I hunt and fish to satisfy natural primal urges. It's all part of being a hunter gatherer. My conscience is clear. Though I would not kill an animal I wasn't going to eat unless I had a very good reason. For example, a fox was going after my hens.
I wouldn't shoot an animal just to have it's head mounted on the living room wall.
I would only take a shot when confident of a clean kill. I do appreciate occasionaly deer need a second shot.
I would only kill a deer, salmon, trout or pheasant etc in season knowing that my actions are not threatening the local population.
Your point about people shooting huge numbers of birds to sell for a tiny fraction of what they cost is a very good one. Personally I would choose not to do this. However if the paying punters are happy that the birds are going into the food chain and they don't mind paying a premium, so be it. It's there choice.
I believe that a big mistake that a lot of people make is that they try to justify every aspect of hunting, shooting and fishing, field sports in general, because we have been pushed into a corner by the antis and politically correct brigade. This is wrong we should not have to carry the burden of everyone else, but we do because modern society demands it of us.
It is a complicated mix this shooting and hunting game. I mainly eat all that I shoot, with the exception of vermin. However some gets sold, some gets given to friends, is this killing for the sake of killing? managing a particular piece of ground? or what. I don't know, but I do know that just now I am happy with what I do.
What about cute, cuddly furry rabbits great are they not, except when you are raising stock and you find that five of them eat as much grass as a sheep, then they are competition and they have to go. The same with geese, rabbits and geese are the bane of many crofters lives. I have ground where I can shoot deer all year round because they are a pest, damaging crops etc. It is not all as glamorous as some would have it, there are times it is a job that needs to be done.
It is a thing that a friend and I often debate and I always end up at the same point. As a Countryman I believe I see things differently from the vast majority of townsfolk, I see Nature, now that man has interfered with it for centuries, as needing a helping hand in the husbandry department. If I do not do things in a humane way then all you get is a bigger version of what is happening on the LAC's ground at Baronsdown, and I can do without their particular brand of conservation.
It comes as no surprise to me that so many of the worlds top conservationists and visionaries in that regard are ex hunters. They are the people who truly understand and care for wildlife.
Obviously there is the unscrupulous unacceptable side to our sport, as there is to everything. There are things that I would never shoot, and I would never shoot anything for the sake of shooting it. However we have to take the broader view, and mine is I think that at present the balance is not bad. Is it right or is it wrong? That is a question for each of us to answer to our own conscience. Is it worse than killing an animal in a slaughterhouse when the beast's have travelled in lorries for the privilege of queuing up to be killed, all the time smelling the blood and death around them? I don't think so.
Are we helping nature or shopping with a gun? whatever the answer is at this moment in time I am content with my actions.
I enjoy the whole experience, being outdoors with a true purpose that has been running in your veins and your ancestors.
I will admit that I get satisfaction when I make a kill, as a successful stalker and successful shot. Does this mean I am bloodthirsty? There must be easier ways of satisfying bloodthirst that stalking wild game...
I agree with JayB, if you over analyse anything you tie yourself in knots. Hell you don't NEED to do very much in life, but we choose to do certain things because we enjoy them. That is, everything from planning and buying kit to cleaning the animal and cooking its flesh. Part of that is making the kill.
I think - at least for me - the simple answer is that I enjoy hunting. That doesn't mean that I enjoy killing, even if that is the natural outcome of the hunt. Many people fail (either deliberately or through misconception)to accept the difference between the two acts.
To be able to conduct the hunt - and, of necesssity, kill - within a wildlife management plan, whatever the species, is justification enough for me.
The express train roar from a huge skein of pinkfeet coming into your decoys, the early morning sun shooting shafts of light through the mist at the start of a May roe stalk, a covey of ptarmigan slipping over the edge of the hill in a flurry of spindrift, a walk one, stand one day with a group of people you’ve known for 25 years, cock pheasants going to roost while you’re waiting on February pigeons coming to the wood, a dog you’ve trained battling against a January flood to pick a cock wigeon you managed to scramble down, a venison casserole, watching the pickers up work after a drive, being able to dream on the Boss stand at the game fair, a grouse shouting goback-goback-goback, two buddies to pull you out of the mud, sausage rolls and hot soup laced with sherry between drives, squeaking in a troublesome vixen from two fields away, the look on my boys face the first time he fired a rifle, the hunt clay shoot on a summers evening, loading for a top shot, having a bond with likeminded strangers, watching a peregrine pick off a teal, that hind you didn’t spot until she’d seen you, knowing that the way we run fieldsports in Britain is superb, a shout of ‘woodcock’, splashing home over a flooded field with a bag full of duck, memories of a friend now departed, being on the leader board for the flush…at least until Carl Bloxhams team arrived, a complement on your shooting from the keeper, giving your neighbour a brace of oven ready pheasants, the old boy leaning on the fence, finding sport in unlikely places, haring across a field in the back of a dodgy Subaru pick up, printing a cloverleaf group, a steaming spaniel, a comfy chair, a glass of malt and a head full of memories, that’s why I do it. Because I love it, because there is nothing quite like it.
