With the shooting season now over, it is time to get the shooting equipment washed and packed away until the glorious 12th in the summer. But a break from shooting doesn’t mean there is nothing to do. Now is the time to focus on conservation.
In my household, we make it our mission to do as much conservation work as possible. This is not just because we try to improve the shooting for the following year, but rather because of the enjoyment and satisfaction we get out of helping and conserving the Great British countryside.
I am a keen wildfowler and I spend a large percentage of my season out on the marsh, chasing the ducks and geese that the North West estuaries have to offer. With the ducks that we shoot being completely wild, we help them as much as we can to ensure they have the best breeding season possible. One way that we do this is by installing duck nesting tubes (as seen in the photos), this gives the ducks, typically mallards, a safe and practical place to nest. The tubes are placed in water, on a tall spike, which protects the eggs from predators.
Both wildfowling clubs, that I am a member of, organised work parties in the last couple of weeks to repair and refill these nesting tubes before spring, when the mallards pair up and look for places to nest.
I feel that conservation is very important. Without the endless work done by the shooting community all over the UK, the countryside would not be as healthy or sustainable as it is.
As well as the duck nesting tubes, another project that has been in development in the past couple of years is the BASC Bird Box Project. It was first launched in the Northern region, thanks to some generous donations at fund raising events. The project really took off; we were able to make over 1,000 boxes all over the UK.
The Bird Box Project has been headed up by me with the help from family and the BASC North team. We have been contacted by a number of shoots, education establishments, farmers and even politicians, who have all been keen to get involved and support the conservation work that is being done.
Doing my bit for the countryside has always been close to my heart from a very young age. Ever since my mum would let my dad take me out on the marsh, I have helped with several conservation projects, such as habitat management and duck ringing.
Unfortunately, explaining shooters’ passion for wildlife and conservation to people who are not from a shooting background and don’t agree with what we do is hard. They always argue that we only do this to better the breeding of certain species in order to shoot them later in the year. However, this is far from the truth and I feel that initiatives such as the BASC Bird Box Project are a great way to fight this misconception. The Bird Box Project is fantastic for encouraging the nesting of many different bird species.
I hope to encourage a lot of shooters, no matter how young or how old, to get involved with conservation work. It is not only very enjoyable but also immensely rewarding. If you think of any projects that you would like to launch yourself, get in touch with your local BASC region and hopefully they will be able to help you.