Deer Stalking Equipment Reviews - Swarovski Range Finders & The Apex Predator

Chris Dalton discusses Deer Stalking Kit and reviews the Swarovski 10x42 Range finders and the Apex Predator. 

Recent discussions with my fellow deer managers have been about stalking equipment and what we carry while out stalking, so I thought this may be of interest.

apexpred300Now the bulk of our work is on Roe and Red deer Stalking and whilst the basic kit we carry is similar for both species recovery in our part of Scotland is most certainly not.

(Left: The Apex Predator)

This also ties in nicely with some new equipment Tony and I have been using on test for a few months, a pair of Swarovski range finding binoculars and an Apex predator roe sack. Now again, the terrain and type of ground you stalk will have a bearing on this along with the size of your quarry. For you guys on estate and lowland ground where you can usually get a vehicle to your quarry then great, you need very little and can probably recover a carcass and take it straight back to the larder to gralloch. For us we are generally a long way from vehicle access, so any gralloching and recovery equipment has to be carried.

I am, and always have been, a great believer in travelling light, I think when you are out stalking for 3 to 4 hours up in the high forest then the less weight you have the better it is.

My equipment comprises a knife and bone saw, both in a sheath with metal insert and on the belt, disposable gloves and stainless steel ‘S’ hooks for a suspended gralloch along with binoculars and rifle plus spare rounds. On the spare round front I think 10 is ideal and gives you the ability to deal with a potential problem i.e. wounded animal or an issue with the rifle and a re zero out in the field after a fall or knock.

Until recently, I also carried a leather carrying strap folded in my pocket and I always carried the roe out after a full suspended gralloch in the field. This is a great way to carry out a roe comfortably over your shoulder as the leather strap had a broad band to put over your shoulder and 4 straps which you secured to each of the roe legs cut off at the hocks – only downside is that you invariably have a good deal of blood down your side, back and leg when you get back to the vehicle. No problem; but I don’t like my stalking coats to be washed much and so you can see the coat starts to become an issue at home and at the garage as you fill up on the way back from the ground! But as I have never really got on with a roe sack, I find it awkward to sling the rifle with this and also cumbersome while stalking, therefore the strap was my preferred method for years.

So I was delighted to see the Apex predator which to me is an ideal balance between the two as you can carry this around your waist. I got one around 4 months ago to try out. For me I like the compactness and its broad and comfortable to wear, as it fits around the waist I find it does not interfere with the rifle when I have this slung over my shoulder. It has a sensible number of pockets and so you can carry whatever you need, within reason, neatly organised. The belt opens out into a sack capable of holding a single roe according to the manufactures, but I have had 2 in it which were admittedly were a squeeze but I got them in. This then has straps which turn the belt into a compact roe sack, and fit both over your shoulders and around the waist, very comfortable if you have a long walk back to the vehicle. The predator also comes with 2 detachable inners for the sack which are easily removed to clean and wash out. I am a convert and the predator is permanently resident in the vehicle fully kitted out and I just grab it as I go out on a stalk.

swarovskielrange300The other new kit tested were a pair of Swarovski range finding binoculars in 10 x42. I am and always have been a Swarovski man from fairly early on in my stalking life.  I made the mistake, like most folk, initially of getting a cheaper pair of binoculars and scope and can recall as if it were yesterday, sitting with a stalking guide in West Suffolk many years ago watching a Roe deer approach a feeder one evening in some set aside. The roe took forever to get to around 140 yards by which time the light had faded markedly but I could just about the see the roe, so raised the rifle and that was that – couldn’t see anything, I looked through my binoculars with the same result – fuzzy grey and no deer.  My guide gave me his bins, Swarovski’s, and to look through them was a revelation, there clear as day, were 2 roe now feeding happily around 100 yards away broadside.

That was that and Swarovski binoculars and scope were quickly purchased. I have never carried a rangefinder, primarily for the reasons of travelling light as above but also as I am a pretty good judge of distance and have not really felt the need. Furthermore, I needed to be convinced that getting a very good bit of kit to do two things might compromise on the primary function of the binoculars which is spotting the deer in the first place. However, having now had the benefit of these binoculars for over a month I am a convert. Visually, every bit as good as my current 10 x 42 EL which I have used on a daily basis for years, but also I have found that having the additional function of the range finding element very useful indeed. This has also been received very well by my stalking clients, who all seem to appreciate the whisper in their ear that the roe is exactly 95 yards away or whatever. They are particularly useful on the open hill where shooting distances are generally longer and give you a greater degree of confidence when you know exactly the distance of that stag. 

A recent trip to Africa really explored the benefit of the range finding aspect of these binoculars when we were shooting to ranges greater than 300 meters and it is surprising the extra confidence you have when you know the exact distance to your quarry. Suffice to say that both Tony and I now have a new 10 x 42 Swarovski’s as part of the essential stalking kit!!!

Chris Dalton is a highly respected Deer Manager in Scotland and runs Ayrshire Stalking, to contact Chris Tel: 07710 871190

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