Thursday 12 December 2013

Video: culling sika in Ireland

Here's the follow-up to my earlier video on stalking sika in Ireland with Jason Doyle. In this episode, Jason is out on a lowland estate where the deer are wreaking havoc in the pheasant coverts. The keeper wants them culled - but conditions are far from ideal. Will Jason get his deer? The sika item begins at 13:27.

Video: the fox that didn't steal Christmas

The Shooting Show ran a piece I filmed with Gary Green at a free-range turkey farm in Essex. The turkeys are fattening up nicely for Christmas, and they're proving a big draw to foxes from miles around. As Gary explains, the fox doesn't have to bite them to kill them - he can scare them to death in their hundreds. Fortunately he is on guard duty in his fox box, so perhaps Christmas won't have to be cancelled after all. The item starts at 10:01.

Video: G4 Challenge Land-Rovers at Oxford Gun Co

This one was loads of fun to film - and the aerial footage provided by Skyvue adds a whole new dimension. Must save up for one of those copters!

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Someone's after my ducks!

Of course I could be wrong, but this looks suspiciously like Charlie has been scratching at the duck pen trying to find a way in.

It's getting cold at night and those ducks must look awfully tempting. We lost the last lot of ducks to a fox on a particularly cold night - Charlie had ignored them up til then.

I've set up one of the excellent Minox DTC600 trail cameras to watch the pen so I can find out more. For the technically minded, that's a pigeon hide pole, with a Manfrotto 143BKT bracket which just happens to fit perfectly - it's a super easy way to place a trail camera anywhere you can drive in the spike, and adjust the height and angle by loosening a single screw.

Video: fox shooting with Robert Bucknell

I've been out several times with the legendary foxshooter Robert Bucknell in an effort to film him shooting a fox for The Shooting Show - but somehow we've never quite pulled it off. Either there were no foxes, or when he did shoot one it was round the other side of the vehicle or behind a bush or whatever, and I didn't manage to catch it on camera.

Well we finally got one - just! This was hardly the close-up view of the quarry that I hoped to get, but at least it's in the frame at the moment Nigel pulled the trigger.

I'll be back out with Robert before long, and with luck I'll get a clearer view of the fox next time. This week's piece starts at 11:08 in the video below.

Monday 18 November 2013

Black powder, pointers and pheasants in Norfolk

What a brilliant day this was! I had a great time filming this happy band of muzzleloading enthusiasts on their annual walked-up game day. It was like stepping back in time, walking through the woods and beet fields with a bunch of chaps dressed in period gear and festooned with powder flasks, shot belts and what-have-you. Impressive clouds of smoke too! It made a terrific feature for The Shooting Show - enjoy!

Schools Challenge TV goes to Bisley

Here's the latest episode of Schools Challenge TV, which I filmed on a flying visit to Bisley.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Sika stalking in Ireland on The Shooting Show

I had a fabulous time filming the sika stalking with Pete and Jason for this week's episode of The Shooting Show. What a treat to be out on the hills as the sun rose, listening to the deer making that strange whistle-roar. Filming something like this is a real challenge, not least crawling in with the stalker and rifle, filming it, and keeping the camera out of the bog all at the same time! Still, it'd be no fun if it was easy, would it?

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Pete Wilson's trick shooting on Schools Challenge TV

I had a great day filming this week's episode - I'm sure someone will moan about Pete Wilson and his dad having a lark, but I can honestly say they were 100% safe throughout, just having fun shooting.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Friday 20 September 2013

WPA / SCAET 'Black Grouse' clay shoot

 The 'WPA Clay Conservationists' Richard Bath, 
Benedict Lawson, Patrick Laurie and James Marchington

Here's me and my team, the 'WPA Clay Conservationists' at the Black Grouse charity clay shoot at Leuchars yesterday. It was a great day - despite persistent rain - and to our enormous surprise we took the team prize.

The shoot raises vital funds for the World Pheasant Association and the Scottish Countryside Alliance Educational Trust.

Calling in a fox in broad daylight

Here's my latest piece on The Shooting Show - Gary Green out in a high seat, using his electronic caller. It was a baking hot summer's day and a fox didn't seem very likely, to me anyway. But persistence paid off and a pheasant's alarm call caught our attention...