Well said Drew, that just about sums it all up, for me its just being able to be out and be a part of it all watching nature in all its full glory, the hunt is just a part of what l love its not just about pulling the trigger, l dont need to justify to myself my actions as a hunter and if people cant understand or like what we do well then its down to them so l try not to get drawn in to their arguement.
l have a very old friend who used to hunt and fish with me then he got hitched and became a vary active sab and anti viv protester he accepts and understands the reasons behind what we do as far as regards control and management and we are still good friends.
I agree with all the above. I would also like to add that for me I feel like the creature nature intended me to be when I'm hunting or enjoying the countryside. I was'nt built to sit watching 'Pop Idol', to eat TV dinners or work for a faceless corporate business. I was made to hunt and gather and provide for my families/communities well being. The human body works well if used for the purpose it was designed for. Unfortunately I can't turn back the worlds history but I can from time to time get in contact with the caveman inside!
like you grant
i started at a very young age, with snaring rabbits and pheasants, poaching salmon and trout not for fun or boyhood adventures but as a way to put food on the table, being brought up as part of a poor family living on a welsh council estate (no violins please) jobs were in short supply and wages poor it was only when i turned 12 and an uncle whos was on the right side of the law gave me guidance and schooling was acheived , of to college to learn how to be a gamekeeper , i hunt, stalk, shoot and occaissionaly fish because i can, when i want to not as a chore this is now my life and could not thik of anything better possibly a job doing all of it , i don't hav a problem killing things for control or humane reasons or even for the table, just like i don't hav a problem with those that hunt tropys as this is their type of hunting not mine sometimes i wish i had the money so i could share those experiences aswell
really i am just a country boy who enjoys the countryside from all angles even walking , but i walk a lot better with gun in hand and dog by side
Can I add one thing. To me, almost everything else, certainly every other leisure activity feels superficial and effete. Fieldsports are one of the few things which feel real. I hope that doesn't sound too weird.
Don't get me wrong...I love music, a day out canoeing is great fun, reading is one of my great pleasures...indeed words and music can reduce me to tears, a walk in the hills is a great way to spend time, friends for dinner - love it. But nothing else is quite as real.
I have hunted in different ways ever since I could walk. Why - Because I feel that I have to! It is in me and I have no desire to shake it out of me!
Do I enjoy killing - No, I think that if I stop feeling a twang of regret when I first reach my fallen quarry then I should give it up.
Fantastic posts everyone. Far more poetic and deep than I think I am capable of being!
Man has always been a hunter from the day he first walked on this planet, it is an instinct that lies deep within us. But having the respect for what you hunt at all times is of the upmost importance. Our early ancestors held many animals in high reverence, and believed some where gods.
Having hunted with the Kalahari Bushmen, I can tell you that they still hold many of these beliefs. They have no problem with killing for food and clothing. But respect for the animal they have killed at all times is of paramount importance, and they believe they can turn themselves into their own particular animal, they are at one within their environment, just as we try to be as stalkers/hunters.
I for one have a clear concience, and do not question my actions, as long as we treat our quarry with respect and admiration then we have done no wrong.
Top man Drew, I totaly agree with you
I however had my own little moratorium (that how you spell it?) a few years ago following an incident that sickened me to my stomach.
My neighbour has a rather large farm and has always had a small herd of deer roaming through at certain times of year, I never touched them as my neighbour was very much enamoured with them roaming round and he said he didn't give a bugger about the small ammount of grass they ate compared with the pleasure he gained from seeing them.. A true and rare country gentleman.
I called down to see him for a chat and pick up on local gossip, while we were chatting the farmer from the next place down came past my bloke glared at him and swore under his breath, I had never heard him swear before at anyone.
Obviously I had to sk why, this so called sporting gent and country land owner type had decided that the deer herd, which incidently only seem to be around sporadically at best were eating his grass that his missus wanted for their horses, so he pulled a few bales together as a hide and him and his buddy systematically slaughter most of the herd...
Deer management I hear you say might not agree but it's his land?#
Well this piece of work left the carcases to rot, never picked up one to eat, then to put the icing on the cake mowed the fields piled up the hay in a make shift stack left that to rot as well...
I never picked up my gun for about 18 months as I had no wish to be tared with the same brush..