In the UK you will very rarely see a deer hunter without a set of sticks of one kind or another. Just like bipod’s and sound moderators we use them as a matter of course to help us achieve a clean kill at various ranges in varying shooting positions.
Stalking sticks can be a simple single hazel pole cut fresh from a tree to a quad or tripod system made from light weight modern materials. These modern sticks can be expensive but do we really need them and do we need to spend lots of money on a device to hold us steady?
Firstly in my opinion you must have sticks with you when you are deer stalking, we have a responsibility as ethical hunters to kill the animal that we are shooting at with one shot into a vital area of the animal. I had to see hunters having to take a second shot because they were not accurate enough with the first. I also don’t like hunters to use a larger calibre for more wound damage when a well placed and aimed bullet will do the trick. Using sticks when you need to shoot standing up or sitting is just sensible they give you a more solid rest and a better chance of making a good shot. I think that all responsible hunters should make sure that they make a clean kill on the first shot, if you need to take a second shot you have failed although I do appreciate that sometimes things go wrong and the quicker you can sort it out the better.
So yes sticks are needed and so are bipod but which ones? Well that will depend largely on your budget and the type of stick you require.
Here I am going to be looking at a budget version of the Primos or Jim Shockley trigger sticks made by F-Deer and sold through many e-bay shops.
The sticks are made quite nicely and have a good cammo finish with some nice decal like the carbon style trigger. These sticks seemed to perform pretty well initially and I was happy with them. They are heavy compared to other tripod type sticks which is a bit of pain on long stalks.
As with all trigger sticks I found that they didn’t go low enough for shooting from a sitting position. They are fine for kneeling but I like to sit with knees up to rest my elbows on. On makes for a really steady platform compared to kneeling.
I did have a some problems with the sticks when I used them out in the field actually stalking a roe buck. I set the sticks and rested the rifle on them ready to take a shot but one of the legs suddenly dropped on my as if I had pulled the sticks release trigger. I hadn’t and it made for a very uncomfortable few seconds with rifle not pointing where I wanted it to. I had to reset the sticks and by that time the deer had gone. This has now happened a few times to me which is a real problem and one that I cant seem to put right.
Online these F-Deer sticks seem to sell for around £75 which is a saving of £50 from the Primos and other of the original type trigger stick which is a massive saving. However if we have consistent problems with the sticks staying stable I am not convinced that any saving in cash terms is worthwhile.