The Alps provide some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in Europe. Hunting here is an amazing visual experience as well as a technical and physical challenge. As a photographer who has toured with rock legends such as Metallica, Leica’s Michael Agel is no stranger to the dramatic or the beautiful. He is also a devotee of hunting on these iconic slopes and is firmly of the opinion that such stunning surroundings deserve equipment to match.
For the past three years Michael has taken his Rigby Highland Stalker with him on his alpine expeditions, along with his trusty teckel, Egon. Together they have covered hunting grounds in Slovenia, France and Austria. “I love stalking in the mountains,” says Michael, “The Alps in particular are a fantastic area for this. I would say I have been there around 20 to 25 times, mostly hunting for chamois (gams) but also marmot, red and roe deer.”
Though easy on the eye, the terrain is far from easy on the legs, and presents challenges for any hunter. Michael explains: “The hunting begins in the morning and you’ll stalk through the day. Getting to a good viewpoint from where you can scan the area for game is the first task, and you must have excellent binoculars. In alpine country, most of the walking (or climbing) doesn’t happen on good tracks, so good boots are also vital. You also need to be in good physical condition yourself.”
Leg strength is more important than leg length when it comes to scaling these slopes, as demonstrated by the intrepid six-year-old teckel: “Egon is six years old,” says Michael proudly, “He is trained for blood tracking and it gives you a good feeling to have him hunting with you. He is a great partner. He will only have problems in deep snow, but in other conditions he is absolutely fine.”
To make sure no effort or opportunity is wasted, Michael ensures that he is fully equipped with top class optics: “My scope is the Leica Visus 2.5 – 10×42. With its classic design, I think it is the most beautiful scope on a Rigby. For spotting, I use rangefinding Geovid 10×42 HD-B binoculars. Thanks to their ballistic calculation function I know exactly the amount of ‘hold over’ needed for any shot.”
And, of course, in recent years, the final piece of equipment is the Rigby rifle: “Every rifle is a tool and has to be functional, but if you can choose such a beautiful tool, why would you want to take anything more modern?” Michael smiles, “My Rigby is a Highland Stalker in .275 Rigby. I love this calibre and use it for everything.”