Happily, My Mrs and I came up with a reasonable financial arrangement for paying for stalking gear today, so I'm able to start planning what I want to buy with a number in mind - that number is £1200. I already have a pretty good idea of the setup I want, so this post is to ask whether anyone knows any reasons I shouldn't buy the equipment I've listed.
That said, I am only interested in hearing reasons such as "this item is known to be unreliable" or "this item has a known manufacturing / design defect" and the like. I respect the extensive experience of others here and apologise if this offends, but I am not interested in hearing from anyone who thinks I should be spending the money in vastly different proportions (i.e. a £200 rifle and a £700 scope) or who feels that any of the brands I've listed are crap but can't give a specific reason why the particular model I've listed is likely to prove faulty / unreliable / unsuitable. I would love to be able to splash out £10,000 on a stalking setup and to be able to post here in proper "willy-waving" fashion about a custom rifle an obscure (but appropriate) calibre and Zeiss optics worth more than my house and so on - it isn't going to happen.
My criteria for the stuff I've listed below is as follows:
- I will hopefully be hunting all six UK species at some point, but I know that I will initially have the opportunity to go after Muntjac, Roe, Fallow and Red. I want one gun for all of that and to have the possibility of using it for boar later on, if I feel so inclined. Ergo, I want a .308.
- I will be shooting for the table, occasionally, rather than in any kind of professional capacity.
- I want to run a "slow and heavy" bullet - probably an ordinary softpoint, but we'll see. I am convinced by the argument of using a slow and heavy bullet (i.e. 170gr from a .308 @ 2500fps) rather than a light, fast one (i.e. 130gr from a .270 @ 3000fps) as being the most likely to reduce meat damage. I recognise that shot placement is also key. I also recognise that others will have different opinions, but I owe it to the people who have given their time to teach me what little I know to try their way first.
- Related to the above, I have a kid on the way and won't get to do a lot of stalking in the next year or so. Frequency of trips out will increase in time. That's important because I particularly want to maximise the amount of food I get from each carcass - stalking will be a way of finding relatively cheap meat, learning to hunt and having fun at the same time.
- Most of my stalking will be done during daylight hours, at short range in a woodland setting. I don't need expensive optics which give me maximum shooting time or maximum detail at dawn or dusk. For one, I'm a wildfowler at heart - if I have to go home with nothing, so be it. For two, I can't tell the difference between a £150 scope and a £1500 one at this point - I'm still learning all this stuff - so spending the extra £1350 is wasted on me.
- I'm a musician in other areas of my existence. This is a particularly bad combination with centrefire rifles, so I need a moderator as effective as possible if I'm to stalk without ear defenders and keep my hearing in any kind of useable state.
Here is the stuff which I believe fulfils the needs I've listed:
- Remington 700 SPS in .308 (24" barrel; 1-in-10" twist to stabilize heavy bullets; might get the detatchable magazine version if there is one).
- Hawke Panorama EV 3-9x50mm "etched" scope. (I will take advice on the kind of reticle to get - I've played with the Hawke "sighting" program but it hasn't helped point me towards one or another, but I'd like to pick one of the ones that has some kind of gradations for longer range shooting - just in case - since a low velocity .308 bullet drops reasonably fast).
- Wildcat Predator 12 Moderator with a good sized expansion tube. (I realise this will be heavy, as will the overall setup - I don't mind. It will maximise suppression, absorb recoil and I can carry a 9lb wildfowling gun happily enough.)
- Leupold scope rings / mounts.
I think that lot comes to somewhere in the region of £1150. My local shop has a good deal on the Geco 170gr softpoints at the moment. I've shot them comfortably at a range day and seen a Roe cleanly killed with them, with little to no damage on inspection barring a hole straight through, so I'll start there and find something else if they don't work out.
I'm still to find a good, affordable bipod - any recommendations will be welcome.
I also need to find a sling - preferably a synthetic one with a wide strap, some kind of "friction-giving" surface like rubber to stop it slipping off my shoulder and one with a bit of "give" to make the carry easier. I know the kind I want, but it's hard to describe beyond what I've just written.
I think I've sorted out other accessories - knife (and stone), binos, bag, sticks and the like, but if anyone wants to suggest items I've forgotten, I'll either say that I'm aware of them or add them to my "to buy" list.
Sorry for the bit at the top. I know that in spite of saying that, someone will come along and tell me to buy some kind of hugely expensive scope at the expense of the rifle I want. I understand the arguments and one day I will, but for now I just need enough to get started in the way that seems good to me (and those who have taught me, who understand what I want to do). I fully expect to learn what works and what doesn't as time goes by.
With thanks for any warnings, pointers or comparable alternatives you can suggest,