Sixty-six years of very happy read­ing

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - CONTENTS -

I was born in 1942 dur­ing World War II. At the end of the war, my fa­ther came home from the Royal Navy and we moved into a new pre­fab on the out­skirts of Southamp­ton. We were sur­rounded by corn­fields, and I can re­mem­ber watch­ing the end of sum­mer rab­bit shoots among the corn stubble. The rab­bit was a large part of our sta­ple diet.

When I was seven years old we moved to a coun­cil house on a tiny es­tate also on the out­skirts of Southamp­ton.

It was there that a local lad of about 18 years of age who was a fa­nat­i­cal or­nithol­o­gist used to take me and other chil­dren into the fields and woods to learn about birds and to col­lect birds’ eggs. We were taught only to take one egg from a nest and re­place it with a small peb­ble. He also showed us how to blow an egg. Can you imag­ine what the PC brigade would say to­day... It would prob­a­bly re­sult in a seizure.

As well as tak­ing us on for­ays for birds’ nests, this young lad would give me his copies of Shoot­ing Times. I have been read­ing it ever since. At the age of 15, when I started work, I made my first pur­chase of a sin­gle-bar­relled shotgun with a 10-shilling li­cence from the local post of­fice — no ques­tions asked (happy days).

At this time I was also haunt­ing the local li­brary which, by chance, was Chris Pack­ham’s li­brary. I think we would have been bor­row­ing dif­fer­ent types of books. Mine were the won­der­ful works of Denys Watkins-pitch­ford(bb). My favourite book, which I still oc­ca­sion­ally read to­day, was The Poacher’s Hand­book by Ian Niall, with beau­ti­ful wood en­grav­ings il­lus­trated by Bar­bara Greg.

Aged 23, I ac­quired my first firearms cer­tifi­cate — priced five shillings, and two and six for a vari­a­tion — and bought my first .22 ri­fle and also a .38 pis­tol. I con­tinue to shoot to­day, with ri­fle, sport­ing ri­fle and shot gun, at the age of 75.

I have al­ways en­joyed my sport and have been a reg­u­lar reader for around 66 years. Even when I trav­elled abroad I had some­one buy Shoot­ing Times for me, and I took a lot of plea­sure in hav­ing a nice pile to read when I got back. I used to buy my Shoot­ing Times in Wh­smith un­til a few years ago when it took an anti-shoot­ing stance. I now have it de­liv­ered di­rect to the house.

Like me, the mag­a­zine has im­proved with age. Thank you for many years of very happy read­ing.

Michael Wat­son, via email

Happy mem­o­ries of sum­mer rab­bit shoot­ing

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