I started my love of fieldsports when my father introduced me to his Diana .22 air rifle in the fields outside Oban, Scotland whilst we were visiting my Grandma who lived there when I was about 8yrs old.
Needless to say from there on whenever I got the chance to go out around my village, Talybont, in Mid Wales I did, mainly on some common land plinking at targets and bottles under the supervision of my father.
I went up to Braco in Stirlingshire to help out on my cousins farm for a month in the summer when I was about 10 yrs old, and although not allowed near a gun I was in charge of helping the day to day cleaning and feeding of the claves and milk cows and I was given the responsibility for snaring rabbits. This was done on a formal basis, checking them twice or three times a day. I was taught to gut them and one of the farm hands took them to the local butchers and I got the proceeds. This was an introduction to hunting with the farms sheepdogs...they used to regularly catch rabits in the tall fields and the odd weasel if it was unlucky enough to be caught.
It was about the same time that I was allowed into the hills to shoot at my grans farm with my dads air rifle and the two cairn terriers. I did bag a few and watched as the dogs caught even more, but it was the myxi that had got to them before me or the dogs, still I put many out of their misery at that stage.
I started to work on many farms around my home village and soon had my very own air rifle an HW35E heavy but it soon started to bring in rabbits for the pot. I was given an old Diana model 52 [I think], it was a great gun but I could never fix the air loss and we never knew of a decent gunsmith [or at least my dad never gave me that choice].
By the time I was 15 I had my first shotgun, a single barrelled Baikal ejector 12 bore. I worked on many of the local farms and it was in an era when permission was deemed to be given unless you spoilt it for yourself with a farmer and then you would find many not allowing you on their land [there were the odd ones that you knew would not allow you on their land no matter what].
I got my first working dog at 16, a collie spaneil cross that I taught to round up the sheep and used to come hunting with me, she wastrained to hand signals but was timid to the gun, she was great with my air rifle as she would almost point at prey hidden in the fields but she didn't like the shotgun.
During these years I helped hunt foxes with the Machynlleth hounds, most of which were driven to waiting guns with the occasional one dug to.
I also had a go with an old pump action .22 rimfire and a .223 rifle - my first experience with 'proper' rifles. I never thought it would be easy to get a licence for one myself and so never tried, I don't think my folks would have been too happy having one in the house anyway - but knowing what I know now it would probably have been easier that it is now.
I left home to got to college in Ormskirk, Lancashire and that is where I stayed. I gave up my shooting for a few years until I got my air rifle back, a Falcon Lighthunter .22. I visited my relatives in Scotland and helped to control rabbits and used to go to the Scone Palace Game fair most years. I was also given permission to cull rabbits at a local college campus, under cover of night. A very productive venue that kept the local butchers busy for sure.
I moved up to rimfire about 6 years ago having read up on it and spoken to a number of friends who owned one. My CZ452 is still my main weapon [I px/d my Lighthunter for it and got a BSA Lightning thrown in for good measure].
The Lightning never felt right after a few years of PCP and within months I had sold it, the following Xmas I got an S200 .22 from my wife.
My hunting was delayed a bit with the birth of our baby daughter as my wife needed more help due to her M.E. Both these things keep me close to home now and travelling great distances is a rarity. A year ago I picked up my first Terrier, Bilbo, a Plummer Terrier. I have been bringing him on since his arrival and am enjoying a side of fieldsports that I missed at home in Wales. In the past few weeks I have upgraded my air rifle to an S410 .22 and so far I love it!!
In the past 6 months I have begun to gear up to fox/deer stalking. I have bought the DSC1 manual and have read it cover to cover a few times now. I think I want to pass it within the next year, funds allowing, so that when I decide I can afford a .243 [I think, over a 6.5x55?] I can be fairly sure of it being granted [or so said my FEO]. There appear to be some changes ahead in the certification so I am not sure whether it would be wiser to wait and see what happens, or go for the DSC in the hopes that it will be allowed/converted to any new format.
I live in the hope of finding a 'local' farm [within 45 mins drive max] of me that needs some deer management done. I am not interested in trophies, and, as money is very tight with my family, I hope to find a mutually beneficial arrangement [dont we all!!??lol]
At the moment I shoot 3/4 times a week and hope I have enough experience to move up to deer. I have 'stalked' roe in the Lake District with my wife and camera in the last few years and managed to get to within 75 yards or so each time, but have never been on a deer stalk with gun in hand.
I am hoping eventually to see if anyone will let me accompany them to help out and gain a bit of experience and perhaps even go on a cheap hind stalk to get a feel for it. [although my wife won't get me a stalk as she was gotten to by the film 'Bambi' as a child and cant see any wrong in deer]. I also may want to pick peoples brains on here. I am on a few of the other forums so forgive me if I repeat myself!!
Hello & welcome, I feel I know you like a close friend already, you'll soon get going with your outlook, Steve.