In my previous guest blog entry for County Deer Stalking I looked at the Time, Cost, Quality, Risk, Scope and Benefits of Stalking, with the sport itself being the main focus. This time, I thought it would be interesting to compare it side by side with a big bag driven day, to see how it might appeal to a shooter looking for a change of scene. What could they expect?

I've split this one down to Processes, Organisation, Technology and Information.

Process wise, there is a lot less formality and ritual around the actual stalk itself. There isn't the obligatory huddle for a brief at the cottage, dogs underfoot, sausage rolls and pastries, drawing the pegs, crafty sloe gin restorer or banter with the guns about house prices. Nor is there a lengthy pub lunch (if you are lucky) or standing-up-buffet at the back of the game wagon, with running commentary on how you missed that low bird. No trudging to pegs, watching errant birds sailing over you before the whistle is blown. Stalking seems to be focused around the actual hunt itself, the quarry and your role in the selecting and taking a beast. This suits me fine, as I always find myself hopping from toe to toe waiting to get started when shooting anyway, so "less is more" for me. Here, you are often in the woods before the car engine has had a chance to cool down.

Organisationally, much of a driven day sees you as being a small part in a very big organisation. You are one of many guns, or indeed, many people of which have a role to play (and woe betide anyone who upsets the applecart of the day, for whatever reason). Even though you've paid through the nose, you are on a conveyor belt. Stalking is more personal. You have the advice and guidance of a deer manager, who, like you, wants you to succeed and will actually support you. We've all felt the eyes of a gamekeeper on us in disapproval or know-it-all farmer clucking their tongue as a medium-height bird sails past unbothered. Deer isn't like that, it's actually a partnership that lasts a few hours of which is very supportive. After all, you're both walking the same trails, seeing the same chances and are really both striving towards the same thing.

Technology can also play an interesting part in stalking. If you like your gadgets, you are not restricted to buying a new gun sleeve with your initials monogrammed on it - there is a whole array of gizmos of which can either help improve your chances of finding an animal and achieving a shot on target, or simply to prepare or extract your trophy. Simply looking in a shooting catalogue will reveal a wealth of interesting tools that may help put you ahead. Peter is starting to review some of these in his blogs, so keep an eye out for recommendations.

Information, or more specifically knowledge, is one of the areas stalking really comes in to its own. When I see a good, healthy high bird coming in to my killable range, I don't really consider much other than how much lead I should allow. Deer have a whole anatomy and 'life story' that you find yourself learning without even realising it. I never knew that some species are immensely territorial, and will stay in one area their whole lives, while another simply breeze across the land like nomads. Pheasants? I really didn't care. Deer, however, really makes you stop and think about their lives and the role you are about to play.

I enjoy writing blogs about the differences of the different shooting sports, simply because it's a chance to show that deer stalking is a really credible and enjoyable addition to the arsenal - it's different, and that is what makes it an enjoyable alternative. I wish I'd started sooner!

Matthew R is a regular client of County Deer Stalking and enjoys writing regular articles of interest to hunters and shooters. Although new to Deer stalking Matthew has been shooting in the UK for over 20 years. 



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