Friday 31 July 2009

Poisoned eagles and the Osborne connection

Another eagle falls victim to illegal poisoning. The story is reported in the Guardian here. And once again the name of Mark Osborne is not far away. Osborne is known for his ability to take a poor grouse moor and turn it around, vastly increasing grouse numbers - and the moor's value - in a few years. Of course it could be coincidence, but several moors run by Osborne have been at the centre of illegal poisoning scandals in recent years. Here's one example. And another. And another.

Osborne was closely involved with Sir Edward Dashwood and the EJ Churchill Shooting Ground at West Wycombe. Book extract here.

The site of the latest incident, Millden estate near Brechin in Angus, is reported in the Press & Journal to be owned by investment banker Richard Hanson, and is run by Nick Baikie who was previously employed by Osborne. There's a pic of a very happy looking beater's lab here.

Local keepers are hopping mad at the damage done to shooting's reputation. And there's no doubt where they're pointing the finger.

Just a few greedy estates are trashing the reputation of shooting, and undermining all the good conservation work done by the vast majority of shoot managers in Britain. Surely we are best placed to weed them out? Suggestions welcome - comment below or email me at james(a)

Wednesday 29 July 2009

RSPB at the Game Fair

I take my hat off to the RSPB's Mark Avery. Whatever you think about his approach to conservation, he has the nerve to show up at the Game Fair each year and face the inevitable flak. The ear-bashing I took from a couple of unreconstructed old-school keepers on our stand is nothing compared to what he faces.

I've never had a one-to-one with Mark, but I recognise in him a mischievous streak. I think he enjoys being provocative, and deliberately sets out to wind up the establishment to get his point across. Read his tongue-in-cheek checklist for 'Game Fair Bingo' and you'll see what I mean. He knows exactly what different people think of him and his organisation, and he chuckles at their predictable responses.

His Birds of Prey Pledge is a clever ruse. He challenges all and sundry to sign it. If they refuse, what does that say? That they want to massacre birds of prey?

I was tempted to sign it myself at the weekend. After all, I do believe that illegal killing of birds of prey is wrong. I do condemn the (mercifully few) disgusting poisonings and shootings of kites, buzzards, eagles and the rest, as do the vast majority of shooters, shoot owners and keepers that I know. More than that, it would affirm my belief that shooters and conservationists can and should (and indeed do) work hand in glove for the benefit of Britain's wildlife.

But I didn't. And Avery's latest blog post illustrates perfectly why I didn't. I don't want to be numbered among the people who he can claim "want legal protection of birds of prey to remain". It's far more complicated than that. Illegal killing is wrong - but we badly need a debate about legal methods of controlling raptors when they become as common, and as destructive, as crows and foxes.

And I certainly don't want to support someone who writes off the Countryside March as "the Countryside Alliance... filling the streets of London with angry people." I was there, and I was a lot of things: worried, apprehensive, indignant, and fed-up with my life being treated as a political football by people who wouldn't know a combine from a corncrake. For Avery to dismiss me as some sort of rent-a-mob is downright offensive.

I think it's time for Avery to grow up a bit. This issue is too important to be sidelined while he gets his kicks from needling what he sees as the toffs and their keepers, or tries to manoeuvre our organisations into a carefully crafted corner. Whether it's for his own amusement or part of some wider agenda, he's driving a wedge between shooting and conservation.

I stood at the back of the crowd on the Friday as Avery banged on about the need to 'marginalise' the illegal killing of hen harriers by keepers. A dour old keeper standing next to me muttered "It's already marginalised you tosser." Precisely. By thumping out the same old tune, Avery is alienating thousands of people like that keeper who instinctively support everything the RSPB stands for, but can't bring themselves to work with an organisation that clearly despises them and wants them extinct.

Instead of a confrontational message about birds of prey, perhaps the RSPB stand at next year's Game Fair will feature a welcoming message to shooters and keepers: 'Come and talk to us about how we can help you do even more for the wildlife on your shoot'. Then again, maybe it won't.

More Game Fair gossip...

It seems shooting was halted on the clay line on Saturday morning, when a golden retriever ran across in front of the guns - chasing a butterfly! The embarrassed owner whistled and called to no avail.

