It?s rare to find a more dedicated group of sportsmen than wildfowlers, but with the new season upon us, how easy is it for newcomers to the sport to get involved?
Wildfowling clubs control vast tracts of land, particularly in the south of England, and for some newcomers faced with the problem of where and how to embark on their first foray on to the mud, it?s difficult to know how to get started.
Mark Cokayne is the wildfowling officer at the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC). He told ST: ?It?s becoming easier to go wildfowling nowadays than it used to be ? gone are the days when everything about the sport was a closed shop. Clubs have got a great deal more proactive in recent years, which is great for newcomers. A lot of clubs are actively looking for new members, so it?s a great time for people to get out there and get involved.”
Tim Bonner, of the Countryside Alliance, is a keen wildfowler with the Blackwater Wildfowlers, in Essex, and agrees that wildfowling and conservation are inextricably linked. New members are also essential to keep the sport going. ?Many clubs run brilliant schemes for young wildfowlers and are welcoming to new members,? he explained to ST, ?but every club has to remember that the future of our sport is wholly reliant on the next generation of shooters. There is always a temptation for some people to get possessive and want the marsh to themselves, but that is such an incredibly shortsighted attitude. What we need to ensure is that there continues to be enough people heading out on to the marsh to sustain the wildfowling clubs and provide a powerful lobby that will be able to defend our sport.?
David Nichols, secretary of Lytham Wildfowlers, a club that does a huge amount to encourage the next generation of wildfowlers, told ST: ?The juniors are the most important part of our membership campaign.
For more information on wildfowling and to get details of your local club, tel (01244) 573024 or visit www.basc.org.uk