Tuesday 20 August 2013

A new fox call to try - the Nasher

I received this in the post today - the 'Nasher' fox call - from Eddie Nash who runs the Lamping Foxes group on Facebook. So first things first, thanks Eddie for sending it through for me to try.

It's had some good reviews from experienced foxshooters, so I'm looking forward to trying it out. Initial thoughts... well, it's a simple and clever design, looking basically like a short length of copper pipe squashed into a pillow shape, with the ends crimped shut and a hole drilled straight through both sides in the centre. 

Looking at it, you might think it would make a similar sound to the WAM call - a favourite of mine for close calling, although it doesn't have the Tenterfield-style Bestfoxcall's power to reach out to foxes several fields away. Horses for courses, I use both, as well as the plastic reed-type when the mood takes me.

Without any foxes handy to test it on, I thought I'd try out a new app I've put on my mobile - I've been wondering what it might be good for. It's called FrequenSee (geddit?) and displays a graph of, yes you guessed, the frequency profile of whatever sounds are being picked up by the phone's mic. Ignore the silly ads at the top left of each screenshot; it's a free app and that's the price you pay.

First up, the WAM. Notice the first and biggest spike a little above 2kHz. Then the higher frequency spikes around 5kHz, 8kHz and a smaller one at 10kHz. The shorter spikes higher up may be harmonics of the lower ones, or perhaps they are more to do with the rushing of wind out of the side of my mouth etc. I suspect they aren't loud enough to travel far anyway. Someone more musical than myself (which is not setting the bar very high) may be able to tell me what musical notes these represent.

So, on to the Nasher. Subjectively, I felt the sound was similar in tone to the WAM, but louder and more raspy. I was interested to see that the spikes are almost identical in frequency, although the shapes are different. The line is higher in the gaps between the spikes and, although you can't see it in the screen-grab, the line was far more animated, wiggling up and down like a crazed snake. To my ears, that corresponded with a more raspy, 'dirty' sound, as opposed to the pure whistle-like tone of the WAM.

Which may well be a good thing. Experience has shown that foxes are attracted to the raspy tone of the Bestfoxcall - as one foxshooter told me, the more spit you can push throught it as you blow, the better. So I have high hopes for the Nasher, and I'm looking forward to trying it out on the Skye foxes when I head up there shortly. One thing I must work on is holding the Nasher in my mouth; doing the phone app tests, I struggled to hold it with my lips and leave both hands free to grab the screenshot. That wasn't a problem, but it will be a problem if I don't have both hands free for shooting when I use it for real.

Incidentally, check out the little fox mask logo stamped into the crimp at top left - a nice touch.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Schools Challenge at the Game Fair, take 2

There was so much to see and do at the CLA Game Fair we couldn't possibly fit it all in one show. This is the second featuring the fair; there will be more from the CLA in the next show in two weeks time.

Note the rather natty Schools Challenge TV microphone wielded by Izzy in her interview with Andrew Crawford. It's a trusty and well-worn dynamic AKG D230 which served me well when I was producing audio podcasts, spruced up with a red foam cover and a white mic cube. I printed the show's name on a sheet of sticky labels, cut them out neatly with a steel ruler and my Swiss Army Knife, stuck them on as straight as I could and, hey presto, custom SCTV mic!

Pigeon decoying in Essex

The Shooting Show this week features my piece on pigeonshooting in Essex, with Blaze Publishing boss Wes Stanton shooting with gamekeeper Geoff Garrod. It was a lovely day, if anything a bit too hot, but we were set up in the shade of the cherry trees with a nice breeze cooling us so I'm not complaining!

I'm still experimenting with settings on the XF100, and although I'm not there yet, the files come into FCP looking pretty good, with nice exposure and good colour balance and saturation. Oh, apart from the bit where I set the aperture manually (for the interview with Geoff) and then forgot to put it back on auto. Schoolboy error which I largely managed to correct in post - and by good fortune it also gave me a really fast shutter speed for the shots of pigeons coming in to the decoys. I might do that on purpose in future, just so long as I make sure I'm not overexposing in the process.

Also in this video, you'll see footage from my Sony HDR AS15, an alternative to the ubiquitous GoPro. I prefer the shape of the Sony, which lends itself better to being strapped to the side of a gun etc - and the footage is nothing short of amazing for such a tiny cam.

