Author Archives: Liam Nolan

NEXT SCHEDULED HCAP EVENT – SATURDAY 29th JUNE 2024 (TRAINING WORKSHOP & MCQ)

Book Cover

The next event in the 2024 Series of Deer Alliance HCAP Training Workshops & MCQs will be held on Saturday 29th June 2024 (10am – 5pm), followed on Saturday 6th July 2024 by the supporting Range Test for successful MCQ Candidates. The venue for the Workshop & MCQ is the Woodford Dolmen Hotel, Kilkenny Road, Carlow, Co. Carlow, R93 N207. The Range Test will be held at the Midland Range, Blue Ball, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, R35 NC58.

THIS WILL THE LAST OPPORTUNITY FOR FIRST-TIME APPLICANTS FOR THE DEER HUNTING LICENCE TO ACHIEVE HCAP CERTIFICATION BEFORE THE OPENING OF THE NEW SEASON 2024-2025 ON 1st AUGUST 2024.

APPLICATION

Application can be made online through the Online Applications section of the website or in hard copy by post. Online payment is through PayPal using any valid debit or credit card (applicants do not need their own PayPal account) or by post with cheque or postal order. Hard copy application forms can be downloaded from the website.

The cost of HCAP remains unchanged at €165.00, and €35.00 for the Deer Alliance Stalker Training Manual (also purchased through the Online Applications section).

 

 

DISCOUNT FOR MEMBERS OF IFA COUNTRYSIDE

 

Members of IFA Countryside can avail of an inclusive special discount price of €120.00 (covering HCAP Application, Stalker Training Manual, Workshop, MCQ, Range Test and certification), generously subsidised by IFA Farm Business Skillnet. New and intending members of IFA Countryside should call 0818 924 982 or 01 426 0368 for membership information, which includes insurance cover for all hunting and other countryside activities, compliant with requirements for the HCAP Range Test.

ELIGIBLE CANDIDATES

The following candidates are eligible to participate in the HCAP Training Workshop & MCQ talking place on Saturday 29th June 2024. The list includes candidates who were Deferrals or No-Shows at previous Workshops & MCQs. Candidates having missed two or more events may be de-listed as eligible if they fail to attend this next scheduled event. If such candidates wish to complete their HCAP certification process, they will be required to re-enter the process as Repeat Candidates, subject to the standard Repeat Fee of 50.00.

BEZRUCKO, Dmitrij, 2024/0080
BRASSO, Balazs, 2024/0083
BRESLIN, Anthony, 2024/0084
CRANNY, Neil, 2024/0081
FOLEY, John, 2024/0058
FOX, Shane, 2024/0082
FLYNN, Declan, 2022/0113
GARIB, Sayf, 2024/0028
GLENDON, Philip, 2024/0074
GLYNN, Alan, 2024/0014
KANE, Patrick, 2023/0091
KELLY, Robert, 2023/0087
KIRWAN, Edward, 2024/0019
KIRWAN (Jnr.), Edward, 2024/0020
KIRWAN, Jason, 2024/0021
KIRWAN, John, 2024/0022
MacSWEENEY, Ronan, 2024/0050
O’CONNOR, Niall, 2024/0078
O’LEARY, Noel, 2024/0064
Ó MEARÁIN, Lochlann, 2024/0066
O’NEILL, Michael, 2024/0041
O’REILLY, Patrick, 2024/0070
RONAN, Darren, 2024/0015
SMITH, Adam, 2024/0084
TICE, George, 2023/0130
WHELAN, Chris, 2024/0011
WHITE, Ronnie, 2024/0067

(This list will be updated as applications are received. Last update, 16.5.2024)

SIKA THE WILD DEER

In addition, thanks to a special sponsorship deal offered exclusively to Deer Alliance HCAP, the first 100 HCAP Candidates in 2024 will receive a complimentary copy of Sika the Wild Deer (retail value €25.00), the story of the life of a sika stag in Wicklow from conception to maturity, seen through the eyes of a stalker.

