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2019-01-02 Shooting Times & Country

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WHY WE NEED TO STOP USING PL ASTIC WADS
Since 1882
2 JANUARY 2019
Top sport
that won?t
break the
bank
IRISH ADVENTURE
Stalking
goats for
the pot
WILD SPORT
Driven
woodcock
in Wales
GAME COOKERY
ROAST HARE AND
CHOCOLATE
GUNDOG TR AINING
HOW TO DEAL WITH
THE UNEXPECTED
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DOG OF THE WEEK
In association with Orvis
For all things dog, Shooting Times recommends Orvis.co.uk
Outdoor outfitters, instructors and apparel makers since 1856.
Daphne
Daphne, a three-year-old cocker, is a gentle and soft-natured dog who just wants to please. Owner Ben Oldfield
says she was a pleasure to shoot over last season and made some memorable retrieves, particularly from water.
Photographed by Ben Oldfield
&($&'$'/
Issue 6,121
�.99
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subscribe to Britain?s
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Our modern life
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Patrick Galbraith, Editor
shootingtimessubs.co.uk/NRN8
0330 333 1113
Quote code: NRN8
Lines open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 6pm (UK time)
*Pay just �.99 by direct debit payable every 3 months, with the price
guaranteed for the ?rst 12 months and we will notify you in advance of
any price changes. Offer closes 4 February 2019. Terms and conditions
apply. For full details please visit www.magazinesdirect.com/terms.
14
Well worth the journey
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18
IGL Retriever Championship
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22
Stalking feral goats
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26
Woodcock heaven
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32
Why we should use fibre wads
J^[h[_ided[[Z\ehfbWij_Yed[i
36
Friends and rainbows
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38
Expect the unexpected
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44
A young dog in her first trial
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Follow Patrick on Twitter
@paddycgalbraith
Contents
NEWS & OPINION
42
06 NEWS
REGULARS
10
PRODUCTS
36
12
LETTERS
CATLOW?S
NOTEBOOK
41
COUNTRY DIARY
FEATURES
COOKERY
18
GAME SHOOTING 44 GUNDOGS
46 VINTAGE TIMES
GUNDOGS
22
STALKING
14
48
26
GAME SHOOTING 50
32
AMMUNITION
38
GUNDOGS
58
GAMEKEEPER
SPORTING
ANSWERS
SHARPSHOOTER
*I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
NEWS
Anti-shooting campaigners
protest outside the of?ces
of NRW in Cardiff
Welsh ban fightback begins
Rural groups are seeking permission from the High Court to bring a
judicial review against NRW?s decision to end shooting on public land
ALAMY
B
ASC, the Countryside
Alliance and the
NationalGamekeepers?
Organisation have
taken the ?rst steps in a joint legal
challenge to Natural Resources
Wales?s (NRW) decision to end
pheasant shooting on public land
in Wales. This is the next stage
in a campaign that began with
the issue of a formal ?letter
before action? by the groups?
lawyers in November.
Lawyersactingforthethree
organisationshavepetitionedthe
HighCourttoaskforpermission
toseekajudicialreviewofNRW?s
decision.IftheHighCourtrules
intheirfavourtheycanthenask
forajudgetoexaminewhether
NRW?sdecisionwas lawful and
properlymade.
Thejudicialreviewcould
potentiallyleadtothedecision
being overturned.
Aspokesmanforthe
organisationssaid:?Wefeltdutyboundtouniteandtakeastand
againstsomethingthatwefeel
isfundamentallywrong.Weare
challenginganoutcomewhich
appearstoruncontrarytothe
evidencefromNRW?sconsultation
processanditslegalobligations.?
The move comes as Mark
Drakeford, the recently appointed
First Minister of Wales, installs
a new Cabinet. Hannah Blythyn
AM, the minister whose letter to
NRW was widely seen as leading
to the refusal to renew shooting
leases, has been moved to a post
overseeing local government.
Her job has been abolished and
responsibility for the environment
has been passed to Lesley
Grif?ths, who becomes Minister
Thepetition,whichcalledforthe
licensingofgameshoots,received
only119signatureswithjust24
ofthosecomingfrompeoplein
Wales.Anearlierpetitionhosted
onaninternetpetitionsite,withfar
fewerchecksonwhowassigning
it,gainednearly12,700signatures.
TimBonneroftheCountryside
Alliancesaid:?Themassemail
campaigns,thetargetedsocial
?We felt duty-bound to take a
stand against something that we
feel is fundamentally wrong?
Environment brief: Lesley Grif?ths
,I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
for Environment, Energy and
Rural Affairs.
Thecampaigntooverturn
thedecisionbyNRWhashad
encouragementfromtheresults
ofananti-shootingpetitionlodged
on the Welsh Assembly website.
mediaactivityand,ofcourse,the
dodgypetitionsdonotrepresent
arealre?ectionofpublicattitudes
andopinions.Thereductionof
a?12,700signature?petitionto24
Welsh voters is evidenceofthat.?
Matt Cross
Email your stories / STeditorials@ti-media.com
Red flags over UK rivers
Weekend Twitter poll
What would you like to see more of
in Shooting Times?
35% Shoot features
24% Wildfowling / duck ?ighting
27% Game recipes
14% Pigeon shooting
follow us @shootingtimes
The report revealed that may?y species have declined from an average of 12 to eight on the river Itchen
Salmon&TroutConservation
(S&TC) is challenging the
Environment Agency under
the Environmental Damage
(PreventionandRemediation)
(England) Regulations 2015
afteritslatestRiver?yCensus
on the rivers Itchen and Test
revealed a worrying decline
in ?y life and water quality.
At the time of writing,
the Environment Agency
had not responded.
According to the report,
may?y species have declined
from an average of 12 to eight
on the river Itchen and 11 to
seven on the Test since the
late 1970s to early 1980s. The
charity has been monitoring
invertebrate data at the sites
over the past three years.
S&TC is working with
stakeholderstoimprovewater
quality and tackle known
sources of pollution, such
as salad washing plants and
intensive watercress farms.
S&TC?s Nick Measham,
said: ?We now look to the
Environment Agency to
investigate rapidly exactly
what is causing this decline
and, most importantly, to
take early action... to stop this
damage occurring and allow
the river to recover.?
The report can be read in
full at po.st/river?ycensus
Arrests made in Wiltshire
hare coursing crackdown
Police in Wiltshire have
seized vehicles and dogs
in a crackdown on hare
coursing in areas around
Salisbury Plain.
Local landowners
and farmers called police
on 16 December after
spotting a signi?cant hare
coursing event, and of?cers
from the Wiltshire South
Community Policing Team
(CPT) swiftly responded.
Nine men were charged
with offences under the
Hunting Act. Many had
travelled considerable
distances, with some wouldbecoursersfromsouthWales.
The police also took
possession of mobile
phones, two vehicles and
10 lurcher-type dogs.
InspectorPeteSparrow
fromWiltshireSouthCPT
said: ?We recognise the
impactthistypeofcrimehas
onourruralcommunitiesand
wewillalwaysrespondquickly
anddealwithanyoffender
weidentify,usingallpowers
availabletous,toseize
vehiclesanddogsandapply
tothecourtsforforfeiture
orderstohavevehicles
destroyedanddogsrehomed.
Iwanttomakeitclearthat
SouthWiltshirewillnot
accept this illegal activity.?
Respondents: 297
To do this week
Working dogs are
I N S U R E much more likely
to get cuts and injuries than pet dogs.
Ordinary dog insurance probably won?t
cover your dog for injuries and illnesses
sustained in the ?eld, so it may be worth
reviewing your canine insurance and
taking out a whole-of-life policy. It might
be a larger sum initially but could save
you money in the long run, as a lifelong
policy will cover the dog for diseases
such as diabetes for life.
Read more on specialist working
dog insurance at www.petguard.co.uk/
shootinguk.
Help to
P R O T E C T protect the
UK?s wild ?sh and rivers by reporting
water pollution and poor agricultural
practices to Salmon & Trout
Conservation, which is lobbying
governmental bodies to carry out
necessary change.
For information on submitting
images and reports visit po.st/
salmontroutconservation.
Of?cers from Wiltshire South CPT responded quickly, seizing two vehicles, mobile phones and dogs
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;-
NEWS
EVENTS DIARY
Fish farms on Loch Broom on the
west coast of Scotland have been
hit by high mortality rates
21 JANUARY
JOHN RIGBY & CO RIFLE
RANGE OPENING
West London
Shooting School
www.shooting
school.co.uk
29 JANUARY
ANGLING TRUST
FUNDRAISING DINNER
Fishmongers Hall, London
po.st/anglingtrustdinner
2 FEBRUARY
END OF SEASON GAME
CHANGER BBQ
The Palmerston
Dulwich, London
po.st/gamechangerbbq
12 FEBRUARY
STAG COURSE:
MENTAL HEALTH
AND RESILIENCE
Lady Waterford Hall,
Berwick-upon-Tweed
enquiries@
thegamekeepers
welfaretrust.com
18-20 FEBRUARY
ALAMY / S. FARNSWORTH
GUNDOG TRAINING
Oxfordshire/
Gloucestershire
www.gundogtrainers
academy.co.uk
Salmon farms are
?recipe for ruin?
Forty per cent mortality rates in Scottish farmed
salmon should act as a wake-up call to the industry
More than 40 per cent of farmed
salmon have died at two locations
in Scotland, monthly mortality
?gures published the Scottish
Salmon Producers Organisation
have revealed.
The two farms, operated by
Wester Ross Fisheries in Loch
Broom, experienced extreme
losses, with 50 per cent of the ?sh
in one farm and 40 per cent of the
?sh in another dying in August.
The mass die-off was described
as ?soul destroying? by managing
director Gilpin Bradley. ?This has
been a catastrophic event for
Wester Ross, in over 40 years of
salmon farming,? he said. ?Our
dedicated farmers have never had
to manage such severe mortality
in a very short period of time.?
Wester Ross Fisheries is one
of Scotland?s smaller salmon
producers, with four farms. The
company, which was founded
in the 1970s, is now owned and
.I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
were completing their production
operated by three of its original
cycle also recorded exceptionally
employees. The mass deaths
high mortality.
are believed to have been caused
Greshornish and Lochalsh,
by an algal bloom resulting
operated by Norwegian company
from exceptionally high sea
Marine Harvest, revealed that
temperatures which caused
they lost nearly 40 per cent
irreparable gill damage.
of their ?sh. Mortalities
Mortalities have
in farmed salmon
been an increasing
typically climb
problem for
in mid- and late
Scottish salmon
summer due to
farms with nearly
health problems
25 per cent of
associated
farmed salmon
with warming
dying in 2017,
water, then peak
three times the
The salmon mortality
in October?s storms.
rate 15 years ago.
rate has been high
Responding to the
The Loch Broom
news
of
the
mass
deaths, Don
farms were not the only ones to
Staniford of Scottish Salmon
experience exceptionally high
Watch said: ?Mass mortalities
mortalities in August. The Vuia
are symptomatic of infectious
Mor farm operated by the Scottish
diseases, lice infestation and overSalmon Company lost 18.9 per
production. Cramming salmon
cent of its ?sh in August and the
in cages is a recipe for ruin.?
neighbouring Vuia Beag lost 13.8
Matt Cross
per cent. Two more farms that
Email your stories / STeditorials@ti-media.com
Red squirrels get a break
in Center Parcs village
Acampaigntosupportred
squirrelsandcontrolthegrey
populationisreapingbene?ts
atCenterParcs?LakeDistrict
WhinfellForestholidayvillage
andsurroundingareas.
Thelocationisnowhome
toathrivingpopulationofreds
withnogreysinthevicinity.
CenterParcsredsquirrel
rangerJerryMosssaid:
?Anoutbreakofsquirrelpox
hadhammeredournumbers
butinthepastsixmonths,
helpedbyawarmspring
andsummer,we?veseen
anoticeableincreasein
theredsquirrels.?
Someredshavebeen
killedontheroadsnearby
butJerrypointedout:?It?s
notnicebutitdoesshow
the reds are needing
toexplorenewhabitatsas
theirnumbersgrow.?
Julie BaileyofPenrith
&DistrictRedSquirrelGroup
commented: ?We believe
NEWS IN BRIEF
Bambi is compulsive
viewing for poacher
thereisnowaminimum
of350redsquirrelsaround
ina650squaremilearea?
whichisabout25 per cent
of Cumbria.?
There has been a ?noticeable increase? in red squirrel numbers
The GWCT hits out at ?illinformed? conservationists
TheGWCThascriticised
conservationbodiesfor
ineffectivepoliciesinaletter
to TheTimes on17December.
Andrew Gilruth, director
AnAmericanpoachersentencedto
ayearinprisonhasbeenorderedbythe
judgetowatchtheDisney?lm Bambi
?atleast?onceamonth.
Missouri-basedDavidBerry
Juniorwasconvictedofillegallykilling
?hundreds?ofdeer.Hewasarrested
inAugustforkillingthedeer,taking
theirheadsandleavingthecarcases
todecompose.Hewasalsochargedfor
a?rearmsprobationviolationandhas
had his hunting privileges revoked for life.
ofcommunications,
wasaddressingtheissue
ofendangeredbirdsbeing
shotunderlicence(News,
26 December).
Raven culls were criticised but have bene?ted wading bird species
Hewrote:?Ifwehad
effectiveconservation
policies,thesespecieswould
notbeendangeredinthe?rst
place...OnestudyinNorthern
Irelandfoundthatupto97
percentofnestfailures
wereduetothembeing
eaten,mainlybyfoxesand
predatorybirds.It?sbizarre
thatconservationpoliciesstill
focusonhabitatprotection,
despitenowknowingwemust
includeeffectivemeasures
topreventtheyoungbirds
frombeingeaten.?
Speakingto Shooting
Times,hefollowedupby
callingforproperpublic
engagement:?Thereare
stilltoomanyill-informed
conservationdebatesthat
distilcomplexissues.?
AravencullinPerthshire
earlierthisyearwascriticised
byconservationistsbutlocals
arenowreportingamuch
betterbreedingseason for
waders as a result.
Join the Woodcock
Club for dinner
This year Shooting Times is holding
its annual Woodcock Club Dinner on
21 March at the Savile Club in London?s
Mayfair. Sir Nicholas Soames MP
is the guest speaker, the auction
is shaping up to be superb and the
evening will raise some much-needed
funds for important GWCT woodcock
conservation projects.
For more information on joining
the Shooting Times Woodcock Club
visit po.st/STwoodcock.
Existing members can buy tickets
for the dinner at po.st/stwcmembers.
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
@SHOOTINGTIMESUK
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;/
PRODUCTS
Visit us online / shootinguk.co.uk
From the gun shop
Our weekly round-up of the best and latest must-have kit on the shelf
1 Helt trousers
RRP �9.99
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TheHelttrousersareperfectforwinter.
Theoptimisedmembranemakesthem
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cutlinesandarticulatedkneesensure
agreat?tandfreedomofmovement.Zip
ventilationandanextra-highbackaddsto
theirversatility,makingthemidealwhether
you are on the foreshore or in a high seat.
1
2
2 Lightforce handheld lamp
RRP �
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This75-watthandheldlampisidealfor
somelatenightrabbitingorfoxingroundthe
?elds.Thebulbproducesmorelightthan
standardonesduetoitscomplexion,giving
youawiderareatocoverwithabrilliant
whitelight.Thebottomofthehandlecan
house a spare bulb for a quick change.
3
3 Fleece dog coat
RRP �.95
www.jackpyke.co.uk
Thedogwillbethankingyouafteracold,
wetworkingdaywhenyouwrapthem
inthis?eececoat.Warm,lightweight
andwaterrepellent,ithassimpleVelco
fastenings for ease of use in the ?eld.
4
4 Laksen Temple shooting vest
5
RRP �9
www.ardmoor.co.uk
Apracticalandluxuriouslysoftwomen?s
shootingvestinScottishtweed.The
shouldersandpocketsarereinforcedfor
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withalongerlengthforbettercoverage
andeaseofaccesstoyourcartridge
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5 Cartridge loader pouch
RRP �
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Forextra-quickloading,thisqualitypouch
helpsyoudothejobwellwhileshootingon
awalked-upday.Madeofabrasion-resistant
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'& I>EEJ?D= J?C;I 9EKDJHO C7=7P?D;
LETTERS
LET TER OF THE WEEK
ISSN: 0037-4164
Shooting Times, TI Media Ltd,
Pinehurst 2, Farnborough Business Park,
Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 7BF.
For editorial enquiries:
STeditorials@ti-media.com
01252 555220
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max.tremlett@ti-media.com
Subscription hotline:
0330 333 1113
help@magazinesdirect.com
Editor Patrick Galbraith
Deputy editor Ed Wills
edward.wills@ti-media.com
Brand assistant Sarah Pratley
01252 555220
Group art director Dean Usher
Art editor Rob Farmer
Picture editor Max Tremlett
Chief sub-editor Sarah Potts
sarah.potts@ti-media.com
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nicola.swinney@ti-media.com
News editor/Digital editor Charlotte Peters
charlotte.peters@ti-media.com
www.shootinguk.co.uk
Group shooting editor Jonathan Young
Managing director Steve Prentice
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Shooting Times is the official weekly journal
of BASC and the CPSA
BASC Marford Mill, Rossett LL12 0HL
Tel 01244 573000
CPSA PO Box 750, Woking, GU24 0YU
Tel 01483 485400
Wereservetherighttoeditletters.Nolettershouldexceed250
words.Letterswillnotbeusedunlesstheauthorisprepared
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Lettersshouldbeaddressedto:TheEditor,Pinehurst2,
FarnboroughBusinessPark,Hants,GU147BF,oremail
STletters@ti media.com.
Pleaseincludeadaytimetelephonenumber
and postal address.
This week?s cover image was
captured by Paul Quagliana
Woodcock: a sporting bird ? and tasty
Patrick Laurie (Country
Diary, 12 December) is quite
right in his criticism of Guns
who shoot a woodcock but
decline to take it home to eat.
I wholeheartedly agree with
him that no one should shoot
one just because the law
allows them to.
However, he should not
feel guilty if he chooses to
shoot in moderation. While
the decline he mentions is
real enough in the home
breeding population, there
is no evidence that shooting
is causing this, nor that the
winter visitors which make
up the vast majority of our
woodcock are suffering in
the same way.
I suggest that anyone
who is in a similar dilemma
should take the time to read
about woodcock on the GWCT
website, and then make
an informed decision. As
a passionate woodcock lover
and GWCT employee, this is
what I have done. As a result
I do not feel at all guilty when
I raise my gun to one.
The one that I have shot so
far this season was delicious
roasted whole and served on
a thick slice of buttery fried
bread to mop up the juices.
M. Swan, Shooting Times
contributor
IN ASSOCIATION WITH ALAN PAINE
The winner of Letter of the Week will receive an Alan
Paine Aylsham Fleece Waistcoat. Warm and practical,
it is ideal for colder days in the field and available in sizes
S-5XL. For more information visit www.alanpaine.co.uk.
Colour dependent on availability.
DON?T BE AFRAID
TO TRY
When I took up shooting properly
just over three years ago, I always
felt very nervous going to clay
shoots, gun shops and pheasant
shoots because it?s never truly
clear how things should be done
and what is correct etiquette.
There is also the slight ?dying
inside? feeling you get when
you miss (or repeatedly miss).
The truth is everybody started
somewhere. I believe everyone is
inherently keen for newcomers
to join in and are more often
than not willing to help, offer
advice or simply reassure you.
