A major change for 2016 is that heads should be presented with a full skull for measuring. Tony Dalby-Welsh reports on last year's trophies
Many stalkers will be aware of some of the changes that have taken place over the past 12 months with the introduction of the CIC’s Handbook for the Evaluation and Measurement of Hunting Trophies. The changes for roe deer are few and have been easily assimilated; those for other European species have been farther reaching and bear some explanation.
Heads are presented with a full skull now
The first change, based on the new measuring forms, is the additional detail being recorded and our request to stalkers that, in future, heads are presented with a full skull rather than with long or short nose-cuts. This applies to all species. While such cuts will not render the trophy unmeasurable, the details now recorded include skull dimensions, which are important for long-term research and identification purposes. (Read our roe deer report here.)
The second change is the grouping of red deer in England and Wales — and potentially in some parts of Scotland — as Cervus elaphus hippelaphus, placing them within the Central European sub-species and as being an introduced species in the UK. The effect of this re-classification is that heads will require an additional five CIC points to qualify for a Bronze medal, 10 more for Silver and 15 more for Gold. This is a result of scientific research into the origin of this sub-species and reflects its genetic make-up. Scottish red deer (Cervus elaphus scotticus) are unaffected by this change.
Third comes an important definition of muntjac brow tines, in line with the overall classification of a tine being of at least 1cm in length for this species. That means that brow points of less than 1cm will not count towards the overall score.
Finally, the status of the feral goat is currently under review by the CIC, so it does not appear in the new evaluation handbook. While populations of feral goats have long existed in the British Isles, it has generally been accepted that these animals are domestic in origin and are therefore difficult to classify.
Only wild species evaluated
The CIC, as the major hunting and conservation body in Europe, is concerned to ensure that only wild species are evaluated under its system, so for the moment feral goats are excluded. It is hoped that this will be reviewed by the International Trophy Evaluation Board during 2016 as a result of representations that have been made to it.
In the meantime, while we will continue to offer measurements under the old Red Book rules and record those measurements, we are unable to issue CIC medals and supporting paperwork for these.
We have seen the usual broad spectrum of heads put forward for assessment in 2015, with seven species featuring. In line with the CIC’s internationalisation of trophy evaluation, we now include trophies obtained by UK hunters from other countries where those trophies have been measured by UK Evaluation Board members. As a result, there are trophies listed from Hungary, Turkey and New Zealand. There were increases in medals awarded to three of the UK resident species, including muntjac (up by 26 per cent) and Chinese water deer (22 per cent).
While the overall number of Scottish heads measured was up this time, regrettably only one made the grade, taking a Silver medal level at 174.22 CIC points.
In England, however, we saw a similar pattern to 2014 with 14 heads reaching medal level, six making Silver and eight making Bronze. Mr L. van der Valk’s 200.28-point stag from Suffolk was the heftiest of those measured, with 16cm lower beams. L. Jackson provided the only Somerset medal head this year and was awarded a Bronze medal. Despite the continual rumours of large heads in the south-west, Mr S. Hocking’s 200-point Cornish stag was the only other example. The majority of heads this year came from Norfolk and Suffolk, with medal ranges from 173.63 to just over 200 points.
Only one English fallow achieved Gold in 2015, a Hampshire buck from Mr S. Middleton. One Silver medal came from Essex (Mr N. Fulton) and five Bronze medals, two from West Sussex and one each from Northamptonshire, Yorkshire and Hampshire. As we have come to expect, the best of the year came from Hungary, with two Gold medal heads shot by Ross Minerva at 190.23 and 188.25 CIC points. CIC member Daniel Mulholland brought a Silver medal head back from the same country that scored 175.98 points.
Muntjac numbers were up in 2015, showing its increasing popularity as a quarry and the improving quality of heads. Of the 91 medal heads this year, 39 achieved a Gold, up 30 per cent on 2014, with four scoring above 70 points to put them into the top 40 of all recorded. S. Warbrick Smith’s 73.5-point buck from Suffolk showed the symmetry required for good muntjac scores, as did Mr I. Timmermans’ head from Oxfordshire. Mr D. McCarlie’s Northamptonshire bronze medal head was notable for the length of brow tines, at 3.8cm and 2.4cm.
