Record alliance

The BASC team, led by Dominic Griffith, measured 33 medal-class heads in 2011

Dominic Griffith reports on an exciting new trophy measuring alliance between BASC and Sporting Rifle

The BASC measuring system has been operating for four years. It is now set to expand, evolve and develop, in association with Sporting Rifle as a key partner, to help promote the BASC measuring service to deer stalkers.

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 criteria have been the European benchmark for the measurement of quarry species. A number of UK organisations including the Forestry Commission, the British Deer Society, the St Hubert’s Club and other private outfitters have used the various measurement menus.

The BASC system has been benchmarked to the CIC criteria, but we are now going to introduce various changes and rationalisations that will make the measurement of deer antlers in the UK more accessible, more inclusive and more logical. We are confident that our system will still produce total scores that will be 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.

There will be more measurers, and those measurers will be located in the parts of the country where the premium trophies of the relevant species are being taken. Our aim, by having access to on-site measurers, is to include the significant proportion of trophies that are shot by foreign stalkers and are currently being taken out of the country without being measured. This will greatly enhance the records we keep. To achieve this, we will not be bound by the 90-day rule but will 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. The standards of measurement will not be compromised, and BASC will work rigorously to maintain quality control.

N Dewing with the highest scoring gold medal roe head of 2011

We will also introduce 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 will now award a platinum medal, and recipients will automatically qualify for the annual Sporting Rifle dinner. All forms and certificates have been redesigned and new medals struck.

All the current formulas will have changes, some minor and some more significant. How else, for example, can you assess a sika or muntjac trophy other than by length of beams, span and tines? We, however, will not insist on the 90-day rule, which seems unnecessary for a measurement that does not include weight.

For fallow and red we have taken a different view. Since weight amounts to typically no more than 2-4 per cent of their respective scores, we feel it is perfectly acceptable to make an educated guess as to weight where the measurement cannot actually be taken. This will mean that shoulder-mounted red and fallow will now be eligible for a measurement and the certificate will be marked as estimated weight. We feel that experts in their species should have little problem assessing likely weight. We will also add 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 been a CIC measurer until 2007, I am particularly interested in the 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 will define a trophy with greater logic, but without changing the nature of its comparison 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 will still be ineligible for measurement. However, we will estimate weight loss for ‘wet’ trophies, thus abandoning the need for the 90-day rule.

The highest scoring silver head of 2011, from T Moore in Wiltshire

We will make several other alterations to make our formula more logical. At the moment, 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 will create a score in equal graduations from 0 to 4 back to 0. Colour will be scored from a colour chart, and the additional tine scores have been completely overhauled to avoid effectively scoring the same thing twice. We will also list all those trophies over 100 points, as this still recognises what is clearly an excellent roe.

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, and on top of that the measurement is almost always 30mm anyway. The BASC system will measure canine length only and reclassify the medal award as if the circumference measurement was 30mm.

All this is work in progress, and everything will be subject to constant scrutiny and review. We want this to be ‘by stalkers for stalkers’ and, to that end, if there is anyone who feels they have a particular contribution to make, we 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.

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