The Glorious 12th traditionally marks the start of the Game shooting season starting with the Grouse.
All the hard work, sweat and tears over the last 8 months all come to fruition starting today. All the pest control, heather burning and moorland management all coming together, the endless days and nights of routines making sure that a well managed Grouse moor is producing the numbers required for a good season for guests, but, for many 2019 has not been easy.
Over the last couple of years, not just 2019, managed Grouse moors have been hit with set back after set back. Extremely late winters followed by extremely dry conditions then rainfall that exceeds normality has plagued numbers over the last few years with many estates not shooting at all, but, this year 2019 saw increased scrutiny from the anti shooting community and that has brought further issues.
Starting late Spring, an important time for every keeper in regards to pest control, Wild Justice (anti hunting organisation lead by Chris Packham) brought forward a lawsuit against Natural England putting pressure on them to stop General Licenses. This fiasco sparked an onslaught of anti hunting sentiment within the British public thus feeding back to the shooting community ten fold. The argument from the anti shooting community did not seem to stop in the lobbies of Westminster but seemed to be everywhere, in our childrens schools, on the streets of our town centres, in our community halls and exhibition centres and even in our super markets. It seemed endless. Now we hear that Labour are asking for a review on Grouse Shooting in General.
This morning, as many grouse shooters were walking to their “butts” or “pegs” and hoards of “beaters” were ready to walk their first drive, the TV and Radio stations were blasting their mouths over the airwaves against Grouse shooting, Morning TV and Radio was full of lies and myths against the sports and people who are believed to be intelligent and in a position of media power were truly acting thick. This biased behaviour against the shooting community by those in the media is not educating the wider population on the facts about Grouse moor management or the benefits it brings to our countryside environment. With the proposal of Labour last night having announcing an investigation into Grouse Shooting my first question would be, if you ban managed grouse moors who pays for the conservation the moors benefit from currently?
Moorland management does nothing but benefit the environment and the species living within the moors itself, it is not just the grouse it benefits, time and time again survey after survey prove that without moorland management Ground nesting birds, migratory waders, insects, plant life and even reptiles enjoy the security and protection as well as the increased food that a well managed grouse moor provides. Many grouse moors also are very competent at managing the spread of diseases or reduce problems such as ticks.
Pest control is a massive factor on well managed grouse moors, ground predators like foxes account for the death of masses amounts of bird and small mammal life, a well managed grouse moor protects a lot of vulnerable species from these predators.
Another factor that seems to crop up all the time is the belief that Grouse moors target raptors such as Eagles, Harriers and Peregrines. In modern times and with the increase of legislation against raptor persecution Grouse moor managers and keepers have moved away from raptor persecution and in fact many Grouse moors have provided a safe sanctuary for many raptor species and often estates boast that they have various nesting pairs on their estates.
I understand fully we need to come a long way to get the general public on the side of the shooting community and I have often said that the “pomp” of Game days is hard to stomach for the general population of the country because it is a way of life that they believe is out of reach for them, but, hunting is not all about killing and that is what the education should be pointing towards.
It is a never ending battle these days to keep hold of our sports, I often talk about the “antis” within our community which are a massive problem, but, it is also very clear that the education on both sides of the fence is lacking and our community can be our own worst enemies in the end. What does not help though is the constant bombardment of propaganda from the media by people in a position of power over the thoughts of the general public. I am not talking about conspiracies or “fake news” I am talking about a clear lack of education and picking up parts of the stories that benefit individual causes.
Should the shooting community come under scrutiny?
The answer is yes we should, but, we should be allowed a fair platform to be able to give our side and the chance to educate those that do not know.
Chris Packham himself was caught arguing against his own organisations surveys and investigations this year, making him look like an utter fool. Time and time again each argument that is issued against the shooting community is countered with alternative facts, it is time our representing bodies work for common ground with the “anti” organisations.
Should we be asking more from our representative bodies?
The answer is yes, again. When you see the representation that anti organisations have within public life, our organisations do not even come close. Our organisations pass their message on via exclusive days such as Game Fairs or Private Shoots, why are they not in school? why are they not on the High street? why are they not in our exhibitions centres? why are they not in our supermarkets? They should be educating and protecting our sports and our way of life, instead, they are in quiet meetings within the halls of Westminster, eating fancy dinners on shoot days and adhering to the “Old boys club” rules by keeping politely quiet. Frankly those days are over. The days of being politely non vocal about our sports are over, there are thousands of keepers, game managers, estate workers, ghillies, game dealers, beaters and foresters that rely on their jobs. Many of these people are in tied housing and have families, many of these people rely on their work not just as their livelihood. That understanding is quickly being lost.
Anways I have waffled on long enough. It is the glorious 12th and I hope all those involved today from Beaters to shooters have an amazing first day.