Seventeen of the 20 counties from which we have ever measured muntjac were represented in 2015, up on 2014 (16 counties), 2010 (15) and 2008 (13), proof if any were needed of the muntjac’s inexorable spread, be it natural or contrived. The Golds were well spread, but Hampshire and Suffolk led with five each, followed closely by Norfolk and Oxfordshire at four.
With another good year for sika, the medals showed the expected spread, with seven Golds, six Silvers and 12 bronzes. Top of the pile was Mr M. Davis’s Dorset stag at 269.9 points, followed closely by Mr K. Fraser’s 264.8 scorer. Lancashire produced the third with Mr R. Cullen’s 10-pointer at 264.4. While Dorset produced the largest number of heads as usual, Lancashire continued to provide us with variety, as did Scotland with two — one each from Sutherland and Peebleshire.
Chinese water deer
In 2015 there was another increase on Chinese water deer (CWD) measured, up 20 per cent on previous years. as usual the majority were Gold medals, 74 per cent achieving that standard, with 22 per cent making Silver and only four per cent bronze. The spread of heads submitted shows Bedfordshire’s pre-eminence as the home of CWD, with 49 of the 91 heads. Norfolk was second with 23 and the other four were Berkshire with five, Cambridgeshire two and Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire one each. The best was from Mr K. Abbott with a CIC score of 256 points. Perfectly prepared for measuring was Kerry Ellis’s Norfolk buck, which scored 228 for a Gold. The CIC measurers appreciate seeing well- presented heads for evaluation.
Eight goats achieved medal status this year. Three of the top four — all of which achieved Silver medals — came from North Wales, as did three of the four bronzes. Cornwall provided one Silver and Northumberland the fourth bronze. Having discussed the future of feral goats earlier in this review, I have no doubt that the hardy hunters who venture after these animals in North Wales will consider their quarry a true challenge. We must wait to see what scientific evidence is gleaned either to support or undermine the goat’s place in the trophy business.
A good year for boar, though all but one set of tusks measured came from Europe. Andrew Hepworth-Smith’s Gloucestershire tusks showed the potential of UK wild boar, scoring 122.8 CIC points and a Gold medal, making them the third-highest score so far and only a couple of points below the UK record.
It was an animal weighing more than 200lb that Andrew considers had had its best days. Roger Carter submitted four sets of tusks for assessment, all from Bodrum in Turkey, and was rewarded with a Gold, a Silver and two Bronzes. We may not be familiar with Turkey as a stalking venue, but it might be worth more scrutiny.
With more than 800 heads assessed in the past 12 months, the pressure on accredited certified CIC measurers remains. However, this pressure means that each measurer is getting the necessary experience to ensure that the changes implemented by the CIC are continued in a coherent fashion and that consistency of measuring standards is maintained.
We hugely enjoyed joining the Blaser stand at the CLA and Midland Game Fairs.
The prominent location in Gunmakers’ Row was appreciated by our customers, who appreciated the prospect — however near or far that aspiration may have been — of a Blaser product for their next trophy. Members of the team will be in attendance at the Scottish Game Fair at Scone Palace (1-3 July), the Highland Field Sports Fair at Moy (5-6 August) and the Midland Game Fair (17-18 September) at Weston Park. We will also be supporting the Deerstalking Fair (9-10 April) at Kelso. All attendances, along with the full list of measurers, can be seen at www.cictrophy.com.
My thanks to Iain Watson, Charles Fenn, Alisdair Troup, Barry Martin, Stevie Todd, Gary Tatterton, Chris Rogers and Kate Gatacre for their support in maintaining these records.
CIC UK TROPHY COMMISSION
Trophy judges: Iain Watson (Senior) 01851 870577 (firstname.lastname@example.org); Tony Dalby-Welsh 01749 343725 (cicuk@btinternet. com); Charles Fenn 01308 868434 (email@example.com); Alisdair Troup 01786 435110 (alitroup@gmail. com); Barry Martin 01730 810270 (firstname.lastname@example.org); Stevie Todd 01383 514218 (email@example.com); Gary Tatterton 01937 581077 (garytatt@ yahoo.co.uk); ChrisRogers 01359 269746 (firstname.lastname@example.org); Kate Gatacre 07011 397090 (email@example.com). Technical advisor: Drew Bain 07748 678198 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Media advisor: Tony Jackson. Photographer: Dave Lumsden.