Recreational stalkers are going back to school in increasing numbers as the sport becomes more popular ? and the DSC1 is becoming a must-have certificate. Though not a compulsory qualification, some landowners will not allow recreational stalkers to stalk their ground without a certificate. In the past eight years, Deer Management Qualifications Ltd (DMQ), the certificate?s awarding body, has issued 10,500 or so certificates with a rising average of 1,300 a year in recent years.

The British Deer Society (BDS) runs DSC1 courses, which also cover the Food Standard Agency (FSA) qualification for handling large game. A BDS spokesman told ST: ?Our course is a direct copy of the former BDS National Stalkers Competence Certificate, developed by the society 25 years ago and gifted to DMQ as the basis of today?s DSC1. The course is designed to give students the knowledge to pass the DSC1 assessments and provide them with a more rounded knowledge of deer and associated issues. We?re running a discounted course for £280 and have seen a marked increase in bookings.?

A Deer Commission for Scotland (DCS) spokesman told ST: ?DCS welcomes and supports any increase in deer management standards and qualifications. There are various reasons behind this, one of the main ones being that forestry organisations and businesses will only provide a stalking lease to those who hold a DSC1.?

For more information, visit www.bds.org or www.basc.org.uk