Dominic Griffith reports on an exciting new trophy measuring alliance between BASC and Sporting Rifle, plus takes an in-depth look at last season’s recorded heads
The BASC measuring system has been operating for six years. But it is since 2012 that it has really taken off, expanding and evolving in association with Sporting Rifle magazine. It now measures virtually half of the trophies measured in the UK.
The BASC service has seen a steady uptake among stalkers over the years and is now seen as an important part of the data record of successful deer management in the UK. Our vision is that a partnership of the largest shooting organisation in the UK with the only magazine specifically for deer stalkers will ensure many more trophies are brought forward for measurement and recording. This will contribute greatly to the archive of deer and in particular roe management in the UK since the 1950s. It will also ensure greater publicity is given to management practices that result in the presence of premium specimens.
For many years the CIC’s measurement was the European benchmark for the measurement of quarry species. To ensure consistency with historical records, the BASC system was benchmarked to the CIC criteria, but has since introduced various changes and rationalisations to make the measurement of deer antlers in the UK more accessible, more inclusive and more logical. Nevertheless, our system still tends to produce total scores that are within 1-3 per cent of CIC measurements. This is the same differentiation that is normally found between all trained and experienced measurers, whatever their backgrounds – hence the requirement for panels of measurers in some European countries. Our aim is to ensure that BASC measurements remain comparable to those offered by other systems, but also bring in many previously unrecorded trophies and provide a significant contribution to UK data and statistics.
We have also expanded our measuring team, in particular adding members located in the parts of the country known for producing premium trophies of the various species. Our aim, by having access to on-site measurers, is to include the significant proportion of trophies that are shot by foreign stalkers and taken out of the country without being measured. This will greatly enhance the records we keep. To achieve this, we are not bound by the 90-day rule but measure trophies ‘fresh’, and rely on the experienced experts involved to make appropriate weight deductions where heads are clearly ‘wet’. This is no more than what measurers did successfully for many years before official CIC involvement. BASC measurers work rigorously to maintain quality control throughout this process.
One of the major successes of the partnership has been a new platinum award for roe and muntjac. There is such a difference between a roe head of 150 points and one of 130 that it seems inappropriate not to recognise that difference with a different award and a new medal. For roe of 150 points or more, and for muntjac of 70 points or more, BASC now awards a platinum medal, and we have seen several of these awarded in the two years since its in inception. On top of this, we redesigned all our medals to mark the start of the partnership.
As for the formulas themselves, there were some minor changes and some more significant ones. For example, there is surely no other way to assess a sika or muntjac trophy than by length of beams, span and tines. But since the measurement does not include weight, we do not insist on the 90-day rule for these trophies.
For fallow and red we have taken a different view. Weight is counted, but it amounts to typically no more than 2-4 per cent of their respective scores. So we feel it is perfectly acceptable to make an educated guess as to weight where the measurement cannot actually be taken. This means shoulder-mounted red and fallow are eligible for a measurement. The certificate will be marked as ‘estimated weight’. We feel that experts in their species should have little problem assessing likely weight. We also introduced a 130 per cent rule to upper beam measurement to ensure antlers lacking a second tine can still be eligible for upper beam measurement.
Having spent several years as a CIC measurer, I am particularly interested in its roe formula. It certainly selects the correct criteria and makes the proper definition of a premium trophy, but it is not without fault. Where possible we have made changes that introduce greater logic to the definition of a trophy, but without changing the nature of the measurement, so our results are comparable to those recorded since the 1950s.
With roe, weight amounts to 30-40 per cent of the total score. It is far too important a criterion to estimate, so shoulder-mounted roe trophies are still ineligible for measurement. But ‘wet’ trophies can have their weight loss estimated by an expert measurer, thus abandoning the need for the 90-day rule.
We have made several other alterations to make the formula more logical. In CIC scoring, for example, span scores rise in graduations from 0 to 4 depending upon width-length ratio, but then drop from 4 to 0 rather arbitrarily, often penalising a perfectly pleasing trophy. Our system adds equal graduations from 4 back to 0. Additionally, colour is scored from a colour reference chart, and additional tine scores have been completely overhauled to avoid effectively scoring the same thing twice.
Anyone who has ever tried to measure a Chinese water deer tusk using a steel tape will be aware that the circumference can be manipulated by how hard you pull the tape. This undermines circumference measurements to the extent that they add nothing at all to a measurement. On top of that, the measurement is almost always 30mm anyway. The BASC system responds to this by measuring canine length only and reclassifying the medal award as if the circumference measurement was 30mm.
Finally, we have added the ‘Yearbook entry’ category for roe that fall just short of a medal but have scored over 100 points. This is clearly an excellent roe, and any heads matching this criteria are listed in Sporting Rifle’s reports on the trophies to come through the BASC system. This change in particular has been very well received.
Despite all these changes, the system is still very much a work in progress. Everything is continually subject to constant scrutiny and review. We want this system to be ‘by stalkers for stalkers’ and, to that end, if there is anyone who feels they have a particular contribution to make, I would be very pleased to hear from you. In the meantime, thank you to all those of you who have supported this programme since its inception in 2008.