A reader wants to know how he can get more involved
Q: I think that deer stalking is for me. I’ve read about it, watched hunting clips and videos, and would like to give it a go. What essential steps and gear do I need to get started? Also, can you advise me on what to avoid, if anything?
A: Iain Watson replies:
Starting out in any new hobby can be daunting as well as stimulating. With deer stalking, it can be more expensive than most. I would suggest that you arrange a few outings with a stalking agent, first to see if the reality meets up with your expectations, and to check out if the demands, both physical and emotional, suit you. Bear in mind at the outset that it is not something you can get to grips with overnight. Rather it is the start of a never-ending learning process.
So starting out I would go for good outer clothing and footwear that will keep you comfortable whatever the conditions. Remember that fair-weather hunting is very different from what will be met with in winter. Insect defence, whether from fliers or crawlers, is always worth investing in. If you decide stalking really is for you, then early on I would invest in some quality training, and study for your Level 1 Deer Stalking Certificate. Get the best binoculars you can afford, and a set of stalking sticks that suit you.
Only after all that, when you have decided what and where you can stalk, would I start to think about applying for a firearms certificate and looking for the type of rifle you might get most use out of. From long experience, avoid impulse buying otherwise you will find yourself, like me, the proud owners of lots of kit that has little practical use.
Iain Watson and Chris Rogers debate whether highland stalking or lowland stalking makes for finer sport
Is the latest hi-tech sighting system for stalkers ruining the sport element?
Learning more about deer
Here’s a deer stalking question from the Sporting Gun 2011 archives.
Q: I have just passed my DSC Level 1 and want to progress and learn more about deer. Would it help if I joined one of the specialist groups and, if so, which should I join?
George Wallace replies:
First, congratulations on passing DSC 1 – and welcome to the endlessly fascinating world of deer!
As far as dedicated organisations go, I am a great fan of the St Hubert Club whose excellent training scheme formed the DSC in the first place.
However, if memory serves me, membership is by invitation only so you will need to know someone who is already a member and could propose you for membership. Another possible difficulty is that they are based in Norfolk and that is where their meetings and training days take place. But they are absolutely first class if you can join.
The British Deer Society (BDS) has branches throughout the UK and has now come to accept that most of its members actually hunt deer rather than being mere Bambi huggers. As a Life Member I have to admit an interest here, but I really do feel that the BDS has a lot to offer.
Their magazine is now a really good read for the ordinary man and full of information. In the past it was highly technical and almost incomprehensible to anyone who did not have a science degree, so this is another major bonus.