FIREARMS FOR RANGE TEST

HCAP Candidates who do not have access to their own deer-legal rifle have two options open to them. If they have a friend who has a deer-legal rifle and is prepared to let the candidate use that rifle for the Range Test, that is permitted, provided that the friend holds a valid Firearm Certificate for the firearm in question, holds valid shooting insurance and is present with the Candidate on the Range at all times. Alternatively, the candidate can avail of a Club Rifle in calibre .243, available from the Midland Range. Booking must be made at least two weeks in advance and is subject to Garda vetting. The current cost of rifle hire is €60.00, to include ammunition sufficient for the standard Range Test. Candidates with no previous experience of full-bore rifle shooting may be required to undertake basic tuition and competency testing on a one-to-one basis at the Midland Range (to include the Range Test Course of Fire but not as part of the Range Test), the current cost of which is €150.00 (one person, one day tuition and test preparation). Hire of a Club rifle and/or arrangements for tuition and test preparation, including all costs, are entirely a matter between Midland Range management and personnel, are outside the ordinary HCAP process and Deer Alliance HCAP has no responsibility or obligation in this regard. For further information about use of a Club firearm for the HCAP Range Test, contact John Paul Craven (Range Operator), 086 823 2641 or Tony Saunders, 087 097 7589.

MANDATORY CERTIFICATION

Certification has been mandatory for all first-time applicants for a Deer Hunting Licence since 2022 and has been obligatory for all persons hunting on Coillte forest property since 2005. In addition, the recent Irish Deer Management Strategy Group report published in December 2023, recommends phased certification for all hunters over the next 3 to 5 years (including licensed hunters not hunting on Coillte forest property and/or holding a Deer Hunting Licence prior to 2022).

ABOUT HCAP

HCAP is the only training programme in Ireland developed in partnership with Coillte Teoranta, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Forest Service, An Garda Síochána and all principal deer organisations. HCAP completed its twentieth year of operation in 2023 and to date approximately 3700 licensed deer hunters have participated in the programme. Enquiries by email to deeralliance@gmail.com or by ‘phone to 086 1927 845 (office hours).

Sika the Wild Deer. The first 100 HCAP Candidates in 2024 will receive a  complimentary copy, thanks to sponsorship received.

HCAP RANGE TEST SATURDAY 18th MAY 2024 – ELIGIBLE CANDIDATES

SIKA HIND – THE HCAP RANGE TEST TARGET. THREE SHOTS INSIDE A FOUR-INCH CIRCLE ON THE SIX-INCH WHITE CIRCLE (USING THE FOUR-INCH BLACK AIMING MARK) IN THE PRONE POSITION (RESTED) AT 100 METRES, FOLLOWED BY NINE SHOTS IN THE HEART/LUNG AREA (THREE SHOTS PRONE AT 100 METRES, THREE SHOTS SITTING/KNEELING AT SIXTY METRES & THREE SHOTS STANDING AT 40  METRES). ALL LEGITIMATE STALKING AIDS MAY BE USED.

The following candidates are eligible to participate in the HCAP Range Test taking place at the Midland Range, Blue Ball, Tullamore, Co. Offaly R35 NC58 on Saturday 18th May 2024.

Candidates should be present at the Range from 9.30 a.m., to sign in with Range management in the Clubhouse, with personal ID, firearms certificate, and evidence of insurance. Zeroing is not permitted on the morning of the Range Test. A reminder that sound moderators and all legitimate stalking aids e.g., shooting sticks, bipods and tripods are permitted. After registration candidates should proceed in their vehicles to the Main Range, in convoy under the direction of Range personnel. After successful completion of the Range Test, candidates will be given a card which they should bring back to the Clubhouse to receive their HCAP Certificate.

Candidates are permitted one opportunity at the Grouping Stage and two opportunities on the Main Target, OR two opportunities at the Grouping Stage and one at the Main Target (but not two opportunities at both stages).

At Stage 1 (grouping stage), candidates are required to place three rounds in a four-inch group, with a four-inch black aiming point on a six-inch white circle, in the prone position, rested.

At Stage 2 (deer target), candidates are required to place nine rounds within the heart & lung area on the life-size sika hind target – three rounds prone rested at 100 metres, three rounds sitting/kneeling at 60 metres and three rounds standing. All legitimate stalking aids are permitted. Sound moderators may be used provided they are factory-threaded.

Candidates wishing to avail of Club rifles should contact Tony Saunders at MRC directly, tel. 087 097 7589, in advance of the Range Test.

Candidates will be observed at all times for adherence to all safety protocols. Any lapse in safety standards may be followed by immediate expulsion from the Range, at the discretion of Range management.

