Shoot and ask questions later

When I was knee high to a grasshopper and God was but a boy things were different. In the corner of my uncles lounge stood a piece of deadly Ironmongery no longer found in the homes of sensible householders. Not subject to today’s security next to the shotgun were boxes of shiny cartridges; irresistible to a young boy. If I told you what I did with them it would make you wonder how it’s possible I didn’t prematurely meet my creator. Guns; … tut! Now, it’s my firm belief a gun is only fit for a criminal or a policeman. It has no business in the hands of anyone else. Sadly however in reality that’s not the case.

I met the local keeper the other day. He was pleased when I told him I’d seen the Grey Partridges he’d laid down last year. He hadn’t seen them of late … but they were still around. As I sit here in Falcon Cottage writing this post I can hear the sound of discharging shot no doubt whizzing around the head of the birds here on the hill. Something’s don’t change. I’m not someone who believes all meat arrives vacuum packs from Sainsbury’s and I’m not naive enough to believe the copses and game crops so important to our wildlife would not be under the plough if pheasant shoots didn’t take place but why do some people cherish the taking of life? As I’ve said before here on Letter from Norfolk if gun owners know what they are shooting at I guess I have to be satisfied as long as they limit their attention to what they have reared.

I was talking to a guy with a gun last year and when I questioned him he had no idea how to tell a Bean Goose from a Pinkfoot at distance. One is (legally) fair game the other is a protected species. Wouldn’t it be good if everyone who wants a shotgun licence underwent an eye test (not currently part of the health considerations for a firearms or shotgun certificate) and importantly a quarry identification exam?

… and if you are still wondering; even the best of birders with a state of the art spotting scope will have difficulty in telling a Bean Goose from a Pinkfoot … when it’s on the deck … let alone in the air!

Grey Partridge

4 Responses to “Shoot and ask questions later”

  1. 1 Alastair Savage
    Jan 13, 2015 at 7:10 am

    When I moved to Oxford I was shocked at the huge numbers of pheasants that I saw killed on the road. There were literally dozens of them, everywhere you went. I asked a gamekeeper about this and he explained that the pheasants are kept on farms until they are old enough to be shot, whereupon they are released into the countryside. Obviously never having seen a road before, these newly released birds are sitting ducks when caught in the traffic. It’s a senseless waste of life, and I also think this is a cruel and pathetic way of someone spending their spare time.

  2. 2 Stephen and Clare
    Jan 13, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Hi Carl,

    Good post (although I doubt if you meant that criminals should have guns!) Here’s another thing. Woodcock is a fairly rare British bird. I, and I expect some other reasonably competent birders, don’t see one every year and they are declining in this country. Can anyone explain why wildfowlers are still allowed to shoot them?

    Best wishes for 2015.


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Jan 2015


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