What is the best Kit for Deer Stalking?
Charly Green discusses his top equipment choices for hunting all of the UK’s Deer Species.
As a professional stalker I feel that my clients and counterparts have a certain expectation of the equipment I use and rightly so. The more you work with UK deer species the more you respect each individual animal and realise the importance of robust and reliable tools to aid the efficient and ethical undertaking of culling.
Through many years of working in deer management I have come to trust certain core elements of my kit and their manufacturers. I don`t intend to influence any other stalker on brand choice or make anyone feel that their set up may be inadequate; rather I wish to share some insight into the tools of my trade and how I came to settle on those choices. I have no sponsorship or ties to brand names so I feel I can speak freely on these equipment choices from my own unbiased experience.
My past mentors and peers in the sport never carried more than was absolutely necessary and I try to follow suit despite the current fashion for overburdening oneself whilst stalking. A long day on the hill is made so much easier by going back to basics. That is not to say that modern inventions can`t help – I would be at a loss when recovering larger species without a quad bike in some of my larger forestry blocks. I will try to take you through the bulk of my equipment and why it`s important to me.
Several years ago, after careful consideration, I acquired a used Sako 75 Rifle in .30-06. This is the stainless/synthetic model and quite an early one with the green grips. The dealer assured me it had had a very small amount of use which was confirmed by my rifle smith when I presented him with my new purchase. I have lost count of the number of people who question my calibre choice but have never had a single derogatory comment about the make and model of rifle.
I shoot a broad spectrum of UK species each year varying from the diminutive Muntjac to the biggest Red stags and require a calibre capable of addressing both ends of the scale; without doubt the 30.06` is a calibre that does it all. There is a common misconception that small calibres cause less carcass damage, my experience disproves this as I have found that slower, heavier projectiles cause acceptable damage without vaporising smaller beasts.
Bullet choice and construction is of course a major contributing factor to this discussion. I have experimented with 110grn Vmax bullets from my `06` for park culling and found them extremely efficient however not at all suitable for wild stalking or client use where I would typically use a premium 150 grain soft point projectile.
The trigger on my rifle is of the usual Sako quality and is set quite light by most standards, I`ve had it smith tuned and it breaks very cleanly indeed. I favour the use of a moderator and have settled on a titanium unit by Lawrence Precision which offers acceptable sound attenuation along with light weight and guaranteed longevity. Also fitted to my rifle is a Harris bipod. Although the majority of my shots are taken from sticks the bipod is a useful addition when shooting out beyond two hundred yards.
The optilock mounts and rings I use have proven faultless. They securely grip a Swarovski Z6 1.7-10 x 42 scope which has served me well and has the useful ability to focus on close targets as well as being capable of confident shots on smaller species at reasonable stalking ranges.
My Binoculars are my best friend. I spend countless hours using them in order to monitor herds and produce shooting opportunities. I believe that the quality of your binoculars should match your scope in low light situations so that if you are able to see your quarry with the former you may shoot it with the latter. I use a superb pair of 8x42 glasses manufactured by Leica and my tendency is to have my scope set on 8 power as well so that the transfer between the two sets of optics is seamless and I`m not left fiddling around trying to locate the animal in the scope.
Aside from rifle, scope and binoculars the next piece of indispensable equipment are my knives. I use a variety of Scandinavian type, fixed blade, knives with blade lengths of approximately six inches whilst in the field. With these blades I can complete a field Gralloch and have enough `reach` to free up the anal tract and bleed out the bigger stags and bucks we shoot. Once back at the larder I transfer to a set of food safe boning and siding knives which are meticulously kept razor sharp to aid the safe and efficient processing of a carcass. Diamond steels keeps these tools at their best and are employed as and when needed.
Fashion should never enter the equation when discussing clothing for stalking. Rather we must focus on practicality, durability and the ability to allow us to move around silently and comfortably without spooking our quarry. I have more jackets than I could count on both hands but all offer benefits in different areas and I am yet to find the perfect top layer. I think I may have cracked the trouser problem though. I have owned the Harkila Pro-hunter trousers for three years; they are in daily use and have yet to fail. I secretly want them to let me down as they have a five year warrantee but no joy so far! My feet are firmly cushioned by a pair of Le Chameau Chasseur boots. I have not encountered any other brand which offers the comfort and `feel` through the sole when woodland stalking as these do.
My canine companion is a Patterdale cross Border terrier called `Shagg` - a name which raises a few eyebrows. She was bred by a very good friend of mine who Keepers a shoot in Wiltshire. After seeing Shagg`s mother work deer I just had to have one myself. Due to her headstrong, typically terrier like, ways I don`t stalk over Shagg but have her wait in the vehicle ready to participate in any follow up work that may be required.
So in summary when leaving the house on a stalking foray my basic check list goes like so; Rifle/Scope, Ammunition, Binoculars, Sticks, Knife, Dog and suitable clothing. In addition I usually carry a camera and a few Roe and fox calls. All the above are tools I have found useful and dependable on a regular basis and may help with any decision making readers might be facing.
Charly Green can be contacted at: www.shavesgreen.com 07706 395979 or 02380 282941