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The Stalking Show 2023

Jules Whicker has a grand day out at the second annual Stalking Show in Stafford

The inaugural Stalking Show at the Staffordshire County Showground was so well received that it was back again this year, with even more exhibitors and expert demonstrations. The show’s special appeal stems from its affordability for smaller vendors, which gives visitors access to a uniquely-rounded set of goods and services, and more in-show bargains than anywhere else.

  • Thomas Jacks / Pulsar

    Thomas Jacks / Pulsar

    For today’s hunters and game managers, thermal is the must-have technology, so I made a bee-line for Thomas Jack’s stand to check out the latest offerings from Pulsar. Notwithstanding the arrival of a Pro version of their benchmark Axion 2 monocular (featuring an enhanced <25mK NETD for greater thermal sensitivity, giving a more refined image and improved foul-weather performance), the stars of the show were the Thermion 2 Duo DXP50/55 riflescopes (with conventional 4K video as well as 640x480 thermal), the brand-new Krypton 2 XG50/XQ35 front add-ons (more ergonomic, more affordable), and above all the ground-breaking Telos LRF XP50, which does for the Helion monocular range what the Merger did for the Accolade bi-ocular line, and then some! Radical features include an LRF binnacle shaped to fit the hollow of your palm, and internal modularity to permit future sensor and display upgrades without the need to buy a whole new unit. So, a strong sign Pulsar has yet more exciting developments in the pipeline! Contact: thomasjacks.co.uk

  • Crispi


    Upland stalkers are always looking for the ultimate boot that's comfortable, light, waterproof, and durable. However, it’s a tough circle to square, and under hard use many famous brands disappoint all too quickly. Word gets around. So does praise. And Crispi is quickly gaining a strong following. Originating from Northern Italy, where Alpine, hunting, and military tech converge, they bring decades of work with the world’s most demanding customers into the stalking sector. They are represented here in the UK by respected distributors, Outwear. Most striking is their Highland Pro model, which integrates a supremely light and comfortable boot within a rugged, easy-closing gaiter. Not cheap, but the design, materials, and construction impressed me. Contact: outwearltd.co.uk

  • Willslock Forge

    Willslock Forge

    I wasn’t looking for a knife. There’s a great choice of knives at the show, from affordable mass-produced Moras to impeccable custom creations, but I’m not a knife guy. Maybe that’s why the table at the Willslock Forge stand stopped me in my tracks and had me reaching for my wallet. These were knives like I’d never seen. On his anvil, blacksmith Chris Cadman recreates ancient Anglo-Saxon and Viking-era designs, based on archaeological finds and using upcycled and sustainable materials. The look is unique. Every knife is unique, too, and as practical today as it was a millennium ago. Contact: willslockforge.com

  • Midcounties Blacking

    Midcounties Blacking

    When I was a lad, we called gun shops 'gunsmiths', because that’s what most used to be. Shop at the front and workshop at the rear. Such places are all too rare now, but some still survive and thrive. One such outfit is Midcounties Blacking. Based in Litchfield, they do much more than their name suggests, undertaking refurbishment, repairs, and a wide range of custom work on guns of all types. That makes them the perfect team to continue the work of Midlands airgun-tuning legends, Venom. A classic Venom-tuned HW springer was as good as a mechanical airgun could get, but people are telling me MB’s Venoms are even better. I’ll be visiting soon to find out, and to get a new barrel for my old Tikka. Contact: midcountiesblacking.co.uk

  • Rabprotection


    Want to spruce up a gun with a new look but without the cost and delay of hydrodipping or Cerakoting? Rabprotection may have the answer. They specialise in vinyl wraps for guns and accessories, supplying kits (for rifles, shotguns, scopes, binos, etc.) that you can apply at home with basic handicraft skills. Alternatively, you can send your items to them for a perfect professional result. Vinyls won’t damage underlying finishes and are straightforward to remove if you ever fancy a change. As well as camo patterns and plain colours, you can opt for a deluxe walnut or carbon-fibre look, textured finishes, or even a bespoke design. Check out Rabprotection’s website to see some of their amazing work. Contact: rabprotection.co.uk

