Paid Armed Walk or is it all 'stalking'?

Not so much am article as just relaying some recent events on outings and some thoughts stemming from them.

We recently had a number of outings with an existing client and some of his friends that were up. No names or clues so I can say without fear of attempting favour, nice guys all - abused phrase these days, but gentlemen all and of old school ethics.

We had a number of outings, but the two ( three strictly ) events relayed here were on separate days and with different members of the group.


We stalked into some large clearfell divided by a high ridge of larch. Following the old harvester tracks. It had rained heavily during the night so the ground was something of a fresh palette.

I quickly started seeing sign that a reasonable group of reds had used the same track and from the condition estimated probably no more than an hour or so ahead of us. Closer inspection showed what could be a youngster imprint - but it seemed slightly ahead of the group and there was a hint of being Roe - particularly as it did not match several clearly red 'fawn' tracks.

The clients expressed real interest in reading these tracks. At one point we stopped near a muddy puddle, only to find it clear of tracks. The question was posed - where are the tracks? A search to the side showed where the animals went around the mud. On pointing out that no of us were standing in the muddy bits and had subconsciously stepped around them - heads nodded sagely and with a clear delight at having pieced together a small bit of tracking logic.

Thereafter the guys spent as much time looking down as up!

Cresting the ridge and dropping down we came into sight of perhaps 10 reds - hinds, the odd staggie and several youngsters. These were observed with rapt attention - complete relaxed as they were, it was fascinating to just watch how they behaved. Glassing on, the rear end of a button buck was visible about 50 metres beyond the reds. This guy was equally relaxed. Rather than periodic area checks, he was clearly just looking round at the lead hind - if she was happy, so was he!

Over time the buck fed back in amongst the reds and back away again.

We watched for perhaps 20 minutes. Never once was there a particular urge or impatience to get moving from the client. The red slowly drifted toward an area that would put them out of sight, so we decided to await developments and chance the buck would linger behind.

Eventually a wind eddy took scent to a hind and after a hard stare the group moved off - including the buck!

Passing through the area the previous tracks could be put into perspective. Around the bases of some - but not all - clumps of 'cotton grass' were slightly soggy clumps. A client asked if that was due to the rain. But I pointed out it was restricted to certain clumps and the lumps went 360 degrees around the plants - not swept to one side. There was genuine pleasure when I advised it was the youngsters. Young deer havent learned that soggy cotton wool is pretty yuck to chew - so they try it. If one does it they all tend to copy. Then after a short while of very fluffy and bland chewing they spit it out in lumps of soggy wool. On the off chance they'd picked a not so good plant they tend to try several before giving it up as a bad job.

Again delight.

Around the next rise we bounced a very nice 6 point buck, but no opportunity for a shot presented and the morning outing finally came to an end.

No deer shot, but a full and thoroughly enjoyable morning stalking as far as the client was concerned.


Same group, different clients and day.

Walking out along a track we came to a huge clearfell. Resting close to trees at the edge glassing soon picked up a Red Stag just in the lee ward of the far ridge. As is often the way, once you spot one others seem to materialise. Rather than the usual short velvet stem or fist sized lump of velvet on the stags around the hinds, this guy had maybe 8-10 inches and brow etc points starting. As each animal became obvious they got bigger and bigger. Then, amongst the grey brash and heather bigger animals still. The leader of this bachelor group was sporting 10 plus points already, some 18 inches of antler and a beautiful symmetrical spread.

We watched this relaxed group for 10-15 minutes, then as the lain animals rose the clients watched each with interest, noting body size, coat condition and depth of chest relative to their heads. Eventually another fickle wind shift didnt take our scent to them, but a cold draught right along their sheltered lee. Off they went.

Moving through their area we cut off the track the opposite way and onto the top edge of a large open area. We stalked along the treeline, constantly watching the area some 100 feet below us. The wind abated with the ground and in the relative stillness you could pick out the occasional flat 'baaaarrrn' of a dis-chuffed ( technical expression ) hind.

Coming around the top of a spur I spied two hinds down below us. Edging round into a better position some 8/9 hinds 2 staggies and 4/5 youngsters hove into view. I motioned to the clients and settled in amongst some stunted spruce - perhaps 80 yards from the group.

Everything was peace and harmony - aside from one youngster. It was tearing about, butting other youngsters, racing all around, then running off out of sight at full pelt. There were no midges etc - all the others were calm. This little 'un was just full of joy and energy... and mischief.

Everytime he moved the clients froze as they assumed they'd been seen. I motioned them in and we sat to watch.

Through glass you could see what I would swear was a 'cheeky monkey' expression on the wayward youngster. Equally the expression on the face of what was obviously the mother was priceless. It was she that was making the flat 'unhappy mum' noise. Funnier still was the self satisfied look on he faces of the other hinds and the disapproving stare of the lead hind. Red Hind group dynamics laid out for us to watch.

