Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:
I have always been rather partial to January. There are some good arguments that it is the finest sporting month of the year but its end, which also marks the end of the game season should be something to celebrate; a moment to contemplate another wonderful shooting season. Of course some of us will be adventuring below the sea wall in pursuit of wildfowl in the next couple of weeks, and hounds will be meeting into March but I often think that the end of January marks the turning of the year in the countryside rather better than the actual New Year.
I have been lucky enough to take my dog and gun from Northumberland to Somerset and from Essex to Pembrokeshire in the last few months. Everywhere I go the positive impact that shooting has on communities and the countryside is obvious. The extraordinary popularity of game shooting continues unabated and that must be welcomed as shooting brings with it those economic, environmental and social benefits, but it does also bring challenges. Fitting more shooting into some, more heavily used, areas of the countryside is not always straightforward and of course the growing demand for shooting has greatly increased the supply of shot game. The market for game is growing, up 8.6% in the UK last year, but so too is the number of birds being shot. These problems are far from insurmountable, however, and if the biggest problems shooting has is managing its huge popularity that is a problem plenty of other sectors would love to have.
So if the start of February marks the start of the shooting year let’s all make a resolution: remember why we love shooting and the countryside so much, support the organisations that are working for shooting’s future and look forward to another great season.