My advice to any new Gun is to
try to relax, don?t feel afraid to
ask silly questions and don?t get
frustrated when those hits don?t
come to you immediately.
My plea to those who already
shoot regularly is if you spot
a newcomer, someone who
doesn?t look quite at ease, shake
their hand, introduce yourself and
open a conversation that makes
them feel welcome and gives
them opportunity to learn safely.
This way we can all build on the
community we enjoy and help to
erode the cliquey image that puts
many off joining.
R. Watson, Norfolk
'(I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
The letter about the then Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
A ROYAL FAUX PAS
This is an article I recently found
in an 1877 volume of Punch. It
seems even before the RSPCA
was given a royal pre?x, it got
things badly wrong (above). What
a faux pas. Keep up the great
articles every week ? could we
have one on making nets please?
I have all my weekly copies going
back to the days when it was the
WAGBI magazine.
P. Goodhew, by email
WE HAVE A DUTY
I must respond to your
anonymous correspondent?s
critique (Letters, 12 December)
of Jeremy Hunt?s excellent article
(Crisis at the Kennel Club?,
21 November). It is interesting
to note that the writer states
?undoubtedly there are trainers
who treat their dogs harshly?.
How does Anon know this?
More importantly, what has
Anon done about it? I suspect
the answer is ?nothing?.
Anon?s comment that ?one
is innocent until proven guilty? is
true in theory but not in practice.
Anon refers to their position as
?we ?eld triallers? and it was three
of these who shouted abuse at
me for wanting to discuss the
subject of harsh handling at
Email your letters / STletters@ti-media.com
NEXT WEEK IN
TWO FOR ONE
Our daughter Issy (right) wa
very proud to shoot two grey
partridges out of a covey
with one shot. We had 398
partridges in the autumn
count at Ixworth Thorpe and
considered that there were
enough to allow the Guns
to shoot them. Ten grey
partridges were shot on the
day, with a total bag of 80.
C. Wilson, by email
and dogs has been founded
on the principles of patience,
understanding, kindness
and repetitive reward-based
training. Those who feel the
need to put the boot in have
failed as responsible and
compassionate human beings.
Bernadette Restorick, Kent
Four-year-old
Jake Wilkes on
his ?rst day in
the beating line
FROZEN FUN
Driven pheasants in the
teeth of a snowstorm
raging in Ayrshire.
M. FRANCOMBE
a committee meeting with a view
to putting something to that
effect into our Yearbook. Since
then ?we triallers? have slandered
and vili?ed me. Innocent until
proven guilty? I think not.
Mr Hunt accurately describes
?eld trialling as being under
the control of the Kennel Club.
As one leading trialler said to
a dissatis?ed competitor at
a ?eld trial who asked about
making a complaint to the
Kennel Club: ?Don?t bother,
we are the Kennel Club.?
A further point is that some
triallers are also Kennel Club
panel judges who are bound by
certain rules and regulations,
which I would willingly send
to Anon if requested. Under
these rules, judges are bound to
conduct themselves correctly at
all times, not only at registered
events, so clearly the Kennel Club
is responsible for the actions of
these people at all times.
A sobering thought is that
these judges might also be
trainers who go on to teach
newcomers harsh practices
which their students take as the
normal way to do things and thus
harsh handling is perpetuated.
Unless Anon and others like
them are prepared to speak out
openly, things will only get worse
and heighten the risk of a ban
when evidence is gathered.
I have received many
supportive letters and phone
calls, both nationally and
internationally, that describe
harrowing incidences of gross
cruelty that the writers have
witnessed over the years.
The fact of the matter is that
anyone causing or witnessing
and failing to act upon cruelty
is in direct contravention of
the Animal Welfare Act 2006,
which is shortly to be greatly
strengthened under new
legislation with accompanying
swingeing penalties. It is a police
matter, not a Kennel Club matter
to act upon.
My lifetime?s experience
in the training of both horses
RECYCLING
After reading many reports of
not being able to dispose of spent
cartridges (Letters, 28 November
and 19 December) there is
a company in Lincolnshire
that can grind up for recycling
any type of cartridges.
Agri.Cycle has been doing
this for many years. It takes
numerous lorry loads every year
from shooting estates and clay
grounds across the country.
G. Swift, Lincolnshire
The Editor responds: Thank
you for this. Our correspondent
Mr T. K. Shaw also alerted us to
Agri.Cycle. Visit www.agri-cycle.
uk.com for more information,
email info@agri-cycle.uk.com
or tel 01673 878215.
TEST OF FIELDCRAFT
A little rivalry on an annual
mixed species day in the
north of England.
SECRET SPLASH
Shooting a splash in
the west ? it?s a closely
guarded secret.
LONDON SPORT
FIRST DAY
My son Jake Wilkes is four years
old and went on his ?rst day
beating on his grandfather?s
shoot recently with his
grandfather. It?s safe to say
he loved every minute and can?t
wait to go again. He did lots of
picking-up and walked for miles.
Emma Wilkes, Worcestershire
Following the item about
a woodcock in Commercial Street,
London (News, 12 December), on
my way to work at the Countryside
Alliance I ?put up? a woodcock out
of some shrubbery on Handforth
Road, just behind the Oval
farmers? market. It scared the
living daylights out of me but
I still managed to raise my
arms and pretend shoot it.
J. Knott, London
??The wildlife of today is not ours to dispose of as we please.
We have it in trust. We must account for it to those who
come after.?? King George VI
CATCH AND COOK
Ferreting then cooking
the rabbits offers an
unforgettable experience.
... AND MUCH MORE!
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;')
Game shooting
In the
lap of
luxury
John Clements visits
a syndicate in Norfolk
where Guns come
from afar to shoot
in a glorious setting
N. HOUSDEN
?
T
here is something
Wodehousian about the
place,? mused Tim, one
of the Guns, as we stood in
the lee of a belt of larches, surveying
the expanse of restored parkland.
The forecast rain was fairly noncommittal and the light breeze was
being given something useful to do
by the venerable oaks, making their
final autumnal leaves shimmer.
So far we had completed two good
drives and the Guns were enjoying
warm homemade sausage rolls and
Sloegasms. So why did members
of this Peterborough-based roving
syndicate endure what was for some
many hours of driving to assemble
in Norfolk?
Hoveton Hall, 10 miles east of
Norwich and close to Wroxham and
the Broads, is the family home of
Harry and Rachel Buxton and their
children. Since 1812 the hall has rested
comfortably on a modest rise. In the
middle distance to the south is a lake,
more than half-a-mile long, fringed
with alder, willow and dogwood.
The house itself is surrounded by
parkland and beyond that a belt of
tall trees, which is not only perfect
for woodcock but also creates an air
of sanctuary for those who come to
enjoy what the estate has to offer.
?Our aim is that guests get plenty
of shooting in beautiful surroundings,
with no pressure,? said Harry. ?The
bag might be 20 or 100, it is the day
that matters.?
'*I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
Game shooting
Hospitality is high on the list of
what makes this shoot worth the
journey; being met by the host and
welcomed into his house to enjoy
a bacon roll and coffee in country house
luxury is never a bad start to the day.
Pegs drawn and kit gathered,
I chatted with syndicate captain
Chris about the lure of Hoveton.
?It?s the highlight of the year,? he said.
This is the syndicate?s third visit and
they really enjoy the good birds, the
atmosphere and the flexibility that
being able to stay in the house offers,
especially after an evening around
the fire, reliving the day.
The first drive, the Tearooms,
awaited and, after a steady push
across a field of rape, the beaters
began their calm walk through the
maize cover. The Guns were on peg.
The first flush of birds rose, thumbs
eased the safeties forward and shots
rang out. More birds and another
shot connected above the trees;
a bird crumpled and spiralled down.
?Fingers fumbled
for cartridges
as a real corker
soared in front
and not a cartridge
chambered?
Chris Tye adds another
bird to the bag on
Watergarden drive
To my left, Matt was being selective
and waiting for the long crossers;
a flushed bird saw him and veered
left, he fired and it spun groundward.
Moments later, more wary birds flew
higher and wider, rising over the
wood; a bird was hit but still flying.
My gaze was fixed ? this was one for
j^[Ze]$Iec['&&oWhZiWYheiij^[
field we searched; the breeze alerted
the dog and instinct stopped him;
he pointed and the bird was found.
Hoveton is not a one-man
operation; alongside Harry and
Rachel there is part-time keeper Gary
Saunders, assisted by Chris Phillippo
and Gary?s daughter Charlotte.
Over the past five seasons, through
dedication and sheer hard work, the
'"+&&#WYh[i^eej^WiZ[l[bef[Z\hec
a family enterprise to one able to
support these relaxed let days.
?I like the Guns to have a great
day and the beaters also; keep them
happy and the day goes well and
easy for me ? I hope,? said Gary.
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;'+
Game shooting
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Picker-up John
Nurse sends
on the dogs
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?The bird soared
across the trees but
collapsed to the
shot and crashed
into the gardens?
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TRY IT YOURSELF
I have tried to avoid ?gures to describe this visit but ultimately the cost
of the day should be considered; on a typical shoot day the bag will be
between 60 and 100 birds from between 200 and 350 shots.
For a night?s accommodation, evening meal, breakfast and a relaxing
and enjoyable day?s shooting, Guns will have spent less than �0.
For more information, visit www.hovetonhallestate.co.uk.
',I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
Beaters ?nishing drive
two, which is mostly
game cover
YOU CAN FIND OUR PRODUCTS
AT EXCLUSIVE SPECIALIST RETAILERS
AND ONLINE AT WWW.SWAROVSKIOPTIK.COM
BY APPOINTMENT TO
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that is perfect for both driven and long-range hunting. It sets
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$Q H[FHOOHQW UL?H VFRSH ZLWK D ODUJH ?HOG RI YLHZ IRU PD[LPXP
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SEE THE UNSEEN
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Gundogs
An above-par
performance
FTCh Harperrig Breac triumphs over three
days of testing game and tricky terrain, which
included a golf course. Ellena Swift reports
S. MAGENNIS
A
four-year-old field trial
champion landed the
(&'.?dj[hdWj_edWb
=kdZe]B[W]k[?=B
H[jh_[l[h9^Wcf_edi^_f"^[bZWjj^[
X[Wkj_\kbFWYa_d]jed>Wbb[ijWj[Xo
kind permission of Lord and Lady
Guernsey. Billy Steel Jnr handled
FTCh Harperrig Breac to perfection to
b_\jj^[H[jh_[l[hJh_Wbi9^Wcf_edi^_f
9^Wbb[d][9kf"j^[BWZo7kYabWdZ
C[ceh_WbIWbl[h"j^[>_meeZ
9^Wbb[d][Jhef^o"j^[?=BFh[i_Z[dj縤
Jhef^oWdZj^[BehdW9ekdj[ii>em[
C[ceh_WbJhef^o\ehX[ijZe][dj[h[Z
by an owner resident in Scotland.
J^[?=BY^Wcf_edi^_fhkdiel[h
three full days of intense, varied and
[njh[c[bo]eeZ]kdZe]meha$<_\jo#
nine dogs qualified and an impressive
58 all battled it out for this prestigious
WYYebWZ[$E\Wbbj^ei[gkWb_?[Z"
40 were dogs and 19 bitches and the
Labradors massively outnumbered
the other retriever breeds, with only
two golden retrievers running. To
qualify is by no means easy, yet Lady
Carter?s eight-year-old Labrador dog
FTCh Asterix Aguzannis of Chatsworth
has qualified and run seven times.
Hunting ability
Throughout the trial, the dogs were
tested on every terrain, including
sorghum, beet, bracken, woodland
and water. The topography made
even simple marked retrieves a real
challenge with ditches, banks and
gulleys perfect for testing the hunting
ability of each dog. So testing were
the first two days that a total of 39
went out. This included the reigning
champion, the Duke of Buccleuch?s
FTCh Buccleuch Xena, handled by
David Lisett, who was put out on
the second day.
7ij^[?hijjmeZWoifhe]h[ii[Z
there were
some fabulous
retrieves and
some solid
consistency
displayed by
many. David
Field?s homebred yellow
Handler Billy Steel Jnr
accepts a bird from
the eventual winner,
FTCh Harperrig Breac
'.I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
FTCh Artistryn
Ulrich delivers a
retrieve to handler
David Field
Labrador dog FTCh Artistryn Ulrich
retrieved a superb running partridge
edj^[?hijZWo$>[Yedj_dk[ZW^_]^
standard of work throughout the
j^h[[ZWoi$@kb_WH[ZfWj^mWihkdd_d]
her own Hassycott Sea Snipe in their
first championship together and
they had a fantastic first two days,
including two eyewipes.
Day three began early but not
particularly bright; the weather
was cold, damp and misty, which
made marking difficult for the dogs
and handlers. The day started with
walked-up shooting through thick
bracken, banks and ditches. The
surroundings were surreal, with
a golf course interspersed with the
j^_YaWdZj[ij_d]Yel[h$?mWibkYao
enough to be very close to the line to
watch all the action. We were looked
after by Tess Lawrence, who has run
in the championship 22 times and
been in the awards nine times.
>[hademb[Z]["[nf[h_[dY[
and sense of humour made
for a great day. She did note
that it was probably the first
?The topography made
even simple marked
retrieves a real challenge?
Image � Nick Ridley
At BASC we look after the
interests of over 155,000 people
who shoot ? more than any other
organisation in the UK.
time a woodcock had been ?shot?
on a golf course and it perhaps
represented being six under par.
Early partridge
version_1_2018/9
The line hadn?t moved very far before
the Guns provided the dogs with plenty
of work. An early partridge was shot
off the end of the line and landed on
open ground. The dogs, however, were
standing in thick cover when it was
shot so couldn?t mark. The handlers
could see nothing of their dogs once
they got close to the area. One of the
golden retrievers ? Philippa Williams?s
Castlemans Soul Mate ? made the most
of an eyewipe opportunity on the
retrieve, going straight to it.
As any trialler knows, this is a tough
game and you can go from hero to zero
in a fraction of a second. For the next
retrieve the same goldie did a great job
hunting the cover on the left side of the
line, but sadly picked the wrong bird.
This left Nick West?s Labrador bitch
Smithsteads Layla with a chance of an
eyewipe, which she took with style.
As a member you will automatically
receive:
FTCh
Castlemans
Gobi of
Garronpoint
swims out
for a retrieve
? Liability, personal accident and legal
expenses insurance to protect you*
? Shooting opportunities for members
? Exclusive offers from trade members and
partners to save you money
And as a member you can also access
tailored additional insurance covers for:
? Working dogs
? Guns and shooting equipment
? Shoot cancellation
And there is more...
To see the exclusive BASC member offers go
to basc.org.uk/membersoffers
To join BASC, visit basc.org.uk/join-basc or
call 01244 573 030 in office hours
* exclusions apply see the BASC website for full details
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation is authorised and regulated
by the Financial Conduct Authority ref 311937
The insurance aspect of your membership is a non-advised sale and includes
Insurance Premium Tax. BASC arranges insurance and the Insurer(s) provide it.
John Halsted
sends out
Brocklebank
Bronze of
Chatsworth
We moved to a new part of the
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icWbb fedZi WdZ kd[l[d j[hhW_d$ J^[h[
m[h[ iec[ icWhj cWha[Z h[jh_[l[i
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i^ej X[^_dZ j^[ b_d[$ @e^d >Wbij[Z
hkdd_d] BWZo 9Whj[h縤 BWXhWZeh Ze]
Brocklebank Bronze of Chatsworth
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?The retrieve was
the stuff of dreams
for triallers and
pickers-up alike?
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i[YedZ e\ j^[ mekdZ[Z X_hZi mWi
f_Ya[Z Xo 7dd[jj[ 9bWha ^WdZb_d]
H_Y^WhZ >_dai縤 <J9^ Castlemans
Gobi Of Garronpoint$ J^_i Zke ^WZ
Wd [nY[bb[dj j^h[[ ZWoi" i^em_d]
h[b_WX_b_jo kdZ[h fh[iikh[" m_j^
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je cWa[ _j j^hek]^ je j^[ ?dWb [_]^j$
7i j^[ b_d[ cel[Z \ehmWhZi" ed[
e\ j^[ =kdi jemWhZi j^[ c_ZZb[ e\
j^[ b_d[ j_ff[Z j^[ m_d] ed W ijhed]
YeYa X_hZ$ J^[ X_hZ bWdZ[Z hek]^bo
''& oWhZi ekj _d \hedj WdZ j^[ `kZ][i
_cc[Z_Wj[bo i[dj <J9^ Harperrig
Breac$ J^[ ]hekdZ ^WZ W ibem _dYb_d["
cWa_d] [nY[bb[dj l_[m_d] Xkj ^WhZ
meha \eh j^[ Ze]i$ 8h[WY cWZ[ j^[
Wh[W gk_Yabo WdZ ^kdj[Z \kh_ekibo"
X[\eh[ jWa_d] W b_d[ ijhW_]^j kf
jemWhZi j^[ Xhem e\ j^[ ^_bb$ 7i j^[
m^eb[jh_WbmWjY^[Zm_j^jh[f_ZWj_ed"
\eh W Y^Wbb[d]_d] im_c je f_Ya \hec
j^[ ej^[h i_Z[$ 7bb j^[ Ze]i meha[Z
^WhZ" m_j^ <J9^ Harperrig Breac
Z[cedijhWj_d] j^Wj ^[ mWi Wi ]eeZ ed
mWj[h Wi ^[ mWi ed bWdZ" f_Ya_d] W X_hZ
\hec j^_Ya h[[Zi j^[ ej^[h i_Z[ e\ j^[
bWa[ j^Wj Wdej^[h Ze] ^WZ \W_b[Z ed$
7\j[h Yecfb[j_d] j^[ Zh_l[" j^[ ZWo
mWi Zed[ WdZ j^[ Z[Y_i_ed mWi _d" m_j^
j^[ (&'. ?=B H[jh_[l[h 9^Wcf_edi^_f
]e_d] je <J9^ Harperrig Breac$ ?j
^WZ X[[d W medZ[h\kb Y^Wcf_edi^_f
j^hek]^ekj" i^em_d] j^[ WX_b_jo e\j^[
WcWp_d]Ze]iWdZ^WdZb[hi$
R E S U LT S
j^[ X_hZ ikZZ[dbo Wff[Wh[Z Wj b[Wij
*& oWhZi \hec m^[h[ _j ^WZ \Wbb[d"
hkdd_d] b_a[ Wd Ebocf_Y ifh_dj[h
kf j^[ ^_bb$ ?j Z_iWff[Wh[Z el[h j^[
Xhem WdZ _dje Wi[We\XhWYa[d$
DATE: 3-5 December 2018
Raw skill
SPONSOR: Skinner?s
8h[WY fkhik[Z j^[ X_hZ m_j^ f_dfe_dj
WYYkhWYo WdZ lWd_i^[Z el[h j^[ ^_bb
_d _ji mWa[$ Ki_d] Wd Wff" ? mWi WXb[
je jhWYa j^[ jejWb Z_ijWdY[ j^[ Ze]
jhWl[bb[Z je f_Ya j^[ X_hZ � Wbceij (&&
oWhZi$ J^[ j[di_ed mWi fWbfWXb[ Wi m[
mW_j[Z$ 7\j[h hek]^bo )& i[YedZi ^[
Wff[Wh[Z m_j^ j^[ X_hZ je X[ ]h[[j[Z
Xo W ic_b_d] ^WdZb[h WdZ W m[bb#
Z[i[hl[Z hekdZ e\ WffbWki[ \hec Wbb$
?j mWi f[h^Wfi j^[ X[ij h[jh_[l[ e\
j^[ m^eb[ jh_Wb" i^em_d] dej^_d] Xkj
hWm ia_bb WdZ WX_b_jo$ ?j _i j^[ ijk? e\
Zh[Wci \eh jh_Wbb[hi" f_Ya[hi#kfWdZ
Wbb ]kdZe] ^WdZb[hi Wb_a[$
;_]^j Ze]i m[h[ jWa[d j^hek]^
je j^[ ?dWb hekdZ" m^_Y^ jeea fbWY[
_d \hedj e\ FWYa_d]jed >eki[$
J^[ =kdi ijeeZ \eh W c_d_
Zh_l[ _d \hedj e\ Wd _cfh[ii_l[
[nfWdi[ e\ mWj[h$ J^[ Ze]i
m[h[ i_jj_d] j^[ ej^[h i_Z[
je mWjY^ fheY[[Z_d]i
WdZ cWha j^[ \Wbb[d
]Wc[$ J^[ mWj[h mWi .*
oWhZiWYheii"cWa_d]
(&I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
VENUE: Packington Hall
BY KIND PERMISSION OF: Lord and
Lady Guernsey
JUDGES: Mark Bettinson, Les Mclean,
Jim Gale, Barry Taylor
STEWARD OF THE BEAT: Matt Nesbitt
ENTRIES: 59
WEATHER: Cold, damp and misty
TERRAIN: Sorghum, beet, bracken,
woodland, water, banks and ditches
GAME: Woodcock, red-legged partridges
and pheasants
WINNER: Billy Steel Jnr and FTCh
Harperrig Breac
SECOND: David Field and FTCh
Artistryn Ulrich
THIRD: John Halsted and Brocklebank
Bronze of Chatsworth, owned by Lady
Celina Carter
DIPLOMAS OF MERIT: Mrs C. Finlan?s
FTCh Macgiriaght Foxy Lady handled
by John Halsted; Donnie Leitch?s FTCh
Garshake Dunbar; Lady C. Carter?s FTCh
Asterix Aguzannis of Chatsworth, handled
by John Halsted; David Latham?s
Nettlebrae Andy of Fendawood
The Kingsford-Lethbridge
Trophy for the breeder of
the winner was awarded
to Annette Usher
Four-year-old
FTCh Harperrig
Breac emerged
victorious
Stalking
Not to be sniffed at
Barry Stoffell follows his nose to get within shooting
distance of a herd of feral goats that had been
wreaking havoc on a farm in Kerry
I
A. GEARD
f I were to make a list of
undervalued game meats, goat
would certainly be near the top.
