Viewpoint: trophy measuring

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The success of the new improved BASC measuring service speaks for itself, and it appears many stalkers have voted with their feet since the initiative was launched just over a year ago, if the recent BASC trophy review is anything to go by.

Indeed BASC, has received 40 per cent of all British roe trophies submitted for measurement this past year, and they still keep coming in.

Sporting Rifle magazine was proud to form an alliance with BASC to help promote its trophy measuring service as a viable alternative for those stalkers who had lost confidence in CIC UK, or simply wanted a choice of measuring systems to choose from.

CIC UK’s credibility has received a few knocks in the recent past, mainly due to the questionable leadership qualities of the new guard.

However, despite their past blunders I was hopeful that the CIC UK heads would soon get their act together. Unfortunately the leadership seems set to continue to blunder along if recent reports in the sporting press are anything to go by.

For instance, I was perplexed when I looked at the UK CIC’s recently published 2012 review of ‘alien’ species (penned by the organisation’s spokesman Brigadier Dalby Welsh), and saw red deer heading their list of non-natives.

The red deer, of course, is one of only two deer species in the British Isles that are truly native, the other being the roe. Ok, most of our mainland stock of red deer north and south of the border has a touch of continental red deer blood.

Indeed in some areas even a splash of wapiti blood will be found. However, these past misguided attempts to improve body and antler quality by releasing imported animals to spread their ‘better DNA’ can hardly be grounds for striking the red deer off as a UK native just yet.

Perhaps the brigadier should get back to basics and familiarise himself with which deer species are actually alien and those that are truly native.

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Prior to the above faux pas, CIC UK’s senior trophy judge Iain Watson questioned the existence of free-ranging Soay sheep on mainland Scotland in a letter published in the sporting press.

He wrongly claimed that only on the island of Hirta are true free ranging Soays still to be found, and that there are none on the Scottish mainland. He clearly hadn’t done his research, which is surprising as he is a western islander himself, residing in the Hebrides.

Firstly, the UK’s only wild sheep species originally comes from the isle of Soay (the clue is in the name), where it still thrives despite cyclic population crashes.

In fairness he wasn’t far off, as Hirta neighbours Soay in the St Kilda Archipelago, and has its own population introduced [from Soay] after the last islanders left for good in the early 1930s.

But isn’t attention to detail a prerequisite to being a measurer and a supposed expert in one’s field? Secondly, there are at least two free-ranging Soay sheep populations on the Scottish mainland.

The most obvious is on the Black Corries estate on Rannoch Moor. Here Soay sheep can sometimes be seen from the A82 if you look north-east from the north shore of Loch Baa.

But enough about sheep. Let us get back to the brigadier’s trophy review, where he readily admits to being asked often about how the BASC system of measuring compares with the CIC.

Bizarrely he claims that there cannot really be a comparison between the two. Strange words indeed, as the BASC method is actually benchmarked to similar criteria, albeit with sensible changes that maintain comparable records yet encourage the recording of valuable trophies that may not have been submitted for measurement.

His rhetoric then bangs on about CIC UK measurers being internationally accredited and certified by the CIC head office in Budapest, Hungary. So what?

L Mulcock, 187.3 points3BASC measurer accreditation is controlled nationally on these shores at BASC HQ in Wrexham. It is, after all, a service aimed at British stalkers to recognise, record, and maintain their hard-won trophies, which are, despite what Dalby Welsh says, very much comparable internationally.

The CIC may well have been going for nearly 70 years, but it is a European organisation with a small UK wing. CIC measuring criteria was founded on the continent by, among others, Reich Marshal Herman Goring, and based on German traditions and their approach to trophy management.

It was a similar story in the US at that time when President Theodore Roosevelt co-founded the Boone and Crockett club. Much later, Safari Club International offered an alternative trophy recording system to US hunters, crucially giving choice to the sportsman, and that is what BASC has done for the UK stalker.

In the Brigadier’s review he ascribes some kind of biblical attachment to the CIC’s measurement rules (better suited to the Dead Sea Scrolls or Holy Grail than trophy measuring), by saying they are “enshrined” in the CIC’s red and blue books. Again I say, so what?

The BASC rules of measurement were formed with equal integrity and agreed upon after much deliberation by leading experts in their field. These are adhered to by their accredited measurers, situated geographically around the British Isles to provide a readily available service.

Let us be clear here – this isn’t just an appendage-measuring contest between the two systems, although it would seem to be if one looks at CIC’s 2012 trophy list.

The brigadier applauds his old mate Major General Tony Jeapes CB for his sustained deer management at Pepworth proven by the heads taken over the years and all submitted in 2012 for measurement, five of which made medals. It seems that a lot of loft-searching and rattling around in sheds was done last year to provide heads for the CIC measurement list.

BASC trophy measurers have been trained to a high standard after stringent selection by respected deer manager and BASC deer department head Alan McCormick and internationally renowned roe expert and trophy measurer Dominic Griffith (who also formerly trained a number of the UK CIC team).

Yes, a CIC measurement is carried out by CIC authorised trophy judges in accordance with their published rules, but I disagree with Tony Dalby Welsh’s claims that “any other offering cannot be so and does not, therefore, bear any comparison to a CIC measurement”.

A BASC measurement stands up to the scrutiny of those it represents: honest British sportsmen looking for a credible, reliable measurement and record of their trophy heads

Pete Carr

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Posted in Features, Viewpoint

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