The Stalking Show is a relatively new addition to the British Shooting Calendar and in only its second year, has doubled in size with nearly 200 exhibitors showing thousands of products. After the major launches at SHOT Show and IWA a month or two behind us, it was interesting to see a couple of worldwide product reveals from major manufacturers as well as a lot of smaller companies showing their goods off to the 10,500 attendees from the British Deer Stalking community. Here a few of the highlights.
GMK (Beretta Group distributor): introducing the Burris BTH 19 v2 Thermal Imaging monocular to the UK market GMK - Home
My first visit was to GMK to see Sako, Tikka and Franchi (all brands of Beretta Holding) yet my eye was drawn with the latest Burris Thermal Imaging monocular. The BTH 19 v2 spotter took me by surprise as its brand new and with little exposure so far to the brand. I was very impressed with the image quality and more so, the ergonomic feel of the item. It has a tapered tubular construction making it ideal for ambidextrous use and is notably easily controlled with eyepiece and image focus which both enabled a very crisp picture to be presented to my eye. It’s visible on the video that my expression was somewhat surprised when I heard the price which at less that £1000 which makes it incredibly good value for money. I can’t wait to get one for a full review soon.
CRD were displaying a pair of chillers suited to some of the most common small and medium scale venison supply chains. This company pride themselves on in-house chiller supply from concept to completion minimising contact with separate suppliers. Manufacturing standards looked superb with capability to easily exceed your expectations, tough heavy duty roller systems and intelligent easy clean racking to name but a few.
I was able to get a detailed interview with the UK distributor of Crispi boots, discussing their legendary status within the Italian boot manufacturing community as well as how they worked through Covid to expand their product line and supply chain with boots and colours suited to the UK market. I look forward to reviewing the boots soon with particular interest in the Titan GTX through the warmer summer months.
Garmin and Deer Tracking Services. These are the new products for 2023 especially for dogs Deer Tracking Services
Garmin were alongside the UK Deer tracking services team to explain the full range of product’s capability when allied to the growing UK tracking market, where dogs as an accessory to the deer stalker are becoming increasingly popular for both professional and recreational stalkers. Tracking dogs have never been as common in the UK, perhaps due to the lack of driven rifle hunting but with the encroaching non-toxic bullet culture, I suspect tracking will become more of an integral part of the sport for many hunters.
Although currently best known for rubber boots and wellies, leather, and Kevlar boots from Gateway1 were on display looking to make inroads in the UK. The fast-drying Kevlar boots were of particular interest in a country where it’s virtually never dry underfoot, and I will be trying some soon.
Highland Outdoors, Proof Research, MDT and brand new optics from GPO (German Precision Optics) for the UK market
New Proof Research rifles were on show with carbon barrels and specifically stocks that show excellent grip from their tactile surface finishes. Highland were showing their entire product portfolio at this show, but GPO (German Precision Optics) are a new acquisition with superb optical performance, and I was keen to see them. We are talking about high class rifle scopes for hunters and shooters, binoculars, rangefinders and more. Some the latest MDT stocks were also on display for both target shooters and a stunningly light yet still super-stiff carbon stock for custom rifle builds. The build quality of the carbon fibres was exquisite, and I can’t help but admire the technical approach with the use of magnesium for additional weight savings to the bedding block and rifle receiver inlet.
Sika deer offer some of the most challenging open hill stalking anywhere in the UK and Ireland. The ability to talk to a specific outfitter who specialises in the species for stalkers from home and abroad was fantastic. Irish Safaris can offer full package deals for your hunting holiday and having hunted Sika in Wicklow myself, would thoroughly recommend Ireland as a great location to extend your hunting horizons at realistic prices.
Ladies Deer Stalking – The trends goes on...
This group are keen to promote stalking as a great sport for ladies and concentrating on building a trusted community which members can access the best information to suit any gender specific needs within the deer stalking world. They run a private group on Facebook which is the best place to get in contact so run a search for their group name, only Ladies allowed.
The latest Telos XP50 LRF thermal monocular from Pulsar offers superb ambidextrous ergonomics, and it now has a sub 18mK NETD sensor for the greatest thermal resolution. There’s a laser rangefinder and “Upgradeable” status too. We have long been used to firmware updates in the digital imaging market for both thermal and night vision, but this latest step also assures that optical/mechanical upgrades will be possible which appears to somewhat future proof the units. The Merger XL50 LRF thermal binoculars introduce Pulsar's largest 1024x768 sensor with 12-micron pitch to offer high magnification without sacrificing field of view in this market leading item that physically feels identical to a regular pair of binoculars when hunting.
Seekins are making a bold statement with their Havak rifles offering a lifetime warranty on their barrels so if you wear one out, they will replace it. I’m keen to see how this affects the rifle market but, in the meantime, I will be receiving all their rifles in HIT, PH2, Bravo and Element formats that offer chassis or conventional stock layouts in hunting and target oriented rifles. Light fluted barrels or super heavy match barrels are on offer with excellent triggers, magazine systems and build quality at a seemingly very reasonable price, so fingers crossed they deliver because looks alone are superb.
Steel targets are now very popular in the UK with immediate feedback available from the noise of bullet impact and the immediate visual or even dynamic effect when hit. The Steel Target Company are a bespoke manufacturer offering a wide range of target and accessories in bulletproof AR500 steel to suit your budget and size requirements. Small gongs sold out at the show but if you want a full-size recreation of your favourite quarry species, these are the people to make it for you alongside their evolving standard designs.
Zeiss DTI 6-40 Thermal Monocular – High class German engineering spotter for dear stalking ZEISS United Kingdom
New at the show was Zeiss’ latest 6-40 thermal monocular. This is an ambidextrous spotter with 640x48 12-micron pitch sensor providing a 3x baseline magnification. The intuitive controls are immediately responsive with a roller on top to immediately alter digital zoom settings. Colour palettes can be customised to your tastes and as well as crisp image focus from the objective lens and eyepiece dioptre, you now get binocular style twist up eyecups to suit your eye relief requirements, glasses or not!
The full range of Rovince tick protection clothing was on show with a few new additions to cuts, styling and options. Nnicest of the lot was the lightweight zip pullover that’s changed from light green to a darker brown colour with higher quality manufacture. The zip is quarter length so it’s quick on and off over your head and it also has side ventilation.
Claus from Viper-Flex was stalking the show, demonstrating his latest Pro-To-Go model which is a traveller variant of the Carbon fibre model, now split into three sections making it smaller and more compact for travel. The sticks are still just as stiff, as tall and feature rubber covering over the adjuster holes to prevent any whistling caused by the wind. The carbon alone, and now with rubber too also stops them drawing the heat away from your hands in the cold and still super light.
CAB animal transit boxes offer bespoke modular construction to suit your needs with some fantastic options on show for deer stalkers and dog handlers. As well as single and twin drawer units for pickup trucks, the options of adding deer hoists and trays to heave them on board will save an incredible amount of effort and features like these can still be combined with hardtops and dog boxes with side opening for emergency escape as well as illumination and electrical ventilation for your dog’s comfort. These are all manufactured in the UK and available to suit a wide range of vehicles with fitting included in the price. Everything is waterproof for easy washing with fast flow drain plugs.
Save the date! The next edition of the Stalking Show will be held on Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th April, 2024.
The Stalking Show
Staffordshire County Showground
For more details, see www.thestalkingshow.co.uk