Don't accept a police caution

It sounds so innocuous doesn't it? And after you've spent hours in a police cell over some nonsense to do with an alleged firearms 'incident', or stupidly carrying a knife actually capable of cutting a bit of firewood or gralloching a deer, it seems like the easy way out.

If you're ever unlucky enough to be in that situation DON'T ACCEPT A POLICE CAUTION. You might as well paint a sign that reads 'Criminal' and hang it round your neck. And start advertising your guns, because you won't be using them any more.

Here's an excerpt from PC Bloggs, a blog written by a cynical (and anonymous) police officer, which explains a bit more:

NCRS has meant that we can no longer attend a crime and write it off with the words "advice has been given to all parties". * If there is a suspect, for any offence no matter how minuscule, we are expected to arrest them, log their fingerprints and DNA, and "dispose" of them in such a manner that it causes a detection for the superintendent's monthly figures. Many adults unused to the criminal justice system believe that if they cooperate, everything will be all right. In fact if they cooperate they receive a Caution, supposedly a warning that drops straight off your record and has no effect on your life.

Wrong. A police caution can and will stop you getting jobs, travelling abroad or being involved with children. Even a common assault where you've had a scuffle with your adult brother can preclude you from a job as a teacher, police officer, or even taxi driver.

The result, the criminalisation of a vast tract of society who should never have seen the inside of a police cell. While the real crooks play the system with their entourage of Mr and Mrs Loopholes, and walk out laughing.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Lead shot update: a heavy hint from the RSPB

Call me paranoid, but when the idea of doing away with lead shot & bullets is 'top of mind' with someone like the RSPB's Mark Avery, and he's dropping heavy hints - like "we know that a variety of organisations are talking about this as an issue that needs to be addressed" - then can legislation be far behind?

Things people leave at Game Fairs

Chatting to one of the staff at the Game Fair press office, I learned a bit about the things that people lose at Game Fairs. Apparently this year's event yielded the usual crop of hats, children's toys, mobile phones and car keys, but nothing specially notable. Perhaps it's a symptom of the credit crunch, but past events have produced the odd item of exotic underwear, and even a set of false teeth, which were never claimed. They sat in the lost property box for some weeks until staff could no longer bear seeing them grinning back, and consigned them to the bin.

Game Fair stars

The lads from Rushyford Game saved the day for us on the Saturday of the CLA Game Fair. Without their help, we'd have had a barbecue with no meat - unthinkable!

Long after all the stands had closed up, Harriet and I spotted them clearing up their smart green burger bar after a hectic day dealing venison burgers. "Er, excuse me, I don't suppose you've got any burgers left you could sell us, only the bloke who was supposed to buy the burgers, er, forgot..."

Well, they couldn't have been more helpful. We staggered away loaded down with not just a big heap of burgers and sausages, but tomatoes, onions, buns - even some smart aprons with the "just ask" logo.

It turns out they're subscribers and big fans of the magazine too - all the nicest people are, of course! Oh and the burgers were delicious - 5 stars Sporting Shooter Tried & Tested!

Friday 24 July 2009

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Hug a fish

Just in case anyone's in any doubt about how low the antis will go, take a look at these examples from PETA in the US. How long before this sort of thing reaches Britain? And are we ready?

PETA have decided fish aren't lovable enough. So they've reinvented them with a new name: Sea Kittens. As they say, "who could possibly want to put a hook through a sea kitten?"

This one is specially nasty. Aimed at young kids, it's a 'comic' entitled "Your Daddy Kills Animals".

RSPCA response on Larsen traps

Remember the case of the RSPCA inspector who 'confiscated' an apparently legal Larsen trap? Read the original post here.

Well, I've had a reply from the RSPCA press office and, after a couple of emails to and fro, it appears that the problem in this case centres on the trap being used on council owned land. Text of the emails below.

I've not been able to check the precise details of ownership of the land, although you'd think someone living in a house was the 'occupier'. Maybe the trap was set in a communal area. In which case there's a lesson in all of this - before carrying out any sort of pest control, make quite sure that the person giving you permission has the right to give that permission.

What struck me, though, was the unequivocal statement "The RSPCA is opposed to the manufacture, sale and use of all snares and any trap which causes suffering." Presumably they're unaware that wildlife biologists studying foxes, coyotes, mountain lions, etc prefer to use snares as the most targeted, effective and humane method of capturing these animals to radio-tag and release unharmed. Such as this. And this.

