Hat or Cap for Deer Stalking?
A Hat or Cap is in important piece of attire for Deer Stalkers. Here Matthew Rogers reviews the Tilley Hat.
Congratulations to all those avid deer managers and stalkers who can successfully wear a baseball cap.
However I just cannot carry it off successfully. Despite the fact my baseball cap is actually really, really good quality (great product from County Deer Stalking favourites SwedTeam), it’s just not for me. Peter makes frequent jokes about it, while donning his far more civilised wax effect hat effortlessly.
(Above: The traditional 'Deer Stalker hat' whilst still seen in Scotland is now a rarity amongst woodland stalkers)
Enough was enough; I had to have a better hat (correction: hat that suited me better, but this is such an emotive area, if, like me, you are secretly jealous of all the cool-cats who can wear them). It is worth pointing out at this point that I have a fairly large head, which means I’m slightly restricted to the larger end of the market (Peter, stop laughing please!).
Enter the Tilley hat. Now, unless you have managed to avoid a country outfitters or fine hat milliners for the last ten years, you have probably seen these, looked at the advertising hype, looked at the price tag and walked off. Advertising wise, I must admit it’s all a bit much, with lots of stories of elephants eating them, pictures of semi-retired couples taking their holidays of a lifetime wearing them, maple leafs calling out their “made in Canada” status. I’m happy with either tweedy/mahogany or sleek and moody carbon fibre, whichever, it’s fine, but this came across as a bit of a Sunday-afternoon-garden centre type style, for something that was the best part of £70. Hmm.
So – stay with me – actually put the hat on. It’s magic. Somehow, through quality and comfort, they have not just clawed this back, but really, really gotten it right.
(Left: A hat from the Tilley Range)
The hats are designed to fit loosely – very loosely – such that they actually just rest on your head by gravity and should not squeeze around the headband at all. So I would advise you go one size larger than you would EVER expect to wear. The freedom of movement and air circulation is great, and exactly why you should ‘go large’.
They have a super brim on them as well – perfect for stalking. The brim on mine is like having a dustbin lid on your head (again not great for having pimms on the terrace at the club, but magic for stalking up on a Roe buck in a field when he’s looking for the flash of a face). You can wear them either way around so this does give you even more flexibility if you really need to remain hidden.
Being a Tilley, they have all sorts of quirks to them – hidden pocket? Check. Name and address label? Check. Two year guarantee against loss, theft or wear? Check. All this adds up to a thoroughly good hat, one that I feel comfortable wearing and actually do trust. I never felt like this with a baseball cap.
The only drawback is the price. If I had to get up, get dressed, drive down to a store, choose one and buy it, it would be awkward. However, if I had already added a new scope to the basket, a nice new jacket and maybe a pair of sunglasses (in other word, treating myself big time), and this was near the counter, why not. It’s a great investment but you may need to be ‘in the shopping for toys’ zone before you get around to spending the £70 – but it’s well worth it when you do!
Editors comment: “...fairly large head!!”.....Brilliant! For those unfamiliar with Deer Stalking attire the traditional ‘Deer Stalker’ style hat is now a rarity, instead guests and professional deer stalkers typically sport many different varieties of hat, and for good reason.
A hat or cap is in fact a crucial accessory for deer stalking. Spy a hunter stood against a distant woodline and take note of what it is that stands out about him. Chances are it’ll be his face.
(Left: The editors choice, very swarve!)
Save for streaking your face with mud like 'John Rambo' a hat or cap is the easiest and best way of improving your concealment. Personally I find that a wide brimmed hat is the best concealment, however like Matthew, Caps just aren’t my bag!