The importance of fieldcraft in airgun hunting

My use of the all-encompassing moniker the “shooting sports” has been troubling me lately. It’s a convenient catch-all term. However, I’ve been wondering if it’s fit for purpose. While part of what I do when hunting does involve shooting, pulling the trigger is a small part of the whole –…

In Search Of One Last Song

My study is filled with books on hunting and shooting, beasts and butterflies, flowers and fungi, but mainly books on birds. I’ve never counted, but there are hundreds of them, ranging from David Bannerman’s masterly 12-volume work, The Birds of the British Isles, to my most recent acquisition, Gary Kramer’s…

red stags

Countryside citizens express anger over mass trespass

Justifying the event, author and land reform campaigner Guy Shrubsole told The Big Issue: “Regular access to nature is vital to people’s physical and mental health, yet so much of England’s countryside is shut off behind fences and intimidating signs.” The organisers of the ‘Right to Roam’ protest claim that…

South Hams, South Devon, UK

Mass trespass on estate in Devon

On 8th May a mass protest organised by protest body Right to Roam trespassed on the Duke of Somerset’s South Hams estate. Participants picnicked and marched through the estate. It is reported that the action represented the start of a month-long, nationwide campaign by the pressure group, which wants to…

Grey partridge nesting

Grey partridge nesting: what makes the perfect habitat?

I parked the truck underneath a gnarled old oak that crookedly stands at the end of a hedge, a mix of elm sucker, maple and hawthorn. My eyes were on the bund that lay 50m away, made by piling subsoil from a pond creation into a 2m-high ridge on to…

Rat

Over the counter rodenticides posing threat to Britain’s wild birds

Brodifacoum and Bromadiolone are types of poison called second generation anticoagulant rodenticide (SGARs). These poisons were introduced in the late 1970s as rats and mice evolved resistance to existing poisons such as Warfarin. Brodifacoum and other SGARs work by blocking the action of vitamin K and by weakening capillaries. Together…

Grey squirrels – the science behind the impact of the invasive species

I imagine most people reading this will agree that grey squirrels are a wholly unwelcome addition to our national fauna. However, the majority of Britons aren’t rustics or readers of Shooting Times. More than 80% of the UK population lives in towns and cities and for the majority of them…

female capercaillie

Capercaillie could be extinct in Scotland in 20 years, says report

Scottish Capercaillie at risk The report commissioned by Nature Scot looked at the causes of the decline in the numbers of the birds and at how the decline could be addressed. In recent years, a number of very large estates in the bird’s core range in Badenoch and Strathspey have…

Concerns raised over white-tailed eagle death

In a brief statement, Dorset Police said: “Sadly, two of the Sea Eagle England Isle of Wight reintroduced white-tailed eagles have recently been recovered dead on multi-agency operations in the south of England, including one in Dorset in late January. An investigation is underway to ascertain the causes death of…

mountain hare

Mountain hare numbers on the rise according to latest data

Mountain hares are Britain’s only truly native Lagomorph and in recent years their numbers have been in steep decline due to climate and land use change. However, the new data shows that under the care of Peak District gamekeepers they are doing well. In order to understand how populations of…

electric vehicle as shooting wagons

Electric vehicles as shooting wagons – are they up to the job?

’With motoring turning towards the greener side, we’re definitely seeing an increase in the number of electric vehicles in our cities, towns and villages. But what does this mean for your average shooting type? Are electric vehicles as shooting wagons practical? An eco-friendly option is likely to perform when it’s…

Muirburn

Burning helps store carbon according to new study

The claim that controlled burning is harmful and causes damaging releases of carbon dioxide has been increasingly used to criticise traditional upland management in recent years, with a focus on the use of muirburn on grouse moors. However, an authoritative new study has demonstrated that properly used, fire can boost…

Hedgerow

What we need to do about peat

It’s rather difficult to know quite where to start with the carbon debate, when, according to my research, we have been losing carbon into the atmosphere from our soils since the dawn of agriculture some 12,000 years ago, when we began tillage. The figure I saw was an eye-watering 133…

gamekeeper on moorland

Why gamekeepers are the best sustainable farmers

The word ‘sustainability’ is buzzing like a swarm of bees. But what does it mean for fieldsports? The simplest definition of sustainability is this: doing something today in a way that doesn’t detract from it being done in the future. So if I sell some of my sheep for meat,…

Woodpigeon

More than a quarter of UK birds in serious decline

The list, which is drawn up by all the UK’s bird conservation groups including the GWCT, is updated every three years and categorises the status of birds as either red, amber or green. The ‘red list’ of birds of the highest conservation concern has increased in length by three species,…

Sea eagle

What is rewilding?

I expect most readers of Shooting Times will have a similar opinion of Chris Packham as mine, but I thought he plumbed new depths when he tried his latest PR stunt, calling on the royal family to rewild their lands. Rewilding – what is it anyway? Pick about the only…

lead ammunition

65% of country’s shoots will be ‘lead free’ by end of 2023, according to survey

The Savills Game and Conservation Benchmarking Survey found that the vast majority of shoots had already got rid of plastic shotgun wads and that most were expecting to transition away from lead shot. Conservation work is also being given increasing priority by shoots with two-third of respondents saying they undertook…

on grouse moor

Climate change – shoots use nature-based solutions to tackle problem

Restoring petland has been identified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as one of the key tools to sequester Carbon and it is an opportunity shooting estates have eagerly taken up. The Sphagnum mosses which make up peat lock up carbon dioxide much more quickly and for…

hen harrier

Hen harrier chick numbers soar on managed moorland

Reports of successful hen harrier nests from around the country raise the prospects of another record-breaking year for hen harrier numbers. Land managers have reported 24 successful nests on moorland in Northumberland, North Yorkshire, County Durham, Cumbria, Derbyshire and Lancashire. Of the 24 successful nests, 19 are on moors managed…