Sunday, December 02, 2007

If you go down to the woods today ...

A QUITE extraordinary thing happened to me on Wednesday. I was out shooting with a few friends and we were walking from one field to the next down a country lane when a battered old Citroen screeched to a halt, the window was wound down and a young hippyish woman stuck her head out and shouted “Murderer” at me.

I was that surprised that I looked round in case the ghost of Fred West had snuck up behind me un-noticed, but no, it was me at which her dreadlocked bile was aimed. Murderer? Well, I suppose that technically she might have been correct, especially if she was representing the late Phil the Pheasant in court, although I prefer to think of myself as a Patron of the Countryside.

I hasten to add that this took place in six-fingered, brother-cuddling-sister, rural territory. I’d expect some stick wandering through Islington carrying a 12 bore and a dead hare that had wandered into range, but not in deepest Borsetshire. And neither is our little group dressed well enough to inspire class envy. Tweed shooting suits and fat bankers in silly trousers are in short supply. A smelly old Barbour, some thorn-torn cords and a pair of supermarket wellies is the height of sartorial elegance in these parts.

And that’s the whole point. Our little shoot is a modest affair at which Courvoisier and conversation is as important as killing. It’s a million miles from the big corporate shoots with their 300-bird days and their Disneyland, three-course lunch “countryside experiences”. We’re happy to go home with a brace apiece, and the height of epicurean luxury is sharing a Kit Kat with a damp spaniel in an abandoned pig-sty.

But the fees we pay help the dairy farmer on whose land we shoot keep his head above water; the fact that he needs to provide a habitat for his mainly wild birds means that hedgerows and uncultivated strips along the borders his fields provide refuge for all sorts of wildlife. And then, once a fortnight, we come along and try to kill it, not very successfully. When I’m driving to work the next morning, the massed ranks of surviving pheasants regularly line up on the wall and mock me as I go past.

So being called a “Murderer” by a bunny-hugging, Guardian-reading, lentil-eating, benefits-claiming, pot-smoking soap-dodger with pink hair driving a polluting old car rankled somewhat. (How do I know this? I later established that the lady was part of a group of “travellers” who’d parked their caravans up by the woods at Tatchell’s Bottom. It’s OK – I’ve since called the council and had them towed away.)

I suppose what surprised me so much was the patent lack of understanding about the role shooting plays in both the economy and social life of the country. But who are we to expect townies to appreciate the nuances?

It’s the same every year when a paparazzi with a long lens catches Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II strangling a wounded pheasant at Sandringham. (And the same story does surface every year, most recently in The Sun last month. Type it into that Interweb thingy and you’ll see what I mean.) Suddenly the nation is expected to be horrified at such brazen brutality.

So the Queen acts as a “picker-up” at the shoot, collecting fallen birds, when she comes across one that is wounded but not quite Norwegian Blue. What’s she supposed to do with it? Rush it round to the bloody vets? This is a bird with a brain the size of a microbe that can’t even fly very well. Its only reason for existing is so that someone can shoot it. On the food chain, it would rank just beneath a Fourth Division footballer.

I know that if I was a mortally wounded pheasant, shot down on my own personal version of the Dresden raids, I’d rather be finished off by a Royal tweaking my neck than be left in a ditch for Mr Fox to find once night falls.

And then they wheel out some animal rights loony to accuse Her Maj of institutional cruelty. (Don’t forget – these are the same people who would dictate what you can eat in your local restaurant.)

Do they really think that? Do they really think that Lizzie sits in front of the television at Windsor Castle watching I’m A Celebrity while a be-wigged flunky stands by with a sack of partridges in case she fancies a quick strangle?

“Pass me another bird, Carruthers. That American woman is getting right up one’s nose. Oh, and put me a tenner on Biggins to win.”

The other annoying thing about some of the anti-shooting lobby is their blatant hypocrisy. At least the lentil-eaters are honest about their prejudices. The problem is the massed ranks of middle-class animal lovers who are quite content to keep cats (so content in fact that they often smell of them), yet while I’m bringing down a couple of pheasants for the pot, little Tiddles is busy wiping out the local songbird population with a Hitler-esque gusto.

And they don’t mind eating poultry that has been farmed in atrocious conditions, but pull a lemon-sucking face about the death of a game bird that has been bred in the wild, has enjoyed freedom of movement and flight, and didn’t have a clue its end was nigh until it was daft enough to hop out of a tree just as I happened to pull the trigger.

Give me that over the horrors of the slaughterhouse any day.

KIDDY PORN afficiando Chris Langham complains that his life has been ruined and that when he went to the Emirates Stadium to watch Arsenal play Wigan after his early release from jail, other supporters threw boiled sweets at him.

Hang on a minute. Giving a paedophile a ready supply of sweets? They’ve not really thought this through, have they?

LIKE YOU, I am absolutely outraged that a teddy bear has had its paws chopped off in Khartoum just because the kids in its class decided to call it Mohammed.

Let’s just hope that the British Embassy gets him home as soon as possible, and that he then receives better treatment than our wounded troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.


Anonymous cliff portishead said...

