Shooting days have benefits

I am writing this letter in response to the article I saw in the Observer dated and then the letter published the following week, February 12, about ‘pheasants left to rot’.

Firstly I would like to make one thing clear; in no way am I defending the act of leaving birds out as was done, because they should have been collected and taken back to a game larder before being sent on to a game dealer.

I would, however, like to defend against the extremely biased and narrow minded individual that alerted the paper to the situation, this person has shown in their ‘quotes’ throughout the article their own ignorance and limited knowledge of the shooting industry and its culture.

A small point to begin with, looking closely at the photo with the vision of someone that has helped/worked on countless shoot days, there is without a doubt no more than 100 birds in that picture, proving immediately the passer by is attempting to use the situation to push their ill informed opinion of the shooting industry.

I admit I have not grown up shooting despite always being aware of it through family friends and others that played some part in the culture of it all. But I was drawn to it through friends at a later age, to take part in the great day out that is going ‘beating’ on a local driven shoot, mainly because it gave me the following benefits;

1) The opportunity being a Monday-Friday worker myself to spend a whole day out in our exquisite Sussex countryside enjoying the fresh air, and as a bonus the chance to earn myself a bit of extra cash for my trouble.

2) The social side of a shoot day: the variety of people from all walks of life that on a Saturday morning, come rain or shine, would don their waterproofs and wellies to head out. Nurses, gardeners, retirees, children of all ages from 3-16, office workers (of all industries), mechanics, receptionists, tree surgeons. These are to name but a few of the occupations of the wonderful people that I met and got to know through shooting.

3) The possibility if you asked politely at the end of the shoot day, to take a couple of brace home for yourself and effectively have free meat to put on the table knowing exactly where it has come from. This is something to celebrate in this day and age when whatever walk of life you come from, things are tight financially.

Besides the personal benefits of taking part in a shoot day, there is a second point I would like to raise; the financial contribution that the shooting industry makes to the local economy.

Yes, there are some days when the guns are professionals or ‘city types’ from elsewhere, but there are also a huge number of days that are taken part by local businessmen, or by those that have saved all year to be able to have a days shooting, or by those that are teaching their children, or other halves to shoot safely and share what it is to be part of a team.

Regardless of where the guns come from, the fact they pay a local business, and the wages of somebody who is local, who does their shopping locally, who employs others locally, who socialises locally, who sends their children to school locally, can only be a good thing.

As a finishing note, I would like to invite this individual to come on a days beating with me next season, to if nothing else educate them on the real facts of what a days shooting is all about.’

Claire Saunters

Darwell Hill


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