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
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