Greenfield Forest Deer Management Group
Setting the record straight.
There have been several posts recently from individuals making certain allegations and claims about Greenfield Forest and also members of the BDS
We would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight and give everyone an overview without naming names or allowing the matter to become “personal”
Some 20 years ago, a small area of forestry in southern Scotland became available; the area was near Ettrick and called Ramsaygrain / Nether Phawhope Forests. A few members of the North-West BDS Committee were at that time (as they are now) concerned, that there was limited, affordable stalking available for those new to the sport or those with limited disposable income who wished to go stalking.
The lease was secured and the management committee offered stalking to members of the BDS with Woodland Stalkers Certificate (equivalent to DSC1) and a deer legal rifle / insurance. The fees were low, just enough to cover the cost of renewing the lease and cover maintenance of high seats, on site caravan etc.
Of note, is that the BDS were offered the lease by these pioneers, but they declined – the BDS are, as we know, a charity and not solely a stalking organisation.
The Ramsay Grain DMG as it was known continued to offer cheap affordable (if difficult) stalking to members of the BDS from all branches for many years, in fact my first stalking was obtained through this scheme of which one will be eternally grateful.
It is worthy of note at this point that the members who ran the stalking did so without taking anything for themselves and were (and still are volunteers)
The scheme ran very smoothly for a number of years with hundreds of stalkers being introduced to our sport.
Approximately twelve years ago, the group were unsuccessful in renewing the lease for the Scottish forests and new ground was sought out.
That new ground turned out to be an area called Greenfield Forest, near Hawes. The area had a healthy population of Roe, some Sika and was perfect for continuing the stalking scheme – remember to offer cheap, affordable stalking to those who had none or had limited funds spare.
At around that time, the author became involved in running the forest as a committee member.
The forest was ideal, had several substantial high seats, plenty of ground hides and the DMG put in place a static caravan and chiller box container for the stalkers who visited to stay in some comfort.
The years have passed by since the first caravan, this has been changed to newer (drier) models and a healthy relationship was developed between ourselves (Greenfield DMG), the residents of the valley, the forestry management company and other agencies involved in the ecology of the area.
During that time, as one can imagine, it was not always smooth running, the conditions for attending the forest had changed slightly, in that all we asked was that a stalker has DSC1 (minimum), a deer legal rifle and suitable insurance cover ( the condition that only BDS members were allowed was removed as it was felt it excluded everyone else unfairly)
Stalkers visiting the forest were given a set of rules to abide by, a cull sheet and a species seen sheet and providing one met the criteria and had paid your daily fee, you were free to stalk anywhere within the forest area and relied upon by trust and honesty, to inform and pay for any animals shot (at current game dealer rate)
As I said, not everything was smooth running, there were instances when rules had to be imposed, such as the caravan was left in such an unclean state by one group, the next stalkers to attend had to spend a day cleaning it, another instance being that a gralloch was found dumped adjacent to a footpath and found by a dog walker and another time hard gralloch was found dumped not buried.
In all instances the culprits were barred from attending the area for periods of time.
In 2010, more serious problems started to occur;
A stalker in the company of and against the advice of another more experienced stalker, took a shot and killed a deer, which was next to a small inhabited hamlet, which led to complaints from the residents.
The stalker concerned was barred from the forest.
Another incident occurred when two stalkers attended the forest; a deer was culled, when asked at a later date if the attendance was successful, the reply was given that a fox had got the bad news.
Unfortunately for the stalker(s), concerned the cull / extraction was witnessed and when challenged (and after some rather unpleasant e-mails) the stalker eventually agreed a deer had been taken and not declared.
Again, rules had been broken and so a ban from the forest was implemented.
Included in the rules were conditions that there was to be no subletting, to prevent people making a business out of the forest, as you will recall, we do not manage the forest to make money out of it.
It came to the committee’s attention that an individual was charging people to take them stalking there.
Not only that, but on two separate occasions an individual was seen at the forest with firearm without stalking permit, in one of the two instances another person was also present with firearm without permit. This was due to the people without permits looking after (mentoring) two novice stalkers (who had permits). During the visit one of the novices was presented with “ a 300 metre” shot, which the novice declined to take.
Instead of attempting to stalk closer, the “mentor” proceeded to take a shot at and miss the deer concerned.
Again witnessed by third parties and reported to the committee. Quite rightly you will agree, those concerned were barred from the forest.
The recent events were reported to the Forestry Company, who rightly had serious concerns about the running of the forest with regards to deer management. Health and Safety being the primary concern as it being a working forest, the DMG Committee and Forest Company have a duty of care to those working within the forest and its residents.
Having unauthorised people at large with firearms, having people attending who didn’t declare deer taken and having people attending who took shots close to habitation all left the forestry company very concerned about the controls in place / booking procedures and indeed, who were allowed to attend.
In short, there were several grave breaches of the lease (committed by these few individuals) which placed the stalking of approximately 150 people in jeopardy.
It was agreed during numerous meetings between the Greenfield DMG committee and the Forestry Company that the lease was about to be rescinded if measures were not put into place and working practices changed to avoid any chance of repetition of what had occurred.
There was several months of hard work undertaken to make changes to the Forest Rules, undertake an Induction Process on site for all people wishing to stalk at the forest and a capped limit of people whom may be “on the books” as eligible to book at any one time.
We are pleased to report that since the 1st September 2012, these new measures are in place, those wishing to attend and stalk at the forest now may, providing they meet the criteria (DSC1, FAC deer legal, Minimum £10,000,000 insurance and having attended an induction where they receive instruction regarding the history of the forest, health and safety, forest rules, boundaries and no shooting areas) There have been a capped limit on numbers imposed so there is now a waiting list for people wishing to be placed onto the list of those “eligible to book”
This is not a syndicate and never has been, there is no annual fee either, you meet the criteria, have an induction and providing there is space available on the eligible to book list (this is full), you may then book stalking.
The first inductions have taken place and harmony has once again returned to the forest. People know what is and importantly what is not expected of them
Despite being in some way responsible for the dramatic changes, there are some who continue to make veiled threats and muttering about being mistreated when “found out”
I say to them that they are lucky not to be answering to a court for their behaviour and at the very least, lucky to retain their firearms….we wish them well in their own stalking, wherever that may be.
This post is not personal, it is not vindictive, inflammatory and does not name names, it is however, in direct response to individuals who have voiced concerns on the internet and in particular over the “Greenfield 6” or whoever it is they wish to call themselves.
Greenfield DMG have no desire or interests in personal vendetta’s and have no interest in anything other than providing a resource (at no personal gain) to others less fortunate than them.
The stalking costs are kept deliberately low and will remain at a level sufficient to cover the annual lease and maintenance costs the DMG incur.
The DMG’s Forest Rules are imposed and actioned upon for the safety, welfare and smooth running of the forest and will remain to be so.