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.
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.