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Thread: Who's Fault Would It Be?

  1. #1

    Who's Fault Would It Be?

    I was speaking to the farm manager on some ground I have been asked to control the deer on in the Scottish Borders, and he has made me aware of one of the local characters that frequents the place, who appears to be the resident badger watcher.

    There are about 700acres of woodland with only a scattering of houses (half a dozen or so) at one end of the total 1,800acres. There is a gate next to these houses into the estate.

    The issue with the badger watcher is that he apparently and fairly regularly, is seen out and about at all hours day and night taking photos etc, whilst dressed in cammo gear. He is often in the woods off the pathway and has on numerous occasions appeared from nowhere when the farm manager has been going about his daily business. He actually described his actions as 'quite disconcerting' when you think you are on your own and the next thing someone is standing a matter of yards away, watching.

    The problem is that the manager and the relatively new owner don't want signs up on the gates saying that shooting is taking place, and 'stick to the paths' etc. I don't think it would matter anyway as this person seems to have access to the woods from his garden. The owner is keen not to fall out with locals by causing restrictions to their access (obviously in accordance with the legislation) but at the same time is well aware of the management requirements on a sporting estate.

    The ground is actually fairly remote and it would appear to be only one or two locals who are exercising their right of passage.

    The chances of something happening over an area of ground this size are obviously slim however, it would be interesting to see how the authorities would view a 'near miss' or worse, given the badger man's covert operations.

    When I do eventually bump into him I intend to politely highlight the dangers of what he is doing and I have the backing of the manager in that respect. To be fair, up until now he has not had to contend with someone stalking on the ground and it may resolve itself amicably however, he is described as a 'bit of a character' so we will see.

    I know it is our responsibility to take as much care as possible in ensuring the shot is safe etc, but can we really legislate for someone concealing themselves in the woods?

  2. #2
    If it were me in your place I would write to him, polite & to the point, asking that he alter his behaviour to allow himself to be seen, ie; wear clothing such as blaze orange, as badgers don't see all that good (as I'm sure you are aware), wether he agrees or not, add that a copy of your letter is lodged with the landowners, this in conjunction with due care on your part should be enough.
    Last edited by finnbear270; 18-04-2010 at 08:43.
    (The Unspeakable In Pursuit Of The Uneatable.) " If I can help, I will help!." Former S.A.C.S. member!

  3. #3
    I would make contact with the bloke and find out if he would cooperate with you by letting you know when he is about and where he will be working. No doubt he knows where all the setts are so he should never be too far from them! If (when) he gives you the brush-off I would still ask him to don blaze orange markers as Finnbear suggest plus reflective strips when out at night.
    Unfortunately many stalkers shoot on ground that is subject to heavy public access so the motto "Be prepared" applies.

  4. #4
    No doubt the risks are small, and a little modification of this guy's behaviour would reduce these risks even further.

    However, if you fire a rifle, you better be bloody sure where the bullet is going to hit the ground. If it hits something other than the ground, you will be in the brown stuff.

    A sensible conversation with the guy may highlight the areas where he is most likely to be at given times. If there are 1800 acres, that is 3 square miles, there is room for both of you. I also assume you won't be night shooting, so there should be no conflict there.

    Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you......

  5. #5
    Finnbear is right but you should also send a letter to your flo/police that reflects the letter to mr badger watcher saying you are concerned about his actions. Unfortunately, if this guy was to say that there had been a near miss it could cause real problems as you expressed.

    By informing the police that this guy is highly skilled in camo and concealment and you have asked him to make himself more visible (continental orange band is perfect) you will get some level of come back if this guy makes a complaint. He could also be a hugger so it's best to be prepared.

  6. #6
    In my experience you could sit and watch Badgers with an orange traffic cone on your head and they wouldn't care as long as you keep still! I think a polite conversation with the man should be enough, and if not a written letter of concern should be sent to him, the land owner and the police. Make it clear that if he is led in full camo in an area of low brush on the hillside which could possibly be assumed by yourself to be a clear backstop then he could possibly by accident be seeing the sharp end of a bullet!

