Those who go in search of bird, fish and beast with gun, rod and rifle, develop a special affinity with the creatures they hunt.
It’s a fascination, a curiosity, an urge to learn more, a deep-seated respect. We yearn to be able to think like our quarry and understand its quirks and habits. We become absorbed, and as a result we invest far more time studying these species than we ever do looking at them through a rifle scope or down the top rib of a shotgun.
There are numerous examples of people, past and present, in the fieldsports sphere who have become great authorities on particular quarry species – the late wildfowl expert Sir Peter Scott, woodcock guru Owen Williams and sea trout specialist Steffan Jones are prime examples. Across the world, we have such people who dedicate their lives to learning more about those species which give us ‘the thrill’. And this knowledge forms the story that builds to that crescendo of unalloyed joy. Without it, ‘hunting’, in the broadest sense of the word, would be but a chapter that meant nothing.
And so is the theme which threads its way through this issue of Fieldsports. From bracken patches in Northumberland to the rainforest of Brazil, and Scotland’s West Coast to the mighty Himalayas, each author’s connection with the quarry they pursue is palpable. I hope you enjoy it...
High hopes – In the first of a two-part series, Simon K. Barr battles with a merciless lack of oxygen and the unforgiving terrain of the Himalayas as he sets his sights on one of the highest-living quarry species on the planet.
End of season solutions – Top game shooting instructor Simon Ward answers your questions.
Silence & shadows – Fascinating, difficult, elusive, sustainable and offering endless variety, the spiral-horned antelope species are incomparable, says Peter Ryan.
A genuine game-changer – The all-new Purdey Bolt-Action Rifle combines classic good looks and world-class craftsmanship with astonishing performance, says Marcus Janssen.
Returning from a respite – After an eight-year hiatus, the Graythwaite Shoot in the Lake District is back, and it has everything going for it, says Matt Kidd.
A job for a dog – We discuss tracking dogs, their training and how to enhance the chances of finding a lost animal, with Tony Lowry from UK Deer Track and Recovery.
The hunter-locavore – Locavore hunters dovetail conveniently with campaigns to increase awareness and consumption of domestic game meat, explains Julia Stoddart.
Salmon in choppy waters – Is the bell tolling for salmon farming on Scotland’s West Coast – Europe’s only food industry privileged to regulate itself? Michael Wigan shares his thoughts.
Gigas – Matt Harris goes in pursuit of monstrous arapaima – one of the most astonishing things you will ever do with a fly rod.
Who ate all the pies? – A new initiative which has involved the baking of literally thousands of game pies should be commended at a time when there are still those in the shooting community who seem extraordinarily reluctant to eat or serve the game we shoot, says Jimmer.
The species competition – Lord James Percy and the Duke of Northumberland report on the 2017/18 Species Day Competition – the ultimate test of strategy, reconnaissance, endurance and one’s relationship with Lady Luck.
Picking-up: A riposte – After reading a feature in a previous issue of Fieldsports, David Frost feels compelled to offer another perspective on picking-up practice – this time from behind the line with a trio of dogs at heel.
How times change – David S. D. Jones offers an interesting insight into the worth of and appetite for game meat in years gone by.