If the RSPCA really want to minimise suffering, they should work with organisations such as BASC and GWCT to help devise better methods and equipment, and support the people who have to navigate the minefield of legislation while trying to do their job of wildlife management. The current knee-jerk anti response is doing no-one any favours, least of all the wildlife.

From: Rob Harris
Date: 22 July 2009 13:15:10 BDT
Subject: Magpie trap story

Dear James,

Apologies for the delay in replying but I wanted to get all facts
correct. Below I have tried to answer as many questions as I can.

The RSPCA is opposed to the manufacture, sale and use of all snares and
any trap which causes suffering. Even though some snares are legal and
some are not, in reality they can all inflict suffering at random on a
wide variety of animals.

Snares can cause a huge amount of pain and distress and can be fatal
and people need to be aware that they leave themselves open to
prosecution if they are using illegal traps or not setting them
correctly. Sadly our wildlife centres all too often deal with the
terrible injuries inflicted on animals that fall victim to traps and

Using a self-locking snare, failing to inspect snares that are set or
setting snares purposefully to cause injury to any animal, is a criminal
offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, and carries a maximum
penalty of a £5,000 fine or a maximum of six months imprisonment.

You asked whether we provide guidance on this issue to our inspectors.
The RSPCA trains every inspector in the legality of snares and traps.

Regarding powers of entry: an RSPCA inspector does not have the legal
right to enter private property without the owners permission unless
accompanied by a local authority or police officer. I can tell you that
in this specific incident the trap was on council- owned property, not

You will appreciate that I am unable to go into the specific details of
this case, I can however speak generally and say that the RSPCA can
issue a 'caution' as an informal way of dealing with the situation
without involving the courts, and where the individual admits
wrongdoing, and where we are satisfied that there is no likelihood of re

I would also like to inform you that we have no member of staff named
Andy Harrison.

I hope this addresses most of your concerns,
Kind Regards,

Rob Harris
RSPCA Press Officer


Dear Rob,

Thanks for the info.

You are obviously aware of the specific case I mentioned, but it
seems I've been misinformed about the name of the inspector dealing
with the case; I take it you're not able to tell who is in fact
dealing with it.

The issue here, from my readers' point of view, is that many of them
use Larsen traps for legitimate control of corvids. If RSPCA
inspectors are going to go around confiscating such traps it will
become a problem.

I'm wondering whether there was some other factor in this particular
case that made it a welfare issue rather than a question of the
legality or not of trapping magpies. Or perhaps you are implying
that, since this was council land, no-one had the right to set a trap
there anyway? Is that something you are able to clarify for me?

Many thanks,



Hi James,

Yes, because it was council land, no one other than the council is
allowed to set any such traps on it.

The use of Larson traps for taking wild birds such as magpies is
covered by general licences issued by Natural England (WML07 and WML08).
These stipulate the terms and conditions of use, including the
provision of a perch, shelter, food and water for the decoy bird.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, only authorised persons are
allowed to take/kill magpies. Authorised persons are either the
owner/occupier of the land, or someone holding written permission from

I hope that clears up the issue for you.


Tuesday 21 July 2009

Free video shows value of keepers' work

I've just watched a terrific video produced by the Moorland Association. It's called The Keeper, and it shows the huge benefit to heather moorland when it's managed well for grouse shooting.

The video is nicely made, with the main characters being Fred the gamekeeper and Adam, a young lad who bumps into him when he wanders off on a school trip. The conversation between the two covers the wide range of flora and fauna on the moor, and how the keeper's work benefits waders and other rare birds. Subjects include heather burning and predator control, and we see a carrion crow in a Larsen trap.

The film doesn't shy away from the fact that it's basically being done to produce grouse shooting, but that is explained in context too.

All in all a great educational tool - and if you're in a position to show it to groups of youngsters, you can get a copy free! Just follow this link to the Moorland Association website and order online.

Let's hope it inspires a few more shooting estates to invite schools to come and learn what it's all about.

Foxhunting at BBC Radio 4

It seems a fox slipped through security at BBC Radio 4, and did a bit of damage around some first floor offices at Wood Lane. Steve Bowbrick's blog post here. Some resourceful BBC employee managed to trap the miscreant in this cage (is that a bag of steak in the cage?) and Charlie was ejected 'into the wild'. I'm guessing he'll be back...

