This year’s trophies herald a dramatic increase in resident species, says Tony Dalby-Welsh

Those who have read the other reviews (English and Welsh Roe and Scottish Roe reviews) in this annual series will be aware that the updated CIC Trophy Evaluation System has now been implemented within the UK. The obvious manifestation of this will be the new measuring forms now in use, the additional detail being recorded and the request that in future, heads are presented with a full skull rather than with long or short nose cuts. Such cuts will not render the trophy unmeasurable, but the details now recorded include skull dimensions, which are important for long-term research and identification purposes.
The changes mean that there is a clear and obvious read across with trophies from the same species, whether Europe-wide or worldwide, depending on the species. Already this has shown benefits for UK hunters. A recent hunting-guide-assessed trophy in one European country was charged at a medal rate to the individual concerned. A formal CIC measurement in the UK, accepted within the country involved, resulted in a lesser, but correct score, allowing the hunter to claim back a substantial rebate from the company concerned.
In the UK in 2014 we saw the usual broad spectrum of heads being put forward for assessment, with eight species featuring, though this year the only boar was from Romania, with a mouflon providing unusual interest from the Czech Republic. There were increases in medals awarded to five of the UK resident species, and the sixth provided the same number as last year. Of note was the 50 per cent increase in muntjac, the doubling of Chinese water deer, Western European red deer and sika and the trebling of goat awards.

RED DEER
Scottish heads, as always, were limited this year (Cervus elaphus scoticus), but the quality improved, with Gareth Rae’s Galloway stag topping the list at 189.84 CIC points, followed closely by another Galloway stag from R. Buckley at 188.24 CIC points. These two gold-medal heads led four others, one silver and two bronze, with Islay providing two closely matched heads at the top of the bronze range. In England, with five heads (Cervus elaphus) again reaching the gold standard, the prime head was regrettably the result of a road traffic accident in Hampshire, but measured well over the 200 mark at 215.22 CIC points. Mr P. Williams’ Norfolk stag followed this at 200.93 CIC points, with two of the remaining gold-medal heads coming from Suffolk and one from Powys. All of the top heads this year recorded weights in excess of 7kg.
For the future, it is worth mentioning at this stage that, after some detailed research into red deer sub-species, the CIC has decided that red deer in the UK, other than Scottish red, a separate sub-species, will be grouped as Cervus elaphus hippelaphus, the Central European sub-species of the deer. This means a slightly higher bar for red deer with future medal levels being 170, 190 and 210 points. Previous medal awards will stand.

FALLOW DEER
We saw the same number of fallow deer in 2014 as in the previous year. What changed significantly was the quality, with double the number of gold medals this year, though
all remained below 190 points. Three  came from Hampshire and one each from Dorset, Essex and Gloucestershire. Hampshire provided the lion’s share of fallow with those three golds, another three silvers and one of the bronzes. Other counties represented by this always- elusive trophy were Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk and Dumfries. So after many years of lamenting the lack of the type of fallow deer management that would see better trophies appearing, we still live in hope that cooperation across the bucks’ range will be implemented by those who really care for this species.

SIKA DEER
With double the number of sika heads achieving medal status this year, one might have expected more golds, but in the event, the eight gold medals were consistent in their achievement, with the majority scoring between 260 and 275 points. Where are Manchurian sika living in the wild? The appearance at the Newark Stalking Fair of a wild Manchurian head from Inverness-shire provoked much discussion and debate. Investigations reveal a clear view from both stalkers and their guide of not only much bigger stags than that measured, but also many more in the vicinity. This one measured as a bronze medal at 339.8 CIC points.

