The hind stalking season in Scotland opens on 21st October and runs until 15th February (1st November to 31st March for the rest of the UK) which means it takes place through the late autumn and winter months when conditions can be changeable at best and atrocious at worst. Having the right kit with you ensures you have a great day.
Layering is key to enjoying a great day on the hill. Stalking can involve a long hard hike out to where the hinds might be followed by long periods of inactivity waiting. That is particularly the case with hind stalking where the hinds tend to be in groups. There are simply many more eyes on the look-out so the stalk can take a lot longer. You might also be on the hill as a pair taking alternate shots so you might have a long wait whilst your partner has their stalk. Thus you can get very warm whilst you are active and then get very cold as you wait.
A good baselayer is essential as that is what will ultimately get the moisture away from your skin when you are hiking out and stop you getting very cold when you stop. At the least, we would recommend a good top as keeping your core at the right temperature is the key to success but, if you are expecting really severe weather, some long johns would also be sensible unless you have insulated trousers. Modern materials or merino wool are our favourite for wicking moisture and we prefer something with a zip-neck so that you can hike out with everything undone if necessary before closing everything down when you stop.
Browse ArdMoor’s range of baselayers
Often people make the mistake of wearing a cotton shirt either as a baselayer or as a midlayer which is totally the wrong thing to wear. Cotton retains moisture so you either end up with moisture being held against your skin (if you are wearing a shirt as a baselayer) or with moisture being absorbed back into your baselayer if you are wearing your shirt as a midlayer. Let modern garments with modern materials rule as they have all been designed as part of a layering system which ensures that warm air is trapped as insulation whilst moisture continues to be wicked away from your skin. We would always recommend fleece, and a midweight fleece jacket would be a sensible solution. You also want to have an additional layer to carry in your pack just in case you do get caught out which could be a fleece gilet or you could wear a gilet and then carry a fleece jacket in your pack.
Browse ArdMoor’s range of fleeces
Waterproof is the name of the game when it comes to your trousers. Whatever happens you are going to spend a long part of the day on your knees or bottom so keeping your legs dry makes sure they stay warm. Plenty of pockets are a good idea and waterproof zips, whilst not essential, do ensure your nether regions and pocket contents stay dry. Some also have leg vents on the thighs which are well worth having as you can hike out with them open and then close them down when you get into the stalk. Depending on the time of year, either get a pair with built in insulation or get a lighter weight pair that you can use for more of the year and then use some long johns for warmth in the colder months.
Explore ArdMoor’s range of stalking trousers
Lots of options here suffice to say, but waterproof and tough are the two absolute essentials. Seriously breathable is also an advantage but that can be helped by making sure it has a two-way front zip and, better still, under-arm pit vents. Lots of pockets with zipped or well secured closures for carrying all the ancillaries you might need. Some people prefer a smock instead as they have no zips on the front which leaves space for a large chest pocket instead which is ideal for housing binoculars or spare ammunition that you want to have ready to hand.
Colour is also important so it is worth bearing in mind the natural colour of the hill you will be on and whether it is more grass or heather based. Single dark green stands out a mile, particularly when wet so a lighter brown is often better with camouflage being the best option although that can leave you with a jacket that you might not wear for anything else all year.
As with your trousers, if you are only going out in seriously cold weather, then get a jacket with some insulation built in but, in today’s milder conditions, we would suggest something lighter in weight that you can layer up underneath depending on the conditions. This will give you something with more versatility and be able to be used for more of the year.
Browse ArdMoor’s range of stalking jackets
We would always recommend a good pair of hill boots for your day’s stalking rather than wellington boots. They will give you much more support on the uneven ground you will be on and will put much less strain on your achilles tendons if you end up on some steep ground. The height of the boot is very much down to personal preference but we would suggest no less than 7.5” to give you the support and comfort you require. The lighter the weight the better as your legs will get tired enough carrying you without adding another unnecessary kilo.
Browse ArdMoor’s range of stalking footwear
Great boots are worthless without the right socks, so make sure you get some that are designed for the purpose and whose weight is going to keep your feet warm if the conditions are cold. We would recommend Sealskinz socks as a no brainer. Fully waterproof and double layered, they will keep your feet dry even if you have had to wade a river and the water has gone over the top of your boots. Either way, we would also recommend a pair of gaiters to go with your boots to help stop water and bits of heather and the like going down the top of your boots.
Hats & Gloves
The aim of the game is to keep warm, dry and as comfortable as possible. There is little point in keeping the rest of you warm and dry if you leave your head and hands cold and wet as there is nothing (other than cold feet) that will ruin your day faster. Whilst the look might not be great, nothing beats a good beanie hat for functionality, but a good tweed cap or something with a brim or peak is also a good idea to help prevent the rain getting in your eyes.
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Gloves are always a bit of a compromise. You can have some seriously warm gloves but you will have to take them off when you get into the stalk as you won’t feel the trigger with them on. Alternatively you can get a thinner pair of shooting gloves that you can cover up with a pair of mitts if it gets cold or you can go with ones that have a removable trigger finger that you can fold back when you are ready to get into the stalk. We have a full range of all types and styles of shooting gloves, but our favourites would be the Sealskinz Waterproof Sporting Gloves, where both the finger and thumb fold back on both hands giving you full dexterity for reloading as well as using your binoculars.
Browse the full range of stalking gloves
Other than being suitably dressed to enjoy whatever the conditions might be (and remember that nothing can change faster on the hill than the weather), some other kit to take with you would be:-
- A good pair of binoculars so that you can have a look and try and see what the stalker is seeing
- A good sturdy thumb stick as that will really make the walk up and down the hill a whole lot easier
- A day sack or small ruck sack in which you can carry your spare layers, gloves, hat etc when they are not in use plus your lunch and fluid
- Some tissues to keep your scope or binocular lenses clear of rain
- A hefty tip for both the stalker and for the dragger if you are lucky enough to have someone to drag your deer off the hill. If you don’t have one of those then:-
- A hip flask with something warming in it to reward yourself having dragged your deer in!!Browse ArdMoor’s range of stalking kit and accessories
You should now be all set to have a great time in one of the last great wildernesses left in Britain, stalking a truly magnificent prey in some stunning countryside so we hope you enjoy your time on the hill. As you should now return warm and dry after your day, you will be better placed to spend more time in the gun room enjoying a dram and reminiscing about your day as your bath can now wait!!
If you are looking to find something for a friend who loves stalking then explore ArdMoor’s range of Stalking Gifts
If you need any further advice or assistance then please do not hesitate to contact one of our team either on firstname.lastname@example.org or do give us a call on 01620 671480 as we would be delighted to help.