Thursday 16 July 2009

A good day's pigeon shooting spoiled

Photo from Mail Online

Ok so I'm jumping the gun, as it were, because the facts of this case are still very unclear - and clouded by the hysterical, inaccurate and downright incompetent reporting of the mainstream media.

But this doesn't sound like a 'vigilante' to me. On the face of it, there's a very simple explanation. Some pesky crop-circlers tramp all over a farmer's field. It ain't big and it ain't clever, but it happens.

Now we all know how pigeons flock to a patch of laid corn, and a crop circle is just a patch of laid corn. So what better place to set up your pigeon hide.

You settle down with your flask and sandwiches. Things start to hot up, as the birds come in. You've just taken a nice right-and-left when - what's this? A bunch of hysterical Norwegian women appear from nowhere, right in line with where you're shooting. Bloody fools! Don't they know they could get hurt? They've no right to be on the place anyway.
"I have been visiting crop circles for a decade and have in various ways been told that we are not welcome." Eva- Marie Brekkesbo, 47 (or 52, depending what paper you read). I bet you have. Any chance of you getting the message?
So you step out of your hide and tell them to clear off, in no uncertain terms. For their own safety, and because you're a bit narked that they're frightening off the pigeons.
"The gunman was dressed in full camouflage garments, had a black mask over his face and held a gun in his hands" said Eva- Marie. Oh, like a pigeon shooter then?
And then things go from bad to worse. A bunch of gung-ho cops show up, complete with helicopter, stupid shields and flak jackets, the whole works. You get the full treatment, led off to the nick in handcuffs, locked up for hours and accused of all sorts of nonsense.
"With the help of an observation helicopter that was in the area officers swooped in to stop the gunman." Gosh, how exciting for them. Cos they can't afford to take chances these days, oh no.
Your day is ruined, and goodness knows if they'll ever let you shoot again. What a nightmare, and all because of a massive over-reaction by a bunch of people who clearly haven't the foggiest idea what the countryside is for.

There, but for the grace of God...

For the edification of policemen and journalists, here is a handy pictorial guide. One of these is a 'masked gunman', the other is a harmless pigeon shooter, exercising his right to conduct lawful pest control on private land without being treated like a terrorist. Can you tell which is which?

Wednesday 15 July 2009

RSPCA bully boy tactics

As I arrived at the office this morning, I took a call from Ernie, a reader from Congleton in Cheshire.

He's had a spot of bother with the RSPCA, or more particularly with an individual Inspector.

Basically, Ernie cleans windows for a living. There's one group of 4 bungalows where he does the windows of some OAPs. The residents were bemoaning the fact that there are huge numbers of magpies around the area, and they hardly see songbirds any more.

So Ernie stepped up and offered them his services. He had a Larsen trap in his garage, and he offered to set it up and reduce the local magpie population. In fact he was quite successful, even using just roadkill and eggs as bait, and no call bird. He had no wish to kill the magpies, and was driving them some way away and releasing them in woodland. Not that the RSPCA would have known that.

Anyhow, a few days ago his trap disappeared. Eventually he discovered that a certain RSPCA Inspector had 'confiscated' it. That is, he went onto private land and removed someone's private property, which so far as I can tell was being used entirely lawfully (within the terms of the General Licence). In my book that sounds more like theft.

So once Ernie got it touch, the RSPCA apologised profusely for overstepping the mark and returned the 'confiscated' trap? Did they heck!

The Inspector has bombarded Ernie with police-speak, causing him considerable stress and worry. Ernie is now confused about his legal position, and worries that all this may affect his ability to renew his Shotgun Certificate when it next comes up (he's a keen clay shooter).

To cap it all, our charming 'Inspector' called Ernie last night and said he was 'finalising the paperwork'. He said he was recommending that Ernie should 'just get a caution', and asked if he would agree to the destruction of the trap. Ernie felt so bullied by this stage that he mumbled 'I suppose so'.

This sort of bullying by the RSPCA has to stop. Give someone a uniform, a shiny badge and a paramilitary title, and the temptation is to start throwing their weight about. It's human nature, and history provides many examples of just how wrong things can get. There needs to be a system of checks and balances. Who inspects and regulates these people?

