Ask a number of discerning country sports enthusiasts what it is that keeps them yearning to shoot, fish, stalk, work their dogs or fly their birds, and, invariably, you will ascertain one thing fairly quickly: Many of us find it nigh on impossible to give just one simple reason for why we do what we do.
Immersion in the natural environment, the harvest of delicious and wholesome food, the opportunity to watch, learn about, and manage our quarry and other wildlife species... The truth is, the elements which make our fieldsports so utterly absorbing are as numerous as they are intertwined; they're all part of a bigger picture.
The August/September issue of Fieldsports is a tribute to this bigger picture – at the centre of which is that enchanting mix of tradition, challenge, sustainability and discovery that offers a unique escape from the trappings of modern life. It's an escape which can be found on the riverbank, in the high seat, on the hill, in the hide... but now also in the comfort of your own home. The August/September issue of Fieldsports affords this luxury to those who turn its pages.
Quotes from this issue...
“Where Duleep Singh's Elveden majored on luxury, volume and eccentricity, the current owner nurtures a focus on diversity and sustainability.” – We visit the Elveden Estate in Suffolk where a rich and fascinating past is being augmented by a commendable modern approach.
“Above all, my work is done for a love of birds and wood, and has never been about the money...” – Artist T.A.G. Smith has developed an exceptional technique to create beautiful hardwood art.
“At the core of my training approach is positivity and incentive, so right from the start any retrieving exercises we do are set up so it is difficult for a dog to fail, lose confidence or develop bad habits...” – Ben Randall considers the key principles and common problems encountered when training a dog to retrieve.
“It may be that some people will always break the law, just as there will always be murderers, thieves and dangerous drivers. The question is what is the most cost-effective way of reducing wrongdoing to an absolute minimum?” – Ian Coghill offers his thoughts on the most efficient and cost-effective ways of managing hunting in Europe.
“Prices at this time ranged from £5,000 per annum for a top mainland deer forest to around £120 for a large 20,000-acre Hebridean estate which might offer walked-up grouse, a few salmon and the odd stag.” – Securing a fix of Highland shooting, fishing and stalking was once a very different affair, says David S. D. Jones.
“Why are we hell-bent on fixing something that isn't broken – far from it – and why won't we settle for allowing a nation of activists to believe they've won this battle?” – George Padley argues that there is nothing to gain from poking the political hornets' nest that is the ban on foxhunting.
“Some destinations reach into our soul and become part of us; we cannot help but be affected and changed by what we witness and experience...” – Steffan Jones reflects on an Amazonian fly fishing adventure which left a lasting impression.
“We have to learn to take them with us, move with the times, to pick up and use new and good ideas and, importantly, work within the parameters of what people looking in from what we feel is the outside, find acceptable.” – Lord James Percy points out that there are big issues facing us, and there is no hiding place, no room for complacency, and no time to lose.
“Now we were being required to shoot a large, possibly dangerous animal on the run – a very different proposition. So how to go about it and ensure a clean and ethical kill?” – Steve Rawsthorne gets to grips with moving quarry on a formal driven boar shoot in France's Loire Valley.
“Interestingly, his method is diametrically opposed to that generally taught in shooting schools today...” – Jack Francis investigates an unorthodox method of shooting grouse, championed by Richard Waddington, which can be highly effective.
“Put simply, without these guardians, especially with the environmental pressures pertaining to the 21st century, these unique habitats would die.” – Chris Warren meets two of the River Kennet's river keepers to find out what happens at the sharp end of chalkstream conservation.