Well here goes an old mans rambling. I don`t know what to do.
l look back to when I was 13 and was given a Whippet by Sid Gooding. I became a member of the New Mills whippet racing club. The Sunday morning weigh in, the banter between the grown ups and the feeling of acceptance of my peers. My whippet Shep his racing name "MR X," and he would squabble with the other dogs at the end of the race, and I would get grumbled at to keep my dog under control. The days I had with Shep, as he would mark the warrens to let me know if there where bunnies in residence on the railway embankment in Hazel Grove above the old dog track. I would smoke them out and shep would bring back my bounty after coursing them out and across the field. I would skin them and give them to my old neighbours.
Then at 15 Shep had gone to the kennels in the sky, and I left school and was an apprentice jockey in Newmarket, my other passion was Horses. I got too heavy and returned to Stockport and worked on Building sites. At 17 I then got into beating on the Grouse moors in the peak district. I purchased my first Spaniel. I was now smitten and I built a kennel and added another 2 Spaniels and a Labrador, by this time I was 21 and married. I then got to pick up on moors that belonged to Lords Saville, Mountgarrat and Vesty. I was fortunate to run in Spaniel trials all over the country and also judge some very fine animals. I was fortunate on Keepers day to shoot grouse and then at the end of January Pheasants. I worked hard for those keepers and they appreciated my commitment, I would go foxing with them before work. I now acquired my first rifle, a Parker Hale .243 and was allowed to stalk Roe Deer on an estate in Nidderdale, under the supervision of my dear friend Peter. When I applied for my license with GMP 40 years ago it was granted and returned to me within 4 weeks. Now I have been waiting since July for a 1-4-1 variation and now renewal. This is not the reason for my ramblings.
I had been out with a friend in Yorkshire lamping, and was on my way home at 1 in the morning. I was about a quarter of a mile from home going down the road of double parked cars, the car in front was a taxi. It stopped to let 2 people out. However, the occupants had, had a few and were just sat there talking, as I could see the back of their heads in my headlights. I couldn`t get past. I flashed my lights to make the driver aware of my presence, and I couldn`t get past. I got the 2 fingered salute, and one of the drunks got out and wanted to fight. Being 60+ I did think about getting out, but being a bit wiser now I sat there for another 10 minutes until the taxi driver decided to move.
Now here`s the rub:
I have been fortunate to have trained Spaniels, Labs, Setters for some fantastic people of all levels. I have been on the Queens estates at Windsor and Sandringham during my trialling days. I have had the privilege to have shot every kind of quarry, in the most glorious of settings. I have known and learnt from some of the greatest country men in the country. I have fantastic memories for which I am very grateful.
I am now thinking of giving up shooting, yes I will at some point get my FAC/SGC returned, and maintain the status quo. However, that night on the way home, minding my own business, I couldn`t even remonstrate with a couple of drunks and a taxi driver for fear of being reported for road rage. I would have then been branded not to be a fit and responsible citizen, and the privilege to own a gun and shoot. I have had wonderful experiences and met with the best people ever, but now is the time when I think all good things must come to an end. If I give up know I will have the control, and not feel bitter of the way things are going for the country sports people.
I might feel differently tomorrow!!!