What do we carry as deer stalkers?
Every deer stalker will carry different kit with them depending on what they are stalking and where they are stalking it.
There will be some key similarities and some stark differences. BASC’s deer team describe what they carry with them on a typical stalking day:
I mainly go woodland stalking for roe and muntjac, so don’t carry as much as some stalkers. I’m forever trying to slim down what I carry and focus on the essentials but can honestly say that everything in my kit gets regular use. When I’m out looking for reds, sika fallow and boar, I often bring a good length of rope for retrieving.
I tend to lean towards my Sako 75 in .7mm 08 for most stalking. It’s topped with a Swarovski z6i scope, which is honestly one of the best I have used!
Swarovski SLC 7x42s. I’ve had them for years and, other than being a bit heavy, they’re brilliant.
I use a Maxpedition Versipack. It’s sort of a hybrid between a rucksack and a bumbag. It’s big enough to hold all my gear and more. The cross strap allows a rifle to be carried and shouldered very easily.
In there I carry:
- A couple of knives (fixed and folding)
- Small bone saw
- Knife sharpener
- A handful of disposable rubber gloves
- Small S hooks
- Depending on the time of year, maybe a wooly hat and warm gloves
- A buttolo caller and a couple of fox callers (I can never resist a fox!)
- Lens wipe for the binos/scope
- Some tick removers
- Often a map of the ground I’m stalking
- Spare ammo
- A tub of children’s bubbles or a lighter (these are brilliant for showing wind direction!)
- A snack/drink.
- Depending on how remote I’m going, I may take a first aid kit with me just in case. If I’m not far from the truck, I leave it in there the rest of the time.
Like James, I’ve slimmed my kit down over the years to just the bare minimum. When I started, I would carry a roe sack with everything but the kitchen sink in it! Now I get everything in a bumbag with space to spare – I would certainly recommend my cheap Decathalon hunting waist bag.
I’ve tried bigger brand names, and this is certainly the best. As a Yorkshire man you’ll find that I am quite frugal and don’t always go for the most expensive gear.
I’ve also stopped carrying deer – even though most of what I shoot is roe and muntjac, my preferred extraction technique is always to drag. Like so many of us I thought I was invincible in my youth and would attempt to lift and carry all manner of weights, now I realise it’s not worth it and if I want to carry on what I love doing into old age then I need to look after my back.
My extraction technique therefore is to drag the deer to where I can get the truck, perform a suspended gralloch in a nearby tree, leave the carcass to drip and cool whilst I fetch the truck, then lower the carcass into a tray on the back of the vehicle. Job done!
Thus, aside from the essential rifle and binoculars my kit consists of:
- Knife – a cheap and cheerful Frost but it is sharp, clean and in a plastic scabbard
- Bone saw – useful for tough ribs
- Sharpener – just to keep an edge
- Drag rope – with webbing sling, paracord and a carabiner make it easy to use
- Tarp/drag bag – to wrap around the deer and prevent contamination whilst dragging
- Ratchet pulley system for suspended gralloch – the ratchet system is brilliant it’s from Thule for tying your canoe to your roof rack
- Small gambrel – specially made by a friend
- Rubber gloves – kept in a plastic bag to keep them sterile!
- Sterile wipes
- Cable ties – for tying off the oesphagus
- Plastic bags – for kidneys, heart and liver
- Head torch – useful on an evening stalk
- French chalk powder – for checking wind direction
- Buttalo – sometimes manage to attract a Munty. I carry a cherrywood when the roe rut is on.
I use a Tikka T3 in 25.06 with a Swarovski Z6i scope. I have had the rifle for many years and love it. With 117gr bullets, it does the job extremely well.
I use Bauer 8 x 42. They are great in low light and I have had them for several years. A lens cleaning cloth is always attached to the strap.
I am a huge fan of quad sticks now having tried two and three stick options over the years. I use Seeland sticks in the camo colourway. They’re a lot cheaper than some on the market and do the job.
I carry a Viper backpack when on easily accessible ground where I can drive virtually to the carcass. When I need to carry a carcass out, I use a roe sack in places as it can also serve as a dry seat on damp ground. Like James, my backpack has one shoulder strap so I can carry my rifle on the other shoulder comfortably.
In it I have:
- A small first aid kit
- Bright orange Moraknife
- a gralloching knife with rounded end
- Pull saw
- Knife sharpener
- Buttolo call
- Spare ammo
- Nitrile gloves
- Baby wipes
- Fly net and midge repellent (in the summer)
- Some para cord and a small pulley
- Emergency contact details.
I use the pockets of my stalking jacket to carry gloves, a “buff/snood” or scarf, and some tissue.