In defence of shooting
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