poults

How to keep poults in the best of health

Keeping poults healthy The problems being caused by avian influenza (AI) in the UK and abroad have once again underlined the importance of biosecurity and best practice. (Read more on avian influenza.) Not only in the prevention of notifiable viruses and diseases such as AI, but in the prevention and…

lynx

Reintroducing large predators to the UK: the truths that need discussion

People who favour reintroducing large predators tend to be idealistic. There’s nothing wrong with idealism. The problems come when it collides with reality. In the context of predator reintroduction, this means the practicalities of living in an environment shared with humans. I am always struck by how few ardent greenies…

independent vet care

Independent vet care: why the personal touch has won me over

I like my dogs to have an annual health check and realised that they hadn’t seen a vet for nearly two years. My previous vet was a delightful and helpful chap, but he retired early due to ill health, selling his independent vet care practice to one of the six…

Venison Bourguignon Pie

Venison bourguignon pie recipe: slow and steady does it

Neck, shoulder or shank work well for this venison bourguignon pie recipe, cooked low and slow for maximum tenderness. I used puff pastry, but shortcrust will work equally well. The bourguignon can be made in advance and would be a fantastic supper dish or something fancier for a dinner party.…

New data shows catastrophic wader collapses

The results of the British Birds Survey for 2021 were published earlier this month and they highlight again the importance of shooting for maintaining biodiversity in the British countryside. The numbers show that, since 1995, numbers of Redshank have fallen by 49%, Curlew and Lapwing numbers have fallen by 48%,…

Jackdaw

‘Disastrous’ Welsh general licences come into effect

The licences which were described by BASC as ‘a retrograde step for conservation’ have been altered to remove magpies, jays and jackdaws from the conservation licence (GL004) and to restrict carrion crow control to a ‘season’ running from the first of February to the 31st of August. Steve Griffiths, BASC…

Stalking boots on hill

Stalking boots: what makes the perfect pair?

Stalking boots matter. Because nothing ruins a fine day on the hill like a blistered heel. We’ve all been there. Add to this the misery of wet feet or cold toes and the perils of poorly picked footwear can really add up. (Take a look at our list of the…

cocker spaniel

Long hair, short hair or wire hair?

Most of us have a favourite gundog breed regardless of what sort of coat it has, but the length and nature of a dog’s hair does make quite a difference when it comes to living with the animal, especially if it’s one that lives indoors. It’s certainly something that anyone…

River Piddle

Afternoon naps by the water and my thoughts on them

At this time of year I travel to Hampshire for a spot of trout fishing, which invariably involves afternoon naps by the water. You might think sleeping is a criminal waste of good fishing time, but I beg to differ. (Read just how much of the day does a dog…

Best British guns

British guns proofed for steel: it’s time to buy a bit of history

The late Cyril Adams, who made a fortune selling restored British guns to eager American buyers, recalled walking into Purdey’s one afternoon in search of old guns and being told there was nothing good in. (Read are English guns the best?) He noted a pile in the corner and asked…

Why a stalking syndicate is so important

Some would have you think stalking permissions are to be guarded like bank details. Accounts of falling out and “never again” attempts to manage deer collaboratively are easy to come by; you only have to look. It’s a shame, really, because the benefits of sharing the privilege are many. You…

Game Fair 2022

The Game Fair 2022: the perfect place for us to flock together

As the first swallows appear in our skies, our thoughts naturally turn towards summer activities and spending time outdoors. Plans are made, with dates scribbled in the diary for family breaks, fishing trips, visiting friends, a day out to the coast or the annual bonus for those of us who…

wading birds

Wading birds under increasing pressure from predators

I have always had an affinity with the wading birds that kept me company during the summer when I was working on the moor. I now oversee one of two sites owned by the Philip Wayre Upland Trust. The Trust land has more or less every species you will find…

deer population

The growing deer population: its impact and the options open to us

I have been thinking about the future of deer and their impact in England. With the COVID-19 pandemic and near-annihilation of the venison market, what lies in store for the English deer population and their abundance in the years ahead? Where is the ‘Goldilocks zone’ in the maintenance of deer…

Are curlew numbers declining? The suggests they are

Where I farm in Galloway, curlew numbers seem to be declining every year. There are a number of drivers for this collapse, not least the rapid expansion of commercial forestry in our uplands and a dramatic ramping up of grassland management. During the course of the spring, I set out…

Are cats and dogs killing off our gamebirds?

Across more than 5,000 acres of rural Galloway, you’d expect there to be plenty of good spots to have a seat, but there is one particular heather-clad knoll on the periphery of our shoot that I visit at least once a week during the spring months. It doesn’t look like…

RSPB accused of sensationalism and misinformation over report

The accusations from the Countryside Alliance came after it emerged that much of the information used by the RSPB was provided by a convicted animal rights extremist, some was demonstrably false and almost none was deemed worthy of investigation by DEFRA. The RSPB came under heavy criticism from countryside and…

Break barrel air rifles in use

Break-barrel air rifles: they’re for the grown-ups too

Modern airguns have come a long way over the past couple of decades. Yet despite all their technological advancements, it is still hard to beat the simple pleasure of shooting basic break-barrel air rifles. Pre-charged powerplants, recoilless firing cycles, multi-shot magazines, adjustable power and even electronic triggers are now considered…