In the early days of my career
I spent several years in North Africa,
where I developed a firm fondness for
the lean, lamb-like taste of this hardy
creature, yet back home I find it rarely
appears in shops or on menus.
I suspect our reluctance to eat
goat may owe something to their
notoriously unfussy approach to
their own diet ? I once saw one in
the Mauritanian suburbs chewing
on a disposable nappy with every
outward sign of enjoyment.
There is a sizeable population of
feral goats in Ireland and particularly
here in south Kerry, where they thrive
in the remote hills and mountains.
Genetically distinct from the ?old
Irish? goats, these are descendents
of the domestic animals that escaped
or were released, mostly in the last
century. Many of them were Swiss or
African breeds kept for their milk and
their helpful tendency to keep down
unwanted nettles and briars.
A couple of these goats generally
make it on to our table each year.
Considered a pest species, the feral
goat is afforded no close season
Feral goats on the high plateau, County Kerry; they are renowned for mounting raids on local farms
((I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
protection here. It may be hunted
at any time of year, and in several
places the population is high enough
to make them a genuine nuisance to
hill farmers, who are only too happy
to have a few removed.
Plague proportions
I found myself talking to one such
farmer in the local pub late last year.
A sheep farmer in his early 60s, Colm
makes his living from a large acreage
of rough grazing in a valley nearby.
The feral goats above his farm had
reached ?plague proportions? and
were mounting raids on his hillside
at dusk. They trampled fencing and
gorged themselves on the grazing that
^_i b_l[b_^eeZ Z[f[dZ[Z kfed$ >[縕
heard that I would ?eat anything?
? would I come and relieve him
of a few goats?
It was an overcast morning when
? fkbb[Z _dje 9ebc縤 oWhZ WdZ fWha[Z
alongside a neat stone farmhouse,
?I once saw a
goat in Mauritius
chewing on a
disposable nappy
with every outward
sign of enjoyment?
Stalking
dwarfed by the rocky hillside rising
steeply behind it. He was in the
throes of a fierce cold, clearly in no
shape to be climbing the hill, so over
a mug of tea he explained where the
goats would be found. Apparently,
several herds spent their days on the
high plateau above the house before
descending, under cover of darkness,
to pilfer his pasture.
As I assembled my gear, I asked
him if he had any tips for me. He
chuckled into his handkerchief.
?Stay downwind of them,? he said,
?and you?ll certainly smell them
before they smell you.?
The low cloud had descended as
I began to climb the hillside. Only
a handful of sheep remained on
the lower pastures, yet as I climbed
higher the signs of heavy grazing
were unmistakable. Further up, wide
animal tracks were littered with goat
droppings and I encountered the
first flattened sheep fence. Turning
to look back down on the farmhouse
far below, I felt a pang of sympathy
for Colm; carving out a living up here
would be tough enough without
battling goats.
I eventually crested the ridge
cautiously and was met with the sight
of a broad, open plateau stretching
away for some kilometres,
Far left:
Wriggling
forwards to
get a clear
shot without
spooking
the herd
SLOW-ROAST HAUNCH
OF WILD GOAT
Though often relegated
to strongly ?avoured
curries, wild goat has
a distinct and delicious
lamb-like ?avour that is
perfectly showcased by
this lightly spiced dish.
With the marinating and
roasting times adjusted
accordingly, it works
equally well for a young
or old animal.
THE METHOD Serves 4
The whiff
of goat was
overwhelming
Put the yoghurt in a
bowl with the marinade
ingredients and mix well.
1
and add the wine or stock
to the bottom to keep
everything moist.
2
5
3
6
4
7
Coat the haunch
completely in the
marinade mixture, rubbing
it into the meat. This is easily
done in a large freezer bag
or plastic container.
Seal or cover and place in
the fridge for a minimum
e\ ( ^ekhi$ J^[ cWh_dWZ[
both flavours and tenderises,
so leaving longer is even
better for older animals.
When ready, place the
goat in a baking tray
Cover the tray with
foil and cook at 150癈/
]Wi cWha ( \eh /& c_dkj[i
per kilogram. Check every
)& c_dkj[i je cWa[ ikh[ _j
hasn?t dried out, adding
more liquid if required.
Once done, remove the
goat from the oven and
allow to rest, foil covered,
\eh (& c_dkj[i$
Serve with couscous
and a dollop of yoghurt
and fresh mint.
Ingredients
1 HAUNCH OF WILD GOAT,
AROUND 1.5KG TO 2.5KG
DEPENDING ON AGE
FOR THE MARINADE
500ML THICK GREEK
YOGHURT
JUICE AND ZEST
OF A LEMON
4 CLOVES OF GARLIC,
FINELY CHOPPED
1 HEAPED TBSP
HARISSA PASTE
1 TBSP COARSE SALT
1 TBSP CRACKED
BLACK PEPPER
1 TBSP CORIANDER SEEDS,
TOASTED AND CRUSHED
1HANDFULOF FRESH MINT,
CHOPPED
FOR COOKING
500ML OF LIGHT STOCK
OR DRY WHITE WINE
YOGHURT AND FRESHLY
CHOPPED MINT TO SERVE
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;()
Stalking
A middle-aged female in excellent condition
is bled and cleaned following the killing shot
A rare burst of sunshine
brings a rainbow to the hillside
as Barry begins his descent
punctuated by small ridges and
hillocks and bordered by high peaks
ed [_j^[h i_Z[$ >[WZ_d] b[\j je a[[f j^[
wind in my face, I cautiously climbed
each rise in turn, surveying the next
few hundred yards. An hour later,
a dozen small ascents had yielded
nothing but gorse scratches and soggy
knees when, suddenly, I saw them.
Four hundred yards ahead,
huddled in the lee of a low rocky
outcrop, around 20 goats were
grazing idly, and the binoculars
revealed a much larger group 100
the larger herd of goats broke to the
right, spooked. I held my breath and
kept my eyes locked on the smaller
group, willing them to remain
in place. They seemed unfazed,
ignoring their flighty neighbours
and continuing to graze in the shelter
of the perfect rocky backstop.
Sliding the rifle slowly forwards,
I pushed the bolt home. I scanned the
line of goats for a suitable candidate
and selected a lone adult female
separated by several feet from any
others. As the cross-hairs settled
?I was soaked in what could only be
described as goat juice and smelling
strongly of all things caprine?
yards further on. After planning
my approach, I descended again and
began to make careful tracks for the
next hill that should bring me within
50 yards of the quarry.
9hWmb_d] je j^[ ikcc_j" W YWkj_eki
peep over the top revealed that the
]eWji m[h[ ij_bb _d i_jk$ 9ebc ^WZ X[[d
right ? the unmistakable whiff of the
herd wafted towards me on a stiff
breeze now laden with raindrops.
Wriggling further forwards to
find a decent platform, I froze as
on the target, a fresh gust of breeze
peppered the lens with droplets of
rain but the view remained clear
and I squeezed the trigger.
My quarry tumbled to the ground
150 yards in front of me, while the
rest of the herd scattered out of sight.
A short scramble across the rough
grassland brought me to a middle-aged
female goat in excellent condition,
cleanly lung-shot.
The weather began to close
in quickly as I cleaned the goat,
(*I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
so I wasted no time in slinging the
beast across my shoulders and began
the long trek back to the farm.
An hour later I paused for breath at
the edge of the plateau, contemplating
the long and slippery descent to the
farmhouse far below. The clouds
broke for a moment, admitting
enough sunlight to paint a slender
rainbow across the hillside. Shoulders
aching and nostrils filled with the
heavy musk of the goat, I headed
je j^[ mWhcj^ e\9ebc縤a_jY^[d$
Pungent
>[ c[j c[ Wj j^[ XWYa Zeeh WdZ ^_i
\WY[ Xhea[ _dje W ]h_d$ 糐^Wj縤 ed[
less to worry me, anyway.? I stooped
to offload my pungent passenger
and straightened, soaked in what
could only be described as goat juice
and smelling strongly of all things
YWfh_d[$ 9ebc mh_dab[Z ^_i dei[" j^[
odour cutting through even his nasal
blockage. ?Well,? he said, sniffing
Z[[fbo" � Zed縥 ikffei[ oek縝b X[
out at the disco tonight.?
Fortunately, ?eau de goat? is only
ia_d Z[[f$ EdY[ j^[ YWhYWi[ mWi
skinned and hung in the larder my
wife calmed down a bit, and a few days
later we sat down to a slow-roasted
haunch of wild Kerry goat (see p.23).
After dinner, talk turned perhaps
inevitably to Larysa Switlyk, who
grabbed headlines in late 2018 for
posting a photo on social media
posing alongside a feral goat she had
i^ej ed ?ibWo$ ? YekbZd縥 h[c[cX[h
h[WZ_d] _\ i^[縕 [Wj[d j^[ ]eWj _d
question. But if not, and given the
superb repast we had just enjoyed,
that was most certainly her loss.
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Game shooting
Woodcock heaven
In the damp valleys of Wales, the marvellously unpredictable birds
are exhilarating and frustrating in equal measure, says John Batley
I
heard tell once that the Inuits
have 50 words for snow. Some
weeks ago, as I drove to one of
Britain?s wildest peripheries,
through a smirr of fog and drizzle,
it struck me that the Welsh must
have just as many to describe
rain. Reaching the coast, though,
visibility started to clear slightly
and after another hour, the sun
broke through.
I was on my way to see
Mike Dawnay, an old friend
who will be well known to
many readers as the ?high
priest? of Welsh woodcock
shooting. He was hosting
a day for Sam Langmead
as a result of a successful
X_Z Wj j^[ h[Y[dj 7jbWdj_Y
IWbced Jhkij WkYj_ed$ IWc
had been spurred into generosity
following an impassioned
talk given by wildlife artist and
meeZYeYa h_d][h Em[d M_bb_Wci$
He also explained that his
friends were very interested to
see driven woodcock shooting
coexisting with conservation, for
m^_Y^ C_a[ _i \Wc[Z$ 7 X_] fWhj e\
this, Mike explained, is adhering to
=M9J ]k_Z[b_d[i Xo dej i^eej_d]
X[\eh[ ' :[Y[cX[h$ 7i h[WZ[hi m_bb
know, this practice helps to ensure
that the birds shot are more likely
to be migrants, which helps to protect
the indigenous population.
Flight pattern
J^[ ZWo X[]Wd m_j^ X[Wj[hi WdZ =kdi
gathered round Mike for the briefing.
From small pheasant syndicates to
grand grouse moors, such scenes will
be familiar but when the flight pattern
of the quarry is as marvellously
unpredictable as the woodcock,
a firm safety reminder is a must.
When Mike and his head beater,
Kenny, first started putting on
ZWoi je][j^[h" J^WjY^[h mWi ij_bb
_d:emd_d]Ijh[[j$Jm[djo#[_]^j
?There was a
flurry of small
birds before the
first woodcock
rose and flitted
through the trees?
John Langmead, one
of three brothers
shooting that day,
lines up a shot
(,I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
Guns, beaters and
dogs make their way
along muddy tracks
to the next drive
Mike Dawnay, the ?high priest? of woodcock
years later, they still enjoy it as much
as they have ever done. Following
the briefing, we wandered through
sun-dappled woods to Gorse Gully,
the first drive of the day. We were five
excited Guns, five thoughtful beaters
WdZ '+ j^h_bb[Z Ze]i" Yecfh_i_d] '(
springers, one German wirehaired
pointer and two cockers.
Like Kenny, the beating team ?
made up of Peter, Ady, Tom and Clive
? are all old hands. Gorse Gully is two
grassy fields split by a small, steepsided valley with banks of gorse and
thick undergrowth. Warm and damp
in the bottom, and far away from
predators, it is woodcock heaven; just
the place to lie up in the day before
flighting out to feed at night.
Three of Mike?s five beaters went
into the valley with their dogs while
two remained on the fields outside
and put their dogs in from the edges.
The Guns were placed beyond,
walking slowly down the hill parallel
to the beaters, who started their slow
drive down the valley.
One Gun on each side walked
level with the beating line and
a second Gun started 30 to 40 yards
further down, keeping this distance
throughout. This arrangement allows
the best chances of seeing woodcock
as they break forwards, backwards
or sideways, out of the valley.
The start of any drive is always
full of anticipation; the start of any
drive for a wild bird is even more
so, especially if it is the ?first time
over?. There are some signs that
help to quell the worry that the
drive will be empty. When
the beaters go into the
undergrowth, do we see
the flurried exodus of blackbirds,
thrushes, sparrows and the like? If
so, it is a good sign that the drive has
not been disturbed by any predators
such as foxes, farm cats or loose dogs.
Hesitation
As the beaters began pushing
through, a rustling and fluttering
could be heard as the little birds fled
their bushes. Then the first woodcock
whizzed out, angled across the field,
and was away. A shot rang out but,
unsurprisingly, the bird flew on.
When Guns are new to this type of
shooting, they are often so conscious
of the safety of their fellows, the
beaters and the dogs, that there is
some hesitation until several birds
have settled the nerves.
The team were no exception and as
more woodcock flew from the valley,
saluted by the cry of ?Forward? or
?Back?, everyone settled down to
the task at hand and it wasn?t long
before the first bird fell. Then another
flushed from the valley and John
Langmead claimed his first of the
day, soon followed by another to his
brother Sam. The beaters progressed
and more woodcock rose until we
reached the end of the drive where we
calculated that 10 had lifted and three
had been shot ? a great start to the day.
It was a joy to see how much the
team were enjoying something new.
In the dense woods of west Wales,
you work hard for your birds,
shooting is instinctive and
there is no time to waste.
Snipe and duck
We headed to the snipe bog,
which took us over a post-and-rail
fence, down a steep grassy slope
and across a stream. In front of
the Guns, on the other side of the
bushes, was a big wet patch many
hundreds of yards long. The beaters
and the dogs gradually came into
view, struggling through the bog,
and both snipe and duck lifted in
abundance. Climbing on the breeze,
through another iteration of Welsh
rain, the birds lifted over the Guns
at a considerable height. A volley of
shots rang out but just a few birds fell,
a testament to their well-deserved
reputation as one of the canniest
flyers on any game card.
Next up was Freshwater
East, comprising more tangled
undergrowth, this time beneath trees
separating two grass fields. The Guns
were placed either side of the belt
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;(-
Game shooting
Guns wait for the
birds ? be they
snipe, woodcock or
pheasant ? to rise
The dense Welsh
woods contain
healthy numbers
of woodcock
of trees, two to a side, with the fifth
standing as a backstop at the start
of the drive. Mike, with two
Labradors at his heels and 30 years
of experience, is like a ringmaster,
overseeing, encouraging and yet not
imposing himself on the proceedings.
He also carries a gun, a 28-bore
side-by-side that he uses to great effect
should a bird escape from somewhere
where there is no Gun placed.
A. REYNOLDS / ALAMY
Flurry of birds
The beaters began their long walk
through the undergrowth and, once
again, there was a flurry of small birds
before the first woodcock rose and
flitted through the trees to be shot by
Sam Langmead. There is something
very special about seeing a woodcock
in full flight; its glorious colours, the
long beak and the wings angled back
as it flies. The drive progressed slowly
with the Guns keeping pace with the
beaters. Another nine birds lifted and
a couple were added to the bag.
It is usually woodcock and snipe
that spring up as rare surprises. In
this case, it was a single hen pheasant
? tumbled by Jack Smallman ? that
added diversity to the bag.
?There is something special about seeing
a woodcock in full flight; its glorious
colours, long beak and wings angled back?
Over lunch the Guns discussed
the morning. Everyone seemed to
relish the chance to walk the ground
with the beaters instead of standing
in line waiting for birds. There were
also a few comments about how the
bag size was not ?the be all and end
all of the day?.
Next was the Philadelphia Belt. The
beaters stood inside the trees among
the brambles. The Guns were on the
outside, walking the grass fields in
line with them. There was a feeling of
confidence among the team and the
shooting improved, resulting in a few
more birds being added to the bag.
Moving on to the Downs, we
climbed a grassy hill, then turned
to descend a difficult slope deep
in a woody valley that held
a healthy number
of woodcock.
Mike usually finishes the day
with an evening flight. Guns line out
some 40 to 50 yards apart, ready to
bag a few more birds as they rouse
themselves and flit out under the
moon to dig for delicacies in the soft
ground. The shooting isn?t easy as it
is almost dark and the birds are very
hard to spot in the failing light, but it is
as exciting as it comes. Sadly, though,
the Guns had a long way to drive so
missed the experience this time.
Sam, his two brothers, Will and
John, plus Richard Symonds and Jack
Smallman said the day had been
a revelation; shooting and being
aware of the need for conservation,
so not shooting at everything that
flies but picking birds with care.
As Mike always says: ?Wild
quarry shooting is about sipping
sport, not gulping it.?
