GEORGE WALLACE says: I think I have touched on this subject in the past but it seems there’s a need to cover it again for those who missed it last time around.
We’ve got almost enough for a small book here, so perhaps an article might be appropriate in the future.
When I was working for BASC the official position was that compulsory training is unnecessary because there is no problem with deer stalkers that could be addressed by that means. Voluntary training was recommended because every little bit of extra knowledge enhances one’s enjoyment of a fascinating hobby; but that’s a million miles from making it compulsory.
More recently, with the introduction of the Deer Stalking Certificate (DSC) levels 1 and 2, there has been an understandable tendency for landowners with an eye to their duty of care to require qualifications before allowing a stalker on to their land, which seems fair enough on the face of it, but becomes a nonsense when no such requirement is made for those using shotguns, .22 rimfires and high-powered rifles for fox control.
The apparent risk and the possibility of accident is, after all, similar with any firearm.
So, while encouraging everyone to undertake training because, if carefully chosen, it is great fun and extremely informative, we must also accept there is something of a bandwagon here with all sorts of people – and even organisations – jumping on in the hope of making money from deer stalkers.
And finally, perhaps I can answer the question about an actual need for training with another question, ‘does driver training and the possession of a driving licence mean everyone drives carefully and responsibly?’
It is people who are safe or unsafe – and the possession of a piece of paper is only evidence of knowledge – not a guarantee of good behaviour. Responsible stalkers, like responsible drivers, take pains to inform themselves of the elements of good practice; the irresponsible will still be irresponsible whether they have a certificate or whether they do not.