If none of your immediate friends are deerstalkers, finding an opening into the pastime can seem daunting. To the uninitiated, deer stalking presents many questions. How do you go about leasing land with deer on it? What training is available? Which species can be shot, when?
Like anything, a little knowledge from the right people can help put you on the correct course and prevent you wasting time and money. Hopefully this article will go some way to kick-start your deer stalking hobby.
There are 100,000 people that go stalking each year, hunting the UK’s six species – red, sika, fallow, roe, Chinese water deer and muntjac. Each species and sex have their own seasons which differ depending on where you are hunting so ensure you consult the BASC website for information of what can be harvested when. Each year 350,000 deer are culled in a bid to protect native flora and fauna as well as reduce the 74,000 deer-vehicle collisions that happen every year. In short, deerstalking plays a vital role.
Deerstalking Community in Britain
The deerstalking community in Britain is incredibly good at communicating and encouraging newcomers. There are scores of dedicated Facebook groups and stand-alone forums. One of the most widely used is The Stalking Directory, which has around 20,000 members nationwide. A brilliant way of quickly meeting like-minded people is to register as a member and simply introduce yourself. You’ll receive an incredibly warm welcome and numerous offers to help you in your quest to get into deerstalking.
Without question, the initial advice to anyone that wants to get into deerstalking is to undertake some formal training. By far the best course out there for the beginner is the British Deer Society’s (BDS) Deer Stalking Certificate 1. The three-day course, which is run from numerous locations throughout the year, consists of two days classroom instruction on the ecology of Britain’s six deer species and all the necessary technical knowledge to stalk deer unsupervised. The final day sees candidates take part in a shooting assessment and tested on field safety.
Don’t have your own rifle? The BDS can lend you a rifle for the shooting test and provide Hornady ammunition free of charge.
The course costs £295, which includes all assessment fees, DMQ registration, and a comprehensive manual. To take the course, you’ll also need to join the BDS, which costs from £60 and includes shooting insurance.
Once you’ve completed the course and you are sure deerstalking is something you would definitely like to partake in, the next thing to do is furnish yourself with the correct gear. An entry-level all-rounder rifle in a calibre such as .243 or .308 is ideal. This will cost a few hundred pounds depending on what options you go for.
Your new rifle needs to be paired with some good quality optics. One failsafe brand is Hawke. Our range of sport optics are eminently affordable, versatile and designed to suit every type of hunting situation imaginable. From airgun shooting in the garden to wilderness hunting in Alaska.
The best way to learn about deerstalking is to get out there and experience as many different scenarios as possible – hill, lowland, woodland, calling and the rut. Deerstalkers are a friendly lot and will be only too pleased to guide you through the options.
For more information:
British Deer Society – www.bds.org.uk
BASC – www.basc.org.uk
The Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group – www.countrysportscotland.com
The Stalking Directory – www.thestalkingdirectory.co.uk
Hawke – www.hawkeoptics.com