In de­fence of shoot­ing

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - Letters -

I was ap­palled at Richard Donkin’s piece in T&S Oc­to­ber. Coun­try sports and shoot­ing in par­tic­u­lar do not need “friends” like Mr Donkin who per­pet­u­ates ur­ban myths like the bury­ing of shot game. This is­sue came up on one of the fly-fish­ing fora that I visit. I chal­lenged the au­thor of that al­le­ga­tion to prove it. Date-stamped pho­to­graphs at the very least would be re­quired and show­ing not one or two pheas­ants be­ing buried, but hun­dreds. I chal­lenge Mr Donkin to do the same. You made the al­le­ga­tion, so prove it. I have picked up on shoots large and small for over 35 years and have never wit­nessed such ac­tiv­i­ties nor any sign of such hav­ing taken place. Why do game shoots bother to have ex­pen­sive chiller fa­cil­i­ties in­stalled where the game can be stored pend­ing col­lec­tion by a game dealer if all they are go­ing to do is stick them in a hole in the ground? Such “dis­posal” will be dif­fi­cult to achieve. The av­er­age pheas­ant these days weighs well over 4lb and can be as much as 6lb. Most good shoots will be shoot­ing 200-plus birds around 40 days a year. So, do the maths: 200 pheas­ants at a min­i­mum of 4lb equals at least 800lb and prob­a­bly nearer 900lb. Not the sort of hole you can dig with a shovel, or hide for that mat­ter. Then there is the other 39 days and we’re up to 32,000lb of dead pheas­ants. That’s a lot of big holes to hide.

I have this men­tal pic­ture of a bunch of to­tal novice and in­ept guns stand­ing on a drive and blast­ing mer­rily into the air. Mr Donkin ob­vi­ously doesn’t know just how much empty sky there is around a pheas­ant. To al­lege that any­one can stand there and hack down fly­ing pheas­ants is fan­tasy time. Mr Donkin crit­i­cises the guns who come down from our ma­jor ur­ban cen­tres to shoot. Game shoot­ing is ex­pen­sive at all lev­els and has been since well be­fore World War Two. It costs money to rear a pheas­ant, to em­ploy a keeper to do so, to pro­vide him with liv­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion and a ve­hi­cle to get around, and food for the birds. Then there are the shoot-day ex­penses – the beat­ers and pick­ers-up, break­fast, lunch and tea for the guns, plus drinks. It is a ma­jor busi­ness from which the Trea­sury takes its cut in tax and VAT. In­stead of crit­i­cis­ing, Mr Donkin should be thank­ing Prov­i­dence that peo­ple are will­ing to spend their money on hav­ing a few days’ shoot­ing.

Bob Pre­ston, Marl­bor­ough

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