As we have had a recent thread by 223 (Dave) on the site about a friend of his being ripped off by a stalker I thought it might help to put a few pointers up for those who are novice stalkers, or those that stalk but a few times a year, and are wishing or looking to book some stalking. I am sure someone will possibly come up with a few more to add to the list, but I hope this will help give some of out newer stalkers some guidance if they are looking to book a stalk.
- Always ask for the complete cost of the stalk, most stalks being 3 hours AM and 3 hours PM. The average cost per lowland stalk is between £60 and £90, with overall £75 being the average I would say.
- What is the kill fee on each beast?
- What is the charge for any venison you may want to purchase?
- What happens if I wound or loose a beast (usually there will be a charge for the loss of venison and the trophy fee if its a Buck or Stag?
- What is the charge if I badly shoot a beast (gut, haunch, saddle) normally you will be charged for this?
- Does the guide have a suitable deer dog. If you do wound a deer you need a GOOD Dog, not someone's pet pooch to try and retrieve your deer, especially if its a good trophy beast. Or are they able to call upon UKSHA or a similar group of guys with good dogs to help.
- Does the guide have suitable extraction equipment. You do not want to turn up to find they have a mini to extract a Fallow buck out of a 100 acre wood.
- Does the guide have the necessary experience for the species of deer you will be stalking, if you are unsure ask for references. If they are reluctant to provide these walk away.(Again many claim to have experience in all the UK species, when they do not)
- Does the guide have Level 1 and 2. Not that this is vitally important but it does prove to me whether they have put the time in to make sure they are proficient to a certain level!
- Does the guide have COMMERCIAL INSURNACE. Many do not so check first, as you may not be covered and they certainly will not be.
- Does the guide live up to all they put on their website. (Some claim to have managed or are managing all the 6 species in the UK, and I know for a fact that many have not and are being economical with the truth)
- If you are still not sure ask around, the stalking world is a small one.
- Get everything in an email if needs be or in a contract, if they are reluctant to do this, walk away.
- Do not be fooled by some idiot asking you to take neck or head shots only on any beast. Take the shot you are comfortable with. Most good guides will not encourage you to take a shot unless it is completely safe to do so. They know the ground, you do not. Head and neck shots should only be taken by someone who is proficient with their rifle and has good experience, and at a sensible range. Guides should not be encouraging any client to take risky shots, especially novice stalkers.
- DO not expect to see or shoot deer every time you go out, even with a good guide. That's stalking you cant shoot them all. But on the flip side make sure by speaking to other past clients that the ground does hold deer and is not a 200 acre farm that has been shot out.
- Any good guide will have access to at least 2 to 6 species of deer on their ground with several thousand acres to stalk over. CHECK again and ask questions before parting with your hard earned cash.
- If the day or outing is a complete blank and no deer are seen, the guide should be decent enough to offer a reduced or free trip back to you. ( It does not happen often with me, but if so I always offer a free stalk or high seat outing to the client)
- Lastly if its to good to be true in a deal, it generally is!!
After many years in this business it seems we have a number of newbies taking clients out. Not that I am against this, but for those clients who are saving their hard earned money to go stalking once a month it comes as a thorough disappointment when they are taken for a ride.
So check the offer out, ask questions, ask for references, ask for proof of commercial insurance, and ask for an email with everything outlined, prices etc. And if you are still in doubt walk away.
On the other side you will sometimes get an awkward client who has no idea what they are doing and can be problematic, however they are few and far between and in general most folk are a pleasure to be out with.
I hope the above helps.