Deer Management. The Relevance of Record Keeping
Matthew Robertson considers the need for Deer Stalkers to keep good Deer Management Records.
The original title for this article was to be 'The Importance of Record Keeping', but on reflection I consider it more a matter of relevance than importance. Specifically, relevance implies a connection with a subject rather than being a necessity. That's where record keeping seems to fit in to the stalking world and is a matter of personal preference, but there are a few things to consider before making your mind up.
So enough speaking in riddles - what is record keeping and should you be doing it?
From my own personal experience as a comparatively new stalker, I saw the prospect of sitting down, post stalk, and putting pen to paper recording incredibly intricate details as slightly obsessive and even macabre. While basic records are kept in driven shoots, such as the bag size, people certainly don't pull out a tape measure and see how plump the pheasants were.
So to a beginner, or someone who will flirt with the hobby maybe a couple of times in their shooting career, I can see why records aren't the priority. At the time it feels all about the shot, and that's fine (as long as it's a safe shot, of course!).
As you move onwards and upwards through the sport, and your interest naturally progresses to being more inquisitive of these exceptional animals that we both hunt and respect simultaneously, the details become blurred. The effects of time do still numb what, on the day of the stalk, feel like they will be ingrained in your mind forever. They fade.
When, in the fullness of time, you start to think of moving your hobby on to the next level (and seeking DSC1 and DSC2 accreditation to solidify both your knowledge and experience), record keeping becomes essential. It is at this end of the sport in which your knowledge of how to safely and correctly cross a style with a very lethal rifle is no longer sufficient (of course, if we can't do things safely we shouldn't be stalking, but you get the idea!). Building a credible and annotated portfolio of your outings, demonstrating the width and breadth of your experience across the whole family of deer species, is a cornerstone to your acceptance as an experienced stalker.
I purchased my Deer Stalking Register from the excellent British Deer Society website. At £30.00 excluding postage, it's very well made with a green linen cover and twenty-five double pages allowing you to record all aspects of your stalk and the quarry you took. If you are not yet sure, a simple computer spreadsheet would be a good start. If however you are going to consider making a purchase, please do stop to consider the BDS as they are a really worthwhile organisation and very close to our hearts as stalkers!
(The Deer Stalkers register from the BDS)