Eventually the hind started chasing the little one. This was great fun! The youngster started galloping all over and darting into the trees. Then it sunk in that mum was not happy and a proverbial clout around the ear was pending. The funny game became a catch me if you can in earnest!

Eventually the two ran just out of sight, but with the hind gaining. A short moment later there followed a loud 'squeeek'. Longer still the hind trotted back with a very content expression - followed demurely by an extremely contrite youngster, constantly turning to lick at its rump - where presumably mum had nipped!

Peace restored the group fed on out of sight.

Throughout I'd given a commentary to the client, who remained glued to his binoculars. Lowering them at last the beam on his face said volumes.

Again, no 'kill' that morning. Yet on parting the client expressed thanks for what he called a 'memory day'.

I would say that anthropomorphism is dangerous - but believe the above best reflects events for relaying here.

In the car driving out, both clients separately expressed what a fantastic morning it had been and that it was 'what stalking was all about'. Each is entitled to their views - I happen to agree with these guys. There have been other occasions when the air in the car on returning was thick enough to cut. One Danish client ranted that his whole trip was ruined because my stopping to gralloch the beasts had meant he lost out on 'hunting time' - he was so distraught that the two 6 point bucks he did get in the 3 hour outing were practically of no consequence.

Whilst I cant help but veil criticism by way of what I 've written, that is not really what I'm trying to convey. For who, ultimately, got the best 'value' from their particular outings?

paul o'

Well-Known Member
nice readfeller
the lads you had with you will be abl to use the information you past on later on in life and thus pass it on ie sign and tracking!, just because you have a rifle with you it do'st have to mean something has to be shot! i love to watch deer and the other wildlife, shooting is an end result for me and a result of any outing and thats up to me if i wish to pull the trigger , you never stop gleaning information from others in life.


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That to me was a fantastic read and really enjoyed listening to you I feel its those things that make the stalking and would be happy to be glued to my bins watching what unfolded.
I have met quite a few now who have the disatifaction when its not the biggest they have shot and to me they have missed the whole point but you will never change those people but would bet that the first two will be back for more , atb wayne
It's Andy ,I presume , like you I have experienced both types of clients.
strange thing is I have just arrived back home this morning having been away with clients for a few days , at the weekend I experienced a first for me, the client suggested that I just put the buck in the back of the truck and do the gralloch later when we were finished as it wasted to much time, oh and that was the second buck he had shot that morning,he did not say anything while I gralloched the first one, but I could see that something was not pleasing him.

Being the placid soul that I am, I gentley suggested that he should go forth and multiply.


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I spent one of the most enjoyable hours of my life sitting watching a group of hinds in the sunshine once (tee shirts in the highlands in november ffs!) no way to stalk them so we waited for them to move over the skyline so we could carry on. as your client said ' a memory day'

Hunting Solutions

Well-Known Member
It's Andy ,I presume , like you I have experienced both types of clients.
strange thing is I have just arrived back home this morning having been away with clients for a few days , at the weekend I experienced a first for me, the client suggested that I just put the buck in the back of the truck and do the gralloch later when we were finished as it wasted to much time, oh and that was the second buck he had shot that morning,he did not say anything while I gralloched the first one, but I could see that something was not pleasing him.

Being the placid soul that I am, I gentley suggested that he should go forth and multiply.
A man after my own heart. :D


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Boggy i have similar a few years back. The client had shot and injured a buck, the buck ran off into a wood . I suggested that we wait about 30 mins for it to stiffen and follow up. This was met with i am paying for your time and at £50 a stalk My friend arrived with the dog and i asked him to free her off also explaining why my foreign guest was up set. My friend is not as diplomatic as me being from drumchapel and suggest he do things to himself. Buck found still alive dispatched and time for home some might have been happy with that morning some not. ! Hay ho .ps MO Great read mate.


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To go by the title it sounds more like a wildlife trail to see Deer rather than an armed walk - hope you don't think you sold them short?
As a client I would expect to be onto deer through stalking, and manoeuvre into a position to take a humane shot; I also accept this is not always possible and that deer are wild animals and do as they please; but as a professional stalker your job is to make this happen as much as possible.

By comparison, went on a high seat weekend (or a 'sit' as I now call them) and saw a fleeting view of a Muntjac at 300m over four separate 'sits' - it was thoroughly disappointing and left me feeling out of pocket and flat; thought an offer of another day (the weather had been diabolical) for free/discounted would be made but it wasn't. The cull deer would still remain for someone else to shoot on a bumper day.

On balance I have had some great days out stalking with IanF (for example), and we have used up a lot of the day getting into the right position and understanding more about deer and stalking them. I have made mistakes that have been good lessons and been unlucky a few times, but have always been supported by IanF, thus making the disappointment insignificant and the day enjoyable and memorable. I have taken deer on every visit to Ian, but not every stalk - along the way I have thoroughly enjoyed the day.

