What Kit to Carry for Game Stalking

You do not need a lot of gear to carry for a morning, or afternoon, of game stalking.  Sometimes it pays to buy the best you can afford, but other necessary bits of gear are available at quite modest prices.

Over the years I have distilled down my carry items for when I go stalking game.  I have a small backpack ready to go at a moments notice.  It only takes a few minutes to place my ammo and rifle in the vehicle.  Most of my hunting spots are with 10 to 20 minutes’ drive.

Pest and Predator Hunting Kit

I am fortunate to live in a rural area of the wet tropics in far northern Queensland.  Wild dogs and feral pigs are plentiful.  Typically, they shelter and breed in the vast tracts of dense, virgin rain forest, emerging onto the bordering farmlands to kill livestock and raid crops.

On arrival at my location I take several key items out of my backpack.  First is a pair of Swarovski 10×25 pocket binoculars which I hang around my neck.  Next, I slip a cord around my neck that has several predator squealers on it.  Then I slide onto belt two or three small pouches.  First up is my reserve ammo pouch that hold three rounds.  Second is my Olympus TG-5 Tough compact camera.  Third, and depending on the location, I may add my Leupold RX-1200i TBR rangefinder to the belt as well.

I always carry a camera when out hunting and for decades that was invariably an SLR type camera.  In recent years, hunting in rugged tropical hill country and frequently getting caught by showers of rain, I decided to move to the Olympus TG-5 because it is compact, water and shockproof.  I can carry it on my belt and forget about it until I want to take photos.

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Stalking Rifle

Most times, my rifle is a Weatherby Vanguard in 257 Weatherby Magnum.  It is a good compromise for the country I hunt.  Ranges can vary from a few metres out to 500 metres, or more, as I stalk along the edge where the dense tropical jungle meets the rolling open pastures of bordering farmland.

The Vanguard is a budget-priced but very serviceable rifle.  It shoots as accurately as I could wish, typically producing three-shot test groups of less than one MOA.  Weatherby factory ammunition shoots well in this rifle, but most times I use my own handloads of the 110 grain Nosler Accubond with a muzzle velocity of about 3,310 feet per second.

I have a Swarovski z6i 2.5-15×56 scope, on that and it has proven to be an invaluable addition to the rifle in taking some successful long shots at wild dogs in the poor light of dusk and dawn.  I have a Champion 13.5-23 inch bipod attached, which is essential for taking the long distance shots the Vanguard 257 Weatherby Magnum is capable of delivering.

Most times, the three rounds in the magazine are more than enough, as I would expect to take only one, or occasionally two shots.  However, having on several occasions run out of ammo on big mobs of pigs, I now carry an extra three rounds.

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kit to wear and carry for game stalking

Backpack for Game Stalking

In my backpack, I have a small bag containing some cord and hangers that I can use to hang a wild dog by a leg from a fence or tree for photographic purposes.  I also have a small sheath knife for nicking the skin of such animals.  The sheath knife is one I bought from a Taramundi knife maker during a trip to Spain, and it is dedicated to use of dogs and pigs.

Also in the backpack is a small camera tripod to facilitate selfies.  I also carry a small piece of waterproof material to sit upon in the wet grass and avoid getting a cold, wet bum.  I also carry a small bag of disposable surgical gloves and a little squeeze bottle of disinfectant hand wash.  These days, I have adopted the habit of using gloves when handling any wild animals.  If a glove breaks, I will use the hand wash on my hands.

Carry gear in my game stalking kit

Venison Hunting Carry Gear

When hunting deer for meat I move to a bigger backpack.  Obviously, the bigger backpack is needed for carrying meat back to the vehicle.  Specific to meat hunting, I carry a couple of dozen plastic bags, folded up flat, ready for use.  As the deer is field butchered the meat is paced in these bags to keep dust, debris and flies off it.

Also for meat hunting, I carry two or three hunting knives and a short diamond hone.  I use dedicated knives for skinning and separate knives for meat dissection.

Otherwise, I carry the same gear as I carry when predator/pest hunting.  On any hunting excursion I carry some basic, but essential safety gear.  I never used to do that, but as I got older (and hopefully wiser) it made sense to do so when hunting alone if for no other reason than the peace-of-mind it provides my wife at home.

Safety Gear for Hunting Alone

In recent years I have also adopted the habit of wearing a light blaze camo jacket, made by Dave Griegs at Blackfoot.  I like the highly effective break-up pattern, the generous pockets and other design refinements specific to a hunter’s needs.  Having a couple of times unexpectedly encountered other hunters on my patch, it made sense to be highly visible.  Blaze camo is, of course, only highly visible to humans and some of the birds.

The animals I hunt do not have colour vision, and the break-up pattern of the Blackfoot camo hides me from their view very effectively.  Most of my hunting stands are from open pasture, on the side of a ridge, or spur, and I know from repeated hunting successes that the wild dogs and boar do not see me, even at close range.

Most of my hunting locations are along the creeks and floodplains of tropical streams running along the bottom of deep valleys and gullies.  In most of these locations, there is no mobile cell reception.  The wet tropics produces pastures that are lush and knee-deep.  During the wet season, the grass can be head high.

Slogging up and down steep slopes, covered in thick, wet grass that grows on greasy red volcanic soil, it is easy to slip.  I carry a staff to assist in hiking through such country.  The staff is also useful for poking about ahead of where I am walking.  The areas I hunt have a big population of snakes, foremost of which are the Taipan and King Brown.  That is also the reason I wear either my Muck Woody Sports boots or knee-high gaiters above my hiking boots.

These two snakes are rightly considered by many to be the most dangerous snakes in the world, based on their aggressive nature, fast, athletic abilities, extremely toxic venom, long fangs, huge bite dosage and willingness to deliver multiple bites.  I regularly find full-grown cattle that have died of snakebite.  That is always a good reminder to be aware.

So, with the risk of sliding down a steep slope and maybe breaking a leg, getting ripped up by an angry boar or being bitten by a deadly snake, I carry two small but essential items in my backpack.  One is a small pouch containing a pressure bandage, whistle, signal mirror, painkillers, pocket knife, cord, an aluminium space blanket.  The other small item is one of the new Emergency Locator Beacons.  I carry a small bottle of water to keep hydrated; which is a serious issue in the tropics, even on a short morning hunt.

If I come to grief in some dank, deep gully, I can administer some first aid and, if I think it is serious enough and I am unable to get back to my car, I can activate my PLB and summon a rescue chopper.  My bright blaze camo jacket will help searchers find me in the thick, green vegetation.

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