As the shooting season draws to a close, I can reflect on my own very first seasons sport and how much fun I have had.
Far from being an orgy of killing anything that flies, it has taught me more about the workings of the countryside than I imagined. It has been enjoyable in part for the company and cameraderie and in part for the challenge of trying to shoot a moving target 40 ft up in the air moving away from you at some speed…. The adrenaline rush on a successful kill is immense and owes much to the difficulty in succeeding.
I have learned much about how to keep game, to keep them free from predators and keep them on our land (or not, but it’s a lesson for 2006). To build and maintain a pheasant pen, to feed and water the poults and of what crop makes good cover.
And I realise, how embedded in the daily life of country folk is that which many seek to ban. A way of life that has endured for generations: and these are not just rich folks with expensive weapons and little talent, but ordinary people who will come out for a days beating or train their dogs to pick up downed quarry. Or whose livelyhood comes from gamekeeping or controlling predators. The countryside has a natural equilibrium all of its own – and there’s a whole industry out there. It may be of feudal origin, but it seems to work rather well as it is, needing no more regulation or intervention.
As the ubiquitous car stickers down our way say: “We keep our bulls*t in the countryside: you keep yours in Westminster”.
Hear, hear. And here’s to a splendid summer and a good season in 2006.