One of the dogs
returns with its prize
(.I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
The perfect way to start the year!
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LADIES
BOOTS
Ammunition
Fibre wads? It?s a noWe are all beginning to rethink how we use plastic; is it time for the
whole shooting industry to ban plastic wads? Tom Payne investigates
P. QUAGLIANA / A. HOOK / M. BEEDIE / HERRA KUULAPAA - PRECIRES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
W
hether we like it or
not, shooting is facing
a lot of hurdles and
many of them have
been created by us. The temptation
to sweep issues under the carpet, in
the hope that they might disappear,
is part of human nature ? but it
doesn?t work.
As an industry we seem to spend
most of our time defending and not
enough time promoting. Greed has
played a big part in many issues we
face but also I worry that shooting
dwells too much on the past and
fails to think about the future.
If we want generations to come
to enjoy the outdoor life that we do,
we are going to have to grasp a few
nettles. The environmental issues
facing the planet are huge.
I called Dylan Williams at the Royal
Berkshire Shooting School (RBSS)
for his view on plastic wads. It clearly
wasn?t the first time he?d thought
about it. ?It?s time to stop, think and
listen or we will be in a huge mess,? he
warned. ?The RBSS has never bought
plastic-wadded cartridges for use on
the school but, as of 1 March, we will
insist on being 100 per cent fibre only,
which includes what clients bring.?
The shooting community has
always prided itself on its conservation
credentials and rails against those who
despoil our countryside, from the flytippers to the litter-dropping hikers.
However, there are still countless
Guns who think it is fine to shoot
plastic wads on game days in the
selfish hope that it might allow them
to hit slightly higher, faster birds.
But the figures are stark.
A plastic wad weighs 2.5g and
a supermarket plastic bag weighs
5g. No prizes for working out
that anyone who doubletaps a long partridge
TWITTER POLL
Do you use plastic wads?
29% Yes, on clays 16% On clays and game
55% I never use them
follow us @shootingtimes
Respondents: 447
)(I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
with plastic has just effectively
dumped a plastic bag in the ditch.
When you think that some people
go through a slab a day, the reality
becomes apparent.
Poison
I guarantee that every perpetrator
would fly into a fit of rage if they saw
a vehicle driver tearing down the
lanes, throwing hundreds of plastic
bags into the verge, so what gives us
the right to poison the land?
Toxic as those wads may be, there
are some who protest that they do
produce a better performance.
brainer
In a bid to find out whether that
view holds any weight, I did a little
unscientific polling. Robert Everitt,
head of sales at Hull Cartridge and
keen grouse Shot, believes Hull has
always led the way on fibre wads:
?It is an acknowledged fact that
we produce the smoothest and
most consistent fibre wad highperformance cartridges in the UK.
We continually develop our loads
through extensive in-field testing.
?Our High Pheasant Extreme is
capable of shooting any sporting
bird in the UK and for the side-byside shooters we offer Imperial
Game 28g No.4, which has blistering
performance and very low recoil,?
he added.
Wise words
Robert is a spectacular salesman but
his pitch holds water and his parting
words were wise: ?Plastic wads
don?t make up for poor accuracy;
a well-placed shot with fibre wad
will always outperform a sloppy
shot with plastic.?
Game shooting instructor
and top game Shot Simon
Ward takes a similar
line: ?I have been
Top left: Even
on a clay
ground it is not
always possible
to collect every
spent cartridge
?A well-placed shot with
fibre wad will always
outperform a sloppy
shot with plastic?
Ammunition
In this high-speed sequence (L-R),
the cartridge ? and the wad ? is shown
emerging from the barrel and fragmenting
to release the shotgun pellets
using fibre wad ammunition for all
of my game shooting for the past 20
o[Whi" ^[ iW_Z fhekZbo$ I_ced ^Wi
been involved in developing fibremWZZ[Z YWhjh_Z][i m_j^ =Wc[Xeh[
over the past decade and now believes
the choice is a no-brainer, saying:
糓^o mekbZ ? mWdj je b[Wl[ j^[
countryside littered with plastic??
7 Iekj^ 7\h_YWd \h_[dZ" CWhYki
Janssen, previously editor of
Fieldsports Magazine and now
XhWdZ Z_h[Yjeh Wj IY^?[b"
is a conservationist through
WdZ j^hek]^$ Co c[dj_ed
e\ fbWij_Y hWj^[h e?[dZ[Z
^_c$ 糐^Wj Wdoed[
would consider
using plastic wad
cartridges for game
shooting shows
a flagrant disregard
for the countryside,
and for the rest of the
i^eej_d] Yecckd_jo$ ?j
is irresponsible and, quite
frankly, reprehensible,? he said.
All the rage
CWha EiXehd[" `e_dj emd[h e\
sporting agency William Powell,
confirmed that he would like to
stop selling plastic wads as soon
Wi feii_Xb[$ >[ medZ[h[Z m^[j^[h
paper case cartridges with felt or
other biodegradable wads ?might
become all the rage again?.
John Queen, headkeeper at
Linhope estate, said: ?Linhope has
a 100 per cent plastic wad ban. We
pride ourselves on maintaining our
beautiful estate and many more
i^ekbZ\ebbemik_j$9edi[hlWj_ed
?Anyone who double-taps a partridge has
effectively dumped a plastic bag in a ditch?
is at Lord James?s [Percy, owner of
B_d^ef[S ^[Whj$ ?j _i kdWYY[fjWXb[
to be shooting plastic wads for any
form of game shooting.?
? mWi Z[b_]^j[Z Xo j^[ YWbbi WYheii
the industry to stamp out plastic wad
use but a comment from shooting
_dijhkYjeh 7dZo 9Wijb[ ijhkYa
a nerve. ?We need to look to our
MehbZ WdZ ;khef[Wd YbWo i^eej_d]
organisations,? he said.
�j縤 j^ei[ ]koi m^e
d[[Z je fbWo W cW`eh
role in pushing this
campaign forward.?
>[ i[[c[Z je j^_da
that, even if the game
shooters get on board,
j^[ Wif_h_d] YbWo I^eji
might need a bit of
f[hikWZ_d]$ ?d iec[ mWoi"
the clay shooting fraternity
c_]^j X[ `kij_?[Z _d iWo_d] j^[ Wh[W
they are shooting over is smaller,
therefore the impact is less, but they
are still covering the countryside in
fbWij_Y$ ?d iec[ YWi[i" j^[ mWZi YWd
be picked up but for those registered
shoots that operate on farms around
the country on the 28-day rule, is this
the case?
J^ek]^ j^[h[ Wh[ Ykhh[djbo iec[
YbWo I^eji ki_d] fbWij_Y � WdZ ]_l[d
j^Wj j^[h[ _i W f[hY[_l[Z WZlWdjW][ �
there are few of their competitors who
would be prepared to disadvantage
themselves. But the answer is surely
W i_cfb[ ed[ � XWd fbWij_YWdZYh[Wj[
a level playing field.
)*I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
? Wc dej W YbWo I^ej" j^ek]^" ie
? Wia[Z iec[ed[ m^e _i$
CWha M_di[h" m^e i^eeji YbWoi
internationally, said that if he is
shooting in a controlled ?shooting
ground? environment, he doesn?t
see using plastic wads as an issue.
But, crucially, he doesn?t believe
they give much of an advantage.
� b_a[ je j[bb j^[ ijeho e\ m^[d
? i^ej j^[ HeoWb 8[hai^_h[ ^_]^ jem[h
challenge of 25, which featured some
of the hardest high birds you will ever
i^eej"� ^[ iW_Z$ � c_ijWa[dbo f_Ya[Z
kf iec[ =Wc[Xeh[ (.] De$. ?Xh[
wads instead of plastic and shot
a phenomenal 23x25, consisting of
one of the highest scores to be shot
X[\eh[ j^[ ?dWb" m^[h[ ? m[dj ed je
m_d j^[ el[hWbb >_]^ =kd fh_p[$
� mekbZd縥 X[ Wj Wbb mehh_[Z _\
going forward we all had to shoot fibre
only, so long as everyone adhered to
the rule,? he added. ?Where game
shooting is concerned, we are doing
ourselves no favours as an industry
ki_d] fbWij_Y mWZi$ Ed Xej^ \hedji"
? m_bb X[ _dj[h[ij[Z jei[[m^Wjj^[
future brings.?
For that future, the time has surely
come to get our house in order on
this before we are regulated from
j^[ ekji_Z[" m^_Y^ mekbZ X[ XWZ FH
\eh j^[ ifehj m[ bel[$ J^[ medZ[h\kb
thing about this issue is that we can
Wbb ijWhj cWa_d] W Z_?[h[dY[ j^[ d[nj
time we order some cartridges. Let?s
make 2019 the year we make the
shooting field plastic-free.
Catlow?s notebook
WITH LAURENCE CATLOW
LAURENCE
CATLOW,A
PASSIONATE
SHOOTERAND
ANGLERFOR
MORETHAN
40YEARS,
HASWRITTEN
FIVEBOOKS
ABOUTSPORT
WITHROD
ANDGUN.HIS
NOTEBOOK
RUNSINTHE
FIRSTISSUEOF
EVERY MONTH.
Friends, pheasants
dogs and rainbows
High Park hosts only a few days a season so the prospect of shooting
only as far as lunchtime was deeply dispiriting for all concerned
D. MOORE / M. AUSTIN
I
t was the evening of our second
High Park shoot and shortly after
7pm I was doing what I almost
always do shortly after 7pm.
You have guessed what I was doing;
I was raising the first essential glass
of dry sherry to my lips and taking
the first delectable sips of this lifeenhancing fluid.
Not that I felt in desperate need
of much life-enhancement, because
the day had gone well ? when I had
been convinced that it was certain
to go very badly indeed. Conditions
had been distinctly challenging but,
despite this, a decent bag had been
made and I was certain that our
guests had gone home happy with
their sport. This is what we always
hope for at High Park. Against the
odds, this hope had again been
fulfilled, which was a considerable
relief and a profound delight,
meaning that each sip of sherry tasted
even more wonderful than usual.
Hope fulfilled is always a cause for
celebration, especially when it comes
as a surprise. On this occasion it had
come as a most almighty surprise,
because the weathermen had insisted
that we should have a most miserable
time; we should all be dripping wet
and freezing cold within five minutes
of starting. I feared that, even if we
managed to stick it out, the malevolent
conspiracy of wind and wetness would
mean that birds would refuse to fly or
fly the wrong way or fly so fast that no
one would hit them.
We would be lucky to finish the
day with more than half-a-dozen
pheasants to show for it all.
),I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
We shoot High Park six times
a season at the most, with three days
before Christmas and three days
in January if we still have enough
X_hZi$ Ie _\ W ZWo _i beij je eh hk_d[Z
by the weather, it makes a big hole in
our season?s sport. I had found this
prospect deeply dispiriting while
drinking my after-breakfast coffee
and wondering whether we should
be able to shoot as far as lunch.
Demoralised
Three of our guests were making
journeys of more than two hours,
which meant that the likelihood
of sending them home early with
nothing but a soaking demoralised
me even more. I was not happy nor
confident when I drove to greet the
[_]^j=kdi�Wbbfeb_j[bo[Whbo� Wi
Catlow?s notebook
under the wind and were too low to
shoot. There were pheasants that
surrendered to the wind and were
swept away from the Guns. There
were pheasants that fell out of the sky
in response to shot; there were those
that flew down the line and were still
flying when they had passed the last
Gun ? it was a strong team.
I shot a single pheasant with
a single cartridge and put my gun
away at lunchtime because I thought
I might be more useful with a flag. And
by lunchtime I had definitely decided
flew out of the Douglas firs, flying
under a rainbow then out over the
Guns. It was dramatic and beautiful.
I think both birds fell. They were the
day?s last and they made an altogether
fitting conclusion to our sport.
Temptation
You will understand now why those
two essential glasses of dry sherry
were drunk in a mood of quiet
festivity. I confess that, as I reflected
with such pleasure on the unexpected
outcome of the day, I was tempted to
?The sky cleared and the landscape
shone in light as bright as diamonds?
All High Park?s guests enjoyed challenging
shooting on a wild but rather wonderful day
Left: Sir Tripod, the three-legged springer
well as headkeeper Tony Smith and
his wife Lizzie, and the two friends
who had volunteered to beat.
All were condemned, I felt sure,
to endure the foul cocktail of horrors
that the weather was to serve them.
I was surprised they did not look like
people with a day full of pain ahead
of them. I assumed that, though there
was despair in their hearts, they were
determined to put a brave face on it by
pretending to enjoy themselves.
Horizontal showers
I said the sort of things that shoot
captains say before sport begins,
then the day unfolded. The wind
raged endlessly from the east, driving
lashing horizontal showers, but there
was not the unbroken downpour
predicted. Between the showers the
sky cleared and the whole landscape
shone in light as bright as diamonds;
sometimes there were three rainbows
in the sky together.
It was wild but often rather
wonderful, though it was never
comfortable, especially when the sky
turned black and pitiless showers
battered our backs or our faces.
The wind made things very
difficult. We cannot adapt our drives
more than a little at High Park, chiefly
because it would mean, on so small
a shoot, driving birds straight over
the boundaries. So we coped as well
as we could. There were pheasants
that rose high on the wind and flew
over the Guns like feathered rockets.
There were pheasants that sneaked
that I was enjoying myself and I could
see that Tony had finally relaxed.
In the afternoon we did two more
drives. For these the wind was almost
in our favour. Some spectacular birds
m[h[ i^ej$ M[ ?d_i^[Z j^[ ZWo m_j^ )pheasants and three pigeons. Without
the gale we should, with such capable
Guns, have equalled or surpassed
the record bag of 55 pheasants shot
on our first day two weeks earlier.
But what did this matter? All our
guests had some shooting and they all
brought down some good birds. The
conditions had been challenging and
the challenge had been met.
I almost forgot to mention what for
me was perhaps the most memorable
moment of the day, when two birds
promote further reflection by filling
my glass for an almost unparalleled
third time. Temptation was resisted;
exercising iron self-control, I put
the cork back in the bottle and the
bottle back in the fridge, turning
my attention instead to pheasant
meat balls and half a bottle of red
wine. The latter I drank very slowly
in celebration of pheasants and
rainbows, of friends and their dogs
and of Sir Tripod in particular.
The dog had ? as usual ?
misbehaved throughout the day
but had found and brought in the
only bird that his master had shot.
It seemed only fair that his service
should be rewarded by the gift of
his master?s last meat ball.
Even High Park
headkeeper Tony Smith
eventually relaxed
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;)-
Gundog training
A long and winding road
Training a gundog is like taking one step forward and two steps
back, warns Ellena Swift ? the unexpected must always be expected
Ellena ensures her young
dogs are accustomed to
ducks and chickens so they
learn not to chase them
N. RIDLEY
A
friend on social media
shared an amusing
picture that rang true
with my chosen career
and passion. It shows an unbelievably
complicated winding road that zigzags
across the countryside in an erratic,
unpredictable and inconsistent way.
As the crow flies the distance travelled
is short but the road taken to get there
is extraordinarily long.
At the beginning of the road is
a label saying ?Where you start?
and at the end of the road the label
is ?your first dog trial?. The picture
is called ?what it is like training
a dog? and it is so true.
You can feel like you take one
step forwards and two back. Every
dog throws up new challenges and
has its own unique personality. This
means that as a trainer you never stop
learning and will never know it all.
What works with one dog will not
work for another.
Despite training my dogs from
eight weeks old, I still attend shoots,
competitions and training sessions
where something is thrown up that
either I, the dog or both are simply
not prepared for. In the past fortnight
alone I have had three particular
incidences that I didn?t expect and
therefore hadn?t prepared for. With
this in mind when working your dogs,
it is so important to expect and train
for the unexpected.
In pursuit
Keepa is now two and a half years
old and was recently hunting for
a wounded hen bird in a small bit
of cover. I was pretty confident that
he would find it and he was doing
a grand job. I had relaxed and in
some way ?switched off?. My brain
was suddenly snapped back into
action when I heard an unexpected
noise; a chicken. It was clear that the
chicken was being pursued from the
noise it was making and it was pretty
obvious what was pursuing it.
Two pheasants flushed from
the cover, followed by a rather
).I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
flustered cockerel and a black
Labrador at top speed. As I fumbled
for my whistle, he turned and hunted
in the opposite direction. Fortunately,
he has grown up around runner
ducks, chickens, horses, sheep and
been introduced to cattle. He has
been taught from an early age that
these are to be ignored.
Another incident happened
not long after. I was fortunate to
be on peg, rather than behind the
line picking-up, and had Keepa and
my open bitch, Nala, sitting with
me. On one particular drive,
I managed to shoot two birds. I sent
Keepa for the closer one and Nala for
the further one, where she had to
drop a long way down the bank. As
she got to the bird, another dog burst
out of the cover to rip the bird out of
her mouth. I whistled her back and
left that incident there.
Both these situations are obviously
very different and neither could have
been predicted, but it doesn?t mean
they won?t happen.
Gundog training
IN DETAIL
KEEPA: LEARNED BEHAVIOUR
KEEPA IS NOW attending shoots and
working every week. He is doing well and
coping with everything that is thrown at
him. A lot of this is down to him but I am
careful with what I ask of him, as he is
still a relatively inexperienced dog. For
example, when I sent the older dog for
the longer retrieve where I had less
control of the situation, it wasn?t by
accident. I was well aware that certain
dogs on the shoot were mostly out of
control once off the lead and that this
upsetting incident was a possibility. My
older bitch simply brushed the incident
aside, whereas for a young dog it could
have had a damaging and lasting effect.
When out beating there is often one
dog in the line that has to be on lead for
the vast majority of the drive. This is
usually due to the dog?s heel, recall and
close hunting being totally non-existent.
As soon as the dog is taken off lead it
is gone. Cue a great deal of shouting,
whistling and occasionally swearing
from the handler and keeper.
This exact circumstance was
presented to me recently. I had Keepa
with me in the beating line and had got
him to hunt lightly. He had stayed close,
listened to the stop and recall whistle,
then heeled when asked. However,
as soon as I saw the rogue dog being
unleashed, I immediately stopped Keepa
hunting and brought him back to heel.
Nothing influences a young dog like
Choosing which retrieves
she sends Keepa for
allows Ellena to make
sure they have the best
possible outcome
another dog. And this particular dog?s
behaviour was not something I wanted
mine to copy.
Making a noise is one of the hardest
undesirable behaviours to be able to stop
and it can easily be learned. So when
I have Keepa or another young dog out,
I avoid noisy dogs. As a trainer/handler
it is up to me to select the best situations
to put Keepa in to get the best outcome.
So I am still very selective with the
retrieves I send him for. As he gains more
confidence and experience, I can begin to
relax a little more, safe in the knowledge
that as he gets older he will be less likely
to be influenced by certain situations.
?Nothing influences a young dog like
another dog and this dog?s behaviour was
not something I wanted mine to copy?
HUMANS AND OTHER HAZARDS
IT IS NOT only bad dogs and livestock
I am very aware of; people can be as big
a problem as anything else. During break
times during a shoot day, if I cannot put
my dogs away in the car, I sit them down
out the way of everyone. This is because
I do not want them being trodden on,
playing, fighting, scrounging and so on.
My older dogs know that whatever
happens, they are not to move. However,
nothing is more infuriating than a young
dog sitting beautifully when someone
goes over and starts feeding or fussing
the dog. The dog then moves and is
rewarded for doing so by the unhelpful
stranger. I always hover relatively near
to them so I can intervene and stop any
unwanted behaviour ? from the human.
