Sharp­shooter

We may poke gen­tle fun at “in­com­ers” about cock­erels and cow­pats, but per­haps we should be more sen­si­tive to avoid un­nec­es­sary fric­tion

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - CLASSIFIED -

There was an item in The Times about a group of Bri­tish sec­ond home­own­ers in the French Alps who com­plained to the mayor about the noise of cow bells. They wrote that “the noise on the slopes and in front of our chalets is un­bear­able”. The town’s mayor was be­mused, say­ing he could have un­der­stood if full-time res­i­dents had raised the is­sue, adding: “There are worse things than hear­ing the bells of the cows.”

Four hun­dred lo­cals turned up to protest at a pub­lic meet­ing and sup­port for them flooded in from around the world — an on­line pe­ti­tion quickly racked up more than 116,000 sig­na­tures. One sup­porter wrote: “If the towns­peo­ple do not want to hear the cows they [should] stay at home or rent a desert is­land (they can com­plain about the waves that make noise es­pe­cially at high tide).”

The com­plaint was duly thrown out but, in a con­cil­ia­tory move, the coun­cil agreed to move a cat­tle trough fur­ther away from the houses and to warn po­ten­tial home­own­ers about the cow bells. You do won­der why those Brits bought chalets look­ing on to Alpine pas­tures if they hadn’t ap­pre­ci­ated what the grass was be­ing used for.

This got me think­ing; what should lo­cal par­ish coun­cils in Bri­tain warn in­com­ers about? We all know the com­plaints there have been about thought­less cock­erels crow­ing at dawn, or church bells that in­sist on dis­turb­ing the Sun­day morn­ing lie-in of hap­less com­muters. What about all those dis­gust­ing cow­pats on pub­lic foot­paths, or the sound of gun­fire from the lo­cal woods in the au­tumn?

And yet… laugh as we may, there may be oc­ca­sions when we should tread lightly on the sen­si­tiv­i­ties of oth­ers who do not share our ways. Surely it is wise to try not to cause of­fence if it might be avoided?

Over the years, I have wit­nessed ex­am­ples of un­nec­es­sary fric­tion. A shoot park­ing its ve­hi­cles across a pub­lic right of way; a peg be­ing placed too near an oc­cu­pied home; overly loud syn­di­cate mem­bers dom­i­nat­ing a lo­cal pub at lunchtime; beat­ers crack­ing flags next to a pad­dock of horses; birds be­ing dropped in gar­dens and re­trieved with­out per­mis­sion. All th­ese things caused of­fence, yet none was nec­es­sary to en­able a good day’s shoot­ing.

As the pheas­ant shoot­ing sea­son gets un­der way, per­haps we should all make sure that we brush up our PR. Some peo­ple will al­ways be op­posed to shoot­ing, no mat­ter what. But many oth­ers will be pre­pared to base their opin­ions on what they see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears.

We shouldn’t be ashamed of shoot­ing. We have nothing to hide. Yet good man­ners cost nothing and we have enough en­e­mies as it is — we don’t need to man­u­fac­ture any more.

“Peo­ple will base their opin­ions on what they see with their own eyes and hear with their ears”

Taken on Trust

The Na­tional Trust is propos­ing to pub­lish the date and place of trail-hunt­ing meets on its land. This is seen by many hunt fol­low­ers as a sop to the an­tis, who are press­ing for an out­right ban at the Trust’s forth­com­ing AGM. I have a counter pro­posal: why doesn’t the Trust pub­lish the planned weekly move­ments of its se­nior ex­ec­u­tives? Then any of the Trust’s five mil­lion mem­bers will know where to find th­ese in­di­vid­u­als if they wish to mon­i­tor their per­for­mance or make per­sonal rep­re­sen­ta­tions. Sauce for the goose…

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