We all have those books that have the ability to transport you outdoors, either to the marshes or to the high tops of the UK. These books can be picked up on multiple occasions and never bore us.
Below six BASC staff highlight their best reads that transformed their lives and set them on their particular journeys.
James Green – Head of wildfowling
Book: The Diary of Col. Peter Hawker: Author of ‘Instructions to Young Sportsmen’ 1802 – 1853
Author: Peter Hawker
I always recommend any wildfowling newcomer to read these diaries. They offer an amazing insight into the life of the upper classes at the time and depict the harshness of the weather. They showcase the resilience of market gunners making a pitiful living under the toughest of circumstances.
The highlights for me relate to adventures off the South coast of England around the harbour of Keyhaven where he would chase wigeon, swans and Brent geese in his punt. Warning – reading the book makes you itch for the foreshore.
This fantastic sporting snapshot of history is a must read and will without doubt find itself on my coffee table again over the coming weeks.
David Ilsley – Head of marketing and membership services
Book: Living Off The Land
Author: John Humphreys
Written by the former Shooting Times columnist and long standing shooter, fisherman and countryman, it’s a short paperback book that takes the reader on a journey through woodland, rivers, fields and more. John uncovers a range of simple things that we can all do today to improve our lives through taking in our fair share of nature’s bounty.
As a young chap back in 1979, when this was first published, this book opened my eyes and set me on the path of shooting, fishing and eventually BASC.
The rural land development team ensures members have the opportunity of somewhere to shoot. For more information please click here.
Jane Hatton – Best practice programmes officer
Book: Fallow deer: Their History, Distribution and Biology
Author: Norma Chapman
Written by Norma and the late Donald Chapman, this pioneering book is a firm favourite in our house. In my mind it is the definitive book on fallow deer.
It brings together many years of research spent in the field studying this single species in absolutely every aspect, from seasonal variance in feeding habits to antler growth, genetics and breeding cycles.
Books like this do not age and this is as relevant today as when it was written. It should be on every fallow stalkers bookshelf.
For more information on BASC’s deer management, schemes and events, click here.
Will Pocklington – Head of publications
Book: Kenzie – The Wild-Goose Man
Author: Colin Willock
Colin Willock’s biography of Mackenzie Thorpe documents the fascinating life of one of the great characters of the Lincolnshire Fens.
The story of Kenzie – the poacher, the wildfowler, the naturalist -– is told through a series of gripping anecdotes. From risky forays in Royal coverts to his days as a goose guide on the saltings and an unlikely friendship with renowned conservationist Sir Peter Scott, this book is a gripping read.
The book captures perfectly the affinity between a remarkable man, the untamed environment with which he was so familiar, and the wildlife he spent a lifetime studying.
Audrey Watson – Deer officer
Book: The High Tops of the Black Mount
Author: The Marchioness of Breadalbane
I love this book for its simple and very honest description of stalking at the turn of the 20th Century in one of my favourite places in the UK, if not the world – the Black Mount peaks in Argyll.
The Marchioness’s description of the light, the landscape, the long haul up the hill to get to a stag and her very honest admissions of when things did not go quite to plan are in stark contrast to the boasting and bragging of many stalkers of today.
She describes in detail many memorable stalks and, through her adventures on the High Tops, her love of nature and sport shine through.
It is an easy read and the photos of the Marchioness stalking on the tops in her long, tweed skirt are a lovely addition to the text. This book comes highly recommended to anyone with an interest in stalking, particularly on the hill.
Louise Farmer – Regional officer
Book: Wild Lone – The Story of a Pytchley Fox
Author: ‘BB’ (Denys Watkins Pitchford)
BB’s extensive catalogue of books and illustrations cleverly take you along with him. Whether it be wildfowling on the estuaries of the Solway Firth or floating along the River Nene catching a glimpse of the water voles, it is beautifully described.
Wild Lone, which is my favourite, follows Rufus (a dog fox) from whelping through adolescence to adulthood.
The author manages to create a connection between the reader and the fox, making you rather fond of him.
The descriptions of the woodland in which he lives, his surrounding environment and the other wildlife that Rufus encounters throughout the book is mesmerising. It will certainly leave you looking at wildlife in a different way.
BB conveys the message that life and death happen to all in nature and the pressures on each species ensure only the best (and luckiest) survive.