Watching nature.

Ras01

This is a debut article by Rastech, which originally appeared as a comment underneath another piece. Ras has been a true, generous and very supportive friend to myself and others over the years – right back to the dark days when there really wasn’t much hope in sight for us ragged band of holdouts in the climate wars. With his permission and I’m sure to his great surprise, it’s now promoted to a full article.

It was too good to languish as just a comment and I think I wouldn’t be the only one out there who’d been searching for a decent supportive response in the face of such a cry from the heart from a countryman who so obviously loves the land and cannot abide its desecration at the hands of ill-informed best intentions.

If there’s a benefit to enforcing a strict troll-free policy, it’s getting considered and thoughtful comments like this that don’t have to battle their way through some mindless barrage of stupidity from assorted personality defectives. Apart from merging his two comments, it’s untouched by me. People power.

Pointman

—-<0>—

Dave: ” Let’s face it if we all had to kill what we eat, 95% of us would vegetarian.”

Actually that isn’t how it would be. There wouldn’t be any vegetarians.

You quickly learn that death is a normal, and inescapable part of life. It forces you to face reality, and come to terms with it. Death is an essential part of life. To me, an important part of our evolved niche in this World is to ensure constructive and worthwhile outcomes, and fulfill that role with humanity.

Before the First World War, South West Wales was littered with small manor houses that were the heart of small sporting estates. It had the finest game shooting in the Country, huge numbers of gamekeepers and underkeepers, and a huge diversity of wildlife.

Before my grandfather went off to war, he hadn’t seen a rabbit. When he came back, there were rabbits everywhere, Things went downhill from there. The gamekeepers and underkeepers were mostly gone, the sons of the small sporting estates were mostly gone, the increasingly punitive taxation on such small estates, and the death duties, finally did in pretty much all of them.

As time went on, the pests and vermin increased dramatically, only vaguely kept in check by subsidised rabbit cartridges, and the substantial income from rabbits. The damage the rabbits did was so huge, farmers couldn’t even rent their farms out – but at least you could sell a rabbit for a half a crown, and my great grandfather and grandfather earned enough from them to buy a few farms, and set up family businesses, with the landowners they trapped rabbits for getting a share to keep them going too. The income from fox skins was substantial too, and rural people could have a good boost to their incomes, which fed into the rural economy to considerable effect.

By the 1980’s the pest and vermin situation had become so bad, with no subsidised rabbit cartridges any more, and no income from fox skins (a terrible tragedy to leave such a valuable product to rot and go to waste), it was difficult, if not impossible, for ordinary rural people to afford to do anything about it. It had become obstacle after obstacle placed in front of them to even get a shotgun certificate, the price of a shotgun had reached extortionate levels (these things are not expensive or even difficult to make), and the price of a box of cartridges meant for most people, they had better use them on something they could eat.

So a few friends and myself got together and did what we could for our neighbouring farmers. Between us, we averaged at least 25,000 crows a year, year in, year out. We never made headway against those numbers, there just weren’t enough of us shooting. But we protected the valuable crops of our neighbours. To give you an indication of what were were up against, on one barley field, in one day, I got through almost 1,200 cartridges. (I was buying bulk cheap Rottweil cartridges in 200 boxes, for £25 for 200) by the time I packed up. I was a good, well practiced shot, using a good cartridge, and I might have missed with two of those cartridges. It might have been one.

Same with foxes, I averaged about 120 a year, and only the best primers, best powders, and best bullets, which I personally loaded for optimum accuracy were used. Same with deer (I am a qualified deer manager and qualified advanced marksman).

Every year there is a surplus that HAS TO be culled, for the best health of the wildlife in the area. The damage and appalling cruelty to animals that is being inflicted by dangerously ignorant fools (Animal Rights type nonsense, etc), well, words fail me.

The same types are active with the agenda to get lead ammunition banned (when there is no real evidence that it even poses a risk over wetlands), despite solid evidence of dangerous pressures being necessary in guns for the lead free rubbish to even pretend to function (this is even feeding into Military ammunition, where the new 5.56mm NATO ‘effective’ round has 62,000 psi chamber pressure, in the M16 type rifles, where such pressures are extremely damaging to the bolt), lead substitutes are prone to wounding rather than giving a clean kill, lead substitutes are already showing contamination of groundwater, where centuries of the use of lead showed no measurable groundwater contamination at all.

Military ranges have even had to ban the use of lead substitutes, because they are causing metal fever. Yet the lies about lead still keep being trotted out, and the agenda is still being followed, to enrich those who have bought up the sources of lead substitute materials on the cheap. Lead mills are closing or closed, large numbers of jobs are being lost, high quality products that work (for example in the Construction Industry) are disappearing, and taking lead out of paint has dramatically increased molds and their dangerous (to health) spores.

The people behind this do not care what damage they do to wildlife or the environment, or what cruelty they cause to be inflicted, but they use Wildlife and Environment agencies and NGO’s to further their greed, and those Wildlife and Environmental agencies and NGO’s know full well what damage they are doing, and could care less, as long as they get their cut.

