Sunday 29 March 2009

Rabbits, rifles, Berettas and more

Whew! What a week that was. I've been rabbit stalking and lamping with Terry Le Chem...

And taken Chloe Finch from the Countryside Alliance to learn rifle shooting with Ian Spicer of Red Deer Outdoors, at the British Sporting Rifle Club at Bisley...

Along the way, I came across some terrific bushcraft items by Neil Andrews (who cooks a mean venison stir-fry, and will shortly be instructing on some new bushcraft courses at Cowdray in Sussex)...

And I discovered Schultz & Larsen rifles, which I'd never encountered before, and discovered they're really rather good (here's Ian Spicer firing one)...

So to relax this weekend, I went fishing and caught my first fish of the year – two trout which are now in the fridge being turned into trout gravadlax, a cunning recipe borrowed from Mark Gilchrist (you'll find it in the June issue of Sporting Shooter)...

...just one little hiccough – today I discovered some lowlife has cloned my bank card, and is currently living it up in Canada at my expense! The bank has frozen my account, so that's put paid to his fun. It also has the unfortunate side-effect that I can't use my bank account either. Hmm.

Friday 27 March 2009

What a cheek!

A fox has climbed onto the ferret hutch and left a calling card!

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Conversations with antis

If you haven't yet discovered Holly Heyser's Norcal Cazadora blog, then get over there and check it out - always an entertaining, thought-provoking read, as well as an inspiration to women hunters (or shooters as we'd call them here).

Her recent post on her conversation with an anti-hunter is a great example. It reminded me that most of the 'antis' I meet aren't really anti-shooting/hunting at all. They are happy to accept that people kill animals to eat them, or to protect crops and prevent the spread of disease. They'll even accept the social, environmental and conservation benefits of shooting and other field sports.

Their objections boil down to two main areas: i) A misguided idea that most shooters are rich toffs walking roughshod over the local peasants and wildlife, and ii) They are really bothered by what they imagine goes through a shooter's head at the moment he/she pulls the trigger.

Non-shooters don't get why we would go to all that bother and expense to shoot something we could buy in the supermarket for a couple of quid. So they fill in the gap for themselves, imagining some twisted orgasmic thrill at the death of another creature.

To me, that says more about them than it does about me. But it's a real PR problem that we, as shooters, face. And I don't know how we begin to tackle it. Any ideas?

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Red-nosed Salter's £200 perch

OK he's a politician, and a Labour one at that, but how could you not warm to MP Martin Salter? Not only does he treat the antis with the contempt they deserve, he's also happy to make a fool of himself in aid of a good cause, and promote fishing at the same time - sponsored by the All Party Parliamentary Group to catch a fish on Red Nose Day, he raised £200 for Comic Relief by catching this 2lb 12oz perch (none of that foreign kg nonsense) on a tributary of his local River Kennet near Aldermaston. Could we have some more politicans like him please?!

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Dogfood price rise

The Terrierman has highlighted the astonishing rate of price increases for dogfood in recent years. Read his post here »

Monday 9 March 2009

Gyrocopter hunt death

The gyrocopter, pictured on 12 Feb overflying a hunt
- pic from
forum at

A hunt supporter has been killed by a gyrocopter thought to be following hunts in the Warwickshire area. Two people have been arrested on suspicion of murder. BBC News story here »

More info here » It seems that complaints have been made recently about a gyro swooping aggressively over the Warwickshire and Heythrop hunts. "It is understood that an animal rights' group, Protect Our Wild Animals (Powa), has been monitoring the Warwickshire and the Heythrop hunts from a gyrocopter over the past three weeks."

Comment from the airfield manager suggests the aircraft was taxiing at the time it struck Trevor Morse, 48. There's obviously more to this story than meets the eye. Could Mr Morse have gone to remonstrate with the pilot?

Regd owner here

Selection of photos of the aircraft here

Note the video camera mount beside the passenger seat on this image here

Discussion on a pilots' forum here

...and on a gyro forum here

...another flyers' forum here

...and here's a thing - a pic of the self-same gyro, taken by a hunt supporter and posted on 12 Feb, with the comment "Has anyone come across this character at all. He was flying above us today while we were on hound exercise". EXIF data shows it was taken with a 400mm lens on a Canon 40D, so it wasn't as close as it looks, but even so...