    As you say you both have the right to be there and make it clear to him that you don't have a problem with that and you could almost be "happy" that he takes a keen interest in the wildlife because it's a shared interest between the both of you. It's not too much to ask for him to make himself a little more visible for his own safety and your peace of mind. If he gets upset point out that it's not going to hinder his hobby as Badgers have naff eyesight which he should well know.

    EDIT... If you hit him I can't see it being anyones fault but the shooters without putting signs out on the access points to warn of your activities.
    Last edited by njc110381; 18-04-2010 at 10:08.

  7. #7
    I think you need to be careful with all this advice on the basis that by writing and saying that you are aware of the potential to kill this chap, which is effectively what you are doing, you are admitting to there being a risk. If you kill the bloke then you have previously written to the police saying that you knew it was going to happen, that would not play out well in court. Now I'm not an expert and you need professional advice on this (BASC maybe?) but I suspect that writing a letter to the police and others saying that, in effect, "there is a bloke lurking on my land and I'm going to shoot him by accident some day" would have the fairly speedy effect of having you prevented from shooting over that land unless you can prove that your lurker isn't present at that time.

    I guess it is a bit like the high seat situation whereby you should not put a notice on them saying they are dangerous because the first question you'd be asked in court would be "if you knew it is dangerous why did you leave it lying about in the countryside with easy public access?"

    The other problem you have is that this loony is almost certainly saving the earth. My guess is that he is watching for "wildlife crime" on the part of the farm manager and will be right onto the Greenpeace "grass up a rural dweller" hotline at the first sign of anyone disturbing the badgers or shooting the deer. All he needs to say is that he was sitting in a hedge watching badgers (yeah, right! That's what all normal people do with their days.) when you shot into the hedge and just missed him. The police would be climbing over themselves to take your FAC off you, specially if you'd just written to them and said that some of your shooting was likely to be a danger to this nutter. Try proving you didn't just miss him, I'd say it would be impossible.

    Now I've no idea what you do, maybe a chat with local police explaining that you are carrying out a vital management procedure and that for public safety you really need this chap off the ground might open some options but the farm manager may not want the police involved or the "bad press" in Greenpeace weekly.

  8. #8
    I know it is a difficult one, and thanks for the time you have all taken in offering your advice for consideration. I can see the merit in asking for some kind of visible markings on his person, especially as I agree about the lack of impact it will have on him remaining undetected by the wildlife. I can also see where caroach is coming from as well regarding what could be construed as an admission in the event of an incident.

    What I don't particularly want to have to do is get involved in a discussion with him as to where he will be every time I feel like being there, and having to check what his movements are, when it's me who's there with the lawful authority from the owner. Especially as we all know how the conditions that dictate our movements when stalking can change several times in as many hours. It's perhaps my stubbornness but that almost becomes me beholding to him. Another example of the law being so ill thought out.

    I will certainly have a word with him and take the lead from his attitude. I may be worrying needlessly, however from previous experiences with non shooting folk it's not often the outcome is particularly amicable.

  9. #9
    Tis is an easy one the area where I stalk has a fir few public rights of way and to be honest I see people on the tracks that are not public rights of way just as much and from time to time I will find people in a wood miles from the nearest access. By all means point out the error of any tresspassers ways but dont ever squeeze the trigger unless you know that the projectile is going to end up embeded safely in a nice safe back stop. If you cant see in to a wood dont shoot towards it simple. There could be any vagrent run awy or weirdo any where on your land at any time and if you take that attitude you wont go too far wrong.


  10. #10
    A badger watcher was shot through the chest with a 243 a couple of years ago down this end of the country think the guy with the rifle shot at eyes thinking it was a fox but got a bit of a shock when he went to retrieve it,Ubbelivably he survived but think he lost a lung
    The fac was revoked but the guy one it back on appeal

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