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What are your responsibilities as a Shooter? Reporting to Land Owners

I often daydream when cleaning my guns or my boots. Usually I'll be reminiscing about the previous outing, what went right, what went wrong, if only that pigeon had been 20 yards closer....

This time I started thinking about all of the wonderful things I get to see as a shooting person, and all of the frustrating things I have to endure too. None of it would have even entered my brain 15 years ago, let alone made me want to do anything about it. So, I thought I'd share some of my own experiences and opinions as someone who is involved in Field Sports on a regular basis.

My list is not in order of preference and focuses on what I feel is the duty I have to report issues to the landowner, not on the responsibilities around safety and the shooting code of practice.

My Top 5 Responsibilities of a Pest Control Shooter

1 - Litter Picking

Yep, you heard me. This includes your own spent cartridges and sweet wrappers! Sometimes, especially when roost shooting, it can be handy to see where there are piles of old cartridges are lying around, because then you know that someone else has had success shooting in that spot! But I hate seeing litter so I always collect mine and any old ones I see.

Obviously if you are using a semi automatic shotgun and you're standing near a huge box hedge, no amount of waving your magnetic cartridge collecting stick through the hedgerow is going to help - semi autos usually eject cartridges out 3-4 metres away! But if they land somewhere easy to reach then yes, I do collect them. Plus, it can help the land owner to differentiate between your visits and when he may have a poacher, who is less likely to clear up after themselves...

I hate picking up other peoples rubbish almost as much as I hate seeing it - but I will still take them time to collect any stray balloons, bottles or crisp packets I see, because I love nature more than I hate picking up rubbish.

2 - Check for broken fencing

Broken fencing can lead to loss of livestock, can make it easier for trespassers to access land and can also lead to the injury of wild animals.

You can also check for any other 'broken' property and report it. Maybe a barn has wind damage? Or a lock isn't working as it should? Or maybe there's a high seat that's looking a bit worse for wear? Whatever it is, don't assume the land owner or manager is aware of it.

The last 'broken' thing I reported was when I was out doing reconnaissance for pigeons, and noticed that the some of the fake bird of prey flags weren't as they should be. One was entangled in a huge blackberry bush, another had wrapped itself around its pole, and a third had completely fallen out of the ground and was lying in the mud. Obviously none of them were helping to keep the pigeons off the land so I reported it immediately - the game keeper was then able to get out the next day to sort them out, and I moved onto a different field for decoying.

3 - Check for signs of diseased or injured animals

From Myxomatosis to bird flu, there are many diseases out there that can affect wild animals and livestock that you should always make the landowner, manager or gamekeeper aware of - so you also need to learn what the signs of these diseases look like. Also keep an eye out for lame animals - whether it's a sheep with a hobble or a deer with an injury, either way it's an animal that needs dealing with promptly to ensure their suffering is kept to a minimum.

Whether using thermal imaging, viewing through binoculars or just with the naked eye, it's amazing what you learn about animal behaviour, of both livestock and wild animals and birds. And it's an honour to witness!

4 - Report damage to crops

There is the obvious damage that pigeons will do to a crop that a farmer has likely noticed before you have. But there could also be damage from trespassers and vandals such as tyre marks criss-crossing fields, or obvious signs of camping.

5 - Trespassers

Always deal with them politely - you never know who they are! Keep your firearm hidden when speaking to them if possible, and never give out details of the landowner to them. If you can, get as much information as possible and pass it on to the land owner before kindly asking them to leave and wishing them a good day.

Lastly - look out for signs of bio diversity - and enjoy!

Ok sorry, yes there's actually a bonus number 6 in my top 5!

Have you started seeing woodcock in a small copse for the first time in several years? Maybe you've spotted a few rare butterflies, lizards or plant life (for the greener fingered and keener of eye amongst us!) Let the landowner know - sometimes this new animal may mean they have to be even more vigilant with predators that it could draw in (such as mink or magpies), but could also mean that they need to monitor their land more closely in case it needs to be reported as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) in future.

Of course this is just a snapshot of the many things that we do as members of the Fieldsports community when out shooting and carrying out reconnaisance - feel free to share your own experiences in the comments below.

It is a joy and a privelege to be able to do what we do in the name of sport, food and conservation - join The Field Sports Nation today and help to make sure it stays that way!

Happy shooting!


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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I hope you're enjoying reading my blog! I'm not an expert, I only wish to share my personal experiences, of someone who did not grow up in the countryside nor enter the hunting world in the traditional way.

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