Which animals can we hunt in this manner?
Flatland stalking – the processes and the equipment associated with them
Distance measurement (ranging)
Taking a shot
Spotting + ranging
Identification + ranging
Equipment for carrying the optics
Conclusion on the optical equipment
Preparation of the hunting trail for flatland stalking
Stalking is among the oldest types of hunting. The hunter approaches the game as stealthily as possible, using the forest, high grass, and uneven terrain as a disguise. Stalking is popular because it is dynamic and exciting – It includes plenty of movement as opposed to some other, stationary types of hunting. It is in many aspects similar to mountain stalking – the user cannot follow the game in a car or wait for it in a high seat, so it is of great importance to be physically fit as such a hunt might take hours to complete.
Even though flatland stalking is similar to mountain stalking, the former is not as popular as the latter – why is that? In the flatlands, there are many hunting techniques that one can adopt. Many hunters hunt from a raised hide. Some drive around in a car, observing the surroundings and only stopping and leaving the car when they see the game. Such terrain is open to many possibilities. Flatland stalking, however, is by far the most thrilling – a mixture of stealth, concentration, and patience is required for a successful result.
The type of animal that we hunt while stalking depends on the hunting grounds and the animals that live there. Here, in Slovenia, deer, roe deer, fox, badgers, jackals, and wild boar are hunted this way.
There are several important processes that one must be acquainted with before tackling flatland stalking, and these processes have plenty to do with the right equipment. The hunter must:
- spot the animal,
- identify it,
- measure the distance to it (estimating the distance in this type of hunt can have negative consequences),
- and make an accurate shot.
To realize all of these, several crucial pieces of equipment are needed. You can get a separate device for each of the processes – a thermal imaging device is excellent for spotting the animal, binoculars are great at identifying it, a laser rangefinder is an indispensable tool for ranging, and an appropriate riflescope will greatly enhance the precision and accuracy of the shot.
A compact, handheld thermal monocular is an excellent piece of equipment for spotting the animal. Such devices are light; some of the lightest and smallest out there can even be stored in a pocket. The detection range in flatland stalking is not as important as in raised hide hunting – a device with a detection range of 300 or 400 m will do fine.
The choice of binoculars for the purpose of identifying the animal depends on the time of the hunt. If you hunt during the day, 42mm lens binoculars are a perfect choice. Some even go for compact ones with a lens diameter of 28–36 mm because of their small size and low weight. It is important for them to have a wide field of view, roof prisms, and decent image sharpness. A slow focus is welcome though not necessary, you will find it useful if you are using a tree or a hunting stick as a rest.
Ideally, bring along a small, compact laser rangefinder that can range distances up to 1000 m (more than that is completely unnecessary). The EHR (Equivalent Horizontal Range) function is not needed, as in flatland stalking there is not much inclined shooting.
As flatland stalking is among the more physically strenuous types of hunting, a light rifle is an excellent companion. Optimally, you want to pair it with a light riflescope. Usually, riflescopes designed for stalking feature a 42mm objective lens and a minimum magnification of around 1.5x. The rail mounting option is welcome though not a must-have.
Illumination is a useful feature since flatland stalking is often done in the late afternoon (if it is started earlier, it usually lasts until late afternoon). A few manufacturers produce riflescopes for stalking with an objective lens diameter of 50 mm, but that does not make much sense as the low weight is a much more important factor than twilight performance in flatland stalking. An adjustable parallax feature is not needed.
Buying a riflescope with all the features listed above will allow you to make an accurate shot.
We have listed four crucial pieces of optical equipment that one needs for successful flatland stalking. As this type of hunting requires plenty of stamina, carrying as little gear as possible is extremely important. Some devices on the market can fulfill two processes instead of just one – let us look at the alternative options of equipment choice.
Some devices can be used for both spotting and ranging, namely the thermal imaging devices with an integrated rangefinder. If you have one, you do not have to bring a laser rangefinding monocular along.
Rangefinding binoculars can be used for both identification and ranging. As these binoculars feature a laser rangefinder, there is no need to have a laser rangefinding monocular with you.
