It’s amazing to think that the game season is imminent once more. And, of course, it kicks off with grouse. We have a great feature from the GWCT about grouse moor regeneration in Wales, while Steve Rawsthorne is looking at the unique technical challenges that face the Gun when tackling these speediest of game birds. But the moors have been in the news for less happy reasons of late.
Britain is sweltering as I write these words. Weeks of hot, dry weather have left many parts of the country parched and brown. There have been massive wildfires across Saddleworth moor and others, many started deliberately.
I was saddened, but hardly surprised, to read in parts of the press that grouse shooting was being held responsible by the anti lobby for turning these areas into ‘tinderboxes’ and that these areas should be allowed to turn back into woodland to prevent these fires from happening in the future.
Forgetting for a moment the fact that moorland is a globally rare habitat, the GWCT also pointed out that, rather than drying out the moors, grouse moor owners in fact helped to block drains and resisted pressure to plant commercial forestry – actions praised only recently by the RSPB. And that good moorland management (including strategic heather burning) was a way to reduce, not increase, the risk of wildfires.
I have also been sparing a thought for all the keepers across the country who are putting birds to wood in these challenging weather conditions, and those out on their tireless vigils to reduce fox numbers and protect their poults.
Deer stalking guides, too, face a challenging time of year – particularly those for whom roe bucks make up the bulk of their annual business. The rut is not far away as I type and although the summer solstice is behind us, the days are still incredibly long. I know even from a hunter’s perspective that the hours can be pretty gruelling. Factor in the stresses and pressures of matching the expectations of clients and it’s an exhausting few weeks.
By the time the mag hits the shelves, it will be time for the Game Fair at Ragley and we look forward to seeing you there.
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