This is not a slight to those without DSC2
While BASC recognises many stalkers have invaluable experience, its register requires DSC2 to reassure landowners, says Conor O’Gorman.
In mid-January BASC announced its new register of competent stalkers (News, 24 January). Its aim is to connect qualified deerstalkers holding BASC membership with landowners, government agencies and institutional bodies looking for individuals to carry out deer management on their land.
Members can apply to be added to the register on an online form via the BASC website. It is a quick and easy process and there is no fee. The main information is your contact details, location and qualifications that you hold. Then, when opportunities arise, BASC will contact all members on the register in the areas surrounding the property and put them in contact with the relevant parties.
As for qualifications, the register is designed primarily for those who have achieved their Deer Stalking Certificate level 2 (DSC2) qualification because this is the minimum qualification that many large landowners require.
The launch has caused a bit of a stir on social media, to say the least. On the one hand there are many BASC members with relevant qualifications who are delighted with the project and signing up, but on the other there are some people making quite negative comments online about the project.
As I read it, the criticism has been triggered by the use of the word “competent” in the title of the register and the requirement for stalkers to have some qualifications to be on it.
There are lots of deer managers with decades of experience and no qualifications who are very good at what they do, and with no end of permissions from landowners requiring their services. They have built solid reputations and trust through hard work at all hours and in all weathers. How did they get started? They knocked on doors, or gained permissions through local contacts, family or friends. Many a journey began with pigeon, rabbit or fox control.
Getting permissions for deerstalking or any form of shooting today is very different to that of many decades ago. Many of the doors have been well knocked and much of the land is taken. There are still ways and means of getting permissions, and qualifications can make a difference.
Many people getting into stalking gain their initial experience and mentoring from qualifications and they build up their competency from there. BASC members can avail themselves of the stalking schemes BASC runs in Arran (Scotland), Baronscourt (Northern Ireland), Bowland and Hampshire.
Going back to the register, this is why DSC2 is particularly relevant because it is obtained via a portfolio of evidence that the stalker gathers and submits to the industry-leading body, Deer Management Qualification, for formal assessment. This includes an accompanied stalk with an approved witness.
The large landowners interested in the services of deerstalkers on our new register see qualifications as evidence of competency — but that should not be seen as a slight to the experience and expertise of other stalkers, nor a threat to their permissions. I hope the project is a success for all involved.
BASC’s deer officer James Sutcliffe says: “The BASC register of competent deerstalkers is gathering traction and we are getting lots of names on the list. We aim to use the register as a list of qualified stalkers by area. That way, when we are approached by landowners who are seeking people to take out deer management on their land, we can put you in touch with them to provide you with opportunities to get out on to the ground and carry out some deerstalking.
“This is a free service for any member who has achieved the DCS1 and DCS2 qualifications. Your membership proves to landowners that you have a rock-solid insurance policy,” he points out. “Your qualifications prove to landowners that you have achieved industry-standard levels of firearms and deer knowledge, and can safely and humanely cull deer on their land and put them into the food chain.