BASC’s bi-monthly membership magazine is sent free to all members as well as politicians, the media, police forces, countryside stakeholders and major opinion formers. Written by shooting’s foremost experts, it keeps members up to date with all that is happening in the shooting world and presents a positive image of shooting and conservation to the world at large.
Shooting and Conservation has the largest circulation of any field sports magazine in the UK.
In a survey of BASC members, 94% said they read Shooting and Conservation and it was seen as the preferred method of communication. The magazine covers all aspects of shooting, game management and conservation.
The July/August issue of Shooting and Conservation brings together an eclectic mix of content to engage, inform and excite.From the latest news and updates in the shooting world to thought-provoking comment, opinion and insightful interviews, there’s something for everyone. We take a closer look at how shoots are adapting to the shortage of gamebirds this season… We speak to some of the best in the business about our pointing breeds and their crucial roles on grouse moors…We consider the perks and limitations of simulated game shooting… We delve into case studies of overseas species that have been saved from extinction by hunting… We set out BASC’s position on the new lead ammunition restriction proposals… And, importantly, we share the views and experiences of our members… The list goes on… We hope you enjoy it.
Is it their astonishing game-finding abilities, their regal appearance or their perseverance? Is it their speed, their stamina or their intelligence? There is every chance that more than one of these traits will come up during a conversation between handlers of pointing breeds. Labradors and spaniels might often steal the limelight, but pointers, setters and HPRs fill an important niche among our working breeds. Martin Puddifer explores their qualities and quirks and the crucial role they play on grouse moors.
As pressure on food security tugs at the environmental focus planned for public funding support, how can shooting help farming navigate unsettled waters? What do the new support schemes for farmers and land managers entail? And where does shooting fit into the bigger picture? Ian Danby offers his thoughts.
‘Recreational’ hunting – mainly motivated by the desire to have fine hunting experiences – creates powerful incentives for nature conservation. It is simply because recreational hunters are willing to pay for the experience and are motivated to protect the very source of excellent future hunting experiences: the game and suitable habitat for it to thrive and multiply. If we are willing to pay the price, the landowners will be glad to protect the habitat and the wildlife. If it pays, it stays. It is as simple as that. Jens Ulrik Høgh considers four species from four continents that have been saved by this simple principle.
One of the most popular features in the magazine is our frequently asked questions. Here are a selection of those that have appeared in recent editions.
First things first; biodiversity simply means the variety of life, including habitats and species. Traditionally, development, government policies and land management have reduced biodiversity. However, development can enhance biodiversity by creating habitats of greater value than those damaged by it.
Indeed, good farmland and estate management alongside dedicated conservation projects can provide a benefit to the environment, albeit sometimes for a limited range of species or habitats.
The overall effect on biodiversity from development and land management can be assessed on balance as net loss or net gain. In 2019, Defra announced that all new developments would have to result in a net gain for biodiversity, requiring more and more landowners to demonstrate the sustainability of their projects. In a town or city, biodiversity net gain could entail simple planting of trees, wilding underneath a street tree, feeding songbirds and protecting them from predators. In the country it could include shoots planting cover crops that benefit wildlife, winter feeding, and even planting of wildflowers along roads, railway lines and woodland corridors. An example of net loss might be where an area of woodland is cut down to provide land for housing.
BASC recommends using a metric to measure biodiversity changes. This might be as simple as setting up a monitoring programme in your garden to record how many wild birds you see over a given period. Shooting estates might look at the size, type and condition of their land areas and record how this change. Such data provides evidence on the effects of management practices which can be shared with the wider community.
Sharing data is vital. Some shoots are already collecting the information needed to show whether biodiversity is increasing or declining, and in this time of greater accountability we advise all shoots to do the same.
We will be putting out more guidance on this over the coming months, so keep an eye out for it.
Biodiversity gain is not just about nature – it is essential to our well-being and to ensure future generations can enjoy an environment that’s in a better state than the one we have today.
Brown hares are native to England, Wales and Scotland and do best where there is suitable habitat and protection from predators.
Hares like to have a mixture of habitats available. Areas of permanent grass for resting and breeding, and areas providing multiple feeding options throughout the year – such as cereal crops, root vegetables and hayfields – are desirable. The habitat diversity in your landscape is often dictated by the economics of farming.
However, if your landowner is keen, they may be willing to switch to a wider mix of crop types and pasture areas.
You need to consider how to spread these around the farm to provide a good habitat for hares.
You should also consider the scale of the farm; a hare’s home range is smaller when the landscape is made up of myriad habitat types.
Remember that you may well be sharing your hares with adjacent landowners, too; talking to your neighbours can be helpful.
Hares are particularly vulnerable in areas where sileage production is prevalent. That’s because hares dig a shallow depression called a ‘form’ in which to raise their young – they do not live in a burrow system like rabbits.
Hence, both leverets and adults can be killed by the mowing blades. If they survive, the resulting short grass leaves the form exposed to predators. Speaking of predators, both animals and humans are a threat to hares.
Foxes are the main danger for leverets, so work on reducing their numbers before the breeding season, which can start as early as February. Keep them down throughout the entire breeding season, until September. This is essential if you want to boost hare numbers.
As for humans, the main danger is illegal hare coursing, which can be a very difficult problem to deal with. Keeping in close contact with the police and regularly recording suspicious activity (cars, lamps, people where there are no footpaths, etc.) is something you need to be prepared to do.
Yes, it’s absolutely worth getting involved in the partridge count scheme, which the GWCT and its predecessors have been organising on a national scale since 1933.
Having been involved with wild partridge management in the past, I think these counts are essential for tracking the national population trends of grey partridges. The counts also help to determine whether there is a shootable surplus available. Counts are done twice a year – once in the spring to assess the breeding numbers, and once in the autumn to assess the breeding success.
The basics of the counting process are very straightforward. Choose a suitable day with good weather conditions and drive around your ground in a set pattern early in the morning or late in the evening. Take a good pair of binoculars with you and note down the relevant details of the birds you see.
However, before doing this, please do get in touch with the GWCT to sign up to the scheme. It’s free and they will provide advice and details of how to do the counts in a standardised way. They will also provide relevant feedback and guidance based on your count results.
You can find out more about the partridge count scheme by clicking here.
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