Last weekend, while loading for a friend in Wiltshire, I heard a poignant story.
Some weeks previously, on a shoot not far from where we were, a regular beater had failed to turn up. Whether it is a party, a hunt meet or a badly organised trip to the pub, people not turning up in life is hardly unique, but the beater was an older gentleman and somebody thought they should go and see if something was amiss.
The beater had suffered a heart attack and was lying on the bathroom floor. I was delighted to hear he was found in the nick of time and it looks like he will make a full recovery.
As the birds started to rise out of the cover crop in front of us, I thought about the community we are all part of. In the city, people have next-door neighbours and friends in the immediate local area. Meanwhile, in the countryside, people often live far apart and rely on fieldsports to bring them together.
The benefits of these rural groups existing are many and, as I learned that day, can even be life-saving.
I do wonder if people opposed to shooting recognise that if they had their way, it wouldn’t just be a sport that would be ruined but a vital community that exists around it. Follow Patrick on Twitter @paddycgalbraith