Not so sure about those birds being better off until you shoot them.
One of the key principles of evolution is that every animal out breeds is food supply, until it is hungry and has to fight its brothers to eat or die.
Also if any animal increases in numbers, its predators have an excess of food and outbreed this food supply.
The natural state of every animal is both hungry and frightened, living on the knife edge of starvation or being eaten alive.
Nature is not fluffy and cuddly; it is red in tooth and claw.
Mankind has eliminated its own predators (wolves and bears in this country) yet the bunny hugger’s criticise foreigners for killing their tigers and crocodiles.
What the hell would you expect the police to do if a hungry polar bear bulldozed into our busy high street, yes we want the bloody thing shot before it rips any more people apart.
The chickens and cows that we eat live with unlimited food supplied by us, they have no fear of predators, and if they suffer illness they have vets. We have given them a far better life than nature intended.

7:43 PM  
Anonymous skydog said...

Mein Fuehrer is up in arms Baz. Having suffered from a surfeit of urban squirrels for the last several years I decided to 'do something about them'. ''You're not having a gun ... and before you ask (again) you're not getting a chainsaw for Christmas ... because you might want to use it''

eBay to the rescue! There's all sorts of items there which can solve those everyday rodent problems and the item I won was decidedly 'efficient' ... and bloodless to say the least. Tufty X 6 didn't know WTF had hit him by the time he'd decided to lick the peanut butter off the trip plate.

So ... as an upshot this spring there'll be a healthy populace of songbird eggs and chicks that won't be eaten in the hedges and bird nestboxes, my next door neighbours garage won't be nibbled to bits and my woodbine and clematis won't have the bark stripped from them.

Squirrels ... rats with good PR. Fuck 'em! ;o)


12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You seem to be a self-styled omnipotent cunt

5:27 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

You seem to be a self-styled omnipotent cunt

If that's not a quote then I don't know what is, Baz - you can't buy suc publicity! ;-)

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Ursine Mo said...

If you go down to Khartoum today
You're in for a big surprise:
If you go down to Khartoum today
You'll never believe your eyes.
For every bear that ever there was
Was rounded up at gunpoint because
The rumour was that one had been named Mohammed.

It wasn't really a very bright
Idea to pick that name.
You might have thought it'd be alright,
But better to call him Wayne.
There's folk around who rather enjoy
Being offended by a stuffed toy.
The irony is mostly they're called Mohammed.

Fatwa time for teddy bears
The little teddy bears, the victims of nut-case bigotry.
They had better all beware:
A mullah hides up each and every tree.
They would like to gad about,
They'd like to play and shout
But none of them even dare.
At sunset all the elderly mullahs who disapprove of joy
Will take them home for their evening prayers.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since murder is strictlyd efined as the killing of one HUMAN BEING by another, technically she was wrong as well as stupid. Oh, and when there's one it's a paparazzO.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Shooter said...

Isnt Anonymous very boring. Probably without the self styled and omnipotent just a xxxx and a townie one at that. Ignorant shites.

3:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Skydog I'm with you on the tree rats.

The addition of electricity to the bird nut feeder is very effective. The birds have a plentiful supply of nuts and the foxes get the odd free meal.

I was infuriated to see that the RSPCA were recently called to release a grey that got stuck in a bird feeder after stuffing it's self full of nuts. Don't they know it's illegal to let them go?

Save our red squirrels - kill a grey today. :-)

5:08 AM  
Anonymous skydog said...

Anonymous said...
You seem to be a self-styled omnipotent cunt

Skydog feels warm glow! :o)

12:21 AM  
Anonymous skydog said...

anon:The addition of electricity to the bird nut feeder is very effective.

This had occurred to me, but then mein Fuehrer pointed out I have a 'duty of care' to our idio-psychotic cat which sometimes climbs up there. And life would not be worth living if I turned 'Darcy' into toast. :o(

12:25 AM  
Anonymous Al said...

Apparently the government has ordered toy shops to sell teddy bears at cost price so nobody can accuse them of making a prophet out of them.

4:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the wake of all the Sudan nonsense, I hear Sooty has cancelled his tour of the Carribean!

11:29 AM  
Blogger Paul said...


somebody needs to shoot Al.

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Over&Under said...

You can't beat a blowpipe (or more accurately a "blowgun") for shooting squirrels.

With a gun, even an air rifle, you only get one shot at said cuddly vermin. Miss and they're off as quick as you can say, "Jack Russell".

Now a dart fired from a blowgun is virtually silent. It might whistle past furry ears but Squidgy won't even look up from the birdfeeder.

And nosey neighbours can't even call in Plod and his SWAT team if you're armed with what is, after all, a piece of plumbing not an unlicensed firearm.

4:07 AM  
Anonymous Al said...

"And nosey neighbours can't even call in Plod and his SWAT team if you're armed with what is, after all, a piece of plumbing not an unlicensed firearm"

..but it won't stop the buggers shooting you 5 times in the head just in case!

4:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may have finally lost the plot Baz but at least you can console yourself with all the creepy new mates you've made.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't get much more creepy than impersonating someone who is anonymous.

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't go shooting very much anymore and can't afford to run with the hounds as it is illegal. But I do still have one pleasure.

Whenever I fly, I always seem to find myself sitting next to a vegetarian and the airline ALWAYS seems to have ballsed up their order for their "special" meal

"But I definately ordered it!", they whine.

"Excuse me, I'll have the steak, please.", I like to interrpt.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Kris said...


I'm so sorry I didn't see Chris Langham at the Arsenal.

What a guy.

1:29 AM  

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