I am not going to claim credit for this, but its in adaption of the Four stages of fishing, which I am sure I first read about in a book called Fish, Fishing and the Meaning of Life, which a very dear friend gave to me at university, but like most things I have loaned it and cannot rememebr to whom I lent it.
Like fishing, and actually most things in life, I reckon there are four stages to Deer Stalking and have written this following on from other discussions.
1) Stage One - you are a novice - all you want to do is shoot a deer - any deer, it doesn't matter. Your riflefeels alien. You cannot see deer, even though they a wearing brightly coloured flourescent jackets. Every footstep is greeted with the sound of breaking branches. The rifle just feels cumbersome and awkward, and how the hell can ever find a deer through the telescopic sights - actually how can you see anything in that timy dot in the middle of the sight. And the stalker you are with thinks you are a blithering idiot and just making life more difficult for him. Eventually you have blundered into a few deer and you begin to get the hang of it.
2) Stage 2 - Addiction phase. Gets expensive - every waking hour is spent dreaming, thinking about or actually stalking. Its a numbers game - you just have to shoot deer. Easy to spot, as you have to have the latest kit. You will spend thousands on a rifle built to your exact needs, with a massive scope and all the accessories, only after six months you will decided your needs change and you will sell it at a great loss and you will have something else built for you. You will be laden down with range finders, high powered binoculars, gralloching tools, indeed you will have to invest in an argo, pulled by the latest 4x4 pick up just to carry all your gear, and of course all your deer that you shoot. The combined area of your so called "permissions" will equal at least the Duchy of Cornwall.
Don't worry nobody will have to enquire whether or not you shoot deer, because you will have told them already. And its perfectly acceptable to wear Real Tree dinner jackets when invited to a black tie dinner, or Real Tree underpants on a first date.
3) Stage 3 - you have shot more deer than you can remember. Actually its quite easy - get to within a few hundred yards. Set up your sniping position, meaure the range, dial in and squeeze the trigger. Now you spend all your time going after a gold medal buck, others will spend fortumes on going overseas to stalk in the most difficult conditions, others get into Big Game. Some try to make it more difficult and have to get in close for their bow or pistol to have effect (only applicable to our North American cousins). For others who have the rifle fettish, its about finding that very rare and expensive rifle and then using that to take a gold medal head.
Again quote easy to spot, given the quality of the trophies on the wall and the entries into his passport.
4) Stage 4 - you just go stalking. Your rifle, will be of quality but you have to look at the barrel engraving to remember what calibre it is, but it will be light and handy. When you go out stalking you just pick it up, two or three rounds in your pocket, a knife and a pair of binoculars and you just go stalking. You dont have to look for deer - you just see them out of the corner of your eye. The pleasure is in just being amongst them, the joy of new born calves, gettig to know the old stags and the camaradery of old friends, or young family who can share this with you. You will take the odd beast that needs culling, but its always with regret that you squeeze the trigger. And once a year you will spend an evening reloading a box or two of bullets from that tub of powder and box of bulets you bought from that local gunshop thats long gone.
If stage 4 makes no sense, you are not there yet.