Just as an aside, filming the boss of your biggest client is not good for the nerves!

Saturday 10 August 2013

Tracking down the Preston Puma

Here's a video I made about David Glyn Jones, who is on the trail of what he believes is a puma living wild on some rough ground just outside his home town of Preston. David is deaf, which to my untrained eye appears to go some way to explaining why he is more observant than average. Plus he's been tracking wildlife since he was a boy, and loves spending time outdoors. He can look at a tree branch, patch of Himalayan balsam or a grass field and spot signs that I wouldn't have noticed in a million years. Tracking down whatever-it-is has become something of an obsession for him. I managed to borrow a couple of trail cameras from Minox to help with his quest. I went to visit him at home last week, and this is the result.

Thursday 8 August 2013

Stalking roebucks in the rut with Paul Childerley

This week's Shooting Show features an item I filmed and edited just a few days earlier. I went out with ace stalker Paul Childerley and novice Natalie Parker, to film her attempt to shoot her first roebuck. Things didn't go to plan - perhaps it was the change in the weather but the roe just weren't that keen on the call. Drawing a blank on the first day, we returned for a second attempt, with time running out to film the vital sequence and edit it all together for the show - but in the end it all came together and we ended up with this item for the show:

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Video report from the CLA Game Fair 2013

Here's the latest episode of Schools Challenge TV, straight from the weekend's CLA Game Fair at Ragley Hall. You can practically feel the heat of the sun burning down on Gunmakers' Row! Lugging the camera around in that weather was no joke, but I'm pleased with the result, and Fieldsports Channel have done a great job of turning it round so quickly for tonight's show. I particularly liked giving the microphone to the youngsters of the Schools Challenge Academy so they could ask their own questions of some top people in the gun trade.

Video: pigeon shooting with Geoff Garrod

Here's my latest piece on The Shooting Show - I made the first item in this week's show, with gamekeeper Geoff Garrod and Tomas Atienza of Eley Hawk out after pigeons in Essex. After a wet start, the sun breaks through and things begin to pick up, and Geoff and Tomas finish with a respectable total for the day.

The show also includes an extended news report from the CLA Game Fair - well done the Blaze team for filming and editing that so quickly to get the report out the day after the event.

Buzzard strikes again

A buzzard has struck again, dragging an osprey chick from the same nest where one of the rare birds of prey was killed by a buzzard last year - and the attack was again caught on camera.

"This is the second year that Buzzards have attacked the chicks, last year one was killed by the buzzards, this year both chicks (almost fully grown) were removed from the nest by Buzzards," writes Jake Webster from the Lochter Activity Centre in Aberdeenshire, who caught the footage on a fixed CCTV camera. View the video here:

Monday 22 July 2013

Phew, what a scorcher!

I'm just back from the 2013 CLA Game Fair, which was an absolute scorcher. I had no way of checking, but it certainly felt like the daytime temperatures were well into the 30s, and it didn't seem much cooler in the tent at night.

I was kept pretty busy filming for Schools Challenge TV - you'll see the first programme on Tuesday (David Wright is busy editing the footage as I write), but I did manage to catch up with a few old friends, despite missing a good many more.

With only a video camera to hand most of the time, and precious little mobile phone coverage for the three days, I took very few still photos to capture the atmosphere of the event, but this one appealed so much I whipped out my phone and snapped it while glugging cold water as fast as I could.

It's Charlie Jacoby's cocker, Muffin, proudly wearing her press pass as we sat around the Fieldsports Channel encampment behind the Press Centre.

Black grouse and wind farms - my article in Shooting Times

I was thrilled to see my article in the Game Fair issue of Shooting Times - it's a piece on the latest research being carried out by the World Pheasant Association to determine the effect of wind farms on black grouse.

Basically the proliferation of wind turbines across the bird's habitat could be a good thing (perhaps because it provides a refuge from raptors) or it could be a bad thing (if, for instance, the turbine noise interferes with the wonderful sound the males make when lekking).

The WPA has been funding research to find out more, and I was particularly intrigued by the work of Newcastle University PhD student Mieke Zwart, who is featured in the article. What they couldn't include in the article was this, the sound of blackcock lekking, which was recorded by Mieke - a wonderful, evocative sound.

