British Army Veteran David shares his experience about PDS1 & PDS2 Courses

Sep 25 / David De Souza
Firstly, a little background about myself.
I served six years in the British Army and four years working as a private military contractor in Iraq.

Over the years I have had extensive firearms training and have attended Firearms courses within the British Army and privately which formed part of the Close Protection course which enabled me to work in Iraq.
Coming into this, I knew absolutely nothing about the behaviour of Deer or anything relating to deerstalking for that matter.
Although as stated, I do have a background in Firearms, I had absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of the 6 species of deer that we have here within the UK.
My review is of my own opinion, I’m straight talking and can be blunt at times, for this I make no apology and you can take this review as a positive or negative.
So why the PDS1 course and not the DSC1?
Well there are pros and cons to both courses, but being full-time employed my weekdays are taken up with work, and as a family man, most of my weekends are taken up with both my two boys.
It can be difficult to get away for three days to do a course so after several weeks of research, I decided that the PDS route would suit me best.
Firstly there was a 20% discount off to veterans for signing up to the PDS1 and PDS2 course which was a huge thumbs up, as any company that supports veterans is worthy in my book.
I cannot confirm if the company’s for example British Deer Society (BDS), that run the DSC1 and DSC2 courses give such a discount.

PDS1 theory

Working at my own pace, under no pressure of keeping up and in my own home, which is obviously a relaxed environment, the theory and online videos were easy to watch, easy to follow and more importantly easy to understand.
If at anytime I did not understand something I would simply scroll back on the video, which admittedly I did several times whilst making notes until I understood the subject.
The videos have been well thought out and they seamlessly flow into one another, again making it easy for a complete novice such as myself to understand. I watched the videos back to back several times over a few nights before I felt I was ready to take the test of multiple choice questions.
The test is not easy, and rightly so but all the answers were given and like any multiple choice test if you get slightly stuck you can usually eliminate one or two, and you’re then left with two that it could be, then it’s just a case of using the grey matter to really think about the right answer. Once again in the comfort of my own home there was no added pressure so I believed this helped and I passed the PDS1 theory with an 88% pass.
Could I have done this exam under DSC1 exam conditions in a class room?
Yes! Of course, but times move on, lifestyles change and as previously stated, it just wasn’t practical for me to take days off my holiday entitlement.
A huge bonus of the PDS1 is you also get to gain your Large Game Meat Hygiene Certificate which I believe if you go the DSC1 route you can only gain that on your DSC2.

PDS1 Practical Verification

I received information by email as to the contact details of the approved verifier (AV) in my area which is the Northwest.
A quick email was sent and after a few exchanges a date was set for me to travel to Lancaster and meet my AV who would then carry off the practical assessment covering firearms safety and Marksmanship.
I honestly could not have asked for a better AV.
Gareth was clearly a highly skilled knowledgeable AV who County Deer Stalking should be very thankful for having him onboard.
My youngest son and I met Gareth in the afternoon and after a quick briefing we got down to the assessment. Gareth could have quite clearly stated that he was not willing to carry out any assessments whilst there was a child present, but his knowledge and skill shined through and he included my son in asking him questions to which even I was taken aback when he knew the right answers.
Gareth ran me through the safety assessment, asking me lots of questions along the way, mainly about weapon handling and backstops. If you have paid attention to the videos in the theory section of the PDS1 then you will have no issues at all.
After passing the safety syllabus of the assessment it was onto the Marksmanship.
Admittedly I knew I would not have an issue with this section, but it’s still vital to remain sharp, listen to what is being asked of you and remain safety conscious at all times.
I proved that I could humanly dispatch a deer at a distance of 100m and after completing all tasks I was greeted with a handshake and told I’d pass.
Gareth even let my son fire a 3 round grouping, and he also proved he could dispatch a deer humanly.
For anyone wondering why Gareth would do this, it’s simply because no matter if Deer management is your hobby or job, if we don’t get the youngsters involved then there is no future. My son came away from there on a high and from the way he is talking he wants to get into it also.

PDS2 theory

The PDS2 theory simply follows on from the PDS1 theory and indeed follows the same style of teaching with informative videos, again in the comfort of your own home and a multiple choice exam at the end.
Once you pass this theory exam you’re then given access to your stalking logbook which has an array of practical elements you have to complete with your AV on two separate occasions, you must pass each one confidently and have each section signed off by your AV and then return it to County Deer Stalking or The Shooting & Hunting Academy.
I cannot really comment too much on this section as I am yet to complete it, but in simple terms it is a culmination of everything you have learned and it is a chance to prove that you can you stalk, dispatch humanly, recover, health check and grollock a deer proficiently and in a safe manner with limited distress to the deer, then and only then do you receive a pass.
I am hoping to do this as soon as funds allow.


At the time of writing this the County Deer Stalking PDS1 cost is £395 inc of vat not inclusive of veterans discount, and the AV assessment cost £120
For example. DSC1 with the British Deer Society (BDS) is £295 inc vat. This covers both theory and the shooting element.
As you can see there is a variation in price.
If I was to do a course with the British Deer Society (BDS), I would have to factor in travel, fuel cost, possibly food and accommodation and the added stress of a classroom environment.
With County Deer Stalking, yes I have paid £220 more on the price the British Deer Society (BDS) quote as of 2023, but I’ve not had to factor in travel, fuel cost, food and accommodation and classroom stress, but I have in return received my Large Game Meat Hygiene Certificate, which as stated is not given on DSC1, only when you do DSC2, a more in depth knowledge of the subjects covered. Proven by me reading the British Deer Society (BDS) DSC1 course manual which does not cover as much as the PDS1 does.

To close

To close, if you are short on time and cannot take days away, do not like a classroom environment and what to learn a new subject in an easy to understand up to date way then the online course run by County Deer Stalking and The Hunting & Shooting Academy is the way forward and is absolutely the future way of learning.

I David De Souza highly recommend PDS1 and PDS2 online courses and this way of learning.

Looking to get into Deer stalking? Enrol today!

Proficient Deer Stalker PDS1 Course

PDS1 is LANTRA and UKRS accredited course delivered by a trusted provider of deer stalker training. The PDS1 is nationally recognised Deer Management course that delivers 'Trained Hunter' status.

Proficient Deer Stalker PDS2 Course

Deer Stalking Qualification that is designed to follow on from the foundation skills achieved during the PDS1. The level 2 course consists of two elements, a taught element delivered online and a practical demonstration of skill by the candidate in the field. Read more  
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