For 34 years, The Scottish Sporting Gazette has celebrated the long and happy love affair that has existed between sportsmen and women from all corners of the UK, and Scotland's wild and unparalleled landscapes.
As David S. D. Jones highlights, intrepid sportsmen have been undertaking long and arduous journeys for their sport for over 150 years. The truth is, shooters, fishers and stalkers have long recognised that there is nowhere else in the UK that can hold a candle to the scale, variety and quality of sport on offer north of the border.
In light of this, this issue of The Scottish Sporting Gazette showcases the depth and diversity of Scotland's sporting heritage with content from every corner, from the Borders to the Outer Hebrides ? all of it illustrated with exceptional photography.
Indeed, this year, in particular, Scotland has had much to celebrate, from the resounding success (in more ways than one) of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles to the return of the Commonwealth Games to Glasgow. And, although sportsmen and women from both sides of the border will have breathed a collective sigh of relief at the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum, 2014 has also brought with it a new wind of change and an air of uncertainty for country sports.
In a last-minute appeal to Scottish voters, the three main Westminster parties added fuel to Alex Salmond's fire by promising further devolution of powers to Edinburgh and, coupled with the SNP's proposed Land Reform Bill ? which is due to be debated at Holyrood in the coming months ? the very nature of land ownership in Scotland could be about to enter a sea of change. Alex Salmond has made it abundantly clear that, despite Scotland's decision to remain in the UK, the groundswell for change to the way that Scottish natural resources are managed is far from quelled. The outcomes will, of course, impact upon anyone with a sporting connection to Scotland, as Michael Wigan spells out.
With this in mind, the recently commissioned PACEC report on the value of fieldsports to the Scottish economy couldn?t be more timely. Not only does it spell out for all to see just how important country sports are to the Scottish people, but it also highlights just how much investment comes from outside of Scotland ? 910,000 visitor nights were spent in Scotland in 2012/13 for country sports tourism, with 70 per cent of those visitors coming from England and further afield.
As Jamie Stewart says, it is remarkable that Scotland, a country with such a small land area, should offer such a wide range of sporting and cultural activities and that these should make such a significant contribution to Scotland's social, environmental and economic life. Indeed, country sports underpin the very fabric of rural Scottish life and are much more than just a job for the gamekeepers, ghillies, huntsmen and stalkers who are steadfastly dedicated to their respective pursuits. Within this issue you will find four such individuals who have devoted their working lives to the countryside, and, what's more, have been shaped and defined by their career paths.
Not only should our rural way of life be celebrated, but, more importantly, it should be nurtured and preserved for future generations of gamekeepers, hunt staff, ghillies, stalkers and estate workers whose livelihoods will be entirely dependent on revenue generated by those who shoot, fish, stalk and hunt in Scotland each year. We must therefore all do what we can to ensure that this rich legacy isn?t taken for granted, or it could very well be lost in a sea of ill-thought out legislative change.