Do I need a mentor to go deer stalking?

Jonty Drew considers the value of having a guide and mentor when starting out deer stalking.

Deer Stalking Mentor

As we start the new year, and with many people considering the possibility of taking on a new past time, I thought it might be useful to reflect on the importance of having a mentor.

I’ll focus specifically on the importance of a having a mentor when first starting out deer stalking, how it can help you to become a successful firearms licence applicant, and how it can shape you in becoming a proficient deer stalker. Furthermore, I hope to encourage the experienced among you, to contemplate taking a young deer stalker under your wing, so as to pass down the unrivalled knowledge, wisdom and experience that you have gained, and how this can help enthuse the next generation of deer stalkers and wildlife stewards.

Why be/have a mentor?

Deer stalking in England is a deep-rooted tradition and holds significant conservation value for many wildlife species, their habitats, and the wider environment. Whilst the art of stalking and marksmanship is extraordinarily important, the significance of a mentor should not be overlooked. A mentor, with their wealth of experience and knowledge, can play an important role in shaping a novice deer stalker's journey, offering guidance not only in practical skills, but also in developing a deep respect for wildlife, the environment, and the countryside.

One of the main reasons a mentor is essential in deer stalking is due to the skill set required for a successful stalk. Stalking demands a comprehensive understanding of the animal's behaviour, knowledge of the landscape, and expertise in the safe use of firearms and other specialist equipment. Having a mentor is also an important procedure, that is encouraged and favoured by the Police when applying for a firearms certificate, as it demonstrates that you are willing to learn the skills mentioned and be guided by a trusted professional, giving the police the confidence that you are a competent and fitting applicant.

We must remember that embarking on a journey as a novice deer stalker can be a daunting experience. A mentor serves as a living encyclopaedia and a source of encouragement, helping the novice to navigate inevitable challenges and build confidence in the field. The mentor also instils a hands-on approach, whereby they guide through the nuances of the hunt and ensures a holistic approach to developing practical field skills.

Furthermore, a mentor helps to instil ethical principles in the aspiring deer stalker. Hunting, by its nature, involves taking a life, and it is essential for stalkers to approach this responsibility with a deep sense of respect and understanding of the relevant species. The mentor acts as a moral compass by emphasising the importance of ethical practices, fair chase, and responsible firearm use. The ethical considerations can also extend beyond the stalk itself, encompassing broader issues such as habitat preservation and wildlife conservation. It is possible for the mentor to impart a conservation mindset, teaching the importance of maintaining the balance and contributing to the well-being of the deer population. For the novice deer stalker, understanding the ecological impact of deer stalking ensures that they become a responsible and informed participant in the broader conservation effort, and can help shape the future of hunting’s important relationship with conservation in Great Britain.

Reflection

Deer Management mentor

If you are wanting to get into deer stalking or are just starting out, then I would highly encourage you to find an experienced mentor for the guidance previously discussed. This process will not only help you to obtain your firearms licence but will also make you a more effective and knowledgeable deer stalker.

Personally, I do not need to name the mentors I have had, as they know who they are, but I am eternally grateful for their considerable generosity and patience. I encourage the younger generation to have the courage to ask for guidance from the experienced stalkers. I also hope that by writing this, I can encourage the experienced stalkers to give their valuable time to the younger generation, as without the knowledge pass-down, so much experience, wisdom; and so many culturally significant stories will be lost. So, this new year, give the gift of generational knowledge and help to preserve hunting and our way of life.

If you are interested in getting into deer stalking a great place to start is by taking the LANTRA Approved Proficient Deer Stalking Certificate Level 1 (PDS1). You can learn more about the course and how to become a trained hunter by following this link: deer-stalking-course

Once complete, County Deer Stalking will be delighted to help mentor you in the art of deer stalking. We have been mentoring beginners for nearly two decades and will be happy to hear from you. Please contact us on 0203 981 0159 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jonty DrewJonty Drew is a PDS1 Approved Verifier in Deer Stalking Qualifications, DMQ Approved Witness, and experienced stalking guide.

Jonty also holds an Extended Diploma in Countryside Management, Game & Wildlife from Sparsholt College with distinction and is currently working towards a BSc in Wildlife Conservation and Environmental Management at the prestigious 'Harper Adams University'.

To watch a film in which Jonty is hunting Fallow Buck follow this link: youtube.com/watch 

 

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