ELIGIBLE RANGE TEST CANDIDATES

COLE, Matthew
CULLEN, Tom
DOYLE, Alan
ENNIS, Alan
FITZGERALD, Ollie
FOXTON, Jordan
GOLDEN, Jonathan
GRANT, Diarmuid
HYLAND, Enda
HYLAND, Norman
LAWLOR, John
McCULLOUGH, Ashley
McENROY, Niall
McGRATH, Anthony
McLOUGHLIN, Eamonn
McMORROW, Oonagh
MOLDOVAN, Andrei
MOLDOVAN, Imiha
MULDOON, Seán
NIBLOCK, David
O’SHEA, John
STARODUBTSEV, Eugene
TREACY, Grainne
PEARSON, Michael
POP-BUIA, Lenut
POTTS, Christopher
SAHOVS, Andrejs
SZOKE, Tamas
WILLIS, Elliot
WILLIS, Rodica

The above list includes candidates who were Deferrals or No-Shows at previous Range Tests. For such candidates, failure to attend on 18th May 2024 without notice will lead to de-listing as eligible candidates and if they wish to complete their HCAP certification process, they will have to re-apply for the Range Test as Repeat Candidates.

Location of Midland Range, Blue Ball, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, R35 NC58.

 

COILLTE LISTINGS – AREAS FOR TENDER 2024 – 2029

A round of tender offers for hunting on Coillte forest property will open through HAMS (Heritage Area Management System, previously Hunting Area Management System)  on 31st May 2024. Bidders must have a registered account on the HAMS system.

For information on HAMS, to register an account or to update account information, click HERE

ONLINE APPLICATION FOR THE DEER HUNTING LICENCE

The application process for the NPWS Deer Hunting Licence will shortly go fully online. The system was recently demonstrated to stakeholders and will undoubtedly lead to more efficient and time-efficient processing  of applications. Applicants will be required to register and maintain an account on the NPWS Heritage Licensing Portal. When making an application, applicants are required to upload a passport-type photograph and copies of their Firearms Certificate and HCAP certificate (mandatory for first-time applicants for the DHL and optional or holders of recent licences). Written landowner permission will not be required but applicants must fulfill two Declarations relation to land permission and obligations under the Wildlife Act 1976 (as amended). Applicants renewing their DHL must also provide details of last season’s cull.

The system will go live on 4th June 2024 and application for the DHL can be made from that date.

To view the Licensing Portal Demonstration in pdf form, click here: DHL Portal Demo 10.5.2024

 

 

HCAP MCQ SATURDAY 11th MAY 2024 – RESULTS

The following candidates (HCAP numbers, followed by mark achieved) were successful in the HCAP MCQ held in the Woodford Dolmen Hotel, Carlow, on Saturday 11th May 2024 and are eligible to participate in the HCAP Range Test to be held at the Midlands Range, Blue Ball, Tullamore, Co. Offaly R35 NC58 on Saturday 18th May 2024. Procedures for Range Tests will be posted here separately.

Candidates who were Deferrals or No-Shows at this MCQ on 11th May 2024 will be carried forward to the next scheduled MCQ, except where they have missed two or more MCQs without notice, in which case they are now de-listed as eligible and must re-enter the HCAP process as Repeat Candidates if they wish to complete their HCAP Certification.

2024/0077, 94%, Pass
2024/0018, 86%, Pass
2024/0062, 94%, Pass
2024/0061, 80%, Pass
2024/0056, 88%, Pass
2024/0069, 96%, Pass
2024/0057, 88%, Pass
2024/0079, 86%, Pass
2017/0181, 94%, Pass
2024/0059, 90%, Pass
2024/0072, 92%, Pass
2024/0051, 88%, Pass
2024/0049, 94%, Pass
2024/0045, 94%, Pass
2024/0065, 98%, Pass
2024/0012, 98%, Pass
2024/0048, 94%, Pass
2024/0060, 94%, Pass
2024/0075, 94%, Pass
2024/0063, 94%, Pass
2024/0052, 94%, Pass
2024/0047, 94%, Pass
2024/0046, 94%, Pass
2024/0076, 96%, Pass
2024/0080, 94%, Pass
2024/0071, 96%, Pass
2024/0053, 90%, Pass
2024/0073, 98%, Pass
2024/0054, 96%, Pass
2024/0055, 94%, Pass

