A bitter north-easterly breeze, born somewhere beyond the Arctic Circle, slapped at my bare skin like a schoolmasters strop. The touch of the blued steel on my rifles barrel threatened to stick-freeze to my gloveless fingers. Abandoning the ‘hard-hunter’ pose I donned a pair of shooting mitts, pulled a snood down around my neck and … Continue reading A Woodwitch In The Cross-Hairs
I cross between two coverts following the tractors trail between a thigh high crop, under a cloudless azure sky. The fronds are still glistening with dawns dew and my trousers are soaked. A head pops up just five yards from me, amid the barley, startling me. Then a second head. Then a third, a … Continue reading Control and Conscience
The decline of the humble rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus, across many areas of the UK has been notable. This has been reported by many country folk, hunters and conservationists. Yet the dearth of rabbits in distinct areas is matched by reports from some areas that the rabbit is alive and kicking in healthy numbers. So what’s … Continue reading Where Did All The Rabbits Go?
So today saw the launch of the Labour Party’s ‘50 point plan’ for Animal Welfare Reform and what a cuddly, gushing document it made too! Hardly nature ‘Red’ in tooth and claw, as would be expected. The brief introduction (by Sue Hayman MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) sets the … Continue reading Labour’s Animal Welfare Plan? A View From The Countryside.
Another walk out this morning with my little rimfire saw me return with a full five-round clip, yet again. On a bitterly cold morning, with icicles hanging from the alloy field gates, I didn’t expect to see much in the way of vermin. Even the hoar-hardened plough forbade the probing beak of rook or … Continue reading A Simple Blast Of Air
The decision this morning wasn’t whether to brave the winter weather. It was what guns to take? Looking out of the windows at home I could see the light boughs of young yew and cedar bending under a Northerly blow. In the habit lately of taking both air rifle and rimfire, I glanced at the … Continue reading The Buzzard and The Betrayal
The Fairy Tale Of Rewilding It was Christmas Eve, in the inn next the muir Ex-keepers debating how life could endure. Re-wilders, with funding, had bought up the land No shooting, no snares, all vermin control banned. They planted the hillsides; a young forest grows, The grouse have all gone, replaced by the crows. … Continue reading The Fairy Tale Of Re-Wilding
Forgive me for starting this piece with a quote. While researching the history of camouflage, I stumbled across (on Wikipedia) this superbly appropriate comment by none other than Charles Darwin. He noted, in his iconic 'Origin Of Species': "When we see leaf-eating insects green, and bark-feeders mottled-grey; the alpine ptarmigan white in winter, the red-grouse the … Continue reading Camo – Crypsis or Contemporary?
The crunch of all-terrain tyres on the hoar hardened gravel sent a white scut diving into the scrub lining the gateway; the rabbit lost amongst the wilting and frosted nettle die-back. At the tailgate I paused to take stock. The morning after the Woodcock moon. All around me the heightening sun glittered on the blanket … Continue reading Woodcocks and Witches
(An early extract from my forthcoming poetry collection.) "What Can You Scent On The Wind, Old Hound?" What can you scent on the wind, old hound, As you stand with your nose to the gale? What pheromones float on the breeze, all around? And if you could talk, of what tale? The coney's are out … Continue reading “What can you scent on the wind, old hound?”