The advice is to keep it simple and only bring what you need
If you have suitable clothing (including a hat), a good pair of boots with a decent tread, your rifle and ammo, binoculars, sticks for woodland stalking, a length of cord and a knife for dealing with your quarry, then you are carrying all the essentials.
Clothing for stalking
Clothing should be quiet and not shout colourfully in any way if you’re stalking in the British Isles. (Try and blend in with the landscape and make sure your outfit doesn’t ‘rustle’. )
It needs to be tough and hardwearing as you could end up crawling over some rough stuff. Breathable and waterproof is also key. You might want a jacket with a hood to keep the rain off and you’ll certainly need a hat. If you’re a traditionalist there’s nothing like a tweed deer stalker.
Don’t wear wellies as they won’t support your ankles sufficiently. You need a stout pair of boots.
If you’re wearing breeks then you’ll need gaiters over your socks to protect your legs from crawling ticks.
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Stalking can be warm work if you’re facing a long climb uphill so think layers. On the other hand, if you’re lying on the ground you’re going to cool down quickly, so base layers under a shirt are useful.
Many stalkers swear by Avon’s Skin So Soft to keep away midges. Whatever you choose make sure you have something to spray on your exposed skin to keep the biters off.
You’ll need a set of knives for the gralloch, which must be carried safely and securely.
Regular stalker John Sugden who heads up Campbells of Beauly advises: “Stalking can be a long and strenuous day out! So the right kit is essential. I wouldn’t go out without my antler thumb stick. Essential for balance up those rocky crags. Good stalking boots and gaiters. Plus 4’s are a must, as opposed to plus 2s or breeks, so that the probable rain runs smoothly off the fabric and over the gaiter. ”
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Up in the Highlands you may get to load the deer after the gralloch onto a garron pony who will take it down the hillside for you.
If you shoot roe and muntjac, they are easily carried or easily lifted to hang from a branch on your length of cord while you perform the gralloch.
Fallow, Sika and Red, however, present more of a challenge and some sort of hoist is useful.
I have a super hoist made by Donington Deer Management which is a gantry with two legs and a coupling to fix on the towing ball of the Land Rover.
Even a red deer can be winched up clear of the ground, making the gralloch a very much cleaner and easier business, especially if, like me, you tend to get backache when you do it on the ground.
If you can’t get the vehicle to the deer and you don’t fancy dragging the deer to the vehicle (for which some sort of dragging strap and/or sled is a great help) then a little pocket-size hoist and folding gambrel is a great help, like this one from Keith’s High Seats.
Just make sure the branch is strong enough before winching a heavy animal up.
Other useful stalking kit to consider
- A rucksack
- A sheet of plastic
- Rubber gloves
- Full set of knives and bone saws
- Washing and sterilising equipment
- Marching compass
- GPS, radio/mobile phone
- First aid kit