After reporting an increased number of heads presented for measuring in 2009 and a record number of gold medal heads being assessed (2009 English Roe Review, 13 January 2010), the UK Commission for the CIC (the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation) was prepared for a slower year in 2010, especially as reports from stalkers across the country suggested lower numbers of quality bucks.
As so often happens nowadays, a result perhaps of increased winter feed, such was not to be the case and with animals having made it through the severe weather in January and February, the numbers presented for assessment rose once again.
Some 275 English roe were measured, of which 222 reached medal standard, an increase of 11 per cent on 2009. Of these, 66 were of gold medal quality, another increase on last year, this time by 14 per cent.
In terms of UK quality, it is perhaps interesting to note that a recent article in the German hunting magazine Wild und Hund revealed that, in 2009, the top three roe heads measured in Hungary, a country always noted for its quality and where head measuring is regulated by the State, were recorded as 181.15 CIC points, 145.73 CIC points and 143.75 CIC points.
Last year’s and this year’s English roe reviews record 20 and 22 heads above this lower score respectively.
So, quality in England is sustainable at a high level, given good management and sensible restraint on the part of hunters across the country.
There are stalkers who wish to appear in this review each year and others for whom such publicity is unwelcome.
Such is the case for the highest-scoring head this year, at 195.5 CIC points.
It is an unremarkable but well-proportioned head from Gloucestershire, with strong beams and of great length.
It has an average length of 31.6cm, only .3cm short of the longest antlers recorded in the UK by the CIC.
Other heads of note include A. Blaton’s Wiltshire head, at 169.33 CIC points, and Fernando Argueso’s Somerset seven-pointer buck, at 164.85 CIC points. These were followed by a group of four with more than 160 CIC points, a 10 per cent rise in the quality that we saw in 2009 at the same position in the list.
This year, the largest total of medal heads came, as in 2009, from Wiltshire with 59, followed by Somerset with 38, Hampshire with 24 and Gloucestershire with 14.
Gold medal heads were marked in both Wiltshire and Somerset with 16 each, but Hampshire produced only six gold medal heads, and Dorset, usually high in the list, only 11 heads, of which three were of gold medal quality. Surprising but welcome were the four gold medal heads and one silver from the six submitted from Northumberland, a trend that has appeared only in the past two years.
Equally welcome is the first gold medal head from Cumbria, at 135 CIC points.
Sometimes the abnormal arouses more interest than the familiar, as with the dead head found by John Jones in Somerset, which, though not measurable because of its porous nature, might have made 156 CIC points had the dipped weight remained constant on first immersion.
Last year, I mentioned that the CIC was examining the various formulae in the Red Book, with a view to more accurately reflecting the worth of a trophy in terms of what the animal had grown, rather than those factors that we, as hunters, think are important.
That process has taken longer than had been predicted, mainly because of the complications inherent in some Eastern European nations having the CIC measuring system embedded in their national hunting legislation. Progress has been made, but there is still a way to go.
A quality team
For now, the CIC-accredited measurers in the UK have had their credentials re-evaluated and confirmed internationally, along with recertification.
In addition, they have all received an update on internationally approved measuring techniques, which assures the validity of assessments undertaken by the UK Commission team. For the full list of measurers, visit www.cictrophy.com
Team members will be in attendance at The Scottish Game Fair, at Scone Palace, in Perthshire, The CLA Game Fair, at Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire, the Highland Field Sports Fair, at Moy estate, in Inverness-shire, and the Midland Game Fair, at Weston Park, in Shropshire.
With thanks to Charles Fenn, Barry Martin, Richard Prior, Alisdair Troup and Iain Watson for their help in compiling the records.