It’s over 30°C as I type these words, and the latest Met Office reports are predicting warmer than average temperatures well into October. After a scorching summer, it will no doubt present yet more challenges for the rural working community as they get ready for the start of the main game shooting season.
I am partial to a bit of early autumn partridge shooting, not least because it is one of my favourite things to eat and the chance to head home with a brace for the oven is always cherished.
It is also pleasant to enjoy some warm weather shooting in shirt sleeves. Last year, I had a lovely early season day in Wiltshire and massively over-dressed, shedding coats and jumpers on the peg as the mercury soared!
Hard work for the dogs and the beaters, too, and extra precautions for the former need to be taken into consideration. I see ever more cooling coats being used to keep gundogs from overheating – in the field and at the game fairs during the summer.
We have plenty of partridge-related articles this month to keep you entertained, from shooting technique to cartridge choice as well as GWCT’s conservation article looking at a Scottish farm owner’s efforts to increase numbers of grey partridge.
However, a few dark clouds are building on the horizon as Helena Venables discusses on p73. In July, the Welsh environment minister wrote to Natural Resource Wales stating that the Labour government in Wales “does not support commercial pheasant shooting or the breeding of game birds,” because of “ethical issues”.
This came off the back of a comprehensive review of shooting on public land which recommended the continued use of firearms to manage wildlife as well as the provision to lease NRW land for rearing and shooting pheasants.
They obviously weren’t the answers that Welsh Labour wished to hear. The potential ramifications for those that live and work in rural areas are enormous and a number of questions are raised by this intervention. Not least whether the policy of the Welsh Labour government is shared by the Labour party as a whole. Should that prove to be the case, it will represent a stark shift in stance and one we will all be forced to take notice of.