Out­go­ing editor Will Hether­ing­ton signs off with mem­o­ries of his term in of­fice.

Shooting Gazette - - News -

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.

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