As we are thinking about a few days off in front of the log burner and eating too many mince pies, I find myself working up an appetite on the hills above Aberfeldy in the second week of December chasing hinds about as we work on the cull and at the same time filming for The Shooting Show. One of my most valued bits of kit here is the Napier Apex predator. Now I accept that its quite tricky fitting a Hind with larder weight of around 65 kilo into the opened out predator ! However, neatly contained inside is all the kit that I need – conveniently wrapped around my waist . I do not have to think, have I got this or the other, it’s just there . In and amongst the drag rope, bone saw, tracking harness disposal gloves etc is another essential item in the hill, the apex air glow wind checker. With a red hind able to smell me at around 2 miles in certain conditions, even more with the old spice or brut ! ( I will likely be getting re supplied on the 25 th) and now I am really showing my age; it’s fairly important I know which way I am blowing or else I am wasting my time up here. Zosia is clearly not impressed either with my chosen perfume !
A few years ago, myself and 2 of my mates, Alan and Duncan were obsessed with catching large U.K. sharks on extreme fly-fishing gear! This situation arose after we had been catching sharks in the Irish sea using conventional tackle. All three of us were very keen fly fisherman, so we mused on the possibility of landing one of these leviathans on the fly. A plan was hatched, and Alan and Duncan started making the necessary leaders, traces and fly’s. Initially we were somewhat under gunned and there was a steep learning curve. Over several trips the tackle and our ability to catch sharks on the fly improved – with one day us nearly boating a 100 blue sharks… But still the mighty Porbeagle shark evaded us!
An Irish Sea Blue Shark – I am glad that I took my Napier Apex Predator Waist sack, although this is really for carrying Roe, I often use it as a handy carry bag at other times, as it converts from a waist bag to a back pack. This was fortunate as it became essential for that long fight and when packed with appropriate padding allowed me to use it as an effective rod butt holster.
So, we then started targeting the months where a porbeagle
was most likely and hoping for good weather, as virtually every second trip we
had planned would need to be cancelled due to adverse seas. So on June 21st,
2014 we were happy at 6am to be motoring on towards the middle of the Irish sea
after a sleepless night at the Stable Inn. Our skipper as usual was Andrew
Alsop and we were on his boat White Water II, operating out of Milford Haven on
the west coast of Wales.
We motored out at a good clip for about two hours into somewhere
in the middle of the Irish Sea, there was some lively banter and talk of big
fish and the opportunities that the day might bring. On the way-out Duncan and
Andrew started preparing the burley – a secret concoction that draws the sharks
in to the boat. I remember being pleased that I was not having to do this
wretched job as although I have pretty good sea legs – my stomach is turned by
that rotten fish smell.
Before long we are fishing and things are going slow for me… a few blues have come to the boat for the other boys but yet again, no Porbeagle
Then suddenly, my line goes tight… and it is like I have hooked a hi-speed locomotive… The skipper gives me a wink and says that he thinks this is the one… a big Porbeagle and I start praying that this fish stays on… No guarantee when shark fishing as another shark can bite through the line, the hook can pull and if the shark rolls far enough up the leader the skin of the shark will cut through the fly line like a hot knife through butter!
For nearly 2 hours, I was engaged in the most grueling sporting challenge of my life. Every time I got some line back the big fish would just take it back again. My arms were burning like they had never burned before and the 14 weight sage rod was bent at 90 degrees. Slowly though, I started getting in more line and the shark would take less line. I was actually winning. Eventually we started to see colour as I finally got the fish to the surface and then got to the fish to the boat. The fight had taken it out of me though – we were at a stalemate, the fish and I – I couldn’t get this enormous Porbeagle close enough that the skipper could grab the leader and boat the fish. Then the big fish decides to make a last gasp attempt at freedom… I have the drag fully locked as I know if this fish spools me now, I don’t have the minerals to get it back in… Something has to give and with a great crack the 14 weight explodes in half! My heart sinks… all that work to lose this fish of a lifetime at the boat. But the fish is still there, stuffed just like me. Then the call goes out to handline the fly line a dangerous thing if the fish decides to make another run. Mercifully, the big fish has succumbed, and the skipper can get to the leader and we get the fish on board. My epic fight is over.
I marvel at the fish, a big porbeagle, some people call the
porbeagle a “Fako” and you can see why. The menacing predatory appearance of
this leviathan make the blue sharks we have been catching up until now look
like Labradors. This magnificent trophy is then measured so we can get a weight
and the obligatory snaps are taken before being released back into the big blue
to ponder what just happened to it.