Putting the dogs in the car
during break times at a
shoot means they are away
from unwanted attention
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;)/
Gundog training
IN DETAIL
HUMANS AND OTHER HAZARDS (CONT.)
Another scenario ? which I found
utterly bizarre ? was on a let day. I had
sent my dog over a fence and into some
cover to look for a wounded bird. The Gun
who had shot it was standing next to the
cover, watching my dog hunt. As she
emerged with the bird and began to come
back to me, he tried to take the bird from
her. He had no idea how damaging and
confusing this is to a young dog in
training, nor how infuriating it is to
someone attempting to train that dog.
Fortunately, my bitch nimbly sidestepped him and returned to me at warp
speed. I explained to the Gun why he
should not do that, but I am now very
aware of where my dogs are and where
everyone else is.
DEALING WITH THE UNPREDICTABLE
ONE OF THE most obvious scenarios
to prepare your dog for, which is often
overlooked, is when it cannot find
a retrieve. How often, when training
with dummies or cold game in the
summer, do we send the dog when we
know nothing is there? I run this drill
very rarely. However, on most days of
beating and picking-up you will ask your
dog to hunt where there is no retrieve
nor bird to flush. When this happens, it is
important that you can get the dog back.
I often hear people proudly exclaiming
that when they send their dog for a bird,
the dog will not return until it has found
something. While this drive and
determination is certainly desirable,
the lack of recall and control is not. I have
been practising this a little with Keepa
when I am out picking-up. I make sure
that not only do I follow through with
the stop whistle but also the recall.
If he hasn?t found the bird, he needs
to know that it is not a negative thing when
he is called in ? he hasn?t done anything
wrong, we simply move on.
?When beating
and picking-up, you
will ask your dog
to hunt where there
is no retrieve nor
bird to flush?
Fences are another unpredictable,
and sometimes unpleasant, obstacle
to find your dog faced with, particularly
where barbed wire is concerned. Even the
most vigilant handler can be caught out.
Three years ago, as one of my dogs was
returning to me at the end of a drive
through a wood, she suddenly stopped
absolutely still, with one of her back legs
slightly elevated behind her. I recognised
a look of panic on her face ? fortunately
she was close enough for me to see her.
I immediately ran to her to find that
an old bit of barbed wire fencing had fallen
down and become buried in the ground.
A bit of barb was stuck on the inside of her
leg, meaning the only way for her to move
forward would have been to rip her leg
open. I managed to unhook her, leaving
only a small puncture wound.
While all these particular scenarios
can be difficult to predict, it is vital that,
as a handler, you are always aware of your
surroundings and the terrain. Make sure
know the ground you are working and be
prepared with wire cutters, a good firstaid kit and a local vet?s phone number
just in case.
BRIAR: SHOOT DAY EXPERIENCE
UNLIKE KEEPA, Briar is a long way off
being trained in a shoot scenario. She
is coming along nicely still covering the
basic skills but in new situations. While
she is not ready to work on a shoot,
I have begun to introduce her to that
environment. During lunchtimes now
on a shoot day, I let Briar out of the car
for a little walk then get her simply to sit.
That is all I want her to do at this stage.
Obviously, there are dogs, people
and many interesting smells that she
would love to investigate but, as I have
previously explained, she needs to learn
to ignore all that and focus on me and the
job in hand. A simple sit with these
distractions is enough for her young mind
at this stage. If I found she required a lead
because it was too much, I wouldn?t ask
her. I would give her a little walk then put
her back in the car.
Briar is getting used to the environment on a shoot, being taken out of the car for a short walk
*&I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
Patrick Laurie
Country Diary
An ancient hedge, cut back and bolstered with a stockproof fence, has
bounced back to provide vital cover for all sorts of birds and wildlife
Y
ALAMY
ou hardly need a degree
in ecology to realise that
hedgerows are crucial for all
kinds of farmland wildlife. Long,
narrow strips of coppiced ?woodland? run
across open country and provide amazing
habitat for all kinds of birds and insects
that would otherwise be sadly lacking.
If we needed evidence of how important
hedgerows can be, we have only to look
at places where they have been removed;
large arable ?elds that have grown over the
past 50 years until they resemble prairies.
We suffer from a decline in hedgerows
in Galloway, which is largely because local
agriculture is focused solely on livestock.
Our old hedges tend to be fenced off and
forgotten until they grow out and collapse,
and there is little incentive to create new
ones from scratch.
I was snif?ng around the idea of hedges
15 years ago when I left school and started
to stretch my legs in conservation and
gamekeeping. My family farm has several
stretches of old hawthorn hedge that had
been sadly neglected for a generation. The
trees had grown 20ft tall and many had
died altogether. Thrushes and blackbirds
plundered the berries but these old rows
were failing to deliver on their full potential
for wildlife. We discovered that there was
funding to do some work on these hedges
and I jumped into the job with both feet.
I began to cut back a tall, leggy old
section of hedge in a bid to regenerate the
stock. Some of the trees were clearly too
old and would not recover, but they could
be replaced and it was heartening to make
a start and restore something from the
roots. Those were the days before I had
a chainsaw and I cut down the entire hedge
by hand, working a bow saw until my hands
were covered with blisters. I would often
arrive on site with half an hour of daylight
to spare in the short winter days, cutting
down two or three of the tall hawthorns
before woodcock would start to ?ight
past and I would return home.
Once the trees were down, I built
a stockproof fence along the entire 300
yards of the hedge, then became distracted
and headed for an extended trip to South
Africa. I gave the project very little thought
A male bull?nch in hawthorn which, like many other hedgerow bushes, provides a vital food source
until last month, when I returned to see the
fruits of my labour.
Fifteen years have passed and the hedge
has sprung back to life with astonishing
enthusiasm and vigour. Thanks to the
stockproof fence, the hawthorns now
provide the kind of thick-bottomed cover
that is so crucial for birds and wildlife.
Brown hares have returned to the glen
over the past 10 years ? they are now
a relatively common sight when they were
absolutely unheard of before. There are all
?The hawthorns
now provide the
thick-bottomed
cover that is so
crucial for birds?
kinds of intriguing explanations for this,
but thick hedgerow cover for leverets
is surely a contributing factor.
I saw bull?nches and wrens ?ickering
through the brambles as I walked the
hedge, and some of the new hawthorn
shoots are already as thick as my thigh
and tall enough to support woodpigeon
nests. This is a great sign because big
nests are liable to be colonised by long-
eared owls, which I believe are the ?gold
standard?of hedge-dwellers.
Perhaps 60 per cent of the old
hawthorns have recovered from the cutting.
This is good, since I remember that many
were ancient and had rotted away horribly
inside. Given their condition and antiquity,
the trees were fairly sparsely distributed
anyway, so the high mortality after cutting
has produced a rather gappy effect.
This wouldn?t be ideal if it was going
to serve as an agricultural boundary.
However, given that it simply has to serve
as a corridor for birds and wildlife to use as
they move across green, heavily improved
sheep pastures, the effect is more than
satisfactory. I would like to ?ll some of
these gaps with new hazel trees and I have
been trying to propagate seed from local
crab apples to add some fresh variety.
I have planted many new stretches
of hedge over the past ?ve years, but this
?rst attempt has become advanced proof
that healthy hedgerows can deliver major
bene?ts for wildlife.
Patrick Laurie is a project manager
at the Heather Trust. He has a particular
focus on blackgrouse conservation
and farms Galloway cattle in southwest Scotland.
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;*'
Served with a chive
mash, this roast loin
of hare with chocolate
and redcurrant sauce
is a satisfying dish
*(I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
Game Cookery
Hare
Prepared well and cooked with care, hare is a rich and gamy treat for
the tastebuds. Jose Souto explains how to get the best from this meat
I
n the UK we have two species
of hare: the brown hare (Lepus
europaeus) and the mountain or blue
hare (Lepus timidus). The brown
hare is the larger of the two, growing to
around 3.5kg to 4kg. It can be found across
the UK, with a stronghold in East Anglia.
They are a species of the woods but have
adapted to live on arable land quite well.
The mountain hare is the brown hare?s
smaller cousin, with most growing to
around 3kg. These hares are distinct in that
their coats moult out from the grey/blue to
the stunning pure white ?eece of the winter
months, helping them to blend in with the
snowy peaks. Mountain hares live out on
the open hill but will take shelter in small
burrows when the weather turns. They eat
a lot of heather and lichen, which gives
them a different ?avour to the brown hare.
Neither species is easy to hunt with birds
of prey; the brown because of its size, speed
and cunning and the mountain because of
where it is found ? the hills and mountains
of the Scottish Highlands make for an
exhausting trek. They are tricky to get
close to and can turn and jump 5ft into the
air to avoid the grasp of a closing raptor.
We eat few hares in the UK. Indeed,
around 90 per cent of those harvested
here go abroad. This is mainly due to the
strong in terms of ?avour and smell, which
can put people off. Secondly, it is a mammal
and as such has parts that are tender and
will cook quickly (the ?rst-class cuts such as
the loins) and parts that are tougher and will
therefore take longer to cook (second-class
cuts such as the shoulders and legs).
?We eat few hares here ? when it comes to
cooking them we are stuck in a time warp?
fact that when it comes to cooking hare we
seem to be stuck in a time warp. Not many
chefs look beyond the jugged hare recipe of
old, a dish that to many of today?s tastes is
strong and unappealing. Even the process
by which the hare?s blood is collected then
later used to thicken the cooking juices
sounds unsavoury to many. But it does not
need to be like this. Hare is a fantastic meat
if you cook it well and with care.
There are a couple of things to
remember about hare. First, its meat is
I gut and skin my hares as soon as I can
then wash the whole animal in cold water
two or three times. This will tone down the
strong odour and taste without detracting
from its fantastic natural ?avour. Cut the
hare into two shoulders, two legs, one
saddle and one rib end. Remove the silvery
sinew from the saddle but leave the loins
on the bone.
The legs and shoulders are for stewing
and braising dishes, the loin is for roasting
and the rib end is for making sauces.
ROAST LOIN OF HARE WITH A CHOCOLATE & REDCURRANT SAUCE
Ingredients
VEGETABLE OIL FOR FRYING
2 RIB ENDS OF HARE, CHOPPED
UP WITH BONES ON TO 1IN PIECES
� ONION, FINELY CHOPPED
2CLOVESGARLIC,FINELYCHOPPED
絊TICKCELERY,FINELYCHOPPED
1 CARROT, FINELY CHOPPED
DESSERT SPOON TOMATO PUREE
1 GLASS OF RED WINE
1 SPRIG OF THYME
500ML OF GAME STOCK
2 GOOD-SIZED HARE SADDLES
25G OF REDCURRANT JELLY
STEVE LEE STUDIOS
10G OF DARK 65 PER CENT
CHOCOLATE
THE METHOD
Serves 4
1
Fry the bones in hot vegetable oil to
get good colour. Remove the bones
from the pan and in the same pan fry
the onion and garlic for 5 minutes.
2
Add the carrot and celery, cook for
another 6 to 8 minutes then add
the bones and tomato puree. Cook for
another 5 to 6 minutes then add wine
and reduce by �.
3
Now add the stock, reduce by �
then pass through a fine sieve
to get rid of the bones and vegetables.
4
The sauce should be reduced
until it is the consistency of single
cream. Bring the sauce to the boil.
Add the redcurrant jelly, stir in and
allow to melt.
5
Bring the sauce down to a very
slight simmer then put it to one side
on the stove. It should stay hot but not
boil or simmer.
6
Heat a frying pan to smoking hot,
season the hare loin, seal it all over
then place it in the oven at 180癈 for 8
minutes. Remove it from the oven and let
it rest for 5 minutes, but do not cover it.
7
Chop the dark chocolate into small
pieces and gradually whisk it into
the sauce. It will separate at first but
as you whisk it, it will emulsify into
the sauce.
8
Cut the loins off the saddle and
slice. Serve with a chive mash and
the sauce poured over the top.
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;*)
Gundogs
Myrtle, a German
shorthaired
pointer, won her
?rst open trial
in October
Myrtle is on her way
D. TOMLINSON
One of our Dog of the Week stars is gaining more experience to fulfil
her potential as a future field trial champion, says David Tomlinson
WHEN MYRTLE,
Harriet Lampart?s German
shorthaired pointer (GSP),
starred as Dog of the Week
in March last year, her ?ambition? was
to become a field trial champion. She
is halfway there, having won her first
open trial in October. This qualified
her for the HPR Championship,
held on the Swinton Park estate last
month, a major achievement for dog
and handler.
This was Harriet?s first experience
of the championship and one she
enjoyed enormously. Though she
has been working dogs for the past
10 years, it was only in 2015 that
she started competing with Myrtle,
her regular picking-up dog. Myrtle,
who is five years old, comes from
a distinguished line of GSPs, and was
bred by Lucie Hustler, winner of the
HPR Championship three years ago.
Myrtle?s dam is Aytee Harvest Havoc
and sire Zilverien Moonlight. Two of
her litter siblings also qualified for
this year?s championship, and one
of them ? her brother, Aytee Jumbo
Jet of Islasbraw, owned and handled
by Darryl Elliot ? won it.
Once she knew she had qualified
for the championship, Harriet worked
hard to ensure that Myrtle was fully
prepared for the competition. Myrtle
is a lowland dog, picking-up once or
twice a week, so well practised with
pheasants and partridges. She is less
?It is unlikely that
a handler will be
asked to send a
dog over a wall,
but it is essential
to be prepared?
accustomed to grouse, a quarry she
was likely to encounter at Swinton.
Before the event she had only ever
retrieved one grouse, but Harriet took
her grouse counting in Wales, so she
**I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
did have experience of working in
heather. Another additional training
session was for jumping drystone
walls. It is unlikely that a handler will
be asked to send a dog over a wall, but
it is essential to be prepared.
Blank run
I asked Harriet how the championship
went. ?On the first day scenting
conditions were pretty good, though
only nine dogs out of the original 24
went through to the second day,? she
said. ?Myrtle was one of them, despite
having had a blank run. I was pleased
with her performance and the judges
obviously thought she had run well,
too, as they put her forward for
a second run.?
Harriet acquired her first dog,
a GSP bitch called Gwyn, in 2005.
The choice of a GSP wasn?t by chance,
as her uncle had two that he used for
picking-up. Harriet fell in love with
the breed and liked the fact that they
are all-round gundogs. ?Gwyn taught
me more than I ever taught her, but it
Gundogs
DAVID?S VIEWPOINT
THE BEST WAY
TO TRAVEL
You see so much more of
the countryside if you walk
A
t the end of November I joined
two friends who had bought
a 100-bird day on a small familyrun shoot in the heart of Suffolk. The
hosts were welcoming, the weather kind,
the birds plentiful, the rolling countryside
most attractive. A real bonus was that
the other Guns (six friends) were not
only good company, but also proper
sportsmen, ignoring the low birds,
enjoying the high ones. The fact that
they were all readers wasn?t surprising.
I was shooting with a camera, so was
confident of good sport.
One of the genuine pleasures of the
day was the fact that the shoot was
sufficiently compact to allow everyone,
both beaters and Guns, to walk between
the drives. We have all become so
was through her that I discovered the
fun of working my dog,? she said.
Genuine potential
By the time Harriet got Myrtle, she
felt she had learned enough about
handling HPRs to compete. ?Myrtle
doesn?t like working tests as she just
shuts down,? she said. ?However, she
was awarded a certificate of merit
at her first trial. That award was
significant as it made me appreciate
that she had genuine potential.
?She won her first novice trial at
the beginning of last season, then by
winning her first open in October she
qualified for the championship. Last
month she came second in another
open, just missing out on becoming
a field trial champion, but it does mean
that she?s now qualified for not only the
2019 championship, but 2020 as well.?
Harriet doesn?t think being
a female handler in a male-dominated
sport has created difficulties. ?There
are a lot of women competing with
HPRs. At Swinton there were seven
women running eight dogs compared
with 12 men running 16 dogs.
?I?ve had fantastic support from
the Norfolk and Suffolk HPR Field
Trial Club, which I train with. I?ve
also made a point of training with
used to climbing on to Gun buses or
beaters? trailers that it is easy to forget
the pleasure of walking. It gives you
the chance to enjoy the countryside,
to admire the sheep, watch the fieldfares
or even pick some sloes. There is nothing
to beat fresh air and exercise, especially
if you want to sleep well.
I didn?t have a dog with me but it was
a day my spaniel Rowan would have
enjoyed. On one of her early shooting
days she was assaulted by a randy black
Labrador on the beaters? wagon, installing
in her a lifelong fear of travelling with dogs
she doesn?t know in a confined space.
I no longer put her through the stress
of such experiences. Dogs with a dislike
of travelling on Gun buses or beaters?
wagons are by no means rare, as I?ve
met quite a few of them.
I?ve often wondered what shoots used
to do before the days of tractors and
trailers, Gun buses and 4x4s. Some might
have horse-drawn carts or carriages but
no doubt most depended on walking.
A lack of transport must have meant
It can be a pleasure to walk between drives
longer gaps between drives, so
presumably fewer birds were shot, which
would be no bad thing today when shoots
struggle to dispose of the bag.
If dogs had a choice, they would
certainly opt for walking rather than
riding, as all dogs enjoy exercise. Nonmotorised days would also be much safer
for dogs, too. Perhaps there should be
a move for back-to-basics unmotorised
shoots: it is certainly one I would support.
Email: dhtomlinson@btinternet.com
many people all over the country and
attending lots of training days, so have
managed to get to know a lot of people
involved in the sport.
?I was one of only two female
handlers at the championship who
have a full-time job: I have to juggle
my career with training and working
my dogs. I use my annual leave for
picking-up days and competing in
trials,? she revealed. ?Last season
I thought it was time to get my own
gun. I?m thoroughly enjoying learning
to shoot, though I?m not shooting over
Myrtle yet as I want to concentrate
on what I?m shooting without the
distraction of a dog.?
Puppy
There is no doubt that when Harriet
does finally shoot over Myrtle she will
discover another fascinating aspect
of working a GSP. I?m sure that Harriet
won?t be satisfied until she makes up
Myrtle to field trial champion, while
winning the championship has to be
the ultimate target. In the meantime,
she has plenty to keep her busy apart
from Myrtle and work. A sevenmonth-old GSP puppy called Medlar,
another Aytee bitch, has joined the
family and is already showing lots
of potential. Another champion?
Harriet ?rst started competing Myrtle in 2015
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;*+
C
ATING OUR BEST WRITE
R
B
E
RS
EL
Tower and Dungeon
W. B. Currie discovers a whole new version of peaks and troughs on
a tricky shoot in the Scottish Borders, which presents sporting birds
G. SATTERLEY / P. QUAGLIANA / S. FARNSWORTH
O
n a shoot in the Scottish
Borders there was a wood
that the keeper called the
Tower. It was a long scarp
of stony clay ground with pine and
larch trees and all the usual scrub,
brambles, bracken and thick white
grass. It was at least 200 yards long
but never more than an easy gunshot
wide, and it was so steep that walking
inside it was precarious and difficult
? even the dogs had difficulties. But
it held good numbers of pheasants
and produced some of the most
satisfying shootable, and infuriatingly
unshootable, cocks of the season.
We usually shot it with six Guns,
two walking slowly from station to
station along the field above the wood,
taking the birds that broke right and
headed towards our other coverts;
two walked on the wet field below,
with the river at their backs, and they
had the highest shots to deal with.
