AUTHOR Louise Gray has spoken about the ‘noble pursuit’ of wildfowling in a new BASC film about food’s connection with the environment.

The film shows Louise – whose book The Ethical Carnivore detailed two years of eating only the meat she killed herself – shooting a wigeon on her first ever wildfowling trip.

Louise accepted BASC’s invitation to a flight on The Wash, hosted by Fenland Wildfowlers Association, after being unable to add wildfowling as a chapter in her book.

“I thought wildfowling sounded interesting because I knew of amazing conservationists, like Sir Peter Scott, who were great ‘fowlers,” she said.

“Wildfowling struck me as an interesting way to get my own meat. It’s such a challenge. Compared to a lot of other things we do in Britain for meat, it’s closer to nature. So I always felt that, for my book, it was one of the things I most wanted to do because I felt like it was almost the most pure. I didn’t manage to do it in the book, so I took the opportunity to do it now because I am carrying on learning about the countryside.

“I knew beforehand that it was difficult. But I was surprised talking to other wildfowlers, one of them said he had been out 20 times this season, that’s 20 times getting up at 5 o’ clock in the morning. And he didn’t get anything. I kind of thought ‘well, that’s a noble pursuit, he’s really earning his dinner’.”

The 10-minute film, which features a mixture of diary camera footage and interviews with Louise, records the exact moment she shoots a wigeon and captures her immediate reaction.

“Suddenly, there’s this moment and you have killed a bird and you have to process that,” added Louise, a former environment correspondent for The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“I’ve shot birds before, I’ve been pheasant and pigeon shooting. But I felt wildfowling was much harder work. I would go so far as to say I enjoyed it more because I felt like I had earned it more. You have to go out to get the birds and it forces you to become part of nature.”

Mark Greenhough, BASC’s wildfowling officer, said: “The film is very evocative. Not only does it encapsulate the beauty of wildfowling but also highlights its inherent challenges.

“The commentary provided by Louise sums up why we love this element of shooting so much. And, as she says so eloquently, despite being caked head to toe in mud, the food produced is ethical, healthy and sustainable.

“BASC would especially like to thank Fenland Wildfowlers Association for helping us make the film. It is never easy matching tides with weather and complicated travel schedules, then throwing into the mix the likelihood that filming will be done in the dark. We are very grateful for Fenland for pulling out all the stops to make it happen.”

* Louise’s book ‘The Ethical Carnivore; My Year Killing To Eat is published by Bloomsbury.

Garry Doolan

Garry Doolan is BASC’s deputy director of communications and public affairs. He has more than 20 years experience of journalism and the media. He joined the organisation in 2016 and is a keen shooter and beater, with his springer spaniel Quincy.

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