What to wear when deer stalking
BASC deer officer
James Sutcliffe is BASC’s deer officer. He has over 10 years’ experience of recreational and professional deer stalking and gamekeeping. He has spent time guiding in New Zealand and managing wild boar and red stags in Germany.
James is a keen rifle and shotgun shooter who enjoys working his Labradors throughout the game shooting season.
When it comes to picking what clothes to wear when stalking deer, there can be quite a bit to think about! Obviously much of it comes down to personal preference, but here are a few key points to help you decide.
Living in the UK it’s inevitable that before too long you’re going to get wet. Sitting waiting for a deer while soaking wet through doesn’t make for an enjoyable experience. Waterproof clothing is a must, especially later in the year, but fortunately nearly all clothing manufacturers have a good range of designs.
Any clothing chosen for deer stalking should suit the time of year, with lighter layers being good for spring and summer, and thicker items for later in the year. But this can depend on the type of stalking.
Again, this comes down to personal choice between camouflage and solid colours. It is widely believed that deer do not see in colours, instead noticing outlines, differences in shades, and movement.
When it comes to choosing plain clothing, this should be a dull colour – often green or brown. This helps to break up the outline of a stalker against the normal countryside scenery. Remember that almost all clothing becomes darker when wet. This means that a nice green jacket can become almost black when soaked, and therefore far easier to distinguish against a backdrop.
Camouflage can be very good at breaking up the human outline. The evolution from military-style camo to the photo-realistic camo, seen a lot today, means that there is usually something to suit all tastes and budgets.
Patterns are available to suit different environments and situations, with ‘blaze’ orange camo being popular on the Continent where there is often more than one hunter in an area.
Hats, gloves and face veils are also useful to help hide the colour of skin when in close proximity to deer (e.g. calling bucks in the rut).
This can be an important factor when choosing clothing. A lot of waterproof clothing on the market has a tendency to rustle when moving. While a relatively minor thing, it can mean the difference between a successful stalk or going home empty-handed.
Most clothing intended specifically for stalking/shooting is designed to be as silent as possible, often featuring waterproof membranes that can help cut down on noise.
It goes without saying that when wearing any clothing for hours on end that it should be comfy. This again comes down to personal preference and can only really be decided by trying a few different options for fit.
Just as important as clothing, the footwear you chose should be suitably warm, waterproof and comfortable. The choice of footwear depends on the type of stalking.
If steep, hilly terrain is likely to be encountered, a quality pair of leather boots is a must to provide support for your ankles. For stalking in the wet, where perhaps less ground is being covered, a good pair of wellies may be preferable.