I was always in the tangle of wood
working my Labrador, Poppy, and
my colleague would work the marshy
margin of the wood with his spaniel.
The Tower wood proper was
preceded by a small stretch of low
scrub with bushy little ash trees and
saplings of various sorts pushing up
through the coarse white grass and
brambles. It was here that we had
some of our best starts. My plan was
to put the dogs in and encourage
?When I worked the wood I saw lots of sport and thoroughly enjoyed pushing the birds forward?
*,I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
them to search the grass. I urged my
bitch far too much and far too often,
because she would crash about in the
bracken and grass if there was the
least whiff of a pheasant there.
Rabbits were troublesome,
especially among fallen twiggy timber
that had become choked with grass.
The dogs would get frantic when
a rabbit would go round and round
inside and we would get impatient
since it was unsafe to shoot at rabbits
because of the angle of the slope and
the presence of flanking Guns.
Pointing Labrador
I remember one December morning
when it all worked perfectly. My bitch
pointed a pheasant ? yes, she does
point ? in the grass beside my feet
almost on the top fence. The bird rose
high and turned back and neither of
the lower Guns could shoot it. I swung
hard and shot it well up and out over
the field below and, as I watched it
drop, I realised that Poppy was still
pointing. A second cock got up and,
instead of rising, wove through the
trees for some way to be fired at by
the nearest of the lower Guns.
He missed and the bird rose and
veered away, breaking back to give me
a good high shot which, by good luck,
went well. The cock fell dead in the
river, some 60 yards off.
When I did get a turn at flanking,
I never really liked it. When I worked
behind inside the wood, being a kind
Vintage Times
of beater?s Gun, I saw lots of sport and
thoroughly enjoyed pushing birds
forward to my colleagues. On the
flank, particularly on the lower stand,
however, the responsibility was
horrible. The beater?s Gun, or the dog
handler, would call ?mark forward?
and out of the tops of the trees would
come a bird rocketing ahead over the
larches. I can well recall the tension
of standing stock-still and hoping that
the bird would not veer off.
As the drive neared the end, the
pheasants that had moved forward
either flew out and offered some very
good shots, or turned back. Perhaps
the movement forward contributed
to the behaviour of the pheasants.
Some birds refused to fly and were
occasionally retrieved by my bitch
from tight cover without a shot having
been fired. She never harmed them
and they were released.
It was always a hen she brought,
on the two or three occasions it
happened. Cocks had a habit of
lurking around your feet and then
legging it back for 20 yards before
rising behind us at impossible angles,
with derision on their tails.
?The dogs would crash
about in the bracken and
grass if there was the
least whiff of a pheasant?
shoot was split. The river was now
our boundary and it would have been
a fearful waste of birds to present
our neighbour with all the pheasants
of the wood when we could send them
back to our other coverts or let them
break back and remain in the Tower.
The timber on the opposite bank of
the river had been largely cut since
the splitting of the shoot and held
less attraction to the pheasants.
On the apex of our shoot was a tiny,
dense piece of cover that should have
?Poppy pointed a pheasant in the grass
beside my feet; it rose high and turned back
and I shot it well up and out over the field?
I?m sure the end of the wood
should not have been driven
lengthwise. The Tower name came
from the scarp at the end of the wood.
Birds used to be driven out of the
wood, over Guns in the lower field and
were shot almost at the river below.
But that was in the days before the
been called the Dungeon because
it was so dark and hemmed in. We
walked over to it after the Tower,
crossing a field of stubble or plough
or grass, as the year demanded. The
usual covey of partridges, and a brace
of brown hares, would rise and much
more rarely a pheasant.
?The pheasants of the Dungeon ?ew low; the best we had was to place Guns on the far riverbank?
The Dungeon was one of those
familiar odd little corners you get
where a bridge spans a river. The little
vee of land between the river and the
road ? as if it were in the armpit of the
road ? formed a cover perhaps 40
yards long, very rough and a devil
to beat out. Dogs got stuck in that
mass of undergrowth. There was
bracken, head high, rhododendrons
and brambles, and little fir trees.
Seldom blank
The pheasants of the Dungeon flew
low. The best chance we had at them
was to place a couple of Guns on the
far bank of the river ? curiously,
we had one field of our shoot over
there ? and hope that the birds flew
well for them. Often the beater?s
Gun would get a ?window? shot at
a departing pheasant as it turned
downstream and the bird would fall
in the Whiteadder river below. Dark
and difficult cover it was, and hardly
worth the trouble to beat. But it was
seldom blank.
The Tower and Dungeon illustrate
one of the undying pleasures of
a rough shoot in Scotland ? its detail
and its variety. Unenergetic Guns
might have taken our shoot and
found it poorly stocked (it was not);
unwilling dogs would have refused
to face the thick cover.
A total of eight pheasants at the
end of the Tower and the Dungeon
combined would have pleased us
very much; there might be a lone bird
and a brace of partridges too from
the stubble. Light bags but it was
tremendous earthy shooting, where
we were really working for our birds.
This article was first published in the 26
December 1970 issue of Shooting Times.
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;*-
Lindsay Waddell is a former chairman of the NGO and a retired gamekeeper
Upland keeper
Mechanisation is marvellous, sometimes, but the keeper who does his
daily rounds on foot will see much more than the one on a quad bike
T
The ?almost insigni?cant? little stoat can be devastating to ground-nesting birds of all species
patch just as we do and if they also know
what a trap is, catching them is not as
straightforward as it may seem. The odd
trap here and there, with a tasty morsel
to tempt them in, often produces a result
in an area that seems to have little in it.
Such things are all the more important
when the new traps come in (News, 19
December 2018) as keepers will really
need to have one that is ?exible enough to
allow this sort of approach at times. Make
?There is no point
in getting the moor
perfectly gritted
if your grouse are
being predated?
no mistake, this almost insigni?cant little
animal is capable of doing huge damage
to ground-nesting birds of all species.
I have seen them climb trees and get
into pigeon lofts as well as the homes of
a whole manner of other domestic pets.
From New Zealand to the Orkneys, they
have made a real pest of themselves by
reducing the breeding success of ground-
This column is in association with the NGO
For more information contact:
J^[ DWj_edWb =Wc[a[[f[hi� Eh]Wd_iWj_ed
mmm$dWj_edWb]Wc[a[[f[hi$eh]$ka&'.)),,&.,/
*.I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
nesting birds. It is imperative that we are
allowed to control their numbers.
It is a number of years since the GWCT
carried out the Angus Glens Project but
it was an eye-opener. The owners of that
area simply could not understand why
their grouse were not doing better than
they were so, over a period of a few years,
the work was done to ?nd out why. In the
end the answer was simple: the stoat.
Many of those on the ground had simply
forgotten the basics of the job and the stoat
had been allowed to ?ourish unchecked.
I still recall the reaction of Dr Dick Potts
at a meeting when I told him they could
have saved a great deal of money if they
had simply asked a keeper from the north
of England what the stoat could do. He
was not amused, yet he had seen what the
animals did to partridges on the lowlands.
Roll the clock forward 20 years and
a far more enlightened team of men have
brought those glens back from the brink.
I say that in real terms as the future for
unproductive moorland, either livestock
or grouse, is conifers or wind farms.
Either of these options spells the end of
a considerable number of species of birds,
including some of the largest raptors.
The ?rst snows of the winter have
already greyed all the tops up here and
the keepers have had a number of those
freezing days already. The thing is, how
many more are to come before the sun
has a little more heat it in once more?
My guess is quite a few.
REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
he winter months can be
a miserable time for the keeper
on the moor. Short days are often
accompanied by bitterly cold
winds and, to add more misery, sleet, rain
or snow. The traps and everything else are
covered by a thin layer of ice, snow or slush
and all in all it makes for a cold day out.
There seems to be an increasing reliance
on mechanisation these days. The plus is
that it will speed the day up by increasing
the numbers of traps visited, but if it is
done by a quad bike, it will be no more
comfortable than a good walk. On many
days it will be far worse. The other downside
of the quad is that it more often than not
means that the keeper uses exactly the
same routes time and again.
My mentors always told me to vary my
route round the beat. This was not, and is
still not, an easy thing to do because most
keepers have a system where they can
check the greatest number of traps by the
shortest walk. It does mean, though, that
there are areas of the moor where they
simply do not go that often. That in itself
may well lead to the odd predator getting
away with it for a while unless it strays out
of its little patch.
One of the other big drawbacks of the
bike or ?mule? is the lack of close ?on the
ground? scrutiny by the keeper. Even good
eyesight cannot pick up the very small print
when bumping along on a bike and, though
the mule may well be far more comfortable,
it is even worse to see anything from.
It is a vital time for the keepers up here
as the now more or less annual task of
putting out medicated grit takes so much
time. It has compressed the remaining jobs
into a shorter time frame. There is no point
in getting the moor gritted to perfection if
your grouse are being predated, especially
by stoats.
When dealing with such an intelligent
adversary it is good to try something new
now and again. Stoats get to know their
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SPORTING ANSWERS
The experts
THE ULTIMATE
SHOOTING QUIZ TEAM
A polecat-type hob
ferret seeking the
scent of a rabbit
BILL HARRIMAN
BASC?s head of ?rearms and
global authority on guns
MAT MANNING
Airgunner and journalist from
the West Country
BRUCE POTTS
Shooting Times ri?e reviewer
and stalker
DAVID TOMLINSON
Highly regarded writer and
ornithologist
LIAM BELL
NGO chairman, Shropshire
gamekeeper and keen wildfowler
GRAHAM DOWNING
Shooting consultant and
sporting author
CHRIS DE CANI
Riverkeeper, with specialist
knowledge of chalkstreams
TONY BUCKWELL
Veterinary surgeon with a
special interest in gundogs
TONY JACKSON
A game Shot, keen stalker and
former editor of Shooting Times
TOM PAYNE
Professional shooting instructor
and avid pigeon shooter
C. MCCANN / M. MANNING / ALAMY / S. FARNSWORTH / P. QUAGLIANA / REX/SHUTTERSTOCK / B. POTTS
JEREMYHUNT
Runs Fenway Labradors and
a professional gundog trainer
TIMMADDAMS
Former head chef at River
Cottage and runs a shoot in Devon
SIMON WHITEHEAD
Author, professional ferreter
and rabbit controller
IAIN WATSON
Keen stalker and senior CIC
international trophy judge
Contact the team
Email: stanswers@ti-media.com
By post: I^eej_d] J_c[i" F_d[^khij
(" <WhdXehek]^ 8ki_d[iiFWha"
>Wdji=K'*-8<
Breeding from a polecat
FERRETING
A friend of mine caught a wild
polecat in his Larsen trap in
the summer and decided to breed
from it. The resulting litter was all
dark and he gave me two because
he knows how much I like ferreting.
I have just started to work them but
they seem reluctant to come out of
a warren. My other ferrets all come
out OK and I was wondering if I had
done anything wrong.
More than a quarter of a century
ago I, too, was transfixed with
this subject, but after a year I got it out
of my system. I had wild polecats,
hybrids and everything in between
so I am familiar with your conundrum.
Our working ferrets and ferrets in
general are great. They are hardy,
tough little creatures that don?t ask
for a lot yet get so little in return on
the whole. Unfortunately, in some
quarters of the ferreting world, the
+&I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
opportunity to try to breed a black
or dark masked ferret is too alluring
to ignore (Country Diary, 26 December).
But beauty is only skin deep and the
practice of mating wild polecats to
a domestic ferret is widely seen as
archaic by the vast majority of ferreters,
for the same reason that we don?t cross
lurchers with wolves.
Though a bonny creature, to
many the advantages of such a union
between a wild polecat and ferret are
far outweighed by its disadvantages.
They can be hard to handle, the
majority are socially inept, work too
quickly and have the wild gene in their
DNA, ensuring a greater muscle density
than their domesticated counterpart,
especially in their jaws.
The reason for breeding any animal
is to improve on what you already have,
not to breed for the sake of breeding or
convenience. I may be in a minority, but
I cannot see any logic in breeding from
a wild animal, putting back in all those
traits that took years to eradicate. SW
Expert tips and advice
Frightened of fireworks
VETERINARYCARE
My dog is perfectly relaxed
with gunshot yet terrified by
fireworks. Can you recommend
anything that would help?
This situation is not at all
uncommon. Your dog has
become accustomed to hearing the
sound of gunshot and will have come to
associate the sound with the enjoyable
experience of finding and retrieving
game. But this is totally different from
fireworks, which typically present as
a variety of unexpected, loud sounds
that, to the dog, represent an unusual,
frightening disturbance.
Fortunately, there are sound-based
treatment programmes now available.
One, entitled Sounds Scary, developed
by Sarah Heath and Jon Bowen, two
vets specialising in the field of pet
behavioural therapy, is available free
from the Dogs Trust website (www.
dogstrust.org.uk). The programme is
easy to use, extremely effective and
comes with a full set of instructions.
If you don?t have sufficient time to
treat your dog?s problems before an
expected fireworks event, you can
still help your dog through it. Create
a refuge where she will be safe and able
to hide once the fireworks start. Allow
your dog plenty of time to get used to
going to the refuge two to three times
a day. Give her treats, food or something
to chew each time so she associates the
refuge with something pleasant.
Prior to the start of an expected
firework event offer the dog
a carbohydrate-rich meal ? containing
pasta, potatoes or overcooked rice
? which will tend to make her sleepy.
Take her out to the toilet before the
fireworks begin.
Shut all windows and doors, draw
the curtains and make sure the dog is
safe and secure at all times. Your vet
can prescribe appropriate medication
and you can also use a product called
Adaptil near the refuge that will further
help to calm the dog.
As soon as the firework noises start,
lead your dog to the hiding place and
encourage her to stay there. Don?t get
cross with your dog when she is scared
because it will only cause more fear
and stress. Don?t react to your dog?s
fear; try to soothe or calm her and only
show attention and affection once she
has begun to relax. TB
Story of the .50 calibre
RIFLES
I see that the Government
is proposing to ban .50
calibre rifles (News, 5 December).
How did these .50 calibre rifles
originate and for how long have
they been around?
While the ban proposed in the
Offensive Weapons Bill 2017-19
would prohibit any rifle and cartridge
combination exceeding 13,600 joules
muzzle energy, the Government?s
principal target is the .50 Browning,
otherwise known as the .50BMG. This
was designed in the US towards the end
of World War I, based upon an up-scaled
.30-06 Springfield cartridge, and John
Moses Browning was commissioned to
develop a heavy machine gun for it.
The project was not completed
until 1921, by which time the war had
ended, but the US military adopted the
cartridge in 1923, and it was widely used
thereafter for anti-aircraft purposes
and in armoured vehicles
and light naval vessels.
It was later adopted
by NATO forces, using
an explosive projectile,
as an ?anti-material?
cartridge. However,
loaded with
a conventional
bullet, it has
become popular
among an elite
group of civilian
long-range target
shooters. GD
For comparison,
a range of ri?e
cartridges
including a .308
Winchester,
.338 Lapua
Magnum and
.50 Browning
machine gun
Native
Britain
Plants, flowers and fungi
of Great Britain at a glance
Latin name: Umbilicus rupestris
Common name: Pennywort
Other names: Navelwort, wall
penny cross, penny pies, Venus?s
navelwort, lady?s navel, kidney wort
How to spot it and where to
?nd it: Look closely at damp rock
crevices, shady walls and rocky
banks and you might be lucky
enough to ?nd pennywort (Navel
gazing, 12 December), a succulent
that grows throughout the year.
With its round, ?eshy leaves and
navel-like depression ? hence the
Latin umbilicus ? it is unlikely to
be confused with anything else. In
the spring, it produces a thick, tall
and upright spike of yellow-green
?owers, sometimes with a pink
or red tinge. They appear in May
followed by small, green fruits that
ripen through the summer.
Interesting facts: Be careful when
harvesting pennywort as it has
small, shallow roots that are easily
torn away from the rock. But it is
worth picking the leaves, especially
during the winter months, as they
have mild delicate ?avour, some say
a little like peas, and make a lovely
addition to a salad. The coin-shaped
leaves are mildly analgesic, and the
juice and extract of the plant were
historically used to treat epilepsy.
The ?eshy leaves can be made into
apoulticetosootheburnsandscalds,
while a decoction is mildly diuretic.
The juice is said to be excellent for
treating in?ammations of the liver
and spleen ? perfect for after the
festive season of overindulgence.
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;+'
SPORTING ANSWERS
Sound
moderator
storage
RIFLES
Should I remove my sound
moderator every time I store
my rifle after shooting it?
Yes, or at least store it muzzle
down if using it the next day or
week. Firearms expel an incredibly
hot and corrosive mixture of gas
and chemicals on ignition from the
powder charge. This can corrode
both the rifle?s bore and the
moderator itself. An appreciable
amount of water is also present
and this is a recipe for disaster in
terms of moderator life, especially
if the unit is steel or you have
aluminum-to-aluminum thread
locks. Moderators can corrode,
erode and fall apart with neglect
and a moderator that was strippable
can easily become
seized beyond all repair
in a short period if some
safeguards to its
longevity are not
administered.
It is important to
recognise that different
materials heat up at
different temperatures
and so a bi-metalconstructed moderator
can actually expand
and contract at differing
rates and thus not only
cause a shift in the rifle?s
point of zero, but also
damage internal threads
and components. That
is why sound moderator
cleanliness is important
to both it and the rifle?s
bore. BP
Rusty cartridges
AMMUNITION
I have some old paper
cartridges that have been
in my uncle?s garage for many
years. There is some corrosion
on the brass ends. Are they still
safe to use?
Yes, ammunition does not
degenerate over long periods
providing that the storage conditions
are not damp. I have successfully fired
shotgun cartridges that were, to my
certain knowledge, pre-war. It may
be necessary to use a brass brush to
remove the corrosion to ensure that
the cartridges will actually fit in the
chamber. Be aware that paper cases
may swell and become a tight fit in
the chamber. Discard any that you
really have to push in hard.
I would never fire old ammunition
in a situation where reliability was an
issue ? for example, on an expensive
driven day. It is better to use it up for
unimportant situations such as some
informal clay shooting. That way your
sport and pocket will not be hurt by
an inconvenient misfire.
Remember, what appears to be
a misfire may actually be a hangfire, which ignites a second or two
after you press the trigger. In such
circumstances, make sure the barrels
are pointing in a safe direction and wait
30 seconds. Then, turning your face
away from the breech, open the gun
and extract the faulty cartridge, which
should be disposed of safely. BH
Cartridges will degenerate
but may still be usable ?
it is vital that you try them
in a safe situation
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Expert tips and advice
Don?t train too early
Do I need
binoculars?
GUNDOG TRAINING
AIRGUNS
I regard binoculars as
a fairly standard item of kit
whenever I go stalking, but never
take a pair when I go out with my
airgun. Could they have a role to
play when shooting with an air
rifle or are they more likely to
be an unnecessary burden?
While I don?t always want the
burden of carrying a pair of
binoculars when I?m out with my
airgun, I do always keep a pair in
my car. They may not come out often
but they usually prove useful when
they do. My most common use for
them is long-range observation
when trying to identify flightlines
used by pigeons and crows.
