Jamie Chan­dler tells us that a slow ap­proach is the best way to a new per­mis­sion

Air Gunner - - Contents -

It takes time to build up trust when find­ing a per­mis­sion, but it pays off, says Jamie

In the early sum­mer, I re­ceived some bad news that will prob­a­bly be fa­mil­iar to some of you. I’m fi­nally los­ing my long­est- stand­ing per­mis­sion. You might re­mem­ber, my in- laws sold their farm to a much larger lo­cal es­tate last Septem­ber, but left me hold­ing the deer and ver­min rights for the next five years. As time has gone on, the shoot­ing rights holder for the rest of the es­tate has been keen to have to­tal con­trol of the rights and been pres­sur­ing the Es­tate Man­ager to move me on in some way or other.

Mean­while, since my in- laws moved, be­ing up at the farm has had the same feel as walk­ing around a de­ceased rel­a­tive’s house, and my vis­its have be­come less and less fre­quent; build­ings are chang­ing, field plans are chang­ing and the once cher­ished bond I felt be­tween the farm and I has eroded some­what.


Af­ter a meet­ing with the Es­tate Man­ager and him mak­ing an of­fer of fi­nan­cial rec­om­pense for my deer­stalk­ing busi­ness, plus some 300 acres of new land if I wanted it, I de­cided to take the of­fer and move on. I’d have been per­fectly within my rights to turn the of­fer down and carry on, but the es­tate is one of the big­gest around here and walk­ing away with 300 acres and with a strong bond of mu­tual re­spect with the Es­tate Man­ager, more doors could well open up as they con­tinue their aim of in­creas­ing to 6000 acres in the next two years.

As I ex­plained it to my wife, it’s very much like me throw­ing away my old Jack Pyke boots. I’ve had them for five years, worn them at least ev­ery other day, our pet rab­bit has chewed holes in them and yet only now, six months af­ter I should have binned them and with a re­place­ment pair hav­ing sat in the cup­board for

nearly a year, I am ready to part with them.

So, out with the old and in with the new.

Last driven sea­son, I did a few days’ beat­ing on an es­tate about 11 miles away from me. From there, and through mu­tual in­ter­ests, be­ing nosy about the large es­tate that had bought the farm, and shared friends with con­nec­tions there, I struck up friend­ship and a deal with the Keeper to take clients out deer- stalk­ing and pi­geon- shoot­ing over his 2000 acres. Ob­vi­ously, it wasn’t free, but for a 25% split of the tak­ings to him and the res­i­dent farm­ers, I could carry on that side of things, and I’m now work­ing with the keeper on ex­pand­ing to in­clude another 500 acres of ben­e­fit to both of us.


It has taken me un­til this point, some six months later, to be given enough free rein to start tak­ing an air­gun out on the es­tate, in case I get a chance of a rat around the pheas­ant- rear­ing pens, but this isn’t an un­com­mon amount of time, and pos­si­bly some­thing to bear in mind if you are look­ing for per­mis­sions.

Some ground might fall into your lap and off you go the next day, ri­fle in hand, but in my ex­pe­ri­ence, in the vast ma­jor­ity of cases it takes time to build up trust. In this case, it’s been 18 months nearly, and be­ing there weekly in the last five months, to get to me bring­ing up the air­gun with me reg­u­larly. Turn­ing up door knock­ing, ask­ing once for per­mis­sion then driv­ing off never to be seen again if it’s a no, might work oc­ca­sion­ally, but build­ing up a rap­port, shar­ing in­sight in sub­jects af­fect­ing the per­son you’re talk­ing to, en­quir­ing about and show­ing a knowl­edge of yields and mois­ture con­tent around har­vest to farm­ers, for ex­am­ple, all helps to build a con­nec­tion, and show that your in­ter­est is more than just about shoot­ing.


Don’t worry about getting it wrong, just pop, “Am I right in think­ing…” at the be­gin­ning of a farm­ing- re­lated ques­tion, for ex­am­ple, and with the right per­son at the right time an in­cred­i­bly in- depth an­swer will be re­turned. Don’t in­ter­rupt un­less ask­ing a fol­low- on ques­tion, and at the end of the an­swer, throw in ca­su­ally, “… and I bet that rab­bit dam­age in the top field (again, an ex­am­ple) doesn’t help.” … and go from there.

This ap­proach worked won­ders the other day with Harry, the farmer on the es­tate. Rooks and crows are smash­ing in to his cow feed in a black cloud so large that it looks like it’s herald­ing the apoc­a­lypse. There are lit­er­ally hundreds, and they all flock to­gether caus­ing a mas­sive

amount of drop­pings to be de­posited at one go amongst the cat­tle food. Af­ter try­ing to cull them al­most daily with shot­guns, (cur­rently 261 had been shot in the last six days) and with noise com­plaints from nearby houses ris­ing, Harry thought per­haps the air­gun was the way to go, and I was the bod lucky enough to be asked.


Ob­vi­ously, when shoot­ing around barns there are risks; cat­tle, peo­ple, as­bestos roofs, farm ma­chin­ery, poults in rear­ing pens, and in this case £15,000 worth of 1940s Willys Jeep to avoid putting holes in. A care­ful risk as­sess­ment later and I had cho­sen a spot that looked safest and most promis­ing, or would have if one of the res­i­dent bulls hadn’t learned how to push open the pen gate and wan­der down the feed troughs, chas­ing the crows away.

A quick move to another po­ten­tial hot spot saw me bag two wood­ies and a feral in quick suc­ces­sion, not com­pli­cated shots at 25 – 30 yards with pretty much no breeze, so we were off the mark. The real tar­gets, the crows and rooks, seemed flighty, com­ing in and land­ing, but then off again at the slight­est move­ment. Per­haps the hard ham­mer­ing to their num­bers that week had put them on edge, but getting a safe, still shot was prov­ing elu­sive.

I waited for a few hours, but even in the shade of my makeshift hide amongst the scrub, the tem­per­a­ture was soar­ing past 30 de­grees and I was fast be­com­ing a sweat drenched, sun- bleached blob in my hunt­ing gear.

I de­cided to bail, picked up my bounty, now fly- blown in the heat and no good for din­ner, and left. The crows and rooks will be here another day and I’d had a few bril­liant hours amongst the cat­tle sheds and barns, win - win re­ally!

RIGHT: Even in the shade of my scrub hide, it was hot MAIN: A stun­ning view from the high­est point on the es­tate

ABOVE LEFT: This year’s pheas­ant poults are com­ing on safe in the shed ABOVE RIGHT: The cat­tle feed needed pro­tect­ing from the corvid on­slaught

MAIN: My work saw me out early with a client, stalk­ing on the new es­tate

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