‘Shooting is about being out with good friends and family on a cold crisp day’ – Liz Wicker
Twenty years ago I wrote a letter to parliament to ask them to ban hunting. My favourite programme was Animals of Farthing Wood (I cried when pheasant and his wife were shot) and the idea of eating my own animals was nothing short of horrifying.
Fast forward twenty years and I’m a beater on a small shoot near Leicester. I’m a member of the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club and I go deer stalking regularly (I think my partner values me more as a pack horse then a companion sometimes!). My burning ambition is to own my own horse, so I can go hunting.
None of this happened overnight- I blame Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the ambitions of a self-sufficient friend for getting me into poultry rearing, the same friend for my riding escapades and my partner for introducing me to the world of shooting.
Why do I love it? Especially when it is a bit of a change from what I thought my core values were.
Originally, it was going out with my partner, doing something he loved (he used to be a keeper), and I liked making him happy. Then it was meeting everyone at the shoot, who took this suburban teacher who didn’t really know what she was doing under their wing. It was the buzz of learning new vocabulary – being able to shout ‘Over’ and know it was the right thing to say at the right time.
It is being out with good friends and family on a cold crisp day. Seeing wildlife close up- a hare racing over the fields, goldfinches and yellowhammers in the hedgerows- everyday wildlife up close and personal.
The partridges and pheasants themselves are stunning birds and always at the back of my mind I’m thinking roast dinner, cider casserole and pan fried partridge breast. It is being gifted a handful of mushrooms by people who are now my friends. A hot chocolate in the pub at the end of the day. And the keeper saying, stick with me Liz, I’ll look after you.
Last season was my first shooting season. I hope I don’t see my last for many more!
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