I've sent the following email to the RSPCA's press office, and await their response:

UPDATE: Two days later and the response is... a deafening silence. The next issue has gone to press, complete with the news story in which we state that the RSPCA did not respond to our request. No doubt they're a bit quicker off the mark when it's the Sun calling!


Some useful links for those feeling harassed by the RSPCA:
Self-Help Group
RSPCA Animadversion
RSPCA Prosecutions Injustice Forum
RSPCA Injustice Blog
Alternative Vet
RSPCA The Truth
RSPCA Videos

Sunday 12 July 2009

Festival of Falconry

Today I visited the splendid 2nd International Festival of Falconry, at the Englefield Estate near Reading in Berkshire. It's a fabulously colourful spectacle, with falconers from all over the world flying in to demonstrate their art and take part in the Parade of Nations in the grand ring. More photos on my flickr page.

I saw HRH Prince Andrew presented with a male gyr falcon by His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (try saying that fast three times!). And I bumped into all sorts of folk who I normally wouldn't see from one year to the next. All in all, a great day out.


One thing always strikes me about falconers in this country. When it comes to presenting an image that's acceptable to the public, they just 'get it', in a way that so many shooters and hunters don't. On Friday, they invited 500 local schoolkids to visit the show and learn about birds of prey and falconry. They also invited along Chris Packham, star of BBC Springwatch and darling of the conservation lobby.

These guys are even making a submission to UNESCO for falconry to be recognized as part of the world’s intangible cultural heritage. Shooting could learn a lot from them.


Here's something else I noticed about falconers. They look at the sky. Most people just walk about, looking at ground level. Falconers are constantly glancing up at the sky. This chap was posing for photos when something caught his eagle's eye, and he instantly followed its gaze. A moment later I looked too. Couldn't see a thing! Just blue stuff with clouds floating in it.

Saturday 11 July 2009

I meet the legendary man of the woods

There's a legend round these parts of a man named Sean who lives in the woods. He even has a facebook group dedicated to him. The stories go that he eats rabbits, squirrels and mushrooms, was once in the army, and is partial to rum. There are wilder claims about him too, but you know how these things spread and grow.

The stories remind me of Tammylan, the hermit in Enid Blyton's Children of Cherry Tree Farm. Try writing a children's story like that one today!

Anyway, there was Mrs M and I walking the dog through the woods yesterday evening, and the little wretch (the dog, not Mrs M) slipped through an otherwise impenetrable combination of thorn hedge and sheepwire fence into the field. And then couldn't find her way back.

This led to a lot of faffing about, with me trying to push though the thorns and stop the silly dog attempting to jump the fence, which would inevitably have ended up with her impaled on the barbed wire strand on the top.

And in the middle of all this, there's a rustle in the bushes and out pops - the legendary Sean, large as life, all red beard, tattooed arms and wiry tanned legs. Quick as a flash, he's over the fence, ripping his shorts on the barbed wire. Picks up the dog, passes her over, then skips back himself, ripping his shorts again.

We hardly had time to say 'Thank you' before he'd snatched up his water-bottle and gunny-sack and strode off down the path, with a cheerful 'Glad to help'.

A legend indeed.

Friday 10 July 2009

Gyro death update

I see from the server logs that a certain Kit Davidson has been trawling this blog and others searching the name 'POWA' (the anti organisation 'Protect Our Wild Animals') - which reminded me that we hadn't heard anything recently about the murder charges against gyrocopter hunt monitor Bryan Griffiths.

The following report appeared in the Stratford Observer, but has since been taken down. There's not necessarily anything suspicious in that, but it seems slightly odd that there has been so little reporting of the developments in the case...