Update: The League Against Cruel Sports has issued a statement distancing itself here »

Gyrocopter tactics show 'desperation' of antis - Times Online.

Update 11 March: One man charged with murder - BBC report here »

Update 12 March: POWA have now posted a statement on their website: "The incident which took place at Long Marston on Monday 9th March was a tragedy. We send our condolences to the family of the deceased."

Warwicks Police news releases here »

Bryan Griffiths, 54, has appeared in court charged with murder. Story in the Sun here. The court was told that an eyewitness filmed the incident with a video camera.


Interesting speculation here on the pprune forum:
I'm told that the video is horribly clear. The aircraft set off, from a standstill, towards him, and mowed him down head-on. The aircraft passenger is a well-known animal rights activist with a long and repulsive list of convictions. The video was shot by a third anti, who was doing a ground support/handling role.

This post is clearly bothering the antis, who would rather brush the whole thing under the carpet. I've had the following 'comment' from 'Phasianus' which may or may not be is a feeble disguise for the anti-shooting extremist, woodworker and general busybody Kit Davidson of Animal Aid:
This appalling incident was an undeniable tragedy for everyone involved, most of all for the victim's family. But what has all this got to do with the editor of a shooting magazine? Why are you further reporting on an occurrence that is already well covered in the mainstream news media? Why are you doing your own little web trawl to gather and publish as much information on this non-shooting issue as you can? You must be the only editor in the Argent [sic] stable of titles who under the apparent auspices of his magazine, is working outside of his brief, following his own agenda and neatly filing his missives under 'antis' and 'foxhunting'. There is a clue there, isn't there James? But I may not be the only one to notice that despite the almost simultaneous prominent jailing of huntsman Christopher Marles, who used his mount to dangerously assault an 'anti', you have failed to report or file this criminal conviction in which the Recorder labelled Marles a "drunken lout". I don't care if you block the publication of my comment or not. Prejudice exists doesn't it James?
Cunningly poisonous stuff - in a few short sentences he has attempted to belittle my efforts, drive a wedge between different branches of fieldsports, threaten me with the disapproval of my employers, and suggest that the jailing of someone for ABH somehow has some relevance to the welfare of foxes. But then twisting the truth and peddling bigotry is his stock in trade.

Take the Countryman Challenge

Can you shoot well with a shotgun AND an air rifle? Here's your chance to test your ability - and grab your share of a fabulous prize fund.

Come along to our Countryman Challenge event near Salisbury on 1 and 2 August. There's fun for the whole family, with have-a-go stands, a trade village, and catering by Sporting Shooter's top game chef Mark Gilchrist.

More info here ». Get along and book your place now - it's filling up fast!

Friday 6 March 2009

Free food for the unemployed

I've been enjoying the blog Rabbit Stew by "Hubert Hubert in The Wild West Midlands" who describes himself as a "jobless, middle-aged bloke who takes to the fields with an air rifle in search of free food." He takes an unusual look at subjects that are familiar to us shooters - his latest post, for instance, is entitled Zen and the art of shooting rabbits.

Best shooting blogs list

Had an email today from Kelly Sonora to tell me this blog is included in her list of 50 Best Blogs for Gun Enthusiasts. Which is nice. It's a bit US-focused, but I shall now spend the next hour browsing all the other blogs on her list, when I should be working!

Just for the record, one of my favourite US shooting websites (although not a blog) is - packed with useful advice and info. Maybe I should compile a list of top shooting websites - suggestions welcome!

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Missing dog - Saffron Walden area

If you're in the Saffron Walden area, please keep an eye out for Jacob, a Bracco Italiano that went missing at the end of January - last seen near Audley End House on the afternoon of 26 Jan. More info here...

Tuesday 3 March 2009

New videos on using the Ferret Finder 3

Simon Whitehead of Pakefield Ferrets has produced a series of three videos for Deben, the makers of the Ferret Finder 3. After a shaky start, the new-style Ferret Finder is an excellent bit of kit - and these videos will help you get the best out of it. This one is an 'in the field' demo:

Sunday 1 March 2009

Sunday Times reveals how informant foiled animal terrorist attacks

There's a fascinating story in today's Sunday Times (read it here) telling how an informant infiltrated the violent animal rights movement. His brave work from 2004 to 2007 contributed to putting some of the worst extremists behind bars, and attacks have fallen sharply, but the article ends with a warning: “There are just enough out of prison to keep the climate of fear going.”