Without good woodland, we can’t have woodcock so what can you do to help?
BASC talks shooting on Countryfile
Following Countryfile’s most recent episode which focused on shooting, Glynn Evans reflects on why it’s so important to engage with mainstream media.
Love or hate the BBC’s flagship rural affairs programme Countryfile, but you cannot deny its significant draw on a Sunday teatime.
According to BBC figures, the show pulls in more than six million viewers a week. The majority of these will have an interest in but not necessarily knowledge of how the countryside works.
One of BASC’s guiding objectives is to ensure balanced comment in the media and Countryfile is a prime platform for getting shooting’s messages heard far and wide. So, as the UK’s largest shooting and conservation organisation, it is crucial we engage at every opportunity.
Featuring on Countryfile
In 2018, BASC featured on Countryfile providing clay shooting lessons to youngsters. In 2019, I appeared on the show and spoke to Charlotte Smith about the importance of snares for conservation and livestock farming. BASC also featured on Countryfile in 2020 on the topic of the illegal killing of birds of prey.
More recently, I travelled to a shoot in Wiltshire to be interviewed by Tom Heap. We discussed shooting’s role in the countryside and how avian influenza has impacted this season.
The episode that aired on Sunday focused primarily on shooting as a significant influence on land management. A feature on the Rhug Estate and the Wiltshire shoot highlighted the conservation, economic and social and wellbeing benefits that are attributed to the activity. Speaking to gamekeepers, underkeepers, gundog trainers, beaters, chefs and more, it gave an extremely well-rounded illustration and advertisement of shooting’s impact on the ground.
In the investigative piece about avian influenza, I highlighted how the disease has curtailed these benefits this season, and has the potential to further restrict shooting. I also emphasised the importance of following the evidence in any decision making and how seriously the shooting sector is taking the disease.
Watch it back
After multiple phone calls and emails with the researchers and a day of filming it was great to see the final edit portray the topic in its entirety.
While there will always be some who are ideologically opposed to shooting (and are not afraid of shouting about it), at the very least to reach out and educate a small segment of the millions of viewers is well worth the exercise.
Ultimately, Sunday’s programme was exceptionally positive for shooting. Within our own community there are those who disagree with this because there is a long-standing mistrust of Countryfile and the BBC. And we will always want more; yes, they could have gone to a small syndicate shoot and shown small-scale conservation in action on the ground. But, in the round, with the sun shining and the wildlife playing to camera, it was a fantastic showcase of shooting’s benefits and all at primetime on the BBC.