Shooting has never been under greater scrutiny,” Simon Hart MP warned at Westminster Kingsway College at the launch of the British Game Alliance (BGA). He had two key messages; first that we must all agree that every bird shot has to enter the food chain and secondly, that if we don’t start regulating our industry, the state most certainly will.
In many ways it is that ominous truth which has brought about the creation of the BGA. As former Barbour model, crack Shot and board member Lord Percy emphasised: “If there wasn’t a pretty major issue you wouldn’t be here, nor would there be a need for forming the British Game Alliance.”
BGA founder Tom Adams, a young entrepreneurial South African Cirencester graduate, described the two issues as “complementing each other, providing the carrot of a great game market and the stick through regulation and auditing”.
We have probably all heard rumours of surplus game being buried or burned, which are shocking to the naive. The consensus, of course, is that this is a manifestation of “big bag culture” and it’s become fashionable in certain quarters to say “oh, 150 is quite enough for me”.
The fundamental issue is that “big days” are big business and the bedrock of many rural communities. It isn’t just that they pay the keepers’ wages but the trickle-down effect is huge — pints in the local keep pouring and hotel beds are filled. So the sport is a necessity. Pleasingly, it is a growth industry and yet, as we all know, it has a huge problem.
The suggestion that “if a bird is not going to be eaten, it cannot be shot” will not seem particularly profound to readers of Shooting Times but, with the collapse of the game market and the issue of the growing number of pheasants and partridges put down, what happens to game is becoming a challenge for all of us, double gunner and hedgerow pootler alike.
Field to fork
The good news, as we all know, is that we have a product that is well treated, free range, naturalised and has a far better life than the three-quarters of