a third of that of a Red.
This means that they are very easy for the lone stalker to handle. Provided there is not a long drag back to the car or larder, a stalker with any reasonable level of physical fitness, might easily extract an animal without the assistance of Garron, Quad, Argo or Ghillie.
This all means that the recreational stalker can set out with a minimum of equipment, safe in the knowledge that if he or she is successful, the process of ‘lardering’ the animal is something which can easily be achieved without support.
What is more, unlike management of the herding species, where a number of large animals may be shot in a single outing from a herd, Roebuck are more solitary, commonly being found on their own or in small family groups. This means, that more often than not, an outing Roebuck stalking will often be about selecting a single animal, which due to its diminutive size, can easily be broken down and butchered in one’s own kitchen with relative ease.
For these reasons my kit list is refined as I relish the opportunity of setting out in warm weather carrying with me as little as possible.
So, what equipment do I carry? Well first and foremost as good pair of binoculars. I use the excellent Swarovksi EL Range in 10x42 fitted on a harness rather than a strap. The extra magnification provided by the 10 power allows me to examine antler quality in detail before making my decision, whilst the light gathering is second to none. The range finder is a useful aspect, though with woodland stalking where shots are typically taken at closer range, it’s not essential. The harness means that even if I get into a crawl, they are not swinging around getting in my way.
As for my rifle, well this season my go to rifle is a Sauer 202 Elegance in .243. Not only is it blisteringly accurate, but if there is a prettier rifle out there, I’d like to see it. The quality walnut stock, fine lines and traditional styling is pure class and lends true meaning to the word ‘elegance’. Not withstanding in the warm summer weather, I am less concerned about the general wear and tear on the rifle and so less inclined to use synthetic stocks, which I might otherwise use in harsher climes.
Calibre of choice? Well that’s an essay in its own right, suffice to say, .243 with 100 grain Federal ammunition, is a pleasure to shoot and is ample to achieve a swift kill, whilst in my opinion, the soft point ammunition causes less meat damage than a ‘ballistic tip’. Some may argue its too fast and causes ‘hydrostatic shock’, and they have a point. If I were to hunt Roe with another calibre my choice would be the 6.5x55 Swedish. A heavier bullet travelling slower - it’s undoubtedly a ‘corker’ of a round for woodland stalking.
(To read more about calibres click here: rifle-calibres)
At the muzzle I have a light weight A-Tec Moderator, no need for a heavy mod’ on a low recoiling rifle and atop my Sauer I have a Swarovski Z6i with ballistic turret. Matched with the range finder bino’s, if I do need to take a shot at an extended range, I can simply dial in the range generated from the binoculars and aim bang on. The combination of Swarovski Binoculars and Swarovski scope are probably my two most treasured items for any stalk. Yes, thank you, I know we are sponsored by Swarovski, and let me tell you, I am pleased for it. It’s not difficult to get behind leading optics of this quality.
So, what else? Well my knife is a very small, cost effective Opinel Inox No 8 with just an 8.5cm folding, lockable blade, which often surprises people. Needless to say, I have used many knives in my time and yet I have settled with something that is less than a tenner. Why? well I am not pretending it’s the best blade out there, or the prettiest, however, it is what I have settled with for three main reasons. Firstly, it's small enough to fit easily in my pocket, secondly, I find I can sharpen the blade with one simple stroke of a sharpener and thirdly because on doing so, I find that the sharp, ragged blade retains its edge for at least one carcass and allows me to cut straight through the chest bone without the need for carrying a saw, which allows me to travel light. I have to be honest, I don’t like the difficulty of cleaning a folding blade, but it’s a small sacrifice and until someone persuades me of the virtues of another blade I am going to stick with it.
Shooting sticks, well it’s the Quad-pod. I have been using these sticks now for several years and for good reason. Shooting standing of a quad-pod is almost like shooting off a bench, I am rock solid and confident out to 250yards without the need to get prone, and that’s ample for anyone who cares about taking humane shots. I appreciate that they require practice in order to get set-up quickly, however, as a professional stalker practice is something that I get plenty of. I can be set-up on the sticks in a matter of seconds and also able to manoeuvre quickly should the animal approach from an unexpected direction, though as I say, that's as a result of practice, practice, practice.
In the winter I stick a Javelin Bipod in my pocket however, during the summer months with the grass and undergowth so high, this otherwise excellent bit of kit is redundant 90% of the time and so whilst the attachment is permanently fitted to the rifle I leave the bipod at home.
Finally, a pair of disposable gloves in my pocket, I never used to bother with these, but I am getting soft as I get older. Some potable water, a hard-plastic drip tray, a folding gambrel and some sterile wipes in the car and of course a ‘Buttalo call’ for the rut, and that’s it, I am done for kit.
Clothing? Harkila boots - I wear the same pair all year round, Rovince trousers to minimise the likelihood of tick’s during what is a prolific time of year for bites, my Capreolus Club cap and a light Harkila shower proof jacket.
That’s it folks, that’s all I need.
Of course, kit is very personal, and I do not criticise anyone for carrying more or less, its about refining what works for you. I have seen some people carry a multitude of items and put them all to good use and I have seen others with just a rifle and bino’s and not appear to need more.
Roebuck stalking is a leisurely pursuit when hunting can be enjoyed at its utmost, whatever you choose to carry, may I wish you a successful and enjoyable season.
If you'd like to find out more about Roebuck stalking follow this link: roe-buck-stalking