Are you guilty of one of the seven deadly sins of Deer Stalking? James Mott investigates and considers how best to avoid temptation.

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Along with the numerous responsibilities that come with being licensed to carry a firearm, the deer stalker also has a responsibility not to fall into temptation or inadvertently err on the wrong side of the law.

Here are the 7 deadly sins that all deer stalkers would be well advised to avoid.


-          an emotion or feeling of intense desire in the body

Countydeerpedia: this temptation shows itself when faced with a shootable deer and no backstop. It’s a prize winner – on your doorstep and you’ve not shot anything notable all season – VERY tempting, but don’t do it. The rifle you will be using is capable of killing over great distances and every shot taken must be totally safe. Always ensure that there is a solid backstop behind the deer before taking the shot and that you have an uninterrupted view of the foreground. Never assume that woodland will stop a bullet, or, that it is unoccupied – a sobering thought.


-          the act or practice of eating or drinking to excess

Countydeerpedia: Carrying a firearm is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. Having a skinfull of drink the night before stalking and carrying a rifle with alcohol still in your system to my mind is simply out of the question. When shooting it is imperative that one has one’s full facilities in play. Drinking during a stalk is simply outrageous (I’ve often been amazed at pheasant shoot days, that over lunch, people seem quite happy to have a nip or 10) this is positively lethal and irresponsible.


-          excessive or rapacious desire

Countydeerpedia: You’re on an outing in July and you haven’t shot anything for 3 sessions. A Roe doe shows herself at 60 yards, perfect. Unfortunately it’s out of season. However tempting, it is illegal and besides the doe will have young at foot and shooting it will leave the young orphaned and will ultimately mean they will die as they cannot fend for themselves. Deer seasons are there for a good reason and need to be adhered to.


-          reluctance to work or exert oneself

Countydeerpedia: Commonly experienced when one has shot a deer but can’t locate it. Going home after a 5 minute search is not an option. “It’s too dark, i didn’t bring a torch, I have an appointment, I’m tired, I’ve got a date with a pint, my wife will give me grief” are not options (even if the wife cuts up rough!!). If you pull the trigger you have a responsibility (to yourself, the deer and to the landowner) to find your deer, however long it takes and however much it may inconvenience you.


-           an emotional response related to one's psychological interpretation of having been confronted

Countydeerpedia: At some point you are going to come across a member(s) of the public either approaching your vehicle, whilst stalking or they may stumble across you while carrying out a gralloch.  It’s advisable to always unload your firearm before engaging in conversation to avoid any accusation of “he was waving a loaded gun at me”. Politely educating people about what you are doing is the key. Keep your conversation simple and don’t allow yourself to be drawn into an argument. Should anyone be hostile to culling activities, everyone is entitled to their opinion and as stalkers we need to respect others opinions.


-          the desire to have for oneself something possessed by another

Countydeerpedia: Deer are wild and move around at will, seeking out the best cover and food available. One day they are on the land you have permission to shoot over- on another, they’re looking at you over the fence, nibbling the neighbour’s blackberry bushes!!  This is the time to deny your strong emotions to commit the crime of trespass and instead, start to think philosophically – they’ll be back another day. However tempting it is to trespass or shoot a deer over the boundary line, don’t do it.


-          an inflated sense of one's personal status or accomplishments

Countydeerpedia:  considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins they say pride comes before a fall. Having an overinflated sense of your abilities can place you in a compromising position. You might like to think of yourself as a crack marksman, but shots taken at the head, on a badly positioned/moving deer, in poor visibility, through cover or at long range that is realistically beyond your abilities is pure folly. Stalkers have a responsibility to humanly despatch deer – every time.  Although deer are comparatively large animals, the vital areas for a clean kill are relatively small. Badly placed shots can cause great pain and suffering for the deer, so in the heat of the moment, check yourself and keep to your ethics and don’t exceed your experience.

So these are the temptations to avoid, perhaps you fell into one category or another? Or maybe you are a saintly stalker and have avoided temptation. One thing is sure, the vast majority of deer stalkers act responsibly which is testimony to the good name that the sport enjoys....long may we all insure that this continues.

To read more from James Mott follow this link: bullet-strike-the-sweet-sound-of-success




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