Posted by Bethan Bithell on 5th Feb 2021
Stalking is a term used to describe the hunting and shooting of deer. The principal reasons deer stalking takes place are:
- Control of deer and other species population
- Land maintenance e.g. the protection of agricultural crops and forestry
- To produce venison.
Being successful at deer stalking requires skill and a vast amount of patience. The BASC (The British Association for Shooting & Conservation) state that:
"Vast knowledge and experience of this sport – and the ecology of deer – is essential for the welfare of these animals."
While incredibly rewarding, deer stalking can be a painstaking and sometimes unrewarding task – you won't always get the shot. In the UK, and particularly in the Scottish Highlands where deer stalking is common, unpredictable weather conditions can make a stalker's job very challenging. Thankfully though, wearing appropriate deer stalking clothing will make life easier and help you get that perfect shot.
What you wear really depends on how formal or informal the stalking operation is. If you have been invited to a more formal deer stalk, then formal dress may be required. It is always worth checking with the estates stalker for advice and guidance on what to wear. Layering is always recommended when facing rapidly changing temperatures which is likely to happen if you're out for prolonged periods stalking. It is vital for your safety and comfort that you invest in the appropriate gear.
In this guide we have highlighted key products which are popular amongst our customers who shoot and stalk.
Factors to consider when buying a stalking jacket
When looking for a deerhunter jacket there are many important factors to consider, including:
- The number of pockets - to carry essentials, such as radio, mobile, binoculars and cartridges.
- How waterproof the fabric is
- What the fabric is made from (e.g. tweed or cotton finish)
- The fit - i.e. potential for layering up
- Type of lining in the jacket (e.g. fleece or quilted lining)
- Type of sleeve (Which is best - Raglan or Set-in Sleve?)
A requirement of stalking is to be out in all weather conditions walking for many miles - a quality deer huting jacket that is fully waterproof, insulated and breathable is vital. A breathable membrane will prevent your body from over-heating, and if you do sweat it will allow moisture to escape which is critical to keep you warm and prevent you from catching a chill.
The overall weight of the jacket is also an important factor to consider. A heavier, insulated jacket will keep you warm while prone for long periods however can slow you down while on the move. Traditionally stalkers opted for heavier wax, quilted jackets however more recently many stalkers are choosing a lighter jacket over multiple lightweight layers. As the weather changes, wearing layers makes it easier to regulate your body temperature.
Due to the nature of stalking, the fabric of your kit needs to be tough, tear resistant and easy to clean and maintain. Many stalking jackets have a protective coating such as Teflon Fabric Protector for protection against stains, mud and liquids, without affecting breathability, performance, feel or appearance.
Deer stalking jackets for men:
Game Stealth Jacket
(available in various colours)
View our full collection of mens deer stalking jackets.
Deer stalking jackets for women:
Ladies Abby Tweed Jacket
View our full collection of womens deer stalking jackets.
Factors to consider when buying stalking trousers
The trousers you choose to wear will again depend on how formal or informal your event is. A formal shooting day held at an estate may require you to wear shooting breeks along with shooting socks, whereas at an informal shoot there may be no set requirements.
Generally terrain while stalking is very rough and your clothing must be versatile and durable enough to keep you comfortable and safe. Waterproof, breathable, flexible and tough trousers are a must.
While stalking, you spend lots of time prone and moving through heather and undergrowth. Ticks and midges - particularly in the Scottish Highlands - can be an issue. Ensuring you wear tough, waterproof gaiters and shooting socks will help to prevent this.
Most good stalking trousers will have articulated knees and reinforced high-wear areas to ensure they will last.
Deer stalking trousers and gaiters:
View our full collection of Deer Stalking Trousers.
The importance of wearing the correct footwear
Keeping your feet comfortable and dry is also essential when out in the field. Rough, rocky terrain and muddy, boggy ground is common stalking territory. Suitable Stalking Footwear is vital for your safety and comfort.
Factors to consider when choosing your new boots:
- Will they make noise when walking?
- Are they tough, hardwearing and durable? Leather can usually withstand more wear than fabric boots.
- Do they have a rigid sole for good grip? We recommend Vibram soles.
- Do they have a waterproof and breathable membrane? (e.g. Sympatex)
- Is there ankle support?
- Do they have a comfortable sole unit?
- Are they high leg to protect your shins and ankles? 10 eyelet boots will provide more protection.
Depending on the ground you are stalking on (and distance you will cover), Neoprene Lined Wellingtons may be a suitable footwear option. Wellies give you the freedom to walk through rivers, bogs and muddy trenches but are not designed for walking long distances. Where traditional wellies would leave your feet cold, Neoprene insulates the foot and provides flexibility at varying temperatures.
Socks make all the difference when trying to keep feet comfortable. Preventing cold feet by wearing the correct socks is key while stalking as cold feet can make the day misera and potentially be dangerous.
Wearing the right shooting socks to prevent cold feet
Deer stalking footwear:
Gateway Pro-Shooter Wellington Boot
HJ Cable Stripe
Hoggs of Fife Atholl
Chelsea Dealer Boot
There are many essential stalking and shooting accessories that will ensure your safety and make your experience more enjoyable.
Keeping your extremities warm is critical. Gloves need to be warm, comfortable but most importantly practical. Gloves need to keep your hands warm without restricting movement - many shooting gloves have features such as sensitive trigger fingers and adjustable cuffs.
Headwear is equally important. A cap will keep the sun and rain out of your eyes however some stalkers find the peak on a cap can impede view when using the scope of a rifle. You may find a beanie or fleece snood is a better option to stay warm and avoid affecting your vision.
Other essential stalking accessories such as knives, hiking sticks and cartridge bags will ensure you are fully equipped to carry out the role of a stalker safely and professionally. And of course you wouldn't want to be without a hot drink in a thermal flask or a wee dram in a hip-flask while out about!
Jack Pyke Shire
Stag Locking Knife
Baker Boy Cap
If you are hoping to get into shooting or stalking, getting to know your local shooting estates stalker or gamekeeper may be worthwhile. They will be able to advise on the best clothing and equipment for your local area.
We hope you found this guide useful and informative, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Happy shooting folks!