Here is some advice to help prepare you for the process.
Know where to look
Keep your eye on the Forestry Commission (FC) tenders page of their website – The easiest way to find the relevant page is to click this link – http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-7nrkuc . Use the tab on the left of the page to view all tenders currently available in England, Scotland and Wales.
The BASC Deer Stalker Fast Track electronic newsletter will keep you informed of important news and events relevant to deer stalking such as any available stalking leases. To ensure you are signed up to receive Fast Track newsletters please visit the members’ area of the BASC website and click on the My Preferences link. Alternatively you can contact the Game and Deer Management team on 01244 573019 for assistance.
Check out the classified pages of the shooting related publications. It is unlikely that the FE deer control licences will be advertised here but leases on private estates may be found.
You will find a web link on the FC tenders page which will direct you to all of the relevant documentation concerned with the tender. It is advisable to print off all documents and take time to read through carefully before putting pen to paper. These documents contain important information which you will need to pay particular attention to. Scotland and England tender documents differ slightly in terms of their format and wording but both will usually include some form of the following:
- Covering letter – Contains important information regarding the licence tender application, timescales involved, deadlines and FE contact details
- Deer control licence document – Full terms and conditions of the deer control licence
- Particulars for each site – Maps, location, general information, cull figures, number of authorised controllers permitted
- Questionnaire – Relating to applicant’s experience, qualifications, health and safety training, equipment, availability and site/s tendering for. To be completed by applicant at tender stage
- Tender form – Tender price submission for licence area. To be completed by applicant at tender stage
- Interview scoring form – Example supplied for applicant’s information only. To be completed by FE staff during interview and skills test
The required standard for the lease holder and any other authorised controllers named on the licence is DSC2.
Visiting the site
Contained within the information on the FC website will be a range of dates covering a period of perhaps three weeks when viewing of the sites with FC staff will be available. You will need to contact the FC’s Bristol office to find out the actual dates of the organised visits for each area and book yourself in for the date that best suits you.
It is highly recommended to visit the site in which you plan to tender for. Not only does it hold weight in the scoring criteria but also provides the opportunity to view the ground yourself and meet with FE staff. Remember that first impressions count so ensure you attend appropriately dressed, be polite to others involved and don’t be afraid to ask any relevant questions regarding the site or tendering process. For reference it may be worth noting down any important information you pick up relating to the site.
If you are travelling any distance and plan to view more than one site, try to co-ordinate your visits so you don’t have to make another journey.
Completing the questionnaire
After visiting the site and presuming you still intend to tender, you will need to complete the questionnaire and tender document. The questionnaire is a tick box exercise and where applicable asks if supporting documents can be provided to evidence your answers. It is important to be honest in all your responses and only tick ‘yes’ if you meet the required standard. Any relevant documents should be submitted along with the tender forms.
One of the most frequently asked questions we received last year from members who were working through the tender process was regarding the completion of risk assessments and emergency plans covering lone working. The FC does not require applicants to complete a risk assessment for the site they are tendering for at this stage. They are asking if examples can be provided of one the applicant has completed in the past for a similar activity e.g. a risk assessment for a private deer lease/permission or for fox/vermin shooting on the local farm. It is advised that lone working is included as a hazard in the risk assessment, with further reference to be included in a separate emergency plan.
A risk assessment template is available from BASC and can be downloaded here.
A complete guide to writing risk assessments can be found at the following link – http://www.thedeerinitiative.co.uk/uploads/guides/93.pdf
Be careful to tender a realistic amount that you are able to pay. FC Scotland leases provide a guide price within the site particulars. Historically this has been around £100 per deer for roe stalking, so for a site with a cull of 10 roe the tender price expected would be in the region of £1,000 plus VAT. This price is then usually split equally between the licence holder and any authorised controllers on the licence.
Interview and skills test
If you are invited for interview, be punctual and professional in your manner and appearance. The covering letter will detail any relevant documents that you will need to take with you to present at interview. Where applicable this also includes documents for any potential authorised controllers you may have for the site. This would usually include originals of the following; firearms certificate, DSC awards and public liability insurance.
Some preparation may be required prior to your interview, particular areas may include:
- Current deer law/legislation
- Firearms safety and awareness
- Notifiable diseases and welfare
- Carcass handling and preparation
- Health and safety
- Public confrontation
- Your role as the licence holder
Most of these topics are covered in a simple, easy-to-understand format within the suite of Best Practice guides available to download from the Deer Initiative web site.
It may be wise to have a couple of your own questions ready should you get the opportunity to ask.
Those tendering for a licence in England will be required to undertake a skills test. This is usually in the form of a shooting test and being competent in the DSC1 shooting standard should cover all possibilities. Applicants would be wise to take the time to practise on the range in order to familiarise themselves with these shooting positions prior to the test. This would usually include 3 shots in to a 4-inch circle at 100m prone position, 2 shots in a deer target killing area at 100m prone position, 2 shots in deer target killing area at 70m kneeling or sitting position and 2 shots in deer target killing area at 40m standing position. These requirements are available on the DMQ website for reference.
It is essential that your rifle is in good order and appropriately zeroed. Ensure you are happy with the performance of the ammunition you intend to use and take enough with you to cover all eventualities; this will give you the confidence to deliver on the day.
If you are unsuccessful, accept the decision and request feedback on your application in an effort to learn from the experience and enhance your chances of success in the future.
We wish you the best of luck!
If you require any further information or advice regarding tendering for a stalking lease please contact the game and deer team on 01244 573019.