12 ways to enjoy game shooting!

Get plucking

There is nothing quite like the feeling of being presented with a brace after a day’s shooting, but how many of us have ever attempted to take a bird still in the feather and get it ready for the oven? Although a daunting prospect, dressing a bird is actually quite straightforward, and what could be more satisfying than presenting to your diners a bird that you have shot, dressed and cooked yourself?

Buy a new breed of gundog

Everyone has their favourite breed of gundog, from the black labrador to the springer spaniel. If you are in the market for a new gundog, why not give one of the less recognisable breeds a try? Few people will have regularly seen a German wirehaired pointer, Italian spinone or Hungarian vizsla on a shoot, so buck the trend and show people what these dogs are capable of.

Go deer stalking

As the deer population in the UK reaches record levels, there has never been a better time to go stalking. It is quite different from any other form of shooting, and the experience, even if you do not manage to pull the trigger, is a breathtaking one. A bi-product of stalking is of course venison, the delicious low fat, high protein meat which is gaining popularity.

Get interactive

With the launch of Shooting Gazette’s own website, readers can now get even more out of the magazine. The website includes shoot features, gun reviews and news from around the countryside, as well as the weekly thoughts of the editorial team about all things shooting. Our reader’s opinions are the lifeblood of the magazine so why not get in touch and leave us some comments? You can even subscribe online. For more details visit www.shootinggazette.co.uk.

Put something back

Whether it be helping the keeper during the close season to repair pens or explaining to a group of schoolchildren about the benefits of shooting and conservation, do something to help others in the sport. Working to help those who work hard for you during a day’s sport will not only lead to closer bonds within the shooting community, but also lay the foundations for future generations of guns and keepers too.

Get your eye in earlier

Practice always makes perfect, and heading down to the shooting ground during the close season can only be a benefit to your enjoyment of the sport. A few sessions spread out across the spring and summer will certainly be more beneficial than leaving everything until the last minute, and you will certainly notice the difference in your shooting, having addressed the minor problems which you encountered during the previous season.

Start your own syndicate

Getting together with your friends for a day’s sport is always a memorable experience, especially if you don’t get to see each other as often as you would like. Starting your own syndicate means you can be as flexible as you like about where and what days you shoot on, and it has the advantage of giving people plenty of time to plan ahead. The size of the syndicate and the quarry you shoot can be as varied as you like, and even if the syndicate only meets four times a year, it will always be something to look forward to.

Introduce someone to the sport

We all enjoy telling our friends and relatives about the pleasure we get from shooting, so why not invite them to join in to see what all the fuss is about? You could book them a series of shooting lessons or take them with you on the beating line. Better still, after they have got a license, get them out on a day’s sport with your syndicate.

Go shooting in a new county or country

We all have our favourite shooting destinations, fuelled by the challenging sport and beautiful scenery we encounter. But how about trying somewhere new in 2008? In the past year our writers have reported on numerous shoots both home and abroad, including pheasant shooting in Devon and New Zealand, quail shooting in northern Kenya and geese in the Outer Hebrides. There are scores of possibilities and the shoot can even be tied in with a family holiday.

Get involved in grey partridge recovery

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has done sterling work to raise awareness of a bird whose numbers have declined by 86% in the past 30 years, but it needs the help of people in the countryside. The organisation has set up 13 regional recovery groups for its members to receive advice about land use and habitat management and is also asking farmers and shooting estates to join its Partridge Count Scheme to help to monitor sightings of the bird. For more information visit www.gct.org.uk.

Say no to the extra sausage

After relieving your pantry of its cache of food and drinks over Christmas, getting into those new breeks will be an impossible task unless you ease off the treats between drives for a while. Unfortunately, that means cutting back on the chocolate, cheese, pork pies, currant cake and alcohol until you are back to your old fighting weight. If that doesn’t sound like your idea of shedding the pounds, how about walking between drives?

Enter the Purdey Awards

The Purdey Awards aim to promote a wider understanding of the role shooting and conservation plays in the countryside, and to recognise the efforts of those who work tirelessly to ensure that rural areas thrive. Any shoot in the UK can enter and size is no barrier. Last year’s winners ranged from a wild grey partridge recovery project on the Alnwick estate to the improvement of habitats of wild game on the Isle of Anglesey. Entries for the 2008 awards open in February. For more information visit www.purdey.com or contact 0207 4991801.