If the professional stalker manages things right, and from the above it sound like you have, the client will be happy and have great memories - although I suspect they will always be 'happier' if they have taken an animal, after all that is what it is about, but is not always possible.
PS I am on my 9th 'sit' in a row without a beast and no shots fired. It will change.

tom reveley

Well-Known Member
Very good read I was with you myself reading it but you always get people that aren't happy no matter what you do
Best regards
​ Tom
Thank you for the comments.

Really not trying to be judgemental - it is a service industry!:D - but its the aspect that the 'money's worth' derived from the outing actually works out less for those focussed on purely shooting that seems ironic.


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I think that most of us who have got a real 'passion' for deer can understand completely that you can get as much fun from paying to go out and not shoot deer as from a successful day :D

Maybe there's more potential than we think for 'wildlife safari's' in the company of experienced wildlife guides for the springwatch masses?


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I have sat and watched roe twins play. I have seen a shrew dart out of it's hole and run along my rifle. A fox bouncing from tree stump to tree stump and mole crawling along a path. I've been surrounded by a flock of wrens and have nearly been run off the ride by a badger intent on getting somewhere and not smelling me. What I can't specifically recall is if my stalk was successful or not on those occasions. For me stalking is about communing with nature. If my stalk is successful i'm happy - but I am delighted every time I get to walk in the forest. And what saddens me most is that I might be able to do so much longer because of my illness and I shall miss it :(. Those who go just for the "kill", in my humble opinion, go for the wrong reasons. The whole experience counts, not just the shot. So I agree whole heartedly with the poster - those who enjoy the whole experience take so much more away than those who just go to kill. And before anyone mentions deer management, I have my quota to fill as well, so understand the pressure to achieve a cull figure


The Croc

Well-Known Member
I loved reading that, as they say "there's more to shooting than pulling a trigger"
These guys will be back for more, and will take the shot, but the shot will only be a small part of the stalk, and not the only thing that matters
If these guys are young..ish the future for fieldsports looks good, they are learning, that will in future will be passed on


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That was a good read had a similar thing on my recent trip to South Africa we where out after an old KUDU cow and after watching what seemed like 50 animals of both genders we finally got into the right animal and duly dispatched it the PH turned to me and apologized for not finding one sooner to which i replied that i had never seen so many of these magnificent animals an it would'nt have bothered me if we didn't get the shot i had a great day and the one i did get hardly had a tooth in its head


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Sounds like a fantastic trip for the clients.
It is a tricky one though and relies on the integrity of the stalker and the attitude of the client being in sync.
Trouble is, you need a way of quantifying whats been paid for. A bit like the pheasant shoots who sell days based on 'the opportunity' to shoot n amount of birds.

Its easy to blame impatient, spoilt, unappreciative, unrealistic clients for being unsympathetic to the actualities of stalking but then plenty of people have been 'ripped off' by unscrupulous hosts who don't have enough deer to honour the amount of stalking they sell.

Any reasonable client will know when they've been taken for a ride and how much of an effort has been made for them and any experienced stalker will know how much they care if this particular client books again for next year or not :lol:
Great post MO,

And a fair reply by Crosshair243 where greed and lack of integrity may mean that somebody has dipped into their hard earned for the umpteenth time and still has not grassed a deer.

I think on here we often see the very best and sometimes the worst that stalking has to offer.

Surely it cant be any easier however looking at the Stalking Offered and replies to help make a well informed decision who to book with

Nice post MO


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Here's my theory, if you save up all year for your weekend stalking trip, not to be repeated for another year, you prob want above all else to take a shot .. if however your stalking every week, your much more able to kick back and enjoy the stalk, as there's always tomorrow.. a great read, I enjoyed that.


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Great write up!
You were lucky enough to have true stalkers/hunters as your clients...
Thats a big difference to all the shooters booking an outing, expecting the shot and kill and just rather care about the nature and other impressions we do enjoy so much when out for stalking...!

Obviously not easy to get only this type of sportsmen out... :tiphat:


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A very nice read , thank you.
I am not a professional stalker but on the odd occasion i have helped a few friends out by taking out one of their clients (and i would not want to do it full time ...) but because i have my own stalking ground / permissions i am rarely a client , as with most aspects of life you encounter all sorts of people , clients and stalkers all at the extremes of the spectrum both ways .
Because i don't pay for my stalking perhaps i am more relaxed about the event than some , i think that if i did pay for more stalking my attitude might be a bit diffferent but i still think that i would be content if i saw deer but could not take a shot for whatever reason , at least i would know that there are deer in residence as opposed to some stalks i have heard of where neither track nor trace of beast were to be found ....