Wednesday 12 August 2020

Last fling before the Glorious Twelfth....

Many years ago while in farm service I acquired an old 12-bore shotgun with a kick like a mule. My boss wouldn't allow it in the house or on the premises so I'd to hide it in a hollow oak tree in a nearby field.   Its use was a means of supplementing my meagre income.   The local shopkeeper would pay 4/- for each rabbit I shot.
Years later after leaving the R.A.F. (where I qualified as a Marksman during the Suez crisis) I resumed my shooting activities for very much the same reasons as before.  I was broke and I needed food, so many of my meals came from the land.  Anybody's land.   Folk have jokingly remarked that it was as a poacher I learned to run so fast.  I wasn't shooting for pleasure, only for the pot and only for myself.
Which leads me nicely to something I hate.   The annual slaughter of birds by folk who pay a great deal of money to kill as many as they possibly can.  They call it sport! 
On a local estate pheasant and partridge poults are bought in by the thousand each Spring for trigger happy people to blast from the sky later in the year.
. A video was once posted showing clouds of duck flying in to be fed by a chap rattling a bucket.  It was followed later by a photograph showing carcases of those very same ducks spread on the ground before a group of posing, beaming shooters.
They call it sport.  I call it carnage. 
Once we had a keeper more sympathetic towards all wildlife.  I could chat with him and could accept grouse shooting and the Glorious Twelfth.  We had a lot in common.  In those days it was a pleasure to run the local moor.  Resident ravens were almost friendly. They'd trail me, knowing they were safe. Hen harriers quartered the moor, merlin would flash by, low along some banking.   We'd frequently hear the mewing of buzzard, catch sight of a peregrine, or occasionally a red kite would stop us in our tracks...….
…...until we got a new keeper whose wealthy foreign landowner was only interested in grouse.  Everything else had to be trapped, shot or quietly poisoned.  Frequently I'd catch my foot in one of the hundreds of snares and be brought down heavily, miles from home.  We'd come across 'stink pits' - heaps of rotting carcasses surrounded by a ring of snares to trap unwary foxes. Once trapped their corpses would be added to the disgusting pile.  I've even come across an illegal gin trap and heard rumours of dogs being poisoned.  Every year we hear of raptors being shot or poisoned in various parts of the country.
The B.A.S.C. would have us believe otherwise, claiming shooting activities are all above board and in the interest of conservation.  For someone who never swears, all I can say is bollocks.
Good weather last weekend presented us with an opportunity to walk/run the moors prior to the 'glorious twelfth'.  On our way up it seemed curlews, lapwings, redshank and oyster catchers have all departed, back to their winter quarters.  It was eerily quiet.  Already!
Higher up, heather was in full bloom but there was a stiff breeze that rather killed its sweet smell.  Even when we lay in it.    My wonderful partner would have nothing of the 'stiff breeze' saying it was more a full blown gale.  On reaching the high point at 1,500ft she turned her hood up!
We returned by the 'long wall', one of three measured miles I ran in marathon training days.  Thirty years ago I'd easily run each one sub 6 minutes.  Nowadays it takes rather longer! 
  I can't skip over the grassy tussocks and rocky slopes as I used to do.  Now, my wonderful partner probably copes better than me.
We'd a wonderful weekend but it was nice to get home and relax with a nice glass of wine before the slaughtering guns take over the moor


  1. I like your post this week Old Runningfox , it is a very tricky matter and you have got my sympathy , also the pics are brilliant . I like that you are out and about enjoying the countryside and having some running with good posture .

    1. Thanks Antonio. I trust you're still getting out fairly regularly, keeping fit and in training? Heather is at its best now so enjoy it while you can. Next week it will be turning brown. Cheers"

  2. I really, really cannot understand the attraction of this kind of shooting for 'sport'.
    Where on earth is the sport in blasting a harmless bird out of the sky?
    And what about the collateral loss of bird and animal life - caused by poisoning, trapping etc? Don't get me started on the environmental damage - just look at the flooding of Hebden Bridge. makes me want to scream!
    I'm a meat eater, but I just can't condone this activity.
    Nice run BTW - and lovely photographs, as ever!
    I shall now get off my soapbox ;-)

    1. I'm glad you agree with me J.J. Another thing that really makes me scream is pictures of people posing, gun in hand, gloating beside some defenceless animal they've just shot.
      Is there room for two on your soapbox?

  3. I concur with your views on the shooting. if you have to, to eat then maybe! but for sport killing is wrong, as for your descriptions of the 'pit' its disgusting, barbaric and cruel and should be prosecuted for their actions. Meanwhile we have to try to enjoy the open moors whilst and when we can. I hope you have many more days out on your lovely moors and hills. love to see your posts !

    1. Thanks Ian. I believe our local Bolton Abbey estate is giving the Glorious Twelfth a miss this year on account of there being very few birds to shoot. Something to do with a beetle eating the heather shoots grouse normally feed on.
      On our walk/run last weekend we didn't see a single grouse. They seem to be getting fewer each year. Is it my imagination, or were there far more when raptors were around?

  4. Wonderful photographs, and you look as though you are enjoying your wine - and why not!

    All the best Jan