At first there were just the St Hubert’s Club and the British Deer Society, then BASC opened a Deer Department, then the Deer Initiative appeared and now I see that the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation has announced a Deer Branch.
Then there are all the local Deer Management Groups and Deer Groups. Do we need all these people? Who pays for them? I really feel that their existence might dilute the voice of Stalking and Deer Management when it comes to influencing government policy.
That’s quite a question and short of writing a small book I will have to use a broad brush to answer it.
Let me deal first with the easy part. As far as I am aware, all the bodies mentioned are funded by their members’ subscriptions with the exception of the Deer Initiative, some of whose funding comes indirectly from the taxpayer.
Do we need them all?
Well, in spite of the danger you pointed out of the plethora of voices diluting the message, I think the variety is probably a good thing.
One of the main functions of the Deer Initiative was to draw together all those voices and co-ordinate them; but that is always difficult when some of the people concerned, big fish in their own small ponds, feel their importance may be reduced if they come under that umbrella.
“The best laid plans o’ mice and men” comes to mind here…
You mentioned the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation and here I have to declare an interest because I am a member of the NGO and act as their members’ Firearms Adviser in much the same way as I did for BASC before my retirement.
That said, I really do think their formal involvement in deer is most welcome and can only be beneficial.
The NGO’s members are mostly professionals and many have a deep and practical knowledge of deer based on years of full time experience.
And that is something none of the other deer bodies can come close to matching.