I also tend to have them with
me when I?m checking up on the
feeding stations I use when shooting
grey squirrels. Apart from allowing
me to study the behaviour of my
quarry, they also come in handy
for wildlife observation. MM
I have just bought my first dog,
a Labrador puppy, which is
now 12 weeks old. I am keen to start
teaching her some basic commands
such as sit and stay before we move
on to some early retrieving with
toys in a few weeks? time. I want to
make sure that I have a well-trained
dog but the puppy seems to be
easily distracted when I start doing
things with her. Any advice?
I think a lot of new owners feel that
if they do not start training from
an early age, their puppy will become
undisciplined and be more truculent
as it moves into the teenage stage and
subsequently be harder to work with
once formal gundog training begins.
I believe the opposite is more often
the case. First and foremost, it is
Let your young gundog enjoy being a puppy
Bird of the week
The number of coots in
the UK is at its highest
at this time of year. The
breeding population
of about 30,000 pairs
swells to 190,000
individuals, with the
arrival of birds from
as far away as Russia.
You may not want the burden of carrying
binoculars but you can keep a pair in your car
essential to get a puppy ?connected? to
you. In other words, you must prioritise
achieving a close bond. This will have
far more value to you when you start
trying to communicate with it on
a training level.
I want young puppies to spend their
early life having a ?childhood? rather
than being pressurised into learning
things that will be far easier to train
in a few months? time when they are
developing a brain that can understand
more readily and they have a close
bond with you. So for me the first few
months are a valuable time for laying
the foundations of a great relationship
between us ? rather than one of
schoolmaster and pupil ? but at the
same time I am teaching the puppy
to be responsive to me and to listen
to me. I am the good guy, the ?go to?
guy more than anything else.
When I decide that a puppy is
mentally more able to understand
and respond to what I want to teach, the
rate of progress is rapid. Success is built
on success because, when the timing
is right, you will realise that your
well-bred gundog puppy has suddenly
become aware of its inherent skills
and you will be dealing with a very
different mind-set to the one you would
have been struggling with at the young
puppy stage. JH
by Graham Appleton
Coots have become
a favourite study
species for several of
the British Trust for
Ornithology?s (BTO)
licensed bird-ringers
and you might well see
a bird with an engraved
ring, feeding among
Our breeding population of coots swells to 190,000 individuals
COOT
a ?ock of Canada geese
in a local park. If you
can read the numbers/
letters, please report
the coot?s registration
number and the colour
of its ring to the BTO at
po.st/BTOring and you
should receive details of
where the bird has been
seen previously. It may
have nested locally or
it could have travelled
to Germany and back.
Extra birds ?y west
across the North Sea
in the mid-winter period
if conditions become
particularly cold in
countries such as
the Netherlands.
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;+)
SPORTING ANSWERS
Willow control
FISHING
Our fishing club has a few
working parties planned
for early 2019. Chopping down
bankside willows will be
a priority, but I am concerned
that this will make the riverbank
appear stark next summer. What
do you think?
You don?t mention which kind
of willow, but several species
can put on prolific growth in the
summer, particularly if they have
j^[_h heeji _d j^[ mWj[h$ Ed j^[ ijh[jY^
of chalkstream that I look after, crack
willow can put on 8ft of growth in
a summer. If left unattended these
trees can excessively shade the river
to the detriment of weed and marginal
growth. I was once asked to run my
eye over a stretch of chalkstream that
had been ?let go? ? it ran through
a tunnel of crack willow with no
weed and little fly life.
Aspect should be considered
because some trees on a northern
bank will not throw shadows on the
water. Some shading can help prevent
excessive warming of the water during
hot weather, while also providing
a degree of protection from avian
predation. I pollard the bankside
crack willow on a three-year cycle,
pollarding a third each winter once
the trout have finished spawning.
This provides a mix of one-, twoand three-year-old crack willow on
the bank during the summer and
avoids a stark appearance that can
result if it is carried out every three
or so years. CDC
Rivers bene?t from some shade on the bank
Breeds in focus
Guernsey cow / 2 January
The Channel Islands?
best-known exports
are their two native
breeds of cattle:
the Jersey and
Guernsey. The former
is a distinctive solid
golden brown, while
the latter is a white
cow heavily marked
with gold, though red
is also permissible. It
was ?rst recognised
as a breed in 1700 and
imports of foreign
cattle were forbidden
on the island in 1789.
Today the Guernsey is
The Guernsey cow is white with gold or red markings
+*I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
established in the US,
Australia, New Zealand
and South Africa as
well as the UK, while
there are around
1,200 milking cows
on Guernsey itself.
Though the cow
is renowned for its
rich, gold milk it is also
valued commercially
for its resistance to
many health problems,
and its tolerance of
sunshine; the light
colouring means it
rarely overheats. The
cows (not bulls) also
have a reputation for
being easy to manage,
making them popular
on smallholdings.
By the light
of the moon
WILDFOWLING
I am relatively new to
wildfowling but would really
love to experience shooting on the
foreshore under the moon. Though
I have tried hard to pick the right
night, conditions have never been
ideal. What state of moon, weather
and tide should I look for, and how
can I predict them?
Moon flighting can be one of the
most evocative wildfowling
experiences. Selecting possible moonlit
nights is simple: there can be sufficient
light to shoot about three days each side
of the full moon. Likewise, it is not hard
to choose favourable tidal conditions
by reference to a tide table. You should
look for a rising tide, with the most
favourable period being from about 2�
hours after low water up to high tide.
These timings will vary according to
location, but the greatest wildfowl
movement will occur as the main
mudflats and feeding grounds are
flooded by the rising tide. A breeze
will help to keep birds on the move.
The most difficult piece in the
jigsaw is hitting the right amount of
cloud cover. Ideally, you need full
cover of medium-level cloud such as
altocumulus, against which birds will
show up perfectly. It is impossible to
see birds against a clear sky and if the
cloud is too heavy there will not be
enough light to shoot. Try picking
a block of nights when the moon
and tidal predictions are good, then
check the forecast or use an app such
as WeatherRadar, which will give you
a predictive radar image of approaching
cloud cover. GD
Moon ?ighting can be
one of the most evocative
wildfowling experiences
Expert tips and advice
Missing gold
GAMEBIRDS
For many years I have shot
once a year on an estate in
the Norfolk Brecks. Several golden
pheasants were always seen during
the drives. Their numbers have
declined, and this year the keeper
thinks they have died out. Is there
an explanation for this?
The handsome golden pheasant
was released in the Norfolk
Brecks in the late 1890s
Golden pheasants, arguably one of
the world?s most handsome birds,
are native to the mountains of central
China. They were first released in the
Brecks in the late 1890s, but never
proved to be satisfactory sporting birds
because they prefer to run than fly.
J^[h[ Wh[ h[YehZi \hec j^[ '/+&i e\ kf
to 100 birds being seen together. By the
1960s the population had expanded to
many localities in Breckland.
As they are not native birds, the
population hasn?t been studied in detail,
but numbers of sightings started to
decline in the 1980s, and now there are
few locations where even single birds
can be seen. They are, however, shy and
reclusive, so some small populations may
survive. There is no obvious explanation
for their decline, but the increase in
the muntjac population may be the
reason, because muntjac browse the low
vegetation that the pheasants favour. DT
Crossword / Compiled by Eric Linden / 1385
Across
1383 Jumbo (Issue 19 Dec 2018): Answers
Across: 8. Combine harvesters 10. Penalise 11. Stirrup 12. Take off 14.
Backstops 18. Limb 20. Vermin 21. Hangs 24. Snipe 25. Safari 26. Nuts
28. Syndicate 30. Vintage 33. Low bird 36. Labrador 38. Holland and
Holland Down: 1. Moderation 2. Anti 3. Sheep 4. Arms 5. Bewick?s 6.
Star 7. Wrap up 9. Brake 13. Five 15. Animal 16. Train 17. Breast 19. Bipod
22. Go to ground 23. Mini 27. Actions 29. Yellow 31. Trail 32. Slide 34.
Wild 35. Draw 37. Boot
WINNER: J. A. R. PICKERING, SURREY
PRIZE WORD: BREAKING
6 Bulging container, to some
extent, de?ning inch-by-inch
gun speci?cation (6,6)
7 Birdatthecircuittaking
positiononthefootball?eld(7)
8 An exotic dish contains
no deer (5)
11 Gunmaker Fabbri carries
some survivors (3)
12 With a mysterious rumble
from Los Angeles, it provides
coverage in the wet (8)
14 Two hours before midday,
a metropolis reveals the
doggedness of terriers (8)
15 For recoil reduction,
it takes notes (3)
17 Black-suit gun
organizations? (5)
19 A brawler is surprised
to get the bird! (7)
20 The cartridge, while
informally explosive, brings
rapid delivery (5,7)
Down
1 Virtual currency leads us
to a Bettinsoli model (6)
2 Outer Hebrides island in
which a curlew is hiding? (5)
3 The ear defender warrants
a promotional mention (4)
4 Passion was aroused when
powder started burning (7)
5 Rearing facility ? just the
place for pottering around! (4)
6 Go mad with rage in the ?eld
of bullet dynamics! (9)
9 Levels of excellence are
what clay shooters are often
aiming for (9)
10 An award from the Queen
for ?rst-year gundogs that
respond to commands (4)
12 Gun itemisation must
include a trigger assembly,
for example (4)
13 Furry quarry are very
chatty! (7)
15 A bit of game bird feed
goes down like a shot! (6)
16 Loses footing on hunting
getaways (5)
18 Fishing tackle gives
Guns formation (4)
19 Little bird appearing on
both sides of the warren (4)
Howtoenter
To enter our crossword
competition, identify
the word in the shaded
squares and you
could win a Hoppe?s
Boresnake bore
cleaner from Edgar Brothers.
Cut out this coupon and send to:
Shooting Times Crossword
No 1385, Shooting Times, Pinehurst
2, Farnborough Business Park,
Hants GU14 7BF
Mystery word:
Name:
Address:
Postcode:
Tel no:
Rules: Entries must be received
by 9 January 2019.All usual
conditions apply. Solution and winner
will appear in the 16 January 2019
issue. Photocopies accepted.
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;++
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&!$$!$ SHOOTING TIMES & COUNTRY MAGAZINE +-
Alasdair Mitchell
Sharpshooter
The war on plastic is gaining ground and paper-cased cartridges are
making a welcome return, harking back to the blackpowder tradition
Y
es, I know, at this time of year
everybody seems to want to
look forward. But I have never
been a dedicated follower of
fashion ? as my children frequently point
out, despairing of my favourite clothes. I call
it ?janitorial chic? but they claim I look like
a tramp, clad in well-worn, mud-coloured
garments. Well, each to their own.
But I say that new is not always better.
Take cartridges, for instance. The advent
of smokeless powder was a huge leap
forward. Yet, given a choice, I?d rather have
my 8-bore belching ?re and blackpowder
when it comes to ?ighting geese in the
teeth of a gale. It makes it more of an event.
The big gun is nitro-proofed and I could
use modern, plastic-cased factory loads,
but I prefer to spend an evening happily
spooning good old blackie into 4絠n
brass cases.
In any event, the reign of the plasticcased shotgun cartridge may, perhaps,
be coming to an end. It won?t happen any
time soon but change is coming. Slowly but
surely, paper is coming back into fashion.
Plastic cases were seen as wonderful
progress, especially for wildfowlers. No
more damp, furry, swollen paper cases. Do
you remember cartridge extractors, those
little metal devices we used to carry?
A whole generation of shooters has grown
up without ever seeing one.
The cases are waterproof and drop
easily in or out of the chamber, regardless
of how damp they get. No wonder they
made paper cases obsolete. The plastic
revolution was a walkover; within a decade
or two, it became hard to obtain papercased cartridges. A few diehards insisted
on sourcing paper Eley Impax, or the like,
for their cherished game guns. Just a few
?I?d rather have my
8-bore belching fire
and blackpowder
when it comes to
flighting geese?
years ago, when somebody was seen using
paper cases on a shoot, it became a topic
of conversation.
But now paper is back. Or at least, it
is well on its way. To my delight, I see that
an increasing number of cartridge makers
now offer paper versions of their more
popular game loads. The war on plastic has
taken its toll. Plastic wads are increasingly
frowned on, for reasons I have explored in
this column before. Many game shoots now
insist on ?bre wads, I am pleased to see.
As for the actual cases, however,
plastic is still the norm ? for now. At
least cases, unlike wads, are usually
easy to pick up after ?ring. Issues remain
with their retrieval when rough shooting
and wildfowling.
Rain-swollen torrent
Even when game shooting from a peg,
it is not always possible to pick up every
spent cartridge. For example, I recently
enjoyed a very good day on a wonderful
shoot in Scotland, courtesy of my brotherin-law. On one drive, I found myself
standing on a small bridge over a rainswollen torrent. It was snap shooting, with
birds coming from all points. But there was
no way I could account for all my spent
cartridges, some of which were inevitably
ejected into the stream.
Luckily, I was using paper cases only on
that particular drive so the few empty cases
that escaped will do no real harm. And even
the ?brass? heads ? in truth, electroplated
steel ? will eventually rust away. And
above all there will be no plastic left in the
environment. Did I feel smug? Slightly ?
marred only by the fact that the picker-up
behind had seen every one of my misses.
DOG BY KEITH REYNOLDS
SHOOTING TIMES & COUNTRY MAGAZINE, ISSN 0037-4164, is published weekly, incorporating Shooting Magazine, Shooting Life, British Sportsman, The Angler?s News & Sea Fisher?s Journal and Field Sport, by TI Media Ltd,
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+.I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
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d for a generation. The
trees had grown 20ft tall and many had
died altogether. Thrushes and blackbirds
plundered the berries but these old rows
were failing to deliver on their full potential
for wildlife. We discovered that there was
funding to do some work on these hedges
and I jumped into the job with both feet.
I began to cut back a tall, leggy old
section of hedge in a bid to regenerate the
stock. Some of the trees were clearly too
old and would not recover, but they could
be replaced and it was heartening to make
a start and restore something from the
roots. Those were the days before I had
a chainsaw and I cut down the entire hedge
by hand, working a bow saw until my hands
were covered with blisters. I would often
arrive on site with half an hour of daylight
to spare in the short winter days, cutting
down two or three of the tall hawthorns
before woodcock would start to ?ight
past and I would return home.
Once the trees were down, I built
a stockproof fence along the entire 300
yards of the hedge, then became distracted
and headed for an extended trip to South
Africa. I gave the project very little thought
A male bull?nch in hawthorn which, like many other hedgerow bushes, provides a vital food source
until last month, when I returned to see the
fruits of my labour.
Fifteen years have passed and the hedge
has sprung back to life with astonishing
enthusiasm and vigour. Thanks to the
stockproof fence, the hawthorns now
provide the kind of thick-bottomed cover
that is so crucial for birds and wildlife.
Brown hares have returned to the glen
over the past 10 years ? they are now
a relatively common sight when they were
absolutely unheard of before. There are all
?The hawthorns
now provide the
thick-bottomed
cover that is so
crucial for birds?
kinds of intriguing explanations for this,
but thick hedgerow cover for leverets
is surely a contributing factor.
I saw bull?nches and wrens ?ickering
through the brambles as I walked the
hedge, and some of the new hawthorn
shoots are already as thick as my thigh
and tall enough to support woodpigeon
nests. This is a great sign because big
nests are liable to be colonised by long-
eared owls, which I believe are the ?gold
standard?of hedge-dwellers.
Perhaps 60 per cent of the old
hawthorns have recovered from the cutting.
This is good, since I remember that many
were ancient and had rotted away horribly
inside. Given their condition and antiquity,
the trees were fairly sparsely distributed
anyway, so the high mortality after cutting
has produced a rather gappy effect.
This wouldn?t be ideal if it was going
to serve as an agricultural boundary.
However, given that it simply has to serve
as a corridor for birds and wildlife to use as
they move across green, heavily improved
sheep pastures, the effect is more than
satisfactory. I would like to ?ll some of
these gaps with new hazel trees and I have
been trying to propagate seed from local
crab apples to add some fresh variety.
I have planted many new stretches
of hedge over the past ?ve years, but this
?rst attempt has become advanced proof
that healthy hedgerows can deliver major
bene?ts for wildlife.
Patrick Laurie is a project manager
at the Heather Trust. He has a particular
focus on blackgrouse conservation
and farms Galloway cattle in southwest Scotland.
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;*'
Served with a chive
mash, this roast loin
of hare with chocolate
and redcurrant sauce
is a satisfying dish
*(I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
Game Cookery
Hare
Prepared well and cooked with care, hare is a rich and gamy treat for
the tastebuds. Jose Souto explains how to get the best from this meat
I
n the UK we have two species
of hare: the brown hare (Lepus
europaeus) and the mountain or blue
hare (Lepus timidus). The brown
hare is the larger of the two, growing to
around 3.5kg to 4kg. It can be found across
the UK, with a stronghold in East Anglia.
They are a species of the woods but have
adapted to live on arable land quite well.
The mountain hare is the brown hare?s
smaller cousin, with most growing to
around 3kg. These hares are distinct in that
their coats moult out from the grey/blue to
the stunning pure white ?eece of the winter
months, helping them to blend in with the
snowy peaks. Mountain hares live out on
the open hill but will take shelter in small
burrows when the weather turns. They eat
a lot of heather and lichen, which gives
them a different ?avour to the brown hare.
Neither species is easy to hunt with birds
of prey; the brown because of its size, speed
and cunning and the mountain because of
where it is found ? the hills and mountains
of the Scottish Highlands make for an
exhausting trek. They are tricky to get
close to and can turn and jump 5ft into the
air to avoid the grasp of a closing raptor.
We eat few hares in the UK. Indeed,
around 90 per cent of those harvested
here go abroad. This is mainly due to the
strong in terms of ?avour and smell, which
can put people off. Secondly, it is a mammal
and as such has parts that are tender and
will cook quickly (the ?rst-class cuts such as
the loins) and parts that are tougher and will
therefore take longer to cook (second-class
cuts such as the shoulders and legs).
?We eat few hares here ? when it comes to
cooking them we are stuck in a time warp?
fact that when it comes to cooking hare we
seem to be stuck in a time warp. Not many
chefs look beyond the jugged hare recipe of
old, a dish that to many of today?s tastes is
strong and unappealing. Even the process
by which the hare?s blood is collected then
later used to thicken the cooking juices
sounds unsavoury to many. But it does not
need to be like this. Hare is a fantastic meat
if you cook it well and with care.
There are a couple of things to
remember about hare. First, its meat is
I gut and skin my hares as soon as I can
then wash the whole animal in cold water
two or three times. This will tone down the
strong odour and taste without detracting
from its fantastic natural ?avour. Cut the
hare into two shoulders, two legs, one
saddle and one rib end. Remove the silvery
sinew from the saddle but leave the loins
on the bone.
The legs and shoulders are for stewing
and braising dishes, the loin is for roasting
and the rib end is for making sauces.
ROAST LOIN OF HARE WITH A CHOCOLATE & REDCURRANT SAUCE
Ingredients
VEGETABLE OIL FOR FRYING
2 RIB ENDS OF HARE, CHOPPED
UP WITH BONES ON TO 1IN PIECES
� ONION, FINELY CHOPPED
2CLOVESGARLIC,FINELYCHOPPED
絊TICKCELERY,FINELYCHOPPED
1 CARROT, FINELY CHOPPED
DESSERT SPOON TOMATO PUREE
1 GLASS OF RED WINE
1 SPRIG OF THYME
500ML OF GAME STOCK
2 GOOD-SIZED HARE SADDLES
25G OF REDCURRANT JELLY
STEVE LEE STUDIOS
10G OF DARK 65 PER CENT
CHOCOLATE
THE METHOD
Serves 4
1
Fry the bones in hot vegetable oil to
get good colour. Remove the bones
from the pan and in the same pan fry
the onion and garlic for 5 minutes.