  • Keith's High Seats

    Keith's High Seats

    High seats are a great way to maximise the opportunities on your stalking ground, offering advantages in comfort, observation, and stealth (move less = see more), as well as enabling safe shots on flat terrain. No exhibitor was showing a wider range than Keith’s High Seats, and a close look showed a wealth of practical design features and impressive build quality. And if you want something special, they can build it for you. I didn’t need a high seat, or anything from their extensive range of carcase-handling and lardering products, but did come away with a fancy new (woodpecker-proof!) squirrel feeder. Now, I just need one of their neat squirrel skinners! Contact: keithshighseats.co.uk

  • Cotswold Sporting

    Cotswold Sporting

    It can be difficult for would-be deer stalkers to find somewhere to acquire the rifle and fieldcraft skills essential to success. Cotswold Sporting can help. Experienced providers of shotgun coaching and activities, they now offer field shooting practice facilities and simulated stalking opportunities for both FAC and non-FAC-holding clients. It’s a great opportunity to introduce a friend to hunting with a centrefire, hone your own skills, and experience the pleasure of spotting, ranging and ringing steel in a beautiful Cotswolds setting. There’s also guided deerstalking and comfortable on-site accommodation available. Sounds like the perfect weekend! Contact: cotswoldsporting.co.uk

  • Ladies' Deerstalking UK

    Ladies' Deerstalking UK

    What did one enterprising lady stalker do when she realised how much harder it was to get into deerstalking as a woman? Gripe and grumble like too many men, or set up a Facebook group to encourage and support others, share experiences (good and bad) of the equipment and services available, and give women a route into the sport that is safe, reliable, affordable and fun? Just 18 months from its founding, that route has been taken by over 600 members, with many more joining at the show. The three leading lights of the group I met, Kate, Geri, and Heather, clearly know their stuff (and everyone worth knowing in UK stalking), were bubbling with tales of their latest outings, and – amazingly - give all their time for free. OBEs all around, please! Contact: Find them on Facebook or Instagram

  • Bestdeercall


    I love visiting Rob Crampton’s Bestfoxcall/Bestdeercall stand. He always has tons of practical accessories, and there’s always some new bit of kit that feels like a must-have essential! This time it was a limited-edition roe and muntjac call, hand-turned by Rob himself from oak-wood beams salvaged from a 19th-century barn he’s working on, and fitted with a long-lasting synthetic reed. Continental calls use cherry wood, but the oak seems to have a wider tonal range, and being a mouth call, you get more control and engagement than you do with a Buttolo, letting you call high-and-sharp for roe, down-pitch and stretch out slightly for muntjac, or make the kind of squealing fuss that few foxes can resist. Contact: bestdeercall.co.uk

  • Steel Target Co.

    Steel Target Co.

    The availability of bullet-proof steel targets in recent years has revolutionised field shooting. Whether for competition, practice, or checking zero, steel gives instant audible and kinetic feedback, shows strikes far better than paper, never needs patching, and can be left out in all weathers. Not all designs are equal when it comes to observing hits, however. Recognising this, the Steel Target Co. has introduced a new series of pivoting targets that combine the reactivity of a gong with either a head-on muntjac, fox, or fig.12-ish silhouette. The impact rocks the target, the target catches the light, the steel resounds, and the hit is beyond doubt. Contact: thesteeltargetcompany.co.uk

