This will always be a valid question and probably one that will never have a final answer, sorry. It’s a matter of personal preference and each woodland stalker will swear by their chosen method. If it is safe and practical, then no one should tell you that you’re doing anything wrong, says Sam Proctor
Carrying a rifle – advice from those in the know
Personally, I believe that the solution lies in the rifle sling itself. I have spent 3 years with the Army Reserves, and the British Army (as you might expect) have thought of pretty much everything when it comes to carrying a rifle. Whilst an assault rifle might be shorter and lighter than your average stalking rifle – the standard issue military sling certainly could help woodland stalkers.
Time to go shopping
A multi-point sling allows the woodland stalker to be hands-free. With the rifle strapped up tight against your chest with the barrel pointed towards the sky, you are free to push branches away from your face and find your pockets. It lets you use both hands to aid the monkey-like crawling over tree stumps and low branches that is characteristic to woodland movement. Then, as soon as your quarry is in sight, a single clip or quick release is all that is required to quietly swing your rifle barrel down, bring the butt up to your shoulder and take a shot.
Gone are the days of the rifle slipping off your shoulder and banging to the floor as you ‘stealthily’ cross an obstacle, or knocking the sights on a tree as you swing the rifle from behind you. These convenient and modernised slings are available from many shooting shops or online for around £30. But let’s be honest, do you need an excuse to go shopping?
Iain Watson and Chris Rogers debate whether highland stalking or lowland stalking makes for finer sport
Comment from George Wallace
We are all different but whatever you find best must allow you to bring the rifle into action swiftly and with the minimum of movement.
My own method is to carry a rifle upside down with the sling on top of my shoulder.
The muzzle faces forward and scope is underneath the rifle and also under my arm to protect it from the weather etc.
To bring it into action, raising the rifle very slightly with the right hand allows the sling to slip off the shoulder, left hand goes to the fore-end and right hand to the small of the butt and I’m in business with very little movement to alert the quarry.
There are lots of other ways of carrying a rifle and every ‘expert’ seems to have his own method – which some of them then say is the only proper way.
However, as long as you can carry your rifle comfortably so that it doesn’t get damaged or go off and shoot someone but can be brought swiftly into action with minimum movement, then what suits you is the right way to do it.