Game­keeper

As the sea­son gets un­der way there is a rise in ru­ral crime, while the stage is set for the Mid­land Game Fair — the last big show of the year

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - CONTENTS -

The year is racing by, and the shoot­ing sea­son for us low­ground boys has just started. There are feath­ers on the flight­pond and the poults are start­ing to colour up nicely. The har­vest is all but over, the rape is in and most of the other fields have been worked down ready for drilling. The open fields make dog­ging-in a bit eas­ier, be­cause at least we can see where the birds are go­ing. It also gives us the chance to see how the wild birds — which have been hid­ing in the crops — have fared.

But if we can see what is out there, so can ev­ery­one else; in­ci­dents of hare cours­ing and deer poach­ing seem to be on the in­crease. The po­lice ap­pear to be more on board and up to speed with these things than they used to be. They re­alise that the peo­ple who tres­pass, make threats and cause crim­i­nal dam­age when il­le­gally pursuing game are the same ones who are steal­ing from farms and ru­ral busi­nesses.

We have a very good re­la­tion­ship with the po­lice and they are more than happy to come out when we have a prob­lem. This work­ing re­la­tion­ship, cou­pled with mod­ern tools such as night-vi­sion monoc­u­lars, ther­mal spot­ters with record­ing fa­cil­i­ties and hid­den trail cams that can read num­ber plates, makes de­tec­tion a lot eas­ier and con­vic­tions more likely.

The po­lice ob­vi­ously work on in­for­ma­tion from more than one source, and our force is now tri­alling a mobile app, sim­i­lar to Snapchat, on which peo­ple who are in­vited to join the group can up­load in­for­ma­tion about in­ci­dents and sus­pi­cious ve­hi­cles. Pro­vided the other mem­bers of the group have 3G or 4G cov­er­age, which is now quite good in Shrop­shire, the in­for­ma­tion can then be cir­cu­lated ex­tremely quickly.

It will be in­ter­est­ing to see if in­ci­dents of ru­ral crime de­crease, and if the po­lice man­age to make more ar­rests and se­cure more con­vic­tions over the next few months.

End of the shows

This month marks the end of the show sea­son. The last big one is the Mid­land Game Fair at We­ston Park, on 16-17 Septem­ber. The Na­tional Game­keep­ers’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion (NGO) has al­ways had a big pres­ence at the show and this year will be no dif­fer­ent, so if you are plan­ning to visit the Mid­land Game Fair please do call in and say hello. The of­fice staff, re­gional de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cers and a num­ber of re­gional chair­men will be in at­ten­dance over the two days to an­swer any ques­tions you may have.

One of the high­lights of the show will be the pre­sen­ta­tion of the NGO long-ser­vice award in the main arena at 11.45am on Sun­day. This will be closely fol­lowed by the pre­sen­ta­tion of the Frank Jenk­ins tro­phy.

Frank was a re­spected Worces­ter­shire game­keeper and the tro­phy is pre­sented in his name by me, and his son and daugh­ter, to the game­keep­ing stu­dent (full-time or ap­pren­tice) who has shown most prom­ise in the past aca­demic year. The stu­dents are nom­i­nated by their course tu­tors and the en­tries are judged by se­nior mem­bers of the NGO na­tional com­mit­tee. As well as the tro­phy, this year’s winner will also re­ceive a Musto High­land Gore-tex Ul­tra-lite suit and an en­graved tankard.

The NGO long-ser­vice award is pre­sented to keep­ers and gil­lies with

40 or more years of ser­vice on any num­ber of shoots, rivers or es­tates. They are nom­i­nated by their em­ploy­ers and, pro­vided they meet the cri­te­ria, they re­ceive a spe­cially com­mis­sioned lapel badge and a framed cer­tifi­cate.

The peo­ple re­ceiv­ing these awards will have seen some big changes since they started out, such as mod­ern rear­ing meth­ods, game crops, com­mer­cial shoot­ing, the de­cline of the syndicate shoot and an in­crease in preda­tors, to name but a few. I am qui­etly con­fi­dent that the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of keep­ers will be ev­ery bit as adapt­able as the last.

“Those re­ceiv­ing these awards will have seen some big changes since they started out”

To find out what’s in store at the Mid­land Game Fair, see p. 26.

A bet­ter un­der­stand­ing: the po­lice ap­pear to be re­spond­ing more ef­fec­tively to coun­try­side crime

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