My arms were destroyed, my rod was destroyed, I just sat
down and contemplated what we had achieved, and I mean we as it had been a team
effort. I caught another blue later that day but my arms were so sore I stopped
fishing as I was literally scared I might catch another big shark and I just
didn’t think I would be able to cope.
We didn’t realise at
the time what we had achieved but as with all fishy tales – the news spread
fairly fast and the next thing you know I am being told that this fish is
probably the biggest shark ever caught on a fly in the whole of Northern Europe
and was featured in the Angling Times. I don’t know if this is still the case
or not, although with improvements in gear I think a bigger fish could be
landed – I for one now fish a 16-weight fly rod for sharks, which is a little
like fishing with a broom stick!
As an outfitter , I am stalking or managing deer in one form or another most days, for me kit is not a gimmick, it is an essential tool and has to be good and functional . If it is not I don’t use it or endorse it, simple as that. For many years I used a leather strap for carrying my Roe off the hill, I cannot get on with roe sacks – I find them cumbersome and they interfere with carrying and deploying the rifle. Then the clever folk from Napier came up with the Apex predator – perfect! now we have something that wraps around my waist, has pockets for all my stalking essentials that I take out to the hill and cleverly deploys to a full size roe sack when needed to carry my deer of the hill.
I could go on but suffice to say I have been using an Apex predator now for over 5 years, it is out with me whenever I stalk and is I feel one of the best products on the market for recovering the smaller deer species. I have had 2 roe in it which was admittedly a squeeze, they were yearlings but it easily copes with the largest roe buck. The detachable, inner liner is simple to remove and clean – it comes with two so one can be washed and drying while you fit the spare. The many pockets are well thought out and functional – all of my gralloching kit is in there so I simply leave it in the car, grab it as I head off for my stalk knowing that I have everything with me I need .
The very latest & unique product from Napier of London.
Designed in England specifically for the needs of European shooters.
Much more than a Roe Sack, the Apex Predator is a very comfortable waist bag, which can be worn front or back with easy access pockets for all the kit any hunter, stalker pigeon shooter or airgunner could want.
It sits perfectly and works well with a rifle carried muzzle up or down, Movement is not restricted and the Grip Tab buckle tabs prevent slip when crawling or climbing. The waist bag material is made from waterproof and silent HUSHTEX, while the Game sack fabric is extra strong, light weight & waterproof 420D Nylon Rip Stop. The whole bag with liner weighs just 960 Grams.
Apex Predator is so much more comfortable than a conventional roe sack or back pack, that is carried on the back and often gets in the way, and always virtually impossible to access your kit when being worn.
But as soon as it is needed the APEX PREDATOR instantly converts into a full sized game sack capable of carrying comfortably all small deer species, including Roe, Chinese Water deer, or even 2 Muntjac.
But the APEX PREDATOR is not just for deerstalkers as it is also the ideal way to carry 15-20 rabbits, 25 -30 pigeons ( or decoys) or a days catch of Trout or Salmon.
The detachable Shoulder straps attach in seconds and the game is placed inside a waterproof and hygienic PVC lined sack, the liners are simply clipped in place and are easily removed to be hosed or washed out. Each APEX PREDATOR is supplied with two liners allowing one to be in use whilst the other is being cleaned and dried. Replacement liners are available if required, as is an EXTRA duty reinforced version for pro hunters and vermin control personnel
The Apex Predator is closed with a tight fitting drawstring and clip fastener, this helps keep the quarry away from you when being carried and helps minimise exposure to blood, ticks, keds and other parasites. It of course also helps keep flies off the carcass.
Carrying deer by a sling against your body is a bio-hazard that can, and should be avoided.
With growing restriction on access routes, ELS margins and corners or just unsuitable terrain, it can be difficult to convey your quarry to a vehicle. The APEX PREDATOR is always ready to deploy and takes just 10 seconds to convert from a handy waist bag to a full sized sack.
( and back again).
APEX PREDATOR Features
Rip Stop 420D Nylon and Hushtex silent fabric construction.
2 in 1 design converts in less than 10 seconds.
Non-slip and comfortable, easy access waist bag.
Two hygienic & washable inner liners, supplied with each bag.
Drawstring closer minimises contact with parasites.
Light weight just 960 Grams
Waist bag capacity of 8.1 litres & game sack capacity 46 Litre
TOTAL CAPACITY of 54.1 Litre
12 month warranty
Replacement liners and EXTRA duty version readily available
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