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How to deal with Guns who are after bag quantity, not quality

Some words of advice on handling greedy shooters

dog retrieving pheasant

Be discreet, says Steve Nutall of Border Fieldsports

Why are some Guns still after shooting big bags? I’m not just talking driven pheasants and partridge, here. Even some so-called wildfowlers and rough shooters seem to play the numbers game these days.

If you see plenty of wild geese on a morning flight and manage to shoot a brace or two, what could be better than that? To me this is a cause for celebration, but I’ve had clients say we should have stayed out all day until they ran out of cartridges. Why? You can’t sell the birds. And who would possibly want to pluck and dress more than a handful of geese?

The other day I had upward of 1,000 Canada geese grazing a field of split maize. I mentioned it to a client and he said his team would take the flight, regardless of cost, as long as they shot plenty. Oh, and by the way, he said, “We don’t want the bag… ”

I am certainly not a fan of Canadas but those geese are still there feeding. Not a shot was fired to disturb their dining.

So what will it take to change the views of greedy gunners? Certainly not BASC’s well-intentioned Shooting Code of Conduct. I remember a September day near Loch Leven when shooting around the water went on from dawn ’til dusk. The numbers shot were sickening. The law of averages says that some of the people involved would’ve been paid-up members of one shooting organisation or another.

We will never stamp out greedy shooting but maybe we can minimise it by quietly encouraging newcomers to the sport to read ‘The Code’.

Flying into a rant with a greedy Shot during the course of a day’s shooting may hammer the message home but it’s not the way to do it.

Shooting big bags? Tell it how it is, says Robin Scott

Steve’s right, when it comes to tackling greedy shooting – a verbal showdown within earshot of other shooters is not the best way forward.

But a blind eye should never be turned to bad behaviour; something has to be said at the time of transgression to stop it happening again.

A gentle, constructive, reprimand is always better than a full-blown bollocking, especially in the case of someone not entirely versed in the etiquette.

Whoever is in charge of the day is the person best placed to take an offender quietly to one side and have a word, preferably at lunchtime. Doing it this way the ‘guilty’ can then enjoy one or two afternoon drives and finish the day with their reputation retrieved in front of other Guns.

The trouble is that some of the greediest people I have encountered who are after shooting big bags have also been among the most experienced Shots you are likely to meet. You’re never going to change them but here are some measures you can take:

• Pick all the birds dropped at your feet then lay them neatly at the offender’s peg when the drive finishes and say politely: “I think you might find that these are yours, a******e.”
• Fight fire with fire by (safely) shooting your own birds – and a few of his – well out in front.
• Not include him in future shoots, then say why.
• If the shooting big bags transgression happened on an invitation day, leave it to your host to take whatever action he feels appropriate. Always assuming, of course, it wasn’t him who was doing all the mopping up.