MUNTJAC
Muntjac numbers were healthy again this year, reflecting interest in the species both at home and abroad. Gold-medal status was attained by 29, but with only one achieving more than 70 points, Mr A Howe’s Berkshire medal at 70.8 CIC points. A further 21 heads were silver with the remainder of the 72  total being bronze.
We have seen heads from Warwickshire before, never in great quantity, but nevertheless, evidence of a spread into that county. What we were not prepared for was the first head from Derbyshire. The apparently inexorable spread of muntjac continues with a respectable 62.9 CIC-point head for Mr R Akin. Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire produced the largest number of medal heads in 2014 at four apiece, followed by Suffolk and Norfolk with three each. Other counties producing gold-medal heads included Berkshire, Northamptonshire, Herefordshire, Wiltshire and Essex. Last year I mentioned the trend for multi-pointed heads, noting that few had won a medal because of the emphasis on symmetry within the CIC formula. This year only two heads with more than the typical four points earned a medal, though both were strong enough to reach gold.

CHINESE WATER DEER
The clearly identified trend for the high number of gold medals in Chinese water deer compared with silver or bronze continues. More than 76 per cent of the 68 sets of tusks submitted for evaluation reached gold medal status, and of those, 67 per cent came from Bedfordshire. Of note was B. Martini’s 262 CIC-point buck. Norfolk produced the next highest number. Progress on the research project into population dynamics referred to in previous reports is now tangible, with a post-graduate researcher set to carry out the work this summer. Help is needed in the shape of a requirement for CWD skulls — not trophy bucks, but normal cull animals. If anyone has access to CWD and has a management plan that results in such skulls being available, we would welcome their support.

GOAT
Irish goats top the list of horns measured this year, with one of them achieving a respectable gold medal at 363.8 CIC points. Goats from North Wales provide the majority of stalking for UK residents, and the quantity this year, at three times the average number submitted, is an indicator of the increasing popularity of such hunting. Some hardy hunters
who ventured to Islay also earned a silver and two bronze medals.

BOAR
Another poor year for boar, with only one set of tusks (those from Romania) achieving a silver medal. With reports in the media of yet another proposal to survey and cull boar populations, this time in Wiltshire as a result of a road traffic accident on the M4, one wonders if we will ever see quality UK boar trophies.

MOUFLON
Ross Atkinson’s well-formed and even Mouflon head from the Czech Republic gave some relief from the norm at the Newark Stalking Fair last autumn. Despite the fact that it missed a medal, the owner was nevertheless delighted to know the score.

MARAL
We don’t see many maral stags (Cervus elaphus maral), but Michael de Pelet’s stag from Tajikistan was a truly enormous head: with 120cm main beams and lower beam circumferences of 20cm, it weighed in at 13.5kg. With a score of 849.7 CIC points, it easily passed the 800-point threshold to make an exceptional gold medal.

THE FUTURE
With more than 800 heads assessed in the past 12 months, the pressure on accredited Certified CIC Measurers remains, as does the need to stay up to date with measuring techniques and the changes in the Evaluation Handbook. We are therefore delighted to welcome Shooting Times’s Kate Gatacre as our newest recruit. Her training is complete, and we await her official accreditation by the CIC.

The research carried out by the CIC in support of the changes incorporated into the CIC evaluation system has raised further questions, the pursuit of which are now in hand. For example, a large-scale project is in progress to assess whether or not there are more recognisable sub-species of the European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) than the current European, Andalucian and Italian and how far the influence of the Siberian roe (Capreolus pygargus) has spread into Eastern Europe.
After many years of being hosted by the British Deer Society, the UK Trophy Evaluation Board will be joining Blaser on its stand at this year’s CLA and Midland Game Fairs. Blaser is a major partner of the CIC internationally, and we are delighted to be teaming up with them in the UK. Members of the team will be in attendance at the Scottish Game Fair at Scone Palace, The CLA Game Fair at Harewood House, the Moy Field Sports Fair and the Midland Game Fair at Weston Park. We will also be supporting the Deer Stalking Fair at Kelso at the end of March 2015. The full list of measurers can be found 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.

To view this year’s medal tables, click on the images below.

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