By using any of these (thermal devices with a laser rangefinder, rangefinding binoculars) you will cut four pieces of equipment down to three, saving yourself from carrying the extra weight.
As flatland stalking is a type of hunt that requires the hunter to carry plenty of equipment, it is important to arrange it wisely. It is a great idea to purchase a harness strap or a harness case so that you do not have to hold binoculars in your hands all the time. Having flip-up covers on the riflescope and a rain guard on the binoculars is great if there is a possibility of getting caught in the rain. The thermal imaging device should be kept in a case on a strap for protection. Alternatively, if the device is compact enough, you can put it in a pocket (if it fits). Do not forget to protect your riflescope with a neoprene cover when you are not using it.
To sum up, as flatland stalking requires the user to carry plenty of weight, it is smart to purchase a device that is capable of carrying out two processes instead of one (spotting + ranging, identification + ranging, etc.) In general, it is better to make a quality purchase once rather than saving money only to be disappointed at the end.
Before preparing a hunting trail, the hunter must understand the principles of flatland stalking. It is crucial to remain hidden from the game while moving. Ideally, the trail is set up at the very edge of the forest bordering a meadow as the trees and bushes conceal the hunter from the animals. Since the animals have great hearing abilities, every move must be extremely silent. Prior to hunting, make sure to clear the hunting trail of branches, foliage, and other things that produce sounds when stepped on. The most determined hunters wear only socks as they do not produce as much noise when in contact with the ground. In areas where the forest bordering a meadow is overgrown, you will have to cut the bushes in certain parts so that you will have a clear view of the meadow.
Because flatland stalking is a dynamic type of hunting, you are going to need quality footwear. Alpina hunting boots are an excellent option – the company has a rich tradition of more than 70 years in producing quality footwear and remains one of the few with production facilities within the EU. Quality boots should be paired with quality socks, made from natural fibers. Alles Mooi socks are a perfect choice – these comfort-focused socks are made of mohair, bamboo, and wool, designed to keep the skin dry and fresh.
For flatland stalking, it is important to choose hunting clothing made of fabric that does not produce much noise when you are in movement. Furthermore, it should be breathable so that you remain dry but also waterproof if you get caught in the rain. As this is a dynamic type of hunting, lightweight clothes are a great choice as they do not tire you out. If you are hunting in the winter, the clothing should be warm enough – keep in mind that you will be outside for quite a while, not to mention that this type of hunt usually does not end before dusk falls. Choose clothes of natural colours – these will help you remain concealed from the game.
A shooting stick is an excellent piece of equipment, preferably with three or four legs for extra stability. You can use the stick as a rest when you are ready to shoot.
Since this type of hunt usually requires the user to walk a considerable distance from the car, a backpack big enough for the transport of the harvested animal is an important piece of equipment. It should be lightweight, durable, and comfortable to carry.
Use a hunting hat to cover your hair. The hair gives off a particular smell that is of a distinctly human origin. Not wearing one increases the chances of your cover being blown.
A hunting knife is useful in many aspects – you can get rid of bushes and branches in the way, field dress the game, etc.
We already mentioned that a light rifle is the best. Ideally, choose a break-barrel rifle or a light repeating rifle. Any caliber from .223 Rem. to 8×57 IS is fine. The rifle mount should be as light as possible.
A flashlight is an incredibly important piece of equipment – it is hard to determine how long the hunt will last. Go prepared, even if you start hunting in the early afternoon. It takes a while to spot and identify the animal, shoot it, field dress it, and carry it back to the car. Not only does a flashlight help you move around in the forest and meadows, but it is also an indispensable tool when you have to return to the car (if you walked a long way, the dusk will surely start to fall by the time you get back).
A rifle sling is a must-have. Since you will be carrying your rifle around for a considerable amount of time, make sure that the sling is thick and comfortable. The weight should be equally distributed – you do not want to end up with bruises on your shoulder.
is an optics enthusiast who writes articles and reviews in the field of binoculars, riflescopes, NV optics etc. Currently, he is a member of the Optics Trade team.