British countryside

Whatever happened to the British countryside?

Years ago, if you went from Walsall towards Litchfield on the No.6 bus, crossed the Shire Oak traffic lights and carried on for a couple of miles, you would come to a farm just before the Boat Inn. The man who farmed it was my grandfather’s best friend, a man…

Dwarf sorghum

Getting your covercrops right

The reason that most shoots change their covercrops is because of a failure, but simply changing them will not guarantee success. It is vital to be honest about the reasons for the failure and to include the factors under your control, rather than just blame the weather or bad luck. Creating a…

Cocking shoot West Sussex

Cocking Shoot, West Sussex

Technology is a wonderful thing. I have an app on my iPhone that marries OS maps with GPS, so I can say with absolute certainty that the guns shooting Triangle at Cocking Shoot in West Sussex stand in a ride cut in the woods at a height of 150m above…

Lindsay-Waddell

Lindsay Waddell NGO chairman interview

Robert Cuthbert: Did you find shooting or vice versa? Lindsay Waddell: “I spent a lot of my formative years with my aunt and uncle, a shepherd in the Angus Glens of Scotland, and “attached” myself to the local keeper, Dick Barrett. From the age of seven or eight, I spent…

Grouse moor beaters

How guns can impress the beaters

I have spent a few days on the other side of the hedge this past season and it has been, let me tell you, very instructive indeed. It is easy as a gun on a top-class driven shoot to see only the end result. That steady stream of beautifully presented…

Beaters' day shooting

Beaters’ days at the end of the season

The end of the season brings the long-awaited beaters’ days. Traditionally, it was the day that the estate owner gave to his gamekeeper to invite his friends along to shoot. It has changed over the years and the keepers’ day is now more often referred to as the beaters’ day. An…

hen pheasant

How to look after birds left at the season’s end

Regardless of the number of birds you shot on your last day, it is probable that you saw or flushed three or four times as many. What happens to the birds that survive the shooting season, and how they are looked after when it has finished, is important. It would be morally wrong for us…

father and son shooters

When boys become Guns

The first steps into the shooting world are often some of the most difficult to take. For young people in particular the prospect can seem as daunting as it is exciting, but it is essential that they are welcomed in to the sport if gameshooting is to flourish and thrive.…

Grouse moor management

Grouse shooting: why moorland managers are conservation heroes

If the critics are to be believed then the picturesque patchwork of heather glens and valleys that comprise our nation’s grouse moors is a battlefield between gamekeepers and wildlife. Some groups and individuals who call themselves conservationists believe that the faults and failings of driven grouse shooting are so systemic…

White Swan Inn Pickering

White Swan Inn Pickering review

Generally speaking, a close proximity to the shoot, gun storage, drying room, kennels, good fare and a comfortable bed are the first things I look for when reviewing sporting hotels. I’d now like to throw another one into the ring: the ability to remain undisturbed. There’s nothing sinister in that…

gamekeeper on horse

Meet Dragon – the last horse on the beating line?

A horse moving with a line of beaters isn’t a sight you’re going to see much these days. In fact Frank Shellard says he is probably the last person riding on the beating line in the UK. (If you know anybody else, please get in touch.) I asked him what…

Dogs hunting rabbits

Roughshooting – point and shoot

Is there ever a good time to try to “squeeze in” a little sport? I suppose it is all dependent on the outcome. If it turns out favourably, then yes. If not, the domestic repercussions can, on occasions, be great! On this particular day, with strong gusting winds on the…

walked-up woodcock

The right way to walk-up woodcock

For many people in this country, walked-up shooting or roughshooting is how we started. It is the grass roots of our sport and, until driven gameshooting became more accessible, it was the only form of shooting that many Guns would experience. I remember as a Young Shot walking in a line with…

Turkey hunting in Michigan

Turkey hunting on Beaver Island

With another quiet chirrup, Al drew the two large turkey toms ever closer. We’d got into position before dawn, in the dark and, having slouched against the tree for a few hours with the shotgun perched on my knee, I watched spellbound as these huge creatures strutted their way towards us. The larger of the two was in range,…

Off-road driving tips

Off-road driving: Tips for shooting parties

For a large number of those who go shooting, whether to beat, pick-up or actually point a gun, one of the great joys of our sport is that we get to use our 4x4s for off-road driving, the purpose for which they were designed. For 300 and something days a…

roughshooting

The wonder of rough-shooting

Nobody doubts shooting is more popular than it ever has been. It contributes a mind-blowing £2billion to the UK economy annually. And more than 600,000 people use their gun on a regular basis. That equates to one per cent of the country’s entire population. However, independent researchers believe the actual number…

Phil Spencer game shooting

Phil Spencer talks game shooting firsts, mentors and heroes

Shooting Gazette: What was your first shotgun? Phil Spencer: “My first gun was an AYA 28 bore which was my reward for passing my Common Entrance exam aged 13.” SG: Where was your first shoot day? PS: “Two years later, on our family farm near Canterbury in Kent. The bag…

woodcock

Call for restraint shooting woodcock

In an effort to protect the woodcock population, several countryside organisations, including the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, are following the recommendation of conservationists by asking shoots to schedule any shooting until at least after November’s full moon, which falls on Wednesday 25th November. This will allow the declining resident woodcock population…

pheasant selfie

Pheasant takes a selfie

Flytipping is a scourge of the countryside. To crack down on the illegal dumping of waste in County Durham, the council installed hidden CCTV at known hotspots. But when they checked the cameras they discovered a culprit unlikely to be brought in front of the beak. A curious pheasant had…

pheasant

Sixty pheasants slaughtered in gruesome attack

The birds were decapitated and their heads impaled on fence posts at the Wasing Estate on October 10 after the attackers used catapults to knock the pheasants from their perches in the middle of the night. The estate belongs to documentary maker Joshua Dugdale, who is Prime Minister David Cameron’s cousin.…