One local Game shoot used to release 30,000 Mallard a year (+ Partridges, + Pheasant), paid for by selling the shooting. That sold shooting used to account for less than 10,000 of the Mallard released. His land for shooting was wetlands. The ban on lead shot over wetlands, finished the shoot. This has happened all across the Country.

Mallard numbers across the Country have already fallen dramatically. Deer numbers are now out of control, because those who did the deer management have pretty much given up, and major organisations are buying up the land and shooting rights, and keeping those that know what they are doing out. There aren’t enough people managing the resource from then on, and as numbers go out of control, you condemn the deer, etc., to starvation and disease.

Obstacles to obtaining firearms is having a terrible effect on the environment, and replacing ammunition that worked, with ammunition that basically doesn’t work anything like effectively enough, is going to increasingly backfire. Backfire on wildlife and the environment.

Nobody will like a Countryside dominated by pests and vermin, and when those pests and vermin no longer have rich pickings in the Countryside, they are going to increasingly go into the towns and cities. What then?

So yeah, it’s a difficult job, and there are always tough choices. The toughest perhaps is the sort of situation where you have a young Doe with a late born fawn, and it is the start of Winter. That fawn is going to suck the life out of the young Doe, and neither are going to survive the Winter, so what do you do? Leave them both suffer and starve to death? Or shoot the fawn and give the young Doe a chance to recover and survive the Winter, after which she can have a fawn at the right time, and be fine from then on?

Well it’s not rocket science is it. You go for the best outcome, and you do it as humanely as you possibly can. It doesn’t mean you have to like it, but you have to do what you have to do. Then when you see that Doe the following year, in great condition, with a good fawn at heel, you feel much better about a job well done.

When they were laid up during the day, I used to be able to stalk to within about 6 ft of a Doe and fawn, and I could (and did) sit there for hours just watching them.

I miss it.

©Rastech

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Comments
8 Responses to “Watching nature.”
  1. Blackswan says:

    G’day Ras,

    Australia’s biggest problems with “pests and vermin” have been the animals introduced by Europeans since the late 18th century and which have since run wild; huge feral herds of camels, goats and donkeys roam the central desert areas, with water buffalo and pigs in the tropical north, and rabbits, foxes, pigs and feral cats everywhere else on the mainland.

    In the late 19th, early 20th century a rabbit plague numbering in the billions destroyed hundreds of square miles of grazing land, their warrens causing destructive erosion in this fragile landscape. So desperate were the Western Australians to keep the rabbits from the eastern states out, they built an extraordinary fence – “When it was completed in 1907, the 1,139-mile (1,833km) fence was the longest unbroken fence in the world.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit-proof_fence

    While generations of Aussies thanked the bunnies for saving the poor from starvation, especially in the years of the Great Depression, their numbers were beyond counting and the destruction they caused drove small farmers into penury. The only solution was biological warfare and the myxomatosis virus was released causing the animals to go blind and starve, while the later calicivirus caused fatal haemorrhagic disease, a nasty way to go but our pastoral industries were saved. The survivors still run wild but not in plague proportions, so much so that our famous Akubra hat company is, for the first time in over a hundred years, buying rabbit pelts from China.

    The government once even paid hunters a bounty on dingo scalps and eagle talons as they decimated flocks in the lambing season. Now all are protected, except that dingoes attack people and their children while eagles are killed by wind turbines.

    Since the 1970s the Bambi Brigade has dominated any debate and National Parks and Wildlife Rangers now take it upon themselves to rid us of feral animals. They’ve used automatic weapons to shoot buffalo from helicopters (hardly marksmen involved) and the wounded beasts were left for the feral wild boar to clean up.

    For 200 years cattlemen have grazed their stock in the high alpine country of the eastern Great Dividing Range while escaped horses roamed the mountains in small herds known as ‘brumbies’. NP&W decided hoofed animals were too alien for this environment and summer-grazing cattle were banned. They tried shooting the brumbies from the air but the public outcry was deafening, so then they secretly resorted to baiting them with grain laced with rat poison. The anticoagulant chemicals cause bleeding in the joints of heavy large-boned animals, so they become crippled and slowly starve. A nasty way to go but deemed acceptable as long as the public remain ignorant.

    The demise of the fur industry has seen fox numbers explode and kangaroo culls bring the usual hysterics (but they’re so cute!) resulting in kangaroo products being banned in parts of the USA. Meanwhile roos in urban landscapes are hit by cars, attacked by dogs and intimidate people. The 1960s banning of saltwater crocodile hunting in the Top End has seen a huge increase in their numbers too and NP&W keep fishing the buggers out of backyard pools and off beaches in Darwin.

    Since the rise of Mother Gaia’s shaggy head in the 1970s and her ignorant Bambi Brigade decided to restore Nature’s “peaceful harmony”, we have seen nothing but unintended consequences, appalling suffering by wildlife and a complete ignorance of historic animal and forest management practices.

