Deer Alliance Hunter Competence Assessment Programme (HCAP) is the only Trained Hunter qualification recognised by Coillte Teoranta for purposes of hunting wild deer on Coillte forest property, and is not to be confused with any other so-called “Trained Hunter” qualification. Any person wishing to hunt wild deer on Coillte property, as Licensee or Nominated Stalker, must be HCAP-Certified.
The purpose and objective of HCAP is firstly to satisfy Coillte’s requirement for the safe and effective management of deer on its forest property by properly qualified persons, and secondly to bring about “best practice” procedures and skills in the overall management and conservation of wild deer throughout Ireland, by properly trained and competent persons.
HCAP is in its seventh year of operation, preceded by four years of collaborative development. Participating bodies include the Irish Deer Society, Wild Deer Association of Ireland, Wicklow Deer Management & Conservation Group, Wicklow Deer Society, Coillte Teoranta, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Forest Service, Irish Farmers’ Association, Garda Siochana and the Irish Timber Growers’ Association.
HCAP is run on a voluntary basis, with no profit-making or commercial gain to any participating body or person. The cost of undertaking assessment has not increased in the last six years and is currently fixed at a flat €100.00 to include written MCQ Assessment, Range Test and Certification.
HCAP is recognised by the Garda Siochana as the appropriate evidence of competence, required under current firearms licensing procedures, for persons applying for firearms certificate for a full-bore rifle for purposes of hunting wild deer.
HCAP is supported by the only publication dealing exclusively with the management, conservation and practical stalking of wild deer in Ireland – the Deer Alliance Stalker Training Manual, available through the Deer Alliance website, www.deeralliance.ie.
Approximately one in four of all licensed deer hunters in Ireland, accounting for up to fifty per cent of the annual licensed legal deer cull, is HCAP-Certified, and since inception, Deer Alliance HCAP has persistently and repeatedly pressed for the adoption of HCAP or equivalent as a prerequisite to the issue of a deer hunting licence. All licensed deer hunters, or persons intending at a future to take up deer stalking as a practical tool of management and control of wild deer, are invited to undertake HCAP assessment and certification and so ensure they are, so far as possible, following necessary best-practice procedures while adding immeasurably to their knowledge and appreciation of wild deer.
For further information go to the main Deer Alliance HCAP website, www.deeralliance.ie.