Weather conditions were predominantly wet and windy for much of the season, but the benefits of shooting sports have again been felt far and wide. Positivity this season has come from the continued introduction of the next generation to shooting and conservation, and news that the game meat market continues to flourish.
BASC’s regional teams provide their highlights from the season:
“BASC provides a host of opportunities all aimed at increasing knowledge and best practice, and this season has been no different.
“This season has been a non-stop event, be it at public shows, in the classroom or at private events. The highlight has to be our visit to Northampton College’s catering students, where the game demonstration was enjoyed so much that a game dinner followed quickly thereafter. The day was spent teaching the students about the journey of pheasant from a wild bird in the field to a healthy and versatile plated ingredient – all sourced within 10 miles of the campus.
“The enjoyment that is brought about by introducing new people to shooting is fantastic. Shooting has so many benefits – economic, social and conservation – it allows the countryside and rural community to prosper.”
“BASC’s Young Shots initiative continues to go from strength to strength in Wales. This season we have provided opportunities to more than 150 children to experience an assortment of shooting activities. Whilst each activity includes an introduction to the discipline and best practice lesson, we have also made the assorted conservation benefits from shooting a central theme.
“This year each youngster was also given the opportunity to help make their own bird boxes to take home and put up in their own garden. It is a delight to be part of such a successful and progressive initiative to get more people outside and enjoying the countryside.”
“BASC run dozens of young shots day across the region, however it was one introductory event this year, in collaboration with Wells Wildfowling Club, that truly sticks out in my mind.
“The day epitomised education and the future of shooting. The weather was perfect, and the youngsters were unbelievably keen and excited. After a full day of lessons and practicals, the youngsters were treated to a memorable evening flight. The smile on those kids’ faces will live long in my memory and will hopefully set them off on a fabulous wildfowling journey.
“On a personal level, this season I have taken great pride in building my working relationship with my fox red Labrador. At only 18-months-old this season has been about developing confidence.
“The first retrieve will always be memorable and after so much work it really was the perfect retrieve. I know there is more training to come but I am already excited for next season.”
“As well as highlighting the social and wellbeing benefits of shooting our focus this season has been heavily directed at providing a multitude of learning opportunities.
“As part of our extended education initiative BASC has; provided pheasants to over a dozen schools to support their food technology lessons, worked alongside two scout groups to teach them about preparing wild food for the table and held several game dinners across the region to celebrate our wonderful harvest.
“Wild game is a lean, tasty and delightfully British source of meat and at BASC we are proud to promote such a unique and exciting product. There is a growing understanding and enthusiasm for game amongst the general public, who are seeing it as a healthy sustainable food.”
“The programme focuses both on shooting and the natural environment. Last year alone, more than 1,000 bird boxes were built and established in woodlands across Yorkshire and the North of England. Some young shots have started monitoring projects looking at the success of various locations, by both mapping and recording the take-up rates.
“Now the season is ending, thoughts already turn to next season. The gamekeeper’s work is never-ending with the planting of new cover crops, woodland management and further feeding through the “hungry gap” up until Spring arrives.”
“Whilst the economic and conservation benefits of shooting speak for themselves, for me the highlight is always that sense of being part of something much bigger – a community of shared values, experiences and way of life. Life-long friendships are made whilst out shooting, and regardless of whether you shoot or not this is something that we can all relate to.
“In an age when there is an increasing awareness of the provenance of the food that we eat and a willingness to experiment with new tastes, there is the satisfaction of knowing that at least some of the food on my table is as a result of my own efforts rather than a trip to the supermarket.”