2
Add the carrot and celery, cook for
another 6 to 8 minutes then add
the bones and tomato puree. Cook for
another 5 to 6 minutes then add wine
and reduce by �.
3
Now add the stock, reduce by �
then pass through a fine sieve
to get rid of the bones and vegetables.
4
The sauce should be reduced
until it is the consistency of single
cream. Bring the sauce to the boil.
Add the redcurrant jelly, stir in and
allow to melt.
5
Bring the sauce down to a very
slight simmer then put it to one side
on the stove. It should stay hot but not
boil or simmer.
6
Heat a frying pan to smoking hot,
season the hare loin, seal it all over
then place it in the oven at 180癈 for 8
minutes. Remove it from the oven and let
it rest for 5 minutes, but do not cover it.
7
Chop the dark chocolate into small
pieces and gradually whisk it into
the sauce. It will separate at first but
as you whisk it, it will emulsify into
the sauce.
8
Cut the loins off the saddle and
slice. Serve with a chive mash and
the sauce poured over the top.
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;*)
Gundogs
Myrtle, a German
shorthaired
pointer, won her
?rst open trial
in October
Myrtle is on her way
D. TOMLINSON
One of our Dog of the Week stars is gaining more experience to fulfil
her potential as a future field trial champion, says David Tomlinson
WHEN MYRTLE,
Harriet Lampart?s German
shorthaired pointer (GSP),
starred as Dog of the Week
in March last year, her ?ambition? was
to become a field trial champion. She
is halfway there, having won her first
open trial in October. This qualified
her for the HPR Championship,
held on the Swinton Park estate last
month, a major achievement for dog
and handler.
This was Harriet?s first experience
of the championship and one she
enjoyed enormously. Though she
has been working dogs for the past
10 years, it was only in 2015 that
she started competing with Myrtle,
her regular picking-up dog. Myrtle,
who is five years old, comes from
a distinguished line of GSPs, and was
bred by Lucie Hustler, winner of the
HPR Championship three years ago.
Myrtle?s dam is Aytee Harvest Havoc
and sire Zilverien Moonlight. Two of
her litter siblings also qualified for
this year?s championship, and one
of them ? her brother, Aytee Jumbo
Jet of Islasbraw, owned and handled
by Darryl Elliot ? won it.
Once she knew she had qualified
for the championship, Harriet worked
hard to ensure that Myrtle was fully
prepared for the competition. Myrtle
is a lowland dog, picking-up once or
twice a week, so well practised with
pheasants and partridges. She is less
?It is unlikely that
a handler will be
asked to send a
dog over a wall,
but it is essential
to be prepared?
accustomed to grouse, a quarry she
was likely to encounter at Swinton.
Before the event she had only ever
retrieved one grouse, but Harriet took
her grouse counting in Wales, so she
**I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
did have experience of working in
heather. Another additional training
session was for jumping drystone
walls. It is unlikely that a handler will
be asked to send a dog over a wall, but
it is essential to be prepared.
Blank run
I asked Harriet how the championship
went. ?On the first day scenting
conditions were pretty good, though
only nine dogs out of the original 24
went through to the second day,? she
said. ?Myrtle was one of them, despite
having had a blank run. I was pleased
with her performance and the judges
obviously thought she had run well,
too, as they put her forward for
a second run.?
Harriet acquired her first dog,
a GSP bitch called Gwyn, in 2005.
The choice of a GSP wasn?t by chance,
as her uncle had two that he used for
picking-up. Harriet fell in love with
the breed and liked the fact that they
are all-round gundogs. ?Gwyn taught
me more than I ever taught her, but it
Gundogs
DAVID?S VIEWPOINT
THE BEST WAY
TO TRAVEL
You see so much more of
the countryside if you walk
A
t the end of November I joined
two friends who had bought
a 100-bird day on a small familyrun shoot in the heart of Suffolk. The
hosts were welcoming, the weather kind,
the birds plentiful, the rolling countryside
most attractive. A real bonus was that
the other Guns (six friends) were not
only good company, but also proper
sportsmen, ignoring the low birds,
enjoying the high ones. The fact that
they were all readers wasn?t surprising.
I was shooting with a camera, so was
confident of good sport.
One of the genuine pleasures of the
day was the fact that the shoot was
sufficiently compact to allow everyone,
both beaters and Guns, to walk between
the drives. We have all become so
was through her that I discovered the
fun of working my dog,? she said.
Genuine potential
By the time Harriet got Myrtle, she
felt she had learned enough about
handling HPRs to compete. ?Myrtle
doesn?t like working tests as she just
shuts down,? she said. ?However, she
was awarded a certificate of merit
at her first trial. That award was
significant as it made me appreciate
that she had genuine potential.
?She won her first novice trial at
the beginning of last season, then by
winning her first open in October she
qualified for the championship. Last
month she came second in another
open, just missing out on becoming
a field trial champion, but it does mean
that she?s now qualified for not only the
2019 championship, but 2020 as well.?
Harriet doesn?t think being
a female handler in a male-dominated
sport has created difficulties. ?There
are a lot of women competing with
HPRs. At Swinton there were seven
women running eight dogs compared
with 12 men running 16 dogs.
?I?ve had fantastic support from
the Norfolk and Suffolk HPR Field
Trial Club, which I train with. I?ve
also made a point of training with
used to climbing on to Gun buses or
beaters? trailers that it is easy to forget
the pleasure of walking. It gives you
the chance to enjoy the countryside,
to admire the sheep, watch the fieldfares
or even pick some sloes. There is nothing
to beat fresh air and exercise, especially
if you want to sleep well.
I didn?t have a dog with me but it was
a day my spaniel Rowan would have
enjoyed. On one of her early shooting
days she was assaulted by a randy black
Labrador on the beaters? wagon, installing
in her a lifelong fear of travelling with dogs
she doesn?t know in a confined space.
I no longer put her through the stress
of such experiences. Dogs with a dislike
of travelling on Gun buses or beaters?
wagons are by no means rare, as I?ve
met quite a few of them.
I?ve often wondered what shoots used
to do before the days of tractors and
trailers, Gun buses and 4x4s. Some might
have horse-drawn carts or carriages but
no doubt most depended on walking.
A lack of transport must have meant
It can be a pleasure to walk between drives
longer gaps between drives, so
presumably fewer birds were shot, which
would be no bad thing today when shoots
struggle to dispose of the bag.
If dogs had a choice, they would
certainly opt for walking rather than
riding, as all dogs enjoy exercise. Nonmotorised days would also be much safer
for dogs, too. Perhaps there should be
a move for back-to-basics unmotorised
shoots: it is certainly one I would support.
Email: dhtomlinson@btinternet.com
many people all over the country and
attending lots of training days, so have
managed to get to know a lot of people
involved in the sport.
?I was one of only two female
handlers at the championship who
have a full-time job: I have to juggle
my career with training and working
my dogs. I use my annual leave for
picking-up days and competing in
trials,? she revealed. ?Last season
I thought it was time to get my own
gun. I?m thoroughly enjoying learning
to shoot, though I?m not shooting over
Myrtle yet as I want to concentrate
on what I?m shooting without the
distraction of a dog.?
Puppy
There is no doubt that when Harriet
does finally shoot over Myrtle she will
discover another fascinating aspect
of working a GSP. I?m sure that Harriet
won?t be satisfied until she makes up
Myrtle to field trial champion, while
winning the championship has to be
the ultimate target. In the meantime,
she has plenty to keep her busy apart
from Myrtle and work. A sevenmonth-old GSP puppy called Medlar,
another Aytee bitch, has joined the
family and is already showing lots
of potential. Another champion?
Harriet ?rst started competing Myrtle in 2015
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;*+
C
ATING OUR BEST WRITE
R
B
E
RS
EL
Tower and Dungeon
W. B. Currie discovers a whole new version of peaks and troughs on
a tricky shoot in the Scottish Borders, which presents sporting birds
G. SATTERLEY / P. QUAGLIANA / S. FARNSWORTH
O
n a shoot in the Scottish
Borders there was a wood
that the keeper called the
Tower. It was a long scarp
of stony clay ground with pine and
larch trees and all the usual scrub,
brambles, bracken and thick white
grass. It was at least 200 yards long
but never more than an easy gunshot
wide, and it was so steep that walking
inside it was precarious and difficult
? even the dogs had difficulties. But
it held good numbers of pheasants
and produced some of the most
satisfying shootable, and infuriatingly
unshootable, cocks of the season.
We usually shot it with six Guns,
two walking slowly from station to
station along the field above the wood,
taking the birds that broke right and
headed towards our other coverts;
two walked on the wet field below,
with the river at their backs, and they
had the highest shots to deal with.
I was always in the tangle of wood
working my Labrador, Poppy, and
my colleague would work the marshy
margin of the wood with his spaniel.
The Tower wood proper was
preceded by a small stretch of low
scrub with bushy little ash trees and
saplings of various sorts pushing up
through the coarse white grass and
brambles. It was here that we had
some of our best starts. My plan was
to put the dogs in and encourage
?When I worked the wood I saw lots of sport and thoroughly enjoyed pushing the birds forward?
*,I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
them to search the grass. I urged my
bitch far too much and far too often,
because she would crash about in the
bracken and grass if there was the
least whiff of a pheasant there.
Rabbits were troublesome,
especially among fallen twiggy timber
that had become choked with grass.
The dogs would get frantic when
a rabbit would go round and round
inside and we would get impatient
since it was unsafe to shoot at rabbits
because of the angle of the slope and
the presence of flanking Guns.
Pointing Labrador
I remember one December morning
when it all worked perfectly. My bitch
pointed a pheasant ? yes, she does
point ? in the grass beside my feet
almost on the top fence. The bird rose
high and turned back and neither of
the lower Guns could shoot it. I swung
hard and shot it well up and out over
the field below and, as I watched it
drop, I realised that Poppy was still
pointing. A second cock got up and,
instead of rising, wove through the
trees for some way to be fired at by
the nearest of the lower Guns.
He missed and the bird rose and
veered away, breaking back to give me
a good high shot which, by good luck,
went well. The cock fell dead in the
river, some 60 yards off.
When I did get a turn at flanking,
I never really liked it. When I worked
behind inside the wood, being a kind
Vintage Times
of beater?s Gun, I saw lots of sport and
thoroughly enjoyed pushing birds
forward to my colleagues. On the
flank, particularly on the lower stand,
however, the responsibility was
horrible. The beater?s Gun, or the dog
handler, would call ?mark forward?
and out of the tops of the trees would
come a bird rocketing ahead over the
larches. I can well recall the tension
of standing stock-still and hoping that
the bird would not veer off.
As the drive neared the end, the
pheasants that had moved forward
either flew out and offered some very
good shots, or turned back. Perhaps
the movement forward contributed
to the behaviour of the pheasants.
Some birds refused to fly and were
occasionally retrieved by my bitch
from tight cover without a shot having
been fired. She never harmed them
and they were released.
It was always a hen she brought,
on the two or three occasions it
happened. Cocks had a habit of
lurking around your feet and then
legging it back for 20 yards before
rising behind us at impossible angles,
with derision on their tails.
?The dogs would crash
about in the bracken and
grass if there was the
least whiff of a pheasant?
shoot was split. The river was now
our boundary and it would have been
a fearful waste of birds to present
our neighbour with all the pheasants
of the wood when we could send them
back to our other coverts or let them
break back and remain in the Tower.
The timber on the opposite bank of
the river had been largely cut since
the splitting of the shoot and held
less attraction to the pheasants.
On the apex of our shoot was a tiny,
dense piece of cover that should have
?Poppy pointed a pheasant in the grass
beside my feet; it rose high and turned back
and I shot it well up and out over the field?
I?m sure the end of the wood
should not have been driven
lengthwise. The Tower name came
from the scarp at the end of the wood.
Birds used to be driven out of the
wood, over Guns in the lower field and
were shot almost at the river below.
But that was in the days before the
been called the Dungeon because
it was so dark and hemmed in. We
walked over to it after the Tower,
crossing a field of stubble or plough
or grass, as the year demanded. The
usual covey of partridges, and a brace
of brown hares, would rise and much
more rarely a pheasant.
?The pheasants of the Dungeon ?ew low; the best we had was to place Guns on the far riverbank?
The Dungeon was one of those
familiar odd little corners you get
where a bridge spans a river. The little
vee of land between the river and the
road ? as if it were in the armpit of the
road ? formed a cover perhaps 40
yards long, very rough and a devil
to beat out. Dogs got stuck in that
mass of undergrowth. There was
bracken, head high, rhododendrons
and brambles, and little fir trees.
Seldom blank
The pheasants of the Dungeon flew
low. The best chance we had at them
was to place a couple of Guns on the
far bank of the river ? curiously,
we had one field of our shoot over
there ? and hope that the birds flew
well for them. Often the beater?s
Gun would get a ?window? shot at
a departing pheasant as it turned
downstream and the bird would fall
in the Whiteadder river below. Dark
and difficult cover it was, and hardly
worth the trouble to beat. But it was
seldom blank.
The Tower and Dungeon illustrate
one of the undying pleasures of
a rough shoot in Scotland ? its detail
and its variety. Unenergetic Guns
might have taken our shoot and
found it poorly stocked (it was not);
unwilling dogs would have refused
to face the thick cover.
A total of eight pheasants at the
end of the Tower and the Dungeon
combined would have pleased us
very much; there might be a lone bird
and a brace of partridges too from
the stubble. Light bags but it was
tremendous earthy shooting, where
we were really working for our birds.
This article was first published in the 26
December 1970 issue of Shooting Times.
I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;*-
Lindsay Waddell is a former chairman of the NGO and a retired gamekeeper
Upland keeper
Mechanisation is marvellous, sometimes, but the keeper who does his
daily rounds on foot will see much more than the one on a quad bike
T
The ?almost insigni?cant? little stoat can be devastating to ground-nesting birds of all species
patch just as we do and if they also know
what a trap is, catching them is not as
straightforward as it may seem. The odd
trap here and there, with a tasty morsel
to tempt them in, often produces a result
in an area that seems to have little in it.
Such things are all the more important
when the new traps come in (News, 19
December 2018) as keepers will really
need to have one that is ?exible enough to
allow this sort of approach at times. Make
?There is no point
in getting the moor
perfectly gritted
if your grouse are
being predated?
no mistake, this almost insigni?cant little
animal is capable of doing huge damage
to ground-nesting birds of all species.
I have seen them climb trees and get
into pigeon lofts as well as the homes of
a whole manner of other domestic pets.
From New Zealand to the Orkneys, they
have made a real pest of themselves by
reducing the breeding success of ground-
This column is in association with the NGO
For more information contact:
J^[ DWj_edWb =Wc[a[[f[hi� Eh]Wd_iWj_ed
mmm$dWj_edWb]Wc[a[[f[hi$eh]$ka&'.)),,&.,/
*.I>EEJ?D=J?C;I9EKDJHOC7=7P?D;
nesting birds. It is imperative that we are
allowed to control their numbers.
It is a number of years since the GWCT
carried out the Angus Glens Project but
it was an eye-opener. The owners of that
area simply could not understand why
their grouse were not doing better than
they were so, over a period of a few years,
the work was done to ?nd out why. In the
end the answer was simple: the stoat.
Many of those on the ground had simply
forgotten the basics of the job and the stoat
had been allowed to ?ourish unchecked.
I still recall the reaction of Dr Dick Potts
at a meeting when I told him they could
have saved a great deal of money if they
had simply asked a keeper from the north
of England what the stoat could do. He
was not amused, yet he had seen what the
animals did to partridges on the lowlands.
Roll the clock forward 20 years and
a far more enlightened team of men have
brought those glens back from the brink.
I say that in real terms as the future for
unproductive moorland, either livestock
or grouse, is conifers or wind farms.
Either of these options spells the end of
a considerable number of species of birds,
including some of the largest raptors.
The ?rst snows of the winter have
already greyed all the tops up here and
the keepers have had a number of those
freezing days already. The thing is, how
many more are to come before the sun
has a little more heat it in once more?
My guess is quite a few.
REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
he winter months can be
a miserable time for the keeper
on the moor. Short days are often
accompanied by bitterly cold
winds and, to add more misery, sleet, rain
or snow. The traps and everything else are
covered by a thin layer of ice, snow or slush
and all in all it makes for a cold day out.
There seems to be an increasing reliance
on mechanisation these days. The plus is
that it will speed the day up by increasing
the numbers of traps visited, but if it is
done by a quad bike, it will be no more
comfortable than a good walk. On many
days it will be far worse. The other downside
of the quad is that it more often than not
means that the keeper uses exactly the
same routes time and again.
My mentors always told me to vary my
route round the beat. This was not, and is
still not, an easy thing to do because most
keepers have a system where they can
check the greatest number of traps by the
shortest walk. It does mean, though, that
there are areas of the moor where they
simply do not go that often. That in itself
may well lead to the odd predator getting
away with it for a while unless it strays out
of its little patch.
One of the other big drawbacks of the
bike or ?mule? is the lack of close ?on the
ground? scrutiny by the keeper. Even good
eyesight cannot pick up the very small print
when bumping along on a bike and, though
the mule may well be far more comfortable,
it is even worse to see anything from.
It is a vital time for the keepers up here
as the now more or less annual task of
putting out medicated grit takes so much
time. It has compressed the remaining jobs
into a shorter time frame. There is no point
in getting the moor gritted to perfection if
your grouse are being predated, especially
by stoats.
When dealing with such an intelligent
adversary it is good to try something new
now and again. Stoats get to know their
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SPORTING ANSWERS
The experts
THE ULTIMATE
SHOOTING QUIZ TEAM
A polecat-type hob
ferret seeking the
scent of a rabbit
BILL HARRIMAN
BASC?s head of ?rearms and
global authority on guns
MAT MANNING
Airgunner and journalist from
the West Country
BRUCE POTTS
Shooting Times ri?e reviewer
and stalker
DAVID TOMLINSON
Highly regarded writer and
ornithologist
LIAM BELL
NGO chairman, Shropshire
gamekeeper and keen wildfowler
GRAHAM DOWNING
Shooting consultant and
sporting author
CHRIS DE CANI
Riverkeeper, with specialist
knowledge of chalkstreams
TONY BUCKWELL
Veterinary surgeon with a
special interest in gundogs
TONY JACKSON
A game Shot, keen stalker and
former editor of Shooting Times
TOM PAYNE
Professional shooting instructor
and avid pigeon shooter
C. MCCANN / M. MANNING / ALAMY / S. FARNSWORTH / P. QUAGLIANA / REX/SHUTTERSTOCK / B. POTTS
JEREMYHUNT
Runs Fenway Labradors and
a professional gundog trainer
TIMMADDAMS
Former head chef at River
Cottage and runs a shoot in Devon
SIMON WHITEHEAD
Author, professional ferreter
and rabbit controller
IAIN WATSON
Keen stalker and senior CIC
international trophy judge
Contact the team
Email: stanswers@ti-media.com
By post: I^eej_d] J_c[i" F_d[^khij
(" <WhdXehek]^ 8ki_d[iiFWha"
>Wdji=K'*-8<
Breeding from a polecat
FERRETING
A friend of mine caught a wild
polecat in his Larsen trap in
the summer and decided to breed
from it. The resu
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