We asked back a good airgunning friend of ours, who lives in the UK, out in the wilds of East Anglia, for another flavor of life there. Here is his latest post.
May 2017. The weather has been as capricious as ever – a long sunny week followed by cold Arctic northerly winds with an overnight frost that nipped our plum and walnut trees hard. Now it’s heavy rain. Looking up, I half expect to see a USA–style twister heading my way across the damp fields of England. The wildlife is a bit confused by all this, but they carry on with relentless excitement about Spring at Home Farm.
Better times must be on their way, because we have welcomed a rare bird, back to the Farm. Turtle doves used to be prolific in the UK, but changes in agriculture and habitat have had a major impact on these slim, modest and private birds. Numbers are 96% down compared to 1975.
Five years ago, we were very excited when one arrived literally out of the blue. It was the first one in 25 summers. So, this year, we were delighted to welcome back an exhausted turtle dove, just arrived from North Africa. A good feed soon perked her up again though, and she was off into the privacy of the bushes and high hedges we keep here, in defiance of modern farming practice.
Recently we, too, have been traveling. A new Game Fair in the North of England opened its doors for the second time, so we went back to see what’s fresh and exciting in the world of shooting, airguns and hunting. Folk from “up North” can be a bit reserved at times, but underneath sometimes craggy exteriors are fine, friendly, warm-hearted folk. So, we got talking. In the course of our conversations, we were reminded graphically of the importance of Rule #1 in shooting: shoot safely.
We met one fellow on crutches who had nearly lost a foot through the accidental discharge by a companion with a 12 gauge shotgun. Surgeons wanted to amputate but he insisted he keep his mangled foot. A cheerful chap, he’s been hobbling for months to come, alas. We met another, who had lost the muscle from an arm when a shot caught him sideways across his chest. And, very sadly, we talked again of the local 13 year old boy from Suffolk who was fatally wounded by an airgun while messing around with a couple of his friends, both 14 years old. This happened just 20 miles from us, this time last year.
We set out thoughtfully on the long journey back home to our turtle dove, brooding over the importance of always, always, always shooting safely and carefully.
Until next time,
Get out and shoot!