Deer stalking is a popular and challenging outdoor activity in the UK. As a responsible stalker, it’s essential to consider what clothing to wear to ensure both your safety and success in the field. One common question that arises is whether to wear camouflage. In this article, we will explore the different types of camouflage, the visibility of deer, and provide recommendations on the best attire for deer stalking in the UK.
Understanding Deer Vision
Before delving into camouflage options, it’s important to understand how deer perceive their surroundings. Deer have eyes on the sides of their head, providing them with a wide field of view, almost 360 degrees (300). While they may not have the same level of visual acuity as humans, they excel at detecting movement. Even the slightest motion can alert them to the presence of a stalker. Therefore, remaining still and breaking up your outline is crucial for remaining undetected.
The Purpose of Camouflage
Camouflage serves the purpose of concealing the stalker’s outline and blending them into the natural environment. There are various types of camouflage available, ranging from standard military disruptive-pattern material (DPM) to digital-pattern camouflage. The choice of camouflage should depend on the specific hunting environment and the preferences of the estate manager.
Breaking Up the Stalker’s Outline
Deer have a limited ability to distinguish colours. While research suggests that they can see blues, greens, and even into the ultraviolet spectrum, they do not perceive red. Therefore, camouflage that breaks up the outline of the stalker is more important than the specific colours used. Most types of camouflage, as long as they match the habitat, will effectively break up the stalker’s outline and increase their chances of remaining invisible to deer.
Consider the Habitat
When selecting camouflage for deer stalking, it is essential to consider the specific habitat in which you will be hunting. Different types of camouflage may be more suitable for various environments. For example, a wildfowling pattern may not blend well in coniferous forests, while a simple dark green camouflage might be more appropriate. By choosing camouflage that matches the hunting territory, you increase your chances of remaining undetected by deer.
Camouflage vs. Muted Colours
While camouflage can be effective in certain situations, it is not always necessary for successful deer stalking. In fact, many stalkers opt for muted natural colours, such as greens, browns, and greys, which blend well with the surroundings. Wearing clothing in these colours helps you to avoid standing out and reduces the risk of alarming or unnerving others who may have open access to the area. It is essential to prioritize responsible stalking practices and consider the comfort and preferences of others when selecting your attire.
Snowy Conditions and White Camouflage
In rare cases where there is significant low-ground snow cover, wearing white camouflage can provide a notable advantage. After a fresh snowfall, animals, including deer, can appear disoriented as their environment drastically changes. Wearing white camouflage allows you to blend into the snowy landscape and get closer to the deer without being detected. However, in lowland UK conditions, the need for full thermal white camouflage is questionable, considering the infrequency of significant snow cover. Instead, lightweight net jackets and trousers in broken grey and black patterns can be used as overlays on your usual stalking kit.
Essential Clothing for Deer Stalking in the UK
When preparing for a deer stalking excursion, it is crucial to dress appropriately for the unpredictable UK weather, particularly in Scotland, where some of the best stalking is. Layering is key, as it allows you to adjust your clothing to changing temperatures throughout the day. Consider the following essential clothing items:
- Under shirt / t-shirt: Provides a base layer for moisture-wicking and insulation.
- Shirt: Offers additional warmth and can be worn as a standalone layer.
- Jumper: Provides insulation and can be easily removed if necessary.
- Coat / waterproof layer: Protects against wind, rain, and snow, ensuring you stay dry and comfortable.
Selecting the Right Footwear
Choosing the right footwear is essential for a successful deer stalking experience. Sturdy boots are recommended to provide support and traction over uneven terrain. Walking boots are generally more versatile and suitable for most hunting situations, as they allow for extended periods of walking. Wellington boots can be an alternative, particularly for driven pheasant or partridge shooting, where vehicles are used between drives. Regardless of your choice, ensure your footwear is appropriate for the terrain and weather conditions you will encounter.
The Importance of a Hat
A hat is an essential accessory for deer stalking in the UK. Not only does it protect you from the ever-changing Scottish weather, but it also helps to conceal the outline of your face and prevent deer from spotting you. A tweed flat cap is a popular and recommended choice for its practicality, versatility, and traditional aesthetic. It not only adds a touch of style but also complements the overall hunting attire.
Seeking Expert Advice
With the variety of hunting situations and individual preferences, it’s common to have specific questions about what to wear when deer stalking in Scotland. If you are unsure about the best attire for your hunting experience, it is always advisable to seek expert advice. Professionals with local knowledge and experience can provide valuable insights and recommendations tailored to your specific circumstances.
Choosing the right attire for deer stalking in the UK is essential for a successful and enjoyable hunting experience. While camouflage can be effective, it is not always necessary, and muted natural colours often suffice. Understanding deer vision, breaking up your outline, and blending into the environment are key considerations. Additionally, adapting your clothing to the weather conditions, wearing appropriate footwear, and accessorizing with a hat are vital elements of a well-prepared stalker. By selecting the right attire and prioritizing responsible stalking practices, you can enhance your chances of remaining undetected and increase your chances of a successful deer stalking adventure in the UK.
Remember, always consult with experts or experienced stalkers for personalized advice based on your specific hunting situation. Enjoy your time in the field and stay safe!