Deer stalking & Large Wild Game (Deer) meat hygiene course
Country Sports Ireland delivers a broad range of high quality, professionally delivered training courses that are externally accredited and accepted by all the relevant statutory authorities in every part of Ireland.
For example, the Country Sports Ireland Deer Stalking Training Course is acceptable to Coillte for any person hunting under licence on Coillte lands and also National Parks and Wildlife Service in respect of Section 42 Licence applications.
The Country Sports Ireland Large Wild Game (Deer) meat hygiene course is also recognised by the appropriate Competent Authorities throughout Ireland (Food Safety Authority of Ireland and Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine in the Republic of Ireland) and also the Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland.
Country Sports Ireland training courses are also externally accredited by Lantra – a leading training awarding body for the land-based/countryside sector. This is important independent recognition of the quality of training and assessment delivered by Country Sports Ireland.
A link to our unique online training resource is provided FREE of charge to all learners by email when confirming their place on a particular Country Sports Ireland competency course. For those who prefer hard copies of training manuals they are available to purchase via the Country Sports Ireland office.
Demand for Country Sports Ireland training courses is often very high and places limited so booking in advance is essential. Country Sports Ireland Members should ‘Log In’ to the member’s area before booking to take advantage of the discounted price for members. Non-members can join Country Sports Ireland online before booking and then book at the discounted rate if they wish to.
Deer Alliance, is the organising body for the assessment and certification of persons involved in the management, conservation and stalking of wild deer in Ireland. The Deer Alliance was established in 2003 in response to the need for a certification process in respect of hunters and managers of wild deer on the lands of Coillte Teoranta, Ireland’s State Forestry Board. The Deer Alliance administers the national Hunter Competence Assessment Programme (HCAP) through the HCAP Assessment Committee. HCAP is designed to lead to safer, more efficient and more humane management of wild deer in Ireland through a rigorous process of screening and assessment of deer hunters. All persons wishing to hunt wild deer on Coillte forest property are required to show evidence of competence in the areas of knowledge of Irish deer species (biology, habits and habitat, management practices) and proficiency in the safe use of firearms. HCAP, introduced in 2005 and accepted by Coillte as meeting the required standards.
HCAP Range test target
The Deer Alliance was formed in 2003 in response to Coillte Teoranta’s decision to seek a system of independent certification for persons hunting wild deer on Coillte forest property. The Alliance comprises the four leading Irish deer organisations – The Wild Deer Association of Ireland, The Irish Deer Society, Wicklow Deer Management & Conservation Group and the Wicklow Deer Society. These four organisations accepted the challenge to come up with a formula for a credible and independent assessment and certification model early in 2003. There followed almost a year of comparative study and assessment of different models used nationally and internationally, culminating in the decision to adopt the system of assessment now represented by the Hunter Competence Assessment Programme – or HCAP.
There followed a further year of work under the guidance of a steering committee comprised of the original four members of the Deer Alliance, strengthened by representatives of a number of other organisations and bodies whose involvement and support is key to the formulation and implementation of a national strategy for stalker training. These bodies included Coillte itself, National Parks & Wildlife Service, The Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture & Food, An Garda Siochana, Irish Farmers’ Association and the Irish Timber Growers’ Association. The strengthened committee, known as the Deer Alliance Development Committee, took on the task of developing HCAP to the point of launch in April 2005, including the task of producing the Stalker Training Manual, which forms the basis for stalker education and preparation for the HCAP assessment procedure.
HCAP is currently the only independently verified competence assessment programme which has been developed specifically for Irish deer stalkers, hunting Irish deer under Irish stalking conditions and has been fully accepted and endorsed by Coillte. It is now Coillte’s policy that all persons intending to hunt deer on Coillte forest property, as licensees of sporting rights or as nominated stalkers, must be HCAP-certified by stipulated deadlines, starting in January 2008.
HCAP is administered by the HCAP Assessment Committee, successor to the Deer Alliance Development Committee. The Assessment Committee has undertaken the objective of providing the opportunity for assessment and certification for all licensed deer hunters in Ireland (currently in excess of 2500 individuals) by the year 2015.
HCAP is designed to test the knowledge and proficiency of all those who wish to hunt wild deer on both Coillte forest property and on private land. Assessment is supported by courses in training and education offered on a regional basis by the different participating deer organisations, as well as by the Stalker Training Manual, which is designed to communicate the essentials required for the safe, efficient and humane management of wild deer.
Assessment is based on a written Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) examination, which requires the candidate to answer forty questions out of fifty correctly. MCQ examinations are held periodically at different regional centres.
When successful in the MCQ, candidates then proceed to a Range Test.
The Range Test requires the candidate to group three shots within a four-inch bull target from the prone position at 100 metres. If successful at the grouping stage, candidates proceed to fire six shots on a deer-shaped target – two rounds in the prone position at 100 metres, two rounds sitting or kneeling at 60 metres and two rounds standing at 40 metres. Successful candidates are then HCAP certified.
HCAP is designed to be tough but fair. Current pass rates are in the order of 70% of candidates passing all stages, which means that four out of ten candidates will fail either the MCQ stage or the Range Test stage. This can result from lack of preparation or lack of practice – or simply underestimating the level of competence required. Nonetheless the HCAP Assessment Committee is determined to maintain the highest possible standards of knowledge, proficiency, safety and general competence, given the core requirements for safe, efficient and humane treatment of wild deer.