A WORD FROM THE EDITOR
Outgoing editor Will Hetherington signs off with memories of his term in office.
In all of my adventures there has always been a strong camaraderie amongst sporting men and women.
After 13 thoroughly enjoyable years in the
Shooting Gazette editor’s chair I am now moving on to new challenges, following the sudden and devastating death of my wife Wendy earlier this year. But don’t worry, the magazine will be in good hands because Martin Puddifer will be taking control. Martin and I have worked together on the magazine for the last 11 years so his apprenticeship has been long and fruitful, and I have no doubt he will serve Shooting Gazette and its readership extremely well. Apart from being diligent, intelligent, witty and perceptive, he is also considerably more organised than I am, which is an increasingly important skill in the world of modern publishing.
When I started in magazine publishing, Friday lunchtime in the pub was almost a contractual term for any journalist or member of the advertising sales team. And if you couldn’t get three drinks down your neck in that precious hour then you soon learned how. But some of the older guys back then it was every lunchtime and that meant 12.30pm till 3pm. These days it’s all fruit smoothies, granola and breakfast meetings, which is OK if you like that sort of thing, but there’s something to be said for a good old fashioned get together in the pub. After all, this is where guards get dropped and colleagues become friends.
But we do still have the game fairs as the great social gatherings for the shooting world. During my recent Saturday visit to The Game Fair at Hatfield House I was regaled with stories from the parties the night before. I was reassured to hear that history is repeating itself and the younger generation are happily making many of the same dubious decisions after one or two drinks too many. After all, life would be rather boring if there was no room for letting your hair down. In fact the whole atmosphere of this show was reminiscent of some of the great CLA Game Fairs of the past, and even the presence of a small group of antis protesting at the main gate was strangely reassuring. It’s hard to explain but it felt almost validating to see some opposition.
In my time as editor I have been lucky enough to travel the length and breadth of the UK and further afield to the likes of Spain, France, Portugal, Hungary the Czech Republic and even southern Africa, and all in pursuit of winged game. In all those adventures there have been common themes. There is a strong camaraderie among sportsmen and women and a deep appreciation of the opportunity to go shooting. Whether you are heading out for a 400-bird double gun day at the Brigands or just a walk around the farm with two or three friends the excitement is the same. In fact sometimes the farm day can be even more thrilling. When you shoot five birds all day between you, each one is memorable. So, as with most things in life, we should appreciate every moment and consider ourselves fortunate to be able to pursue this most traditional and rewarding of country sports. And the tweeds and the breeks and the ties and the stockings are all part of that appreciation. Some say it’s showing respect to the birds, which I think is fair enough, but I think it’s also about marking the day as something a little bit different and very special.
It can be hard to express the unique feeling of a good day in the field, but as long as we continue to value and cherish what we have then we will not go too far wrong. Keep it simple; look forward to your shooting days and make sure you take a moment to stop and appreciate them. I know that’s what I will be doing this season. So, I will sign off with that message and wish you all many more happy days in the field and Martin many happy days at the keyboard and on the phone. It’s been a blast.