Game shooting
game shooting

Don’t be a stranger for the next seven months

As another game shooting season ends, this week sees the final shoots and beaters’/keepers’ days. We’ll be saying goodbye to our sporting friends and colleagues, but hopefully not for too long. 

Don't we deserve some time off?

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that, and while most of us are sad to see the end of the season, it is also refreshing to consider life without game shooting. A chance to think about the onset of spring, holidays, DIY, and other sports or activities. 

However, some very important jobs need to be done. These include the practical requirements of a shoot – syndicates and gamekeepers are very aware of the long list of tasks that need attending to in preparation for next season – however, there are other important factors beyond the physical shoot needs.

If it broke this year, it will need fixing!

February is the perfect time to reflect on the season on a personal level, while it is all still fresh in our minds. What went well and what needs improving?

Perhaps your dog has picked up some bad habits that need working on over the summer. The ripped waterproofs or holes in the wellies will not magically disappear by next autumn, nor will that sticking ejector on your gun.

If you are struggling with a left-to-right bird, then a trip to your local clay ground is vital. Shooting is a way of life for many of us and a cultural lifestyle choice; we will be far stronger as a community if those who walk away at the end of the season are not strangers for too long.

Conservation work as the shooting season ends

The continued existence of shooting is linked to delivering our broader benefits; without positive impacts for the economy, society, and nature, we have little chance.

The fight to secure sustainable shooting comes in many forms and we all have the power to help. Do those cover crops work for key declining bird species as well as gamebirds? Are you feeding wild birds through the hungry gap? Can you improve your woodland by leaving deadwood for insects?

The harder we work as conservationists, the more pleasure and satisfaction from shooting we will get. It is a perfect circle where the more you put in, the more you get out.

Shooters taking a break

Charity starts at home

As the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust campaign says, let’s “Check in with a Mate”. We are not friends just during the season, let’s pick up the phone or call in for a brew over the coming months. 

Many shoots also host a BBQ or clay shoot over the summer months; these can be great opportunities to raise funds for local charities.

Data is our king

Knowing we do a good job is not enough these days – we must prove it. Yes, you can use the national data like the Value of Shooting report due this year. However, nothing is more powerful than evidence for each shoot. 

Use some of the spare time once the game shooting season ends to collate useful and important data for your shoot. A good place to start is by taking part in the GWCT big farmland bird count (2-18 February 2024). 

Knowledge is power

It is more important than ever that individuals understand the challenges and opportunities shooting faces.

For BASC members, the spring and summer months are the perfect time to book a shoot briefing with your BASC regional team. The briefings are free for all BASC shoots and we delivered over 370 in England last year, so don’t miss out.

Briefing before shooting commences

Plan for a better future

If you haven’t done so already, perhaps now is the time to affiliate your shoot to BASC. BASC syndicate shoots really do get more benefits for less cost per member.

I hope you all had a good season. Remember to keep in touch with your shooting friends once the game shooting season ends – there is plenty of important work to be done and you really can get much more from shooting than just the shoot days.