How to Book Quality Red Deer Stalking

Charly Green offers some top tips on how and when to book your Red Deer Stalking. 

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("Those on a budget may look to book a weeks Red Hind Stalking"). 

`I’m sorry Sir, we’re booked out for this season` - Crushing news to hear when you call your favourite stalking estate to book this year’s sport. Working as a sporting agent as well as guiding clients on the ground, I get to hear about all sorts of customer experiences of failed attempts to book good quality stalking. I won’t dwell on the negatives and let downs that I’ve heard, but rather add my thoughts to booking sport which suits your individual requirements.

My first piece of advice is to book early. The very best locations for any species will have taken bookings stretching twelve or even twenty four months into the future. Many of these will be repeat clients who wish to secure prime dates. If the estate you have approached informs you that this is the case and they have no current openings, then take this as a positive. They must be running well respected and sought after sport as well as being highly organised. In this situation ask to be contacted in the event of a cancellation and start to think about booking their next available dates, even if they happen to be two or more seasons ahead.

Once your interest is placed you will need to consider the dates on which you would like to stalk. There are certain governing factors here which relate to the species and sex to be stalked.

Let’s take Red Deer stalking as an example. If a trophy stag is your ambition then an August booking would be a mistake due to the presence of varying degrees of velvet remnants at that time. A good trophy head has colour which takes time to build up and matures just prior to the rut.

Pre-rut the stags display full tines without damage however, once their testosterone levels rise and combat commences, breakages and chips are common. So should you book in the rut despite the risk of a damaged trophy? My advice is yes! There is no finer big game hunting experience to rival the harvest of a mature Red stag carrying his battle scars amidst the echoing roars and bellows of distant adversaries. Any concern over shooting a stag in his prime can be laid aside; by the time he is selected for culling his `oats` have been well and truly `sown` ensuring future generations of quality beasts.

If your purse does not stretch to a stag within prime dates, why not consider one post rut when the stalking of educated herds can be hugely challenging and some estates may offer discounted lesser or damaged trophies. Novice stag stalkers will be rewarded by a booking in August to take a cull animal. Whilst not a trophy for the wall, the stalking is relatively easy, and confidence will be gained which is critical in the early days.

When discussing pricing for Red stalking there is a great divide between North and South. Expect to pay four hundred pounds or more per stag on a top Scottish estate whereas lowland English Reds are typically priced on a daily rate plus a trophy fee. This can reach well into four figures when medal quality heads are accounted for. Be sure to do your homework when choosing a venue to stalk; high daily rates are not necessarily a reflection of quality service. Ask for references and pictures of past trophies as well as trawling the internet for testimonials, good or bad, in order to make an informed decision.

Those on a tight budget may look to book a week Red hind stalking. Although this will not yield a trophy you should expect to receive the same quality service from the estate and possibly experience more trigger time. The tips and tricks that can be learnt from your guide during this period are also often invaluable.

 Alternatively a feral goat cull is not only a diversion but hugely enjoyable -the full hill stalking experience but at a fraction of the cost. I will write more on feral goats in a future article.

Charly Green can be contacted at: www.shavesgreen.com 07706 395979 or 02380 282941

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