Here's an image of the waveform of that sound:

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Gary Green foxing on The Shooting Show

Here's my latest effort on The Shooting Show - Gary Green out after a fox that's been killing chickens on a large free-range poultry farm in Essex. That was a long day's filming, finishing with me getting home after sunrise, but it was worth it to get a really interesting sequence that tells the story from start to finish. Some day I'll have to blog about the technical challenges of filming a wary quarry in pitch blackness without spooking it - not the easiest task!

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Land Rovers on Schools Challenge TV

Here's the latest episode of Schools Challenge TV. I particularly enjoyed filming the Land Rover sequence on what was a difficult day with a lot of heavy rain, and the wind in the worst possible direction blowing the noise from the nearby motorway right towards us.

Putting up a tipi to music

Just to prove I can film something other than shooting, here's a little film I made after a camping trip with daughter Emma and her boyfriend Steve last autumn. That woodburner transformed what would otherwise be a chilly and rather miserable experience - a superb bit of kit.

Friday 28 June 2013

I've signed this, you should too

If we are going to fight off unwarranted further restrictions on lead shot, it's important that we comply with the law as it stands.

Too often (even once is too often) shooters can't or won't switch to non-lead cartridges for a duck drive during a pheasant day. In England and Wales, that's illegal. If you're shooting ducks or geese, even miles inland and far away from wetlands, you must use non-lead shot.

The antis can all too easily point to ducks shot with lead and claim we can't be trusted to police ourselves, then call for a total ban on lead shot.

So: keepers, estate owners and shoot managers. Make this the season when you arrive at the duck drive with a box of non-lead cartridges for each Gun and insist the buggers use them, or be thrown off. The future of our sport depends on it.

I've signed this pledge, supported by all the major shooting and gamekeeping organisations. Please do the same, now.

Interview with Richard Ali, BASC's new chief exec

Sporting Shooter has published my interview with Richard Ali, the new chief executive at BASC. As the headline suggests, I found him full of fighting talk and he has some interesting ideas on how we can promote shooting. I look forward to seeing the results!

You can read my interview on the Sporting Shooter website here.

Schools Challenge TV - stars of the future

Here's the latest episode of Schools Challenge TV. As always, it was a pleasure working with the youngsters at the Schools Challenge Academy, and I was impressed with their ambition. They're certainly setting their sights high, but they are realistic about the hard work and dedication it will take to achieve their aims.

Thursday 20 June 2013

Conserving endangered pheasants - my article on the WPA in The Field

I'm thrilled to see my article in this month's issue of The Field on the splendid work done by the World Pheasant Association to conserve endangered species of pheasants in Nepal. It really is a great, positive story of real-world, practical conservation work, done by an unsung group comprised mainly of fieldsports enthusiasts. And The Field have done it proud, giving it four pages with some of the splendid photos taken by the WPA over the years.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Pigeonshooting on The Shooting Show

Here's the latest episode of The Shooting Show, with my piece on Geoff Garrod shooting pigeons over rape. That was an enjoyable day's filming, and I managed to capture a good few pigeons being hit - always a challenge with video!

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Schools Challenge TV CLA Game Fair preview

Here's the latest episode of Schools Challenge TV, which this week features a preview of the CLA Game Fair. I love filming at Oxford Gun Co with the youngsters in the Schools Challenge Academy, their enthusiasm for shooting is so infectious! I'll be filming at Oxford Gun Co again this Saturday - it's their open day so there's lots going on. If you're there, come and say hello - I'll be the one with a bleedin' great video camera on a tripod!

Gary Green on The Shooting Show

This week's The Shooting Show features an item I filmed with foxshooter Gary Green. It follows him over a full day and night of trying to get a particularly elusive vixen that had evaded him for over a year. Did he succeed? Watch and find out!

Video - Merkel & Leica go foxing with Tim Pilbeam

Here's a video I made recently for Merkel, the German gunmaker. It's the story of their visit to top British foxshooter Tim Pilbeam to find out how we Brits go about shooting foxes at night - something that isn't possible in most countries in Europe due to their different laws.

Monday 4 February 2013

Chinese Water Deer on The Shooting Show

Check out this week's episode - I did a bit of the behind-the-scenes stuff on the CWD sequence. Actually I'm being far too modest, I filmed and edited that segment myself!