Ramblers can be quite opinionated when they confront deer stalkers
Deer stalkers often dread meeting ramblers when they are out on the hill as many ramblers, with little understanding of the countryside and the need to cull deer, will start criticising the actions of the stalkers, accusing them of cruelty.
Being the target of abuse and unfounded accusations is never pleasant and few people enjoy a confrontation. When the stalker isn’t given a chance to explain their position it can be very frustrating dealing with ignorant abuse when deer stalkers and walkers unexpectedly come face to face.
The situation isn’t helped by biased news reports, television programmes and uninformed presenters.
So what is the best way of dealing with it? (Read our advice on the best clothing for deer stalking.)
Deer stalkers and walkers
The best thing to do when ramblers start giving you, a deer stalker, a hard time and criticising your actions, is to have a few simple explanations ready. Be very reasonable, polite and don’t be defensive. Don’t raise your voice, even though the walkers shout. Stay calm and in control. Don’t be tempted to lose your temper.
- Whatever you do, don’t give yourself a ‘Rambo’ image.
- Keep knives well out of sight. (Read our advice on the law on carrying knives for deer stalking.)
- Only wear camouflage clothing when it’s really necessary. (Read our advice on camouflage clothing for stalkers.)
- Be sensible of people’s sensitivities and don’t display deer carcasses.
As for explanations think of the many good reasons there are for stalking. For example keeping deer numbers within the capacity of the woodland which sustains them and avoiding damage to trees and crops.
Don’t try and educate a walker about the organic, low cholesterol qualities of venison – which is of course free range – because you may discover that they are a vegetarian. Although of course, first-class organic, free range venison is still an excellent reason for stalking. (Read our guide to British deer species.)
What about dogs, deer stalkers and walkers?
Many walkers are accompanied by dogs, many of which will be being exercised off lead, which can create another set of problems for the stalker.
Uncontrolled dogs can present a difficult problem.
However, a gamekeeper I know, when reasoning with a dog walker whose animal was loose, took him on a tour of his beat while explaining some of his daily problems, the conservation work he was undertaking and the risks to ground-nesting birds and young deer from loose, uncontrolled dogs.
This was a positive approach and one which, for once, produced some understanding and rapport between the two parties.