Gyrocopter pilot murder charge could be dismissed

Court Reporter
11 June 2009

A MURDER charge facing a pilot accused of killing a hunt supporter with the tail propeller of his gyrocopter could be thrown out.
Lawyers for Bryan Griffiths, accused of killing hunt supporter Trevor Morse at Long Marston airfield in March, are to apply for the murder charge against him to be dismissed.
The charge follows an incident when 48-year-old Mr Morse, a hunt supporter from Alderminster, was struck by the rear propeller of the gyrocopter 54-year-old Griffiths, of Wiltshire Close, Bedworth, was piloting.
It had landed to refuel at the airfield after being used to monitor a hunt in the area.
Mr Morse, a self-employed gardener and a volunteer marshal for the Warwickshire Hunt, died ‘virtually immediately’ from severe head injuries after being struck by the tail propeller.
Griffiths’ case was listed at Warwick Crown Court for a plea and case management hearing – but at the request of his barrister the murder charge was not put to him.
Peter Lownds, defending, explained that there was to be 'an application to dismiss' the murder charge so the case was adjourned and Griffiths was granted conditional bail.
Mr Lownds asked Judge Richard Griffith-Jones to set a timetable for both the defence and prosecution to serve ‘skeleton arguments’ prior to a hearing at which the application to dismiss the charge will be made.
The Judge pointed out the murder case must be heard by a High Court judge, and it had been released to him only for the plea and case management hearing.
He ordered the defence should serve its argument by June 26, with the prosecution response to it by July 24, with a hearing on the application to dismiss the charges some time in October.
Judge Griffith-Jones said: "The issue will be whether there is a prima facie case of murder. The issue of manslaughter will be another matter altogether."
Mr Lownds confirmed there would still be a trial even if the defence application to dismiss the murder charge is successful.
The Judge said the court staff would be asked to find a slot for the trial to take place, possibly at Birmingham Crown Court in January next year.

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Filming at West London Shooting School

Charlie Jacoby interviews WLSS senior instructor Alan Rose for We're working with them to produce a series of articles on how to shoot typical quarry - first up, partridges, in our September issue.

Out of interest, this was shot on the new office toy, a Flip HD video camera which is about as 'point and shoot' as they come, and plugs straight into the USB on my laptop. All things considered, I reckon the quality is pretty good.

Seen in all the best places...

The latest copy of Sporting Shooter, and some other magazine, on the coffee table at West London Shooting School.

Friday 3 July 2009

RSPB slagging off shooting again

This press release from the RSPB puts shooters at the top of their 'blame list' for attacks on peregrine falcons. To be fair, they also list other groups who might go after peregrines or their nests: pigeon fanciers, illegal falconers, and egg collectors.

It's no secret that peregrines are a major problem for people who keep racing pigeons. Check out this thread on a pigeon racing site - the picture below (linked from their forum) shows some of a claimed 6,000 pigeon leg rings found beneath just a handful of peregrine nests, and dark mutterings about birders hiding many more. These people are angry about the RSPB's uncompromising protection of peregrines, and it's clear they feel like taking the law into their own hands.

"The picture of those rings turns my stomach, i wish the r.s.p.b. would protect our pigeons as much as those with hooked beaks, or at least allow us to" says one fancier. "I want to watch them [the peregrines] cook" says another. In another exchange a fancier posts "rspb won't do anything"; one replies: "Unless we do it."

In another post on the same forum, one fancier admits: "I moved here in 2004 and May to September 2004 to 2008 every day up to 4 peregrine falcons attacked my youngsters. I offered the peregrines some indigestion medicine (white powder) during winter 2008/2009 and am enjoying watching my youngsters ranging the skies in peace so far this year."

Most keepers I know would be thrilled to see a peregrine about the place. I can't believe many peregrines come to grief at the hands of gamekeepers. Even if they were tempted, it would be too much risk and effort for too little gain. The pigeon racing community, on the other hand, hate these birds with a vengeance, and with good reason.

Unfortunately for us, pigeon fanciers don't make such a good bogeyman for the RSPB to slag off in its press releases. Pigeon fanciers are bird-lovers too, and it would force the RSPB to confront the uncomfortable truth that some birds eat other birds, and you can't protect them all equally.

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Building the perfect pigeon hide

Spot the shooter: with a hide like this, the 
pigeons stand little chance of seeing you.

Today, assistant editor Rebecca and I went to see the guys at ukshootwarehouse to learn how to built the perfect pigeon hide. Father and son Phil and Will Beasley run an impressive sporting agency providing quality pigeon shooting for paying guests. And Matt Hance runs the equipment side of the operation, supplying decoys, hidebuilding materials and much more.

Will took Rebecca and me out to a field on the Waddesdon estate, where his mate Keith Gillings showed us his hidebuilding methods. The results were astonishing - just a few steps back from any angle, and you couldn't see the hide until Keith stood up to take a shot.

We'll be featuring his hidebuilding methods, and many more great tips from these guys, in a new series over the coming months in Sporting Shooter.