Thursday, 31 December 2009

The Benefits of Recession

One unanticipated side-effect of the recession here has been the virtual collapse of the commercial shoot that has been a bane of our lives for the last few years. Two or three times a week we were subjected to trailers of city folk, dolled up in pristine tweed, blasting birds out of the sky around the house. For our neurotic dog, it was like a perpetual Guy Fawke's Night.

This year even the obligatory Boxing Day convoy turned round and gave up as drizzle pelted down on the sodden fields. The once nightly 'lamping' activity, in which unlit 4x4s crept around the field edges, accompanied by the beam of red flood lamps and the crack of small bore rifles, also seems to be in abeyance.

We are often told that commercial shoots bring wider benefits to wildlife and the landscape, but these are hard to discern. The call of foxes in the woods was once a familiar sound at night. Since commercial shooting began foxes are no longer heard or seen, although the corpses of badgers appear from time to time, lying in fields where they fell, or slung over fences like refuse. Birds of prey are now rare too. Forlorn signs about lost dogs appear on gateposts for pets that have strayed off footpaths and not returned, and rumours of poisoned bait make owners wary. Conversely, the feed hoppers have brought a plague of rats.

Commercial shooting has meant changes to the landscape too. Rearing and release pens have appeared, together with feed hoppers made from day-glow blue plastic barrels. Rectangular stockades of straw bales and alien strips of maize are scattered across the downs like lego. Swathes of woodland have been cut down, whether to accommodate the birds or the guns isn't clear.

I suppose some jobs have been lost. I suppose I ought to mind.

I don't.


  1. I was always proud of my Dad for refusing to let the hunt cross his land. Bunch of arrogant arses, let alone what they were doing to the wildlife. I've seen what happens when a fox gets in a hen hut and it's not nice... but neither is ripping them apart for sport.

    I know that's a slightly different thing, but it's the same mindset.

  2. Good thing if it goes...the practices of those running and operating these shoots is a disgrace.
    Need a bit of rural vigilantism, in my view...and as for those working there...I really don't care if they lose their jobs. Not one bit.

  3. Totally agree with you. Nature can (and will given half the chance) manage herself extremely well. Millions of years of evolution have rarely been wrong whereas a few thousand years of human development had made rather a hash of things... sod the jobs. Bring back the foxes and the raptors.


    using 4x4s and night vision lights isn't hunting that's a slaughter. no one using those methods is culling any sort of herd, they are exterminating a species. you may have seen the pictures (on my blog) of the MITM & our coconut krewe out pheasant hunting. they only shoot what they can eat, they follow the regulations and as they say, it's not called shopping for a reason! they miss more than they bag, but the experience is done with respect for the birds, the locale and themselves. we aren't all like sarah "helicopter" palin, sugar! xoxoxoxox


  5. I hate hunting in all its forms and unfortunately - here in France - our garden backs on to woods where hunting takes place on Sundays and Thursdays. Each time I hear the gun go off I make a silent plea to the universe to speed the poor creature on its way - either quickly to its death or - more hopefully - quickly to its freedom away from these horrible people who think it is fun to kill unarmed creatures for sport

    Rant over

    Have a good one


  6. Oscar Wilde had it right - 'the pursuit of the uneatable by the unspeakable'

    You are quite right to feel revolted. They are revolting people. I doubt they give a toss about the countryside either. They just want to satisfy their sick blood lust.

  7. Rol - You are right to be proud of him; he is clearly his own man. I've never dared do a post about hunting, not only for the emotions it invokes, but also because of the ambivalence which tears at me. On the maternal side I came from a hunting family, for whom it meant as much as life itself. And (assuming culling is necessary (an assumption in itself), most of the alternatives seem unsavoury in their own right, and less selective in the Darwinian sense. I was uncomfortable too with the legislation that emerged as a political expedient to buy parliamentary support for the Iraq War; moral issues should not become bargaining chips. But like you I find hunts to be peopled by arrogant arses. The last one I followed on foot was the Fourburrow in Cornwall, all of thirty years ago (I was going out with the Master's daughter). The participants were all down-to-earth farmers, making a social event of a job of work. Now hunts seem to be the preserve of the rich and the smug, all sport and four tracks and braying voices, and I suppose I sit on a rickety fence, trying to square the circle of my nurture, reason and conscience.

    Fly - I agree. I suspect there is an awful lot of murky malpractice festering in the covers.

    Steve - I so agree. A lot of tosh is talked about guardianship of the landscape, but the landscapes I love most are the most neglected and least interfered with. Nature does just fine.

    Savvy - I have seen your pictures, and I have not been offended. It is a question of scale and intent; it is production-line sport that sticks in the craw, not shopping for the pot.

    Julie - I know how you feel about this...and experienced it first-hand once when staying amongst woods near Limousin. It might have felt colourful and historic, but in reality it felt oddly threatening, almost like a rape of Nature.

  8. Laura - Happy New Year! It may be blood lust, although I have a theory that their guns are subsitutes...

  9. Ah!
    Another up-side to the cultural change we are surfing!

    Aloha, Brother
    Hauoli Makahiki Hou (Happy New Year)

    Comfort Spiral

  10. Happy New year BT. I think my fave posting of yours was the one about your inventions. You are a true artist!
    Hope to see you soon- Sunday lunch and Camden perhaps?

  11. I have never seen a hunt and have no desire to, though like you I suspected that New Labour's fox-hunting ban was a vote buyer rather than a moral imperative. Farming is generally a tough job, and the farmers here in Romania still hunt to protect their livestock, but thank heavens we have no arses in pink. Happy New Year, Brother T!

  12. Every cloud....I hate those shoots!

  13. This kind of hunting seems odd to me here but I guess it may be similar to here where people go possum and rabbit hunting? I used to go shooting with my brother but mainly to make a lot of noise to frighten away the wasn't long before my brother realised I was doing it on purpose so refused to let me tag along. But I reckon I saved a few before that happened!!

  14. Happy new year and all that. Hope to hear from you more often in 2010.

  15. It annoys me that blood sport idiots reckon I dont understand because i live in the city. I had a gun as a youngster. Then I grew up!

  16. Hear hear & how I adore the sound of virginaltism in nature! Let the hunt begin on the guilty bloodshedding inhumane, arsewiping twak so-uncool commersial nature stalkers who I daresay should be condemned to eternal recession...

    Now, which one to stalk e-r shoot first?

  17. Hear hear & how I adore the sound of virginaltism in nature! Let the hunt begin on the guilty bloodshedding inhumane, arsewiping twak so-uncool commersial nature stalkers who I daresay should be condemned to eternal recession...

    Now, which deer one of those to stalk... e-r shoot first?

  18. Awww, seems like I got a double-barrel gun here which goes off at least twice at a time... At least after some great effort I got that great weight of my chest and said what I wanted to say!

  19. ...and hopefully killed a couple of arsewipe two-legged rats...