A deer sized gap – my DSC1 experience

Hannah Turner

Hannah Turner

Hannah Turner is BASC South East’s regional officer. Despite having two small children, she loves getting out in the field shooting or cooking game.

My DSC1 experience

A classroom can be an intimidating setting at the best of times, especially as the start of my DSC1 experience. Add to that a 2-metre social distancing rule, and you’ve got a scene straight from Victorian school days! 

However, my anxious start is short lived as we get a warm welcome from Mr Woolley. His Santa-like beard and sunny smile is enough to put even the most nervous student at ease. 

As a BASC regional officer, I am always looking for ways to improve my knowledge of all shooting sports. With a deer sized gap in my expertise I decided the DSC1 was the best place to start.  

I have a base level of knowledge and experience in this area. So, when the bible sized study material arrived, I may have been a little dismissive of how many hours I needed to spend reading it! 

For those thinking about taking the course, read on to see what my DSC1 experience was like. 

Can I do this course with no – I – deer?

I would suggest that if you think ‘sika’ is an Indian curry and ‘doe’ a note to follow sew, then you might struggle heading straight into the DSC1. Not impossible, but to improve your chances of passing the course, I’d suggest booking onto the ‘Pre DSC1’ first. 


I did exactly that and found it really useful. It also gave me a chance to practice the practical shooting part of the test. As you don’t get to practice this on the actual DSC1, it was an opportunity that served me well.  

Is this course for anyone?

I am quite used to being the odd one out in this kind of setting. Sure enough, I was the only one in the room who had seen Magic Mike, but I didn’t feel like the odd one out for long.

We all came from different backgrounds – some military, some seasoned deer stalkers and some with absolutely no experience at all. But we all shared the DSC1 experience together.

Some had their own land to stalk over while some were using this course as the first step towards securing a permission. Others planned to be out stalking at every chance they got and some were just hoping for the occasional deer.

My point being, do not be put off if you think you won’t fit the stereotype of a deer stalker because as it turns out, there isn’t one! 

Is it deer-ficult?

I don’t know about you, but when I am genuinely interested in a subject the information goes in a lot easier. I would say though, there is a lot to learn. If you haven’t cracked the pre-reading book before the start of the course, I would say you will have some catching up to do.

But if you manage to read through the whole book before the course starts, then you should get through it with no problems. It is an exam, so if you find exams difficult then make sure you talk to your course instructor to find the best way for you. Don’t suffer in silence!

My DSC1 experience of the practical part of the test is not bad at all, as long as you can get past your nerves. It tests your accuracy and ability to shoot from different positions and distances, all essential skills when deer stalking

Due to Covid-19, I haven’t been behind a rifle in months but still managed to pass first time. I’m sure this will put a lot of you at ease.

Final thoughts

Here’s a few tips to share from my DSC1 experience that will hopefully help you:

  • Make the most of the experience. You don’t need to be a seasoned stalker with a wealth of knowledge to enjoy the four days. 
  • Don’t clock watch and only tune in to what is likely to come up in the exam. If you get Mr Woolley, ask him to tell you about the time he had to talk round a grumpy walker, or when he underestimated how far he had stalked to get that red stag.
  • Glean every bit of experience and information you can. Hopefully a few years down the line we will have a few pearls of wisdom of our own to pass on to the next generation of deer stalkers.

For more information on the DSC1 click here.

Details on the Pre-DSC1 can be found here.

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