The following candidate (HCAP number, followed by mark achieved) was unsuccessful and is required to re-sit the MCQ stage before proceeding to any Range Test. The application fee for Repeat Candidates is €50.00. Repeat candidates are not required to repeat the Training Workshop which precedes each MCQ but must re-enter HCAP as Repeat Candidates. “Fail” grades may be appealed to the HCAP Assessment Committee, subject to written application accompanied by re-checking fee, €50.00. Where written application for re-checking is received, it is reviewed by the Committee at the next scheduled Committee meeting following receipt of application. Applications for re-checking must be received within 10 (ten) days of publication of results on this blog.

2024/0068, 70%, Fail

HCAP JUNE/JULY 2024 – APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN

Applications are now open for the next event in the 2024 Series of HCAP assessments, which will be held on Saturday 29th June 2024 (Training Workshop & MCQ (10am – 5pm) and Sarurday 6th July 2024 (Range Test, 10am start time). The venue for the Workshop & MCQ is the Woodford Dolmen Hotel, Kilkenny Road, Carlow, Co. Carlow, R93 N207. The Range Test will be held at the Midland Range, Blue Ball, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, R35 NC58.

This is the last opportunity for first-time applicants for the Deer Hunting Licence to achieve HCAP accreditation before the start of the new season 2024-2025 on 1st August 2024.

Application can be made online through the Online Applications section of the website or in hard copy by post. Online payment is through PayPal using any valid debit or credit card (applicants do not need their own PayPal account) or by post with cheque or postal order. Hard copy application forms can be downloaded from the website.

The cost of HCAP remains unchanged at €165.00, and €35.00 for the Deer Alliance Stalker Training Manual (also purchased through the Online Applications section).

 

 

 

 

DISCOUNT FOR MEMBERS OF IFA COUNTRYSIDE

Members of IFA Countryside can avail of an inclusive special discount price of €120.00 (covering HCAP Application, Stalker Training Manual, Workshop, MCQ, Range Test and certification), generously subsidised by IFA Farm Business Skillnet. New and intending members of IFA Countryside should call 0818 924 982 or 01 426 0368 for membership information, which includes insurance cover for all hunting and other countryside activities, compliant with requirements for the HCAP Range Test.

SIKA THE WILD DEER

In addition, thanks to a special sponsorship deal offered exclusively to Deer Alliance HCAP, the first 100 HCAP Candidates in 2024 will receive a complimentary copy of Sika the Wild Deer (retail value €25.00), the story of the life of a sika stag in Wicklow from conception to maturity, seen through the eyes of a stalker.

FIREARMS FOR RANGE TEST

HCAP Candidates who do not have access to their own deer-legal rifle have two options open to them. If they have a friend who has a deer-legal rifle and is prepared to let the candidate use that rifle for the Range Test, that is permitted, provided that the friend holds a valid Firearm Certificate for the firearm in question, holds valid shooting insurance and is present with the Candidate on the Range at all times. Alternatively, the candidate can avail of a Club Rifle in calibre .243, available from the Midland Range. Booking must be made at least two weeks in advance and is subject to Garda vetting. The current cost of rifle hire is €60.00, to include ammunition sufficient for the standard Range Test. Candidates with no previous experience of full-bore rifle shooting may be required to undertake basic tuition and competency testing on a one-to-one basis at the Midland Range (to include the Range Test Course of Fire but not as part of the Range Test), the current cost of which is €150.00 (one person, one day tuition and test preparation). Hire of a Club rifle and/or arrangements for tuition and test preparation, including all costs, are entirely a matter between Midland Range management and personnel, are outside the ordinary HCAP process and Deer Alliance HCAP has no responsibility or obligation in this regard. For further information about use of a Club firearm for the HCAP Range Test, contact John Paul Craven (Range Operator), 086 823 2641 or Tony Saunders, 087 097 7589.

Sika the Wild Deer. The first 100 HCAP Candidates in 2024 will receive a  complimentary copy, thanks to sponsorship received.

HCAP RANGE TEST, SATURDAY 9th MARCH 2024 – SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATES

HCAP Range Test Target. All shots to be grouped on the heart/lung area.

