With effect from 1st January 2018, all first-time applicants for a Deer Hunting Licence (DHL) in the Republic of Ireland will be required to be certified as competent in knowledge of deer, including aspects such as hunting regulations and the law, under the provisions of the Deer Alliance Hunter Competence Assessment Programme (HCAP) or equivalent, before being issued with a DHL.

This applies whether their application is based on State forestry or on private land.

All hunters already holding a DHL as at 31st December 2017 will have a period of grace extending for five years to 31st December 2022 to become certified but from that date they too will require to be certified as competent.

HCAP was introduced in 2005 as a requirement for hunters on Coillte forest property but will now extend to private land. This follows a recommendation to government from the Irish Deer Management Forum, and some forty years of lobbying for mandatory testing and certification by the different deer organisations in Ireland. The Deer Alliance Hunter Competence Assessment Programme is the only approved certification process in Ireland, covering the legislative and regulatory framework for deer hunting in Ireland.

There are currently approximately 4900 holders of the DHL in Ireland, of whom approximately half are already HCAP-Certified. Over the last three years, there have been approximately 600 new entrants to deer stalking each year, with only 200 retirements each year.

In anticipation of a significant increase in applications in 2018, Deer Alliance will run a series of twelve Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) written assessments in 2018, supported by six Range Tests. The full schedule will shortly be available on this News & Updates section of the Deer Alliance website. All applications will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. All intending applicants are urged to apply in a timely fashion, and existing holders of the DHL in particular are urged not to leave it until the end of the five-year grace period to make application as they are unlikely to be facilitated in time to make the deadline. Application and payment can be made online through the Deer Alliance website. The cost of HCAP remains €150.00, to include written assessment (MCQ) and Range Test.