  • Blaser


    Blaser’s range of clothing and accessories keeps growing, as its distinctive Hunt Tec camo and clever twist-traverse Carbon quad sticks become confirmed favourites with hunters who may appreciate a quality product, even if Blaser’s many fine firearms remain beyond their budget. New to me was their Futteral PKW (Personenkraftwagen), or car-case. The black loden-style fabric that covers the body of the case gives it a traditional look. But this is belied by its soft neoprene interior, which is supplemented by two mesh accessory pockets either side of a zippered compartment lined in waterproof nylon, and a set of Cordura straps with quick-release buckles for securing your quad sticks. Measuring 120 x 45cm, the case is designed to hang discreetly behind the seats of your vehicle, where it offers quick-access storage for your rifle and essential ancillary items. The stiffening strip along the top edge also integrates a grab handle for easy carrying. Contact: blaser-group.com/uk

  • UK Trophy Evaluation Board

    UK Trophy Evaluation Board

    A team of experts from the UK Trophy Evaluation Board, which is part of the International Council for Game & Wildlife Conservation (CIC), were hard at work measuring almost 120 heads during the 2-day show. It was as fascinating to watch the swift and methodical precision with which the gentlemen of the board appraised the cleaned heads brought in by stalkers hopeful of achieving a bronze, silver or gold medal, as it was to peruse the fine array of trophies already measured or awaiting their attention. Their efforts are about more than making stalkers proud, of course, as hunters’ appreciation of trophies underpins profitable and sustainable population management, while the data obtained augments a scientific record of unparalleled scope and longevity. Contact: cicukteb.com

  • Really Wild Kitchen

    Really Wild Kitchen

    The Stalking Show is developing into a place to learn and to be entertained, as well as to shop for a comprehensive range of gear. Drawing - and keeping - a good crowd on the Sunday was the Really Wild Kitchen, with chefs Rachel Green and Jose Luis Souto giving demonstrations variously covering the butchering, preparing and cooking of a range of game meats that included a masterclass on how to break down a (massive) wild-boar carcase. The clarity of the presenters’ explanations, their expertise, and dexterity, plus the wonderful smells emanating from the on-stage kitchen during the cooking segments made this compulsive viewing. Contact: Find them on Facebook or Instagram

  • Highland Outdoors / Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust

    Highland Outdoors / Gamekeepers’  Welfare Trust

    As the UK’s fastest-growing and most dynamic shooting equipment distributor, a major presence at the Great British Shooting Show, and a supporter of the Stalking Show, Highland Outdoors really need no introduction. Basically, whatever kind of kit you want, at least one of their brands will make it, and their extensive dealer network means your local gun shop will probably stock it. What caught my eye on their stand, however, was a raffle they were running for the Gamekeepers' Welfare Trust. The prize was a fantastic package of stalking gear and experiences comprising a Christensen Arms Ridgeline rifle, accessories from Tier One, Spartan, RCC, Infiray, Nosler, Rovince, Ridgeline, GPO and Smiths, as well as a 2-day stalking trip in the highlands, but the charity is such a worthwhile one that I would happily have put my raffle-ticket money straight into a collection tin. Either way, it was a great success, raising over £6K. Check out the GWT online and donate if you can. Contact: thegamekeeperswelfaretrust.com

  • Simpson Brothers Gunshop

    Simpson Brothers Gunshop

    As noted, the Stalking Show is rich in opportunities for retail therapy to suit any pocket, but the retailer with the most outstanding pitch was undoubtedly Simpson Brothers, who had one of Keith’s freestanding, Thetford-Style, box-topped high seats (its cabin adorned with a fine stag’s-head mount, and its legs festooned with gun racks) as their centre-piece, as well as a long counter studded with display cabinets and faced (like those at their Cambridgeshire base) with pine planking for the perfect outdoor look! A steady stream of customers showed their prices were equally attractive. They have an excellent online shop, too. Contact: simpsonbrothersgunshop.com

  • Kudos to David and Deanne Freer and their team for doing all the inspired hard work it takes to put on a show of this quality, and many thanks for inviting me along to cover it for Gun Mart. Stalking Show 2024 will be at the Staffordshire County Showground on the 13th-14th April. Contact: thestalkingshow.co.uk Contact: www.thestalkingshow.co.uk