The candidates listed below all completed their two-stage Deer Alliance Hunter Competence Assessment Programme with their Range Test at the Midland Range, Blue Ball, Tullamore on Saturday 9th March 2024. Thanks, as always, go to the Midland Range management and personnel, including Tony Saunders and J. P. Craven, and to Deer Alliance Range Officers Liam McGarry and Pat Scully. Successful candidates received their HCAP Certificates, ID cards and badges from HCAP Course Director, Liam M. Nolan.

NEW HCAP-CERTIFIED CANDIDATES, DATE OF CERTIFICATION 9th MARCH 2024:

ATKINSON, Liam, 2024/0033
BEKIC, Danijel, 2024/0039
BROPHY, Tommy, 2024/0002
BYRNE, Jonathan, 2024/0003
CANNING, Adam, 2024/0038
CANNING, Jack, 2024/0037
COMMANE, Brendan, 2024/0004
CORNELIA, Brian, 2024/0005
CUNNINGHAM, Alan, 2024.0006
CURLEY, Robert, 2024/0027
CURTIN, Eoin, 2024/0007
FRANEY, Dillon, 2023/0119
FURLONG, Conor, 2023/0126
HALLIGAN, Bobby, 2024/0013
HANRAHAN, Gerard , 2024/0024
HENNESSY, Liam, 2023/0129
KAAR, Eoin, 2024/0025
KEATING, Michael, 2024/0026
KENNEDY, Stephen, 2024/0043
LAWLOR, Jonah, 2021/0058
MANAHAN, Jordan Guiry, 2024/0044
Mamuka Marukashvili, 2024/0040
McCABE, John (Jnr.), 2024/0031
McGIFF, Mark, 2024/0032
McINERNEY, Fergal, 2024/0036
MULLEN, Alan, 2024/0034
NEWTOWN, Thorfinn, 2024/0035
O’GRADY, Gary, 2024/0017
O’SULLIVAN, Bob, 2024/0029
O’SULLIVAN, Leon, 2024/0030
PHIPPS, Richard, 2024/0023
SUCIU, Razvan, 2024/0009
SUSKA, Lukasz, 2024/0042
TOOMEY, Kevin, 2024/0016
UDDIN, Imran, 2024/0010

The list of successful candidates included 19 members of IFA Countryside, who benefited from a 40% subsidy of the ordinary HCAP fee, courtesy of IFA Farm Business Skillnet.

Successful candidates are enrolled as members of the Association of HCAP-Certified Hunters except where they have opted out of membership.

Candidates who were No-Shows at this Range Test will remain eligible to participate in the next scheduled Range Test except where they have missed two or more earlier events. Reminders are not issued.

GALLERY

 

 

 

 

 

Pics, from top:

Alan Mullen, Robert Curley & Liam Atkinson, Brendan Commane, Brian Cornelia, Brothers Adam & Jack Canning, Father & son, Leon & Bob O’Sullivan, Imran Uddin & Alan Cunningham, Mamuka Marukashvili, Mark McGiff, John McCabe & Michael Keating, Razvan Suciu, Stephen Kennedy & Jonathan Byrne, Tommy Brophy, Gerard Hanrahan & Richard Phipps.

 

HCAP RANGE TEST SATURDAY 9th MARCH 2024

The candidates named below are eligible to participate in the HCAP Range Test taking place at the Midland Range, Blue Ball, Tullamore, Co. Offaly on Saturday 9th March 2024.

Candidates should be present at the Range from 9.30 a.m., to sign in with Range management in the Clubhouse, with personal ID, firearms certificate, and evidence of insurance. Zeroing is not permitted on the morning of the Range Test. A reminder that sound moderators and all legitimate stalking aids e.g., shooting sticks, bipods and tripods are permitted. After registration candidates should proceed in their vehicles to the Main Range, in convoy under the direction of Range personnel. After successful completion of the Range Test, candidates will be given a card which they should bring back to the Clubhouse to receive their HCAP Certificate.

Candidates are permitted one opportunity at the Grouping Stage and two opportunities on the Main Target, OR two opportunities at the Grouping Stage and one at the Main Target (but not two opportunities at both stages).

At Stage 1 (grouping stage), candidates are required to place three rounds in a four-inch group, with a four-inch black aiming point on a six-inch white circle, in the prone position, rested.

