Safety & deer management

The Wild Deer Association of Ireland promotes the following best practice & safety measures in addition to the deer management principles outlined in the Hunter Competence Assessment Programme (HCAP)

Course Syllabus

Deer Identification and Habits -

  1. Species Identification - Coat colour, Size, Antlers, Distribution & Markings, Habits.
  2. Seasonal Variations - Coat colour, Antler development, Fawning & Rutting, Movement & Herding characteristics, Gestation, Suckling, Weaning.
  3. Classification/ Names - Species, Sex, Offspring, Age.
  4. Individual & Herd Characteristics - Sex ratio, Nutrition & Feeding, Hoof marks, Droppings, Antler growth by season/ by year, Rutting signs/ smell/ scraping/ calls, Condition/ growth rate, Disease status/ health, Hunting pressure.
  5. Damage Assessment - Grazing pressure, Bark damage, Browsing, Antler damage, Crop damage, Stock density.
  6. Culling & Deer Management - Old/ Infirm, Diseased, Genetic Variants, Wounded, Cull numbers & density, Damage.
  7. Age Profiles - Growth, Body shape, Teeth wear, Hoofs, Facial features, Coat conditions.

Practical Deer Stalking -

  1. Dress - Camo, Footwear.
  2. Ground - Familiarize, Wind Factor (prevailing direction), Sunlight (aspects), Weather & General, Surrounding Area (houses, farm stock, walking area's), Roadways.
  3. Equipment - Binocular, Stalking Stick, Knife, Rope, Proper Calibre, Rifle Zeroed.
  4. Deer Species - Deer Population, Sex Ratio, Recognizing your quarry (Buck/Doe, Calf/ Pricket, Stag/Hind), Cull Numbers, Favorite Area's (Deer)
  5. The Stalk - Wind Direction, Ground Conditions (Frost), Background to Stalk, Time Factor (Don't rush), Distance from target, Using the terrain.
  6. The Shot - Distance, Background, Target Area, Position of Deer, Wind direction & strength.
  7. Shot not to be taken - Housing proximity, Roadways, Fog (background, easy to loose animal), Other stalkers, Gun after fall, Snow in barrel, Skyline shot.
  8. After the Shot - Note reaction to shot, Hold position (allow sufficient time), Mark animals position, Careful approach.
  9. Wounded animal - Allow time, Assess where bullet hit, Check blood (dark/light/frothy), Any stomach contents.
  10. Handling Carcass - Animal health, Disease identification.

Firearm Handling -

  1. Safety - Storage, Loading/Firing & unloading, Transport, Safe pointing when carrying, Background/ Backstop, Cleaning, Muzzle protection, Proper use of safety catch, Hearing protection, Safety and Firearm Law.
  2. Ballistics - Trajectory, Bullet choice/ Calibre, Range for sure shot, Zeroing & grouping, Optics/ Scope, Wound ballistics, Windage.
  3. Shooting - (a) Competent shooting, off-hand & rested, know limits, acquire competent standard. (b) Target identification and safe background, third party risk. (c) Knowledge of recoil and flinch, excitement, buck fever, out of breath. (d) Vital area and quarry, presentation for shot. (e) After shot procedure to reaction of animal.

Wildlife and the law- (The Act deals with the following areas)

  1. Purpose of the Act.
  2. Standard Provisions.
  3. General Conservation Powers.
  4. Acquisition Management and Inspection of Land.
  5. Protection of Wildlife Habitats.
  6. Protection of Wild Birds, Wild Animals and Wild Plants.
  7. Shooting of Wild Birds and Animals.
  8. Hunting of Otters, Stags and Hares with Dogs.
  9. Offences against Protected areas and Flora.
  10. Offences against Protected Wild Animals.
  11. Unlawful use of certain Firearms.
  12. Traps, snares, nets, poisons and other devices.
  13. Decoys and Lures.
  14. Prohibition on use of vehicles, vessel and aircraft in hunting.
  15. Restriction of hunting by night, use of lamps etc.
  16. Burning and destruction of vegetation.
  17. Damage of Protected Species.
  18. Trespass.
  19. Sales, Purchase and Possession of Protected Fauna, including Game.
  20. Transport, Import and Export of Fauna and Flora.
  21. Attempted Offences (Aiding and Abetting etc.)
  22. Prosecution of Offences.
  23. Powers of Garda Siochana and Authorised persons.
  24. Penalties.>
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