On the 1st July the red deer stag stalking season opens in Scotland. Farlows shooting expert James Smart will take you through some important guidelines for a comfortable and successful day out on the hill.
Stalking a wild red stag on a Scottish mountainside is one of the most iconic images in fieldsports. It’s a sport where a sense of history is always apparent. As well as the excitement of the sport you will also be able to enjoy some of the most spectacular and majestic scenery the UK has to offer.
The stag is an emblem of wild places and hunting them in this setting is a true privilege. While carefully picking your way through blanket bog and heather or crawling along stream beds you could be in the 19th or 21st century, nothing apart from the rifle and clothing has changed or will change for a very long time.
Stalking is very important to the continued health of the deer population and careful management will ensure the best and healthiest beasts prosper in numbers that the land can comfortably support. Stalking allows this important aspect to be funded on many Highland estates.
The pursuit of the UK’s largest land mammal is an amazing experience and one which you will want to be prepared for. On the presumption that you will be accompanied by a stalker, I will not run into rifle safety or the art of stalking. The best piece of advice here is to listen to the stalker and do exactly what you’re told. If you are new to stalking you will likely be taken to a practice target before going on the hill to check your accuracy and gun handling.
The season for Scottish stags runs from the 1st July to the 20th October. The Hind season is from the 21st October until the 15th February.
One advantage that we do have over our 19th century predecessors is the advent of technical clothing. The climate on the hill can change very quickly so you will need a system of layered clothing that can be adapted to suit changing conditions. Waterproof breathable membranes and lightweight materials have been adopted readily into this traditional setting.
What I will do is run through the gear needed for a successful day on the hill - starting at the feet you will need:
Walking boots: A good pair of waterproof over-ankle boots is essential to eliminate the risk of turning an ankle on uneven terrain – Harkila Pro Hunter (coming soon!)
Socks: These must be suitable for use with Gore-tex products. Technical socks wick moisture and heat away from your feet i.e, the Dubarry Technical Socks or Brasher Mohair Long Socks if wearing breeks.
Gaiters: If wearing breeks on the hill it is essential to team them up with gaiters these cover the lower half of the leg providing a tough waterproof layer that also resists ticks.
Trousers: Harkila Pro-hunter Trousers and Sealand Woodcock Trousers are perfect. These are waterproof trousers not over-trousers i.e. worn in their own right. These have waterproof breathable membranes and tough outers making them ideal for crawling or kneeling on rocky and wet ground.
Overtrousers: These can be put in a kit bag and put on in the event of bad weather. Especially good when not wearing waterproof breeks or trousers. Schoffel Saxby - these pack up very small into their own pocket. Seeland Crieff - these unzip from top to bottom and can be taken off or on easily over boots. Schoffel Ptarmigan - a tough Cordura outer makes these very hard wearing.
Shirt: Comfort and mottled colours are the name of the game. The Sealand Burley Shirt is a great value example. The Harkila Trecking Shirt is made with bamboo fibres making it lightweight and breathable.
Jumpers and Fleeces: With a waterproof shell jacket in your bag incase of rain this may be the only outer layer that you need. Harkila Annaboda - complete with a Gore-tex windstopper lining. Laksen Wood - also with a windproof membrane. Armless fleeces are a good idea if going under a jacket so that movement is not restricted such as the Schoffel Oakham.
Jacket: Harkila Pro Hunter, an extremely well constructed jacket with a tough Cordura outer and a Gore-tex membrane. Depending on the season and the weather forecast you may opt to take a lightweight shell jacket which can fit easily into a kit bag such as the Schoffel Ketton.
If you'd like to find out more, please call the store on 0207 484 1000 and ask to speak to a member of the shooting team or simply leave your questions in the comments area below!
Don't forget to discover all the deer stalking clothing & equipment that Farlows offer »