At Stage 2 (deer target), candidates are required to place nine rounds within the heart & lung area on the life-size sika hind target – three rounds prone rested at 100 metres, three rounds sitting/kneeling at 60 metres and three rounds standing. All legitimate stalking aids are permitted. Sound moderators may be used provided they are factory-threaded.

Candidates wishing to avail of Club rifles should contact Tony Saunders at MRC directly, tel. 087 097 7589, in advance of the Range Test.

Candidates will be observed at all times for adherence to all safety protocols. Any lapse in safety standards may be followed by immediate expulsion from the Range, at the discretion of Range management.

ELIGIBLE RANGE TEST CANDIDATES

ATKINSON, Liam
BEKIC, Danijel
BROPHY, Tommy
BYRNE, Jonathan
CANNING, Adam
CANNING, Jack
COMMANE, Brendan
CORNELIA, Brian
CUNNINGHAM, Alan
CURLEY, Robert
CURTIN, Eoin
FRANEY, Dillon
FURLONG, Conor
HALLIGAN, Bobby
HANRAHAN, Gerard
HENNESSY, Liam
KAAR, Eoin
KEATING, Michael
KENNEDY, Stephen
MANAHAN, Jordan Guiry
MARUKASHVILI, Mamuka
McCABE, John (Jnr.)
McGIFF, Mark
McINERNEY, Fergal
MULLEN, Alan
NEWTOWN, Thorfinn
O’GRADY, Gary
O’SULLIVAN, Bob
O’SULLIVAN, Leon
PHIPPS, Richard
SUCIU, Razvan
SUSKA, Lukasz
TOOMEY, Kevin
UDDIN, Imran

The above list includes candidates who were Deferrals or No-Shows at previous Range Tests in 2023. For such candidates, failure to attend on 9th March 2024 without notice will lead to de-listing as eligible candidates and if they wish to complete their HCAP certification process, they will have to re-apply for the Range Test as Repeat Candidates.

Location of Midland Range

HCAP MCQ SATURDAY 2nd MARCH 2024 – RESULTS

 

 

 

 

 

The following candidates (HCAP numbers, followed by mark achieved) were successful in the HCAP MCQ held in the Woodford Dolmen Hotel, Carlow, on Saturday 2nd March 2024 and are eligible to participate in the HCAP Range Test to be held at the Midlands Range, Blue Ball, Tullamore, Co. Offaly R35 NC58 on Saturday 9th March 2024. Procedures for Range Tests will be posted here separately.

Candidates who were Deferrals or No-Shows at this MCQ on 2nd March 2024 will be carried forward to the next scheduled MCQ on Saturday 11th May 2024, except where they have missed two or more MCQs without notice, in which case they will now de-listed as eligible and must re-enter the HCAP process as Repeat Candidates if they wish to complete their HCAP Certification

HCAP NUMBERS, FOLLOWED BY THE PASS MARK ACHIEVED

2024/0009, 92%, Pass
2024/0042, 90%, Pass
2024/0016, 94%, Pass
2024/0010, 100%, Pass
2024.0006, 88%, Pass
2024/0027, 92%, Pass
2024/0007, 100%, Pass
2024/0013, 90%, Pass
2024/0024, 88%, Pass
2024/0025, 92%, Pass
2024/0026, 94%, Pass
2024/0043, 92%, Pass
2024/0044, 92%, Pass
2024/0040, 90%, Pass
2024/0031, 96%, Pass
2024/0032, 94%, Pass
2024/0036, 98%, Pass
2024/0033, 96%, Pass
2024/0039, 94%, Pass
2024/0002, 88%, Pass
2024/0003, 94%, Pass
2024/0038, 98%, Pass
2024/0037, 100%, Pass
2024/0004, 98%, Pass
2024/0005, 92%, Pass
2024/0034, 92%, Pass
2024/0035, 96%, Pass
2024/0017, 96%, Pass
2024/0029, 96%, Pass
2024/0030, 94%, Pass
2024/0023, 98%, Pass

ALL CANDIDATES PASSED THE MCQ ON THIS OCCASION.

IRISH DEER COMMISSION STATEMENT ON CHANGES TO THE CHANGES IN THE OPEN SEASONS

Thursday 29th February 2024: The Irish Deer Commission have issued the following statement concerning the announcement of changes to the Open Season for hunting of wild deer:

Changes to the Open Deer Seasons

As expected, we received notification of the changes to the Open Deer Seasons today to take immediate effect for the 2023/24 Open Deer Season.

The changes are as follows:

· The 2023/24 open season for female deer and antlerless deer will finish on March 31st, 2024, with the 2024/25 open season beginning on November 1st, 2024, and ending on March 31st, 2025.

· The 2023/24 open season for male deer will finish on April 30th, 2024, with the 2024/25 open season beginning on August 1st, 2024, and ending on April 30th, 2025.

· There will be no open season for red deer in County Kerry due to conservation concerns.

These changes will be welcome by some and cause considerable concern for others. To assist members and hunters we would like to offer guidance and understanding of how these changes came about.

Why are the open deer seasons changing?

While deer need to be managed with record numbers of deer culled annually by an ever-expanding number of licensed deer hunters to reduce negative impacts on farming, forestry, and the wider ecosystem, it is not clear what the rationale is for the changes to the open seasons, as there is no scientific evidence to support such a change or requirement for additional culling at a national level. While claims of expanding deer populations have been made, there is no data on deer densities in any county or area of Ireland.

It is likely the changes to the seasons have come about because of sector lobbying and political pressure through the Irish Deer Management Strategy Group, chaired by dairy farmer Teddy Cashman with Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine influence. While the stakeholder engagement of the Irish Deer Management Strategy group was welcome, the recommendations made by the group had no scientific basis, apparently informed solely by sector voting.

Consequences and considerations for changes to the open season for male deer.

The current open season for male deer is a four-month season and is now set to change to a nine-month season. Such a long season has the potential to cause animal welfare issues due to consistent hunting pressure, and male deer in poor condition post rut.

Best practice deer management in the reduction of deer densities require a focus on reducing the female population, as culling pregnant females is also culling future offspring. With such a long male season it is likely less females will be culled resulting in an increase in deer numbers, as we have seen in the UK and Northern Ireland when similar changes were made to their open seasons.

Most hunters have a limited ability to store venison or supply family and friends, as do game buyers with all but one game buyer currently accepting carcase in Ireland due to oversupply. Larger male deer over a much longer season will quickly fill freezers long before the female season begins three months later resulting in reduced demand for female deer.

Deer are a highly adaptable species, and quickly spread as result of hunting pressure, or become nocturnal making them more difficult to manage in dense commercial forestry.

Consequences and considerations for changes to the open season for female deer.

As mentioned, reducing the female population is the most effective method of reducing the overall deer population, and while the additional four-week extension to the female season will result in more female deer being culled, the overall impact will be minimum, for two main reasons, firstly the significant extension to the male season will mean less female deer are culled, and secondly while female deer are pregnant from September/ October and therefore always pregnant during the current open season for female deer starting on November 1st, many hunters dislike removing fully formed foetuses in January and February not to mention in March within two months of the birthing season.

Potential impacts for traditional deer stalking.

Many hunters and families will have enjoyed the tradition and social occasion of the opening day of the new deer season on September 1st, now the opening day is during the hot summer, and peak family holiday season, with a mere three-month season break from what can be physical and exhausting season, with an obvious knock on for family life.

The changes announced today, are only the first of many, with Irish Deer Management Strategy Group chairman Teddy Cashman recently calling for the contracting out of deer management to a small number of contactors, again without any scientific evidence or other rationale. Such a move would potentially disenfranchise thousands of hunters from their traditional hunting areas, and from the excellent work they are already doing.

Sporting or unsporting.

There will be many strong and polarised views on the changes announced today, the lack of rationale or scientific evidence, the potential consequences for the future of deer stalking in Ireland. Some will believe shooting heavily pregnant female deer, or shooting male deer outside the previous open season, or monetising deer, is unsporting, while many hunters are likely to observe the previous seasons, it is important we all respect each other’s views as fellow hunters.

Further comments or views.

If you have any comments or views on the changes announced today, you can contact the following individuals.

Minister Malcolm Noonan (Minister with responsibility for deer) malcolm.noonan@oireachtas.ie

Minister Charlie McConalogue (Minister for Agriculture) charlie.mcconalogue@oireachtas.ie

Claire Crowley (NPWS/Teddy Cashman spokesperson) claire.Crowley@npws.gov.ie Niall.Feery@npws.gov.ie

(statement ends)