Taking the first steps into deer stalking
Country Sport Scotland provider Chris Dalton from South Ayrshire Stalking who is based in the Scottish Borders, specialises in deer stalking, but also offers game shooting and fishing opportunities. We asked Chris for his expertise on some of your most asked questions relating to deer stalking, particularly for those looking to get into the sport.
Q. What does a typical day’s stalking look like?
This depends a bit on the time of year and species being hunted – if we are talking lowland stalking then typically you will be out the first light in the morning, stalking the field and woodland margins for 3 hours or so and then back for a well-deserved breakfast, you will be out again in the evening for the last few hours of daylight – that may be stalking but equally could be sitting in a vantage point or hide waiting for deer to appear. Deer are most active at night, consequently, the best time to locate them is around dawn and dusk as they either go back to or emerge from cover.
Traditional hill stalking and this is for red deer mostly will see you heading out onto the hill for most of the day and may well mean gaining considerable height to spy a large area to spot your chosen deer and then spend time stalking close into the chosen beat as they lie up for the day in some sheltered corrie or glen.
Q. Do you provide the equipment that I would need to stalk?
All equipment can be provided as required – within reason, most folk will have clothing and footwear that will suffice for a stalking trip but apart from that and maybe a jacket all other equipment e.g. rifle, etc will usually be provided.
Q. I’m fairly new to stalking, do you offer any additional tuition?
At South Ayrshire Stalking we do a lot of this and whilst a number of our guests are experienced most have either done very little or no hunting at all – so we welcome all, in fact actively encourage newcomers to the sport. All of our stalking is individually tailored and so we cater to whatever level of experience our guests have.
Q. What three pieces of kit would you recommend I get first?
If you are taking up stalking the most important items are your binoculars and the rifle and scope.
But don’t get anything until you have spoken to a number of different people who are experienced and can guide you. You can then make up your mind based on your own circumstances and get the kit that suits you from the off. You can use the estate rifles initially so will get a feel for what suits you before spending your money.
Q. I’m an experienced stalker, what else can you offer me?
A lot of experienced people want to learn more and understand more about the deer species that they hunt. We never stop learning – it may be simply improving accuracy and skill, teaching butchery, perhaps gaining an insight into deer management, or progressing to take the deer stalking qualifications.
Q. Can we take some venison home?
At South Ayrshire Stalking we encourage that – all deer culled go into the food chain and it is probably the best red meat for you nutritionally – what better than to be eating a meal of venison, ethically and sustainably hunted by you and which you have seen be prepared for the table!
For deer stalking opportunities in Scotland, please visit here.