    You’re right Rastech – we miss those days too.

    • Rastech says:

      Years ago I was offered a job in Australia, by someone who had seen me shoot, culling kangaroos, wild camels, and wild horses. Everything would have gone for dog food. I was tempted, but I had a business unrelated to shooting, that I was building up at the time, as well as helping neighbouring farmers (really good neighbours) out on the side, so declined the offer.

      I feel there is a terrible retribution going to come for these unintended consequences, for those responsible for causing them, and that saddens me almost as much as the damage they are doing from their lack of knowledge, and their complete absence of wisdom.

      Mother Gaia, the ‘Earth Mother’ or whatever her worshipers of today choose to call her, has always been an utterly deranged, blood thirsty bitch, and payback is always accompanied by extreme interest, along with the visiting of ‘her’ extreme prejudice.

      Before myxy was released here, train loads of rabbits used to go up to London (and other cities) every day. This cheap food was a huge help in the Depression here as well. Local pubs used to keep people going with a free bowl of stew and a chunk of bread, with locals providing rabbits etc for the pot.

      I don’t know what’s going to happen with the rapidly approaching ‘next time’, with no rabbits and the loss of so many pubs. Churches and their communities used to be important with such assistance too, but they have blown it and failed in their responsibilities along the way as well.

      There’s a wake up call coming, and the odds of it being relatively pain free, aren’t that great. But in the wise words of Sonny (in the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, then it isn’t the end.”

  2. Pointman says:

    I’m a hunter, a fisherman and I say that with no trace of shame. I take what I’m after and none of it has ever been left to rot; it all gets eaten. I know that’s a statement people have problems with, but if you can’t handle honesty, don’t go near this blog or enquire too deeply about that shrink wrapped product you buy at the supermarket.

    No decent hunter has ever gone after anything other than another predator and whether you like it or not, the reason is that’s where all the big bang per buck protein is. Apex predators, by taking another apex predator, get directly to the top of the food chain product of a lot of stalking, which is meat.

    As a hunter, I cannot find the words to properly condemn someone who could so grievously wound but not kill a noble creature like a lion with a cross bolt when there were so many other weapons they could have used to get their jollies off.

    Pointman

    • Rastech says:

      I tested a really good crossbow out (there was a guy here making them for Special Forces), and didn’t feel it was accurate enough, so never considered using one as a result. A good longbow though did surprise me with its accuracy (an archery instructor friend is deadly with a bow in his hands).

      With dangerous game, there’s supposed to be a competent Guide present, who can use a rifle as and when necessary (like the Guide who when asked “Why do you use a 600 Nitro Express?” replied “Because nobody makes a 700 Nitro Express”).

      Wound most of the big cats (the worst is the Leopard, far more dangerous than even a Tiger), and they will kill you before they drop. That particular idiot was lucky to live.

      A serious mauling may have taught him something. Maybe even respect.

      • Graeme No.3 says:

        Hunter by J.A. Hunter. Probably long out of print, but a mine of information on east African big game. If you can find it I think you will find his attitudes (written in the early 1950’s) far more realistic than the “Bambi brigade”. He wound up as a game warden.

  3. Pointman says:

    FYI, a 600 NE load tried out by someone who didn’t quite realise what it was all about.

    Pointman

  4. nofixedaddress says:

    @Rastech

    Thank you for sharing some of your history.

    Sad to hear of the demise of sensible land and wildlife management in your ‘neck’ of the woods.

    But I think it is the same for most ‘Western’ countries.

    The push has been to get folk off ‘the land’ and into cities and larger population centres. Easier to control and monitor the population.

    Further to what @Blackswan outlined above, once you could build a shack in the bush and it was okay. You could even peg a claim with a miners right and live on your claim. No more for any of that except maybe West Australia for miners rights.

    And if you want to see real madness of bureaucracy then you would have to go to Eden ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eden,_New_South_Wales ) where they catch sea fish and have to send it, the catch, to either Sydney or Melbourne and it is then purchased by local folk and brought back to Eden.

    There are many other stories of madness that I am sure @Blackswan and I could detail.

    Cheers

  5. Gail Combs says:

    The Bambi Syndrome is alive and well here in the USA too. They are reintroducing black leopards and wolves and the coyote population has gone through the roof. Unfortunately coyotes have no fear of humans and will make off with a toddler if they can. They have even been known to kill a full grown adult ( Taylor Mitchell ). A friend who was hunting didn’t make it up the tree quite in time and now has a limp.

    The US government used to keep stats on wild animal attacks but as soon as these release programs went into effect they stopped keeping the stats. The official line of course is these attacks are ‘rare’ (I personally know two people who have been attacked. The other one was the toddler, Tia in Wilmington MA.)
    Some Reported Coyote Attacks on Children

    In one case in California, a town had repeated attacks and trapped/killed over fifty animals in a square mile.

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