Bushwear Deer Stalking Accessories
Bushwear are a relatively new company formed to supply the professional and amateur stalker with quality products that really work. The Bushwear team reflect a lifetime’s stalking experience on the west side of Scotland. Their experience and exasperation in not being able to source the right kit led to a new company being formed and aimed solely at the practical shooting community.
The Bushwear colour catalogue is filled with essential, novel and reasonably priced items that most deer stalkers would benefit from. I wanted to test ten of the best products sourced from the catalogue, to see if they really did what the advertising said. So I chose three carcass preparation tools, three insect repellent products, three novel deer attractants and a really useful scope cleaning aid.
First up are the carcass prep tools which are a small percentage of the total items on offer. I like to travel light and need kit that is dependable and is cheap enough so that if it is lost, as can often happen, it is not that expensive to replace.
I choose a budget price-stalking knife, carcass saw and chest spreader. These three items will do 90% of all your stalking needs and certainly help in carcass preparation and safe handling of the venison.
The Bush Knife retailing at only £3.99 represents unparalleled quality at a bargain price. The blade is four inches in length and is made of 4290 stainless steel. The handle has a hygienic rubberised textured grip and the knife fits snugly into a synthetic and equally hygienic plastic sheath with integral belt attachment. The price is the first obvious attraction here, but don’t think that the quality is ‘cheap’, because this knife is really first class. The blade holds a good edge, is hard wearing and very stain resistant. Quite frankly, for the price, if you lose it, then £3.99 for a new one will not break the bank. This is a great ‘do anything’ knife and personally I keep several in various shooting coats, just in case I lose one! My only minor grumble is that the sheath is a little loose so the knife is only lightly held within it.
In a similar vein is the Bush Saw priced at £7.99. This is a stainless steel hunting saw that can be a real benefit in cutting through the rib cage on larger deer. There is a well-designed curved tip that protects against accidental puncture of the intestine or bladder. The blade is designed by the Bush wear team to cut both on the pull and push strokes to the action with the synthetic grip - of a similar textured finish as the Bush Knife -giving a confident hold. This is a low cost tool that comes complete with a cordura sheath.
The final carcass prep tool is a real benefit in allowing a fuss free gralloching of deer in the field. The Bush Wear Spreader is again made from quality stainless steel that has been designed specifically for British deer species and comes in two sizes, 7.5 or 4.5 inches length. They are designed with a twisted section that gives a strong integrity, holding open the ribcage allowing the stalker ample room to work, whether in the field or back at the larder. As an aid to carcass cooling the £2.99 priced 4.5inch spreader on test is easily slipped into the stalking jacket and is a welcome addition out in the field.
This next group of products are a great idea, especially after this season in the highlands, where the ticks and midges have been numerous! Two of the products pertain to tick eradication and the other is a midge repellent. Frankly, any relief from either of these pests are a benefit to any sportsperson out in the field.
The effectiveness of midge repellents can be highly speculative and varies depending on coverage, repeated use and exposure to the wee beasties. Expedition Midge repellent in 50ml aerosol form was developed by Lifesystems and is specially formulated to provide protection against biting insects on the skin. The active ingredient is Myrtle and a blend of other plant extracts that does really help in deterring midges. I tried this product in Scotland and found it a good midge deterrent but I needed frequent applications for maximum effect. At only £4.50 for 50ml it is well worth a try.
The next two items pertain to tick removal - not repellent. If you have an embedded tick, swift removal of it is highly desirable. The first product is a tick pen priced at £6.99 and is the easiest way to remove ticks. The thumb operated extending tick pen has a head that lifts the tick out of the skin without squeezing it and thus transferring tick saliva into the skin. Tick saliva is known to contain bacteria that could carry Lymes disease.
The other product is really new to me. It is not a mechanical tick remover but a medical patch that safely removes embedded ticks from the skin. The Rid-a-Tick patch is made from hypoallergenic 3M medical tape that is latex free and is one inch in diameter. By simply covering a tick and pressing the tape into place, no air can reach the ticks body. By waiting several minutes, the tick literally backs out from the skin. With the tick out from the epidermis, the patch is folded around the tick’s body and thus a safe disposal is assured. At only £4.99 for six patches, this is a pain free essential stalking aid that may really save you from ill health.
Next up are a trio of relatively new products to hit the British market and these are game attractants.
They first is Salz paste which contains an Aniseed flavour that is known to attract deer with the addition of vital vitamins and minerals to encourage proper growth. This paste is available in a small 400 gram tube at £4.99 or larger 2Kg tub £14.99. The main ingredients are primarily Sodium Chloride and Magnesium with a binding agent that gives a highly saturated salt paste consistency. This acts as the basis to which the Aniseed attractant is added at 0.1 % and in the version I was testing – ‘Wachstum Plus’ - there was the addition of copper, selenium and phosphorus for proper growth. Being a paste it is easily applied to tree stumps or trunks and allowed to dry to act as a long term deer attractant that can be topped up regularly and sited on known deer tracks or feeding locations.
The second item is an aerosol version of the Aniseed attractant that comes in a 100 ml spray bottle and costs £14.99. This is a very concentrated Aniseed solution that can be sprayed on vegetation, tree stumps, or anything in fact to attract deer. It is also useful as a concealment for masking the human scent on clothes and I have had some success in photographing deer in this way to mask the human scent. As with all these products, some deer will be attracted more than others, depending on the availability of natural salt and minerals within their environment.
The last product in the line is a 2kg tub of Beechwood Tar, and like the previous attractants it is aimed at luring in Red deer in particular. Used on the Continent for years the very strong aroma is best described as smoked Marmite, nice!... I am testing this in Scotland at present and as expected have had mixed results, but it is early days and for the price it is a useful tool as a “lets just try it anyway” product. Make sure you do not get it on your clothes, unless you want to personally give off tempting aromas throughout the woods…
Last but not least is a really useful little item called the Spudz lens cleaning cloth. Nothing odd here but the cloth is stitched into a protective elasticated waterproof pouch measuring no more than 2 x 1.5 inches with the Bushwear logo on it. You pull out the cloth which is a triangular lint free fabric, clean your lens and pop it back in. Because there is an ABS clip attached it makes for easy location on any rifle sling or clothing so it is always handy. This is a very useful item to have with you, how often are you fumbling to clear lens on a stalk - especially in the Scottish highlands? At £5.99 this will be a low cost yet essential item in any stalkers kit bag.
Having tested all the products reviewed here in the field, in all weathers, and on most deer species, I have been impressed with each item; and remember these are only ten items from a vast number of products in the new 06-07 Bushwear catalogue.
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates