The Germans call stalking ‘pürsch’, and use the term primarily in relation to stalking cloven-hoofed game and foxes. It is a form of hunting that causes very little disturbance to the other species of game, which makes it possible to do it often. You normally hunt at the times the game is active, in the morning and evening, but you can also be successful in the middle of the day. Stalking allows selective shooting, i.e. you can choose a specific animal to shoot. Stalkers can also draw out the game, as for example when hunting deer in the breeding season. You can use a call to draw the deer to you. For this form of hunting you can use a shooting stick when firing for added support and accuracy, and as with all rifle hunting, it is important that there is a backstop.

Challenges of stalking in winter
Stalking in winter is an exciting form of hunting which requires good camouflage to match the season. It is often cold, and one of the most important things about stalking is to move slowly and quietly, stopping often. During these pauses you see the landscape from new angles, and might spot a deer behind vegetation or a rise. You therefore cannot walk vigorously enough to keep warm. You need almost the same warm clothing as if you were sitting still in a high seat.
Hunting stories from a hunter
Many countries have large populations of red deer and roe deer, but fallow deer and sika deer can also be found in large numbers. There are growing populations in many places, where you can observe large herds in open spaces. An impressive sight to behold, just as it is impressive to see a single stag demurely step into a clearing with its large antlers. A ‘royal stag’, if its antlers end in a crown on top – the king of the forest!

a mythical animal

The royal stag brings back memories of good literature in history, where it is described as the king’s game, but the royal stag is king of hinds, calves and all other deer. Red deer appear in almost all old mythology. For example, the goddess Diana has her chariot drawn by hinds. In the Celtic mythology, the white stag marks the threshold to another world. Whatever you read, the stag is presented as something strong, almost magical. It is not without reason that these marvellous creatures are kept in deer parks, where you can see them clash antlers during rutting season in battles to decide territory, mating rights and kingship. It is awe inspiring to see stags fight. It is reminiscent of two medieval knights riding towards each other with lances drawn. It’s not a fight for the weak-hearted.

Deerhunter’s recommendations for stalking in winter

Mating bellow from another world

My first encounter with a royal stag came during an evening duck hunt. Few people generally treat themselves to the experience of standing still for a few hours beside a forest lake as the sun slowly sets. Everything shuts down in the late summer of September. Not only does the day draw to a close, leaves change colour and fall to the ground, birds begin to migrate south to warmer climes, and it can feel as if the whole year is preparing to end on such an evening. People use the phrase, ‘as darkness falls’, and it also seems that way when you see it happen. Darkness falls on the world and lies like a black duvet with thousands of star. Suddenly, as I was waiting for the ducks, a mating bellow sounded fifty meters behind me in the wood. It made me jump. The sound spread out to every corner – to every tree and animal in the wood. There was nothing for miles around that could avoid hearing it. It sounded again, and the second time, when I was ready for it, I was better able to take it in and enjoy it. It was the king saying ‘goodnight!’ There was no doubt that this was the commander-in-chief speaking. I have later had the pleasure of stalking deer in rutting season, and it does nothing to diminish the experience to be able to see the stag standing in daylight, bellowing to the world. You can actually stalk towards the sound, and it is an incredible feeling to finally see the stag in the landscape after having crawled around for a long time. The fairy tale does not end with the shot. Rather, that is where you become part of it. You step into another world – not as a transient visitor, but as a hunter forever.


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