First Words

Sporting Shooter - - News - DOM HOLTAM Ed­i­tor-In-Chief

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.

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