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Considering taking up shooting?!

Discussion in 'Gundog Training, Fieldwork, & Field Trials' started by snowbunny, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    J and I have been chatting. The thread of conversation started from me wanting a starting pistol for training. Here, we need a firearms license to own a starting pistol. Well, if we're getting a firearms license, we might as well get a shotgun and use that for the dog training. And, if we have a shotgun, we could actually go hunting.

    Erk.

    So, when we return to Spain next spring, we're going to head off to the local(ish) clay pigeon range and give it a go. If we enjoy it (which we definitely will, shooting clays, I'm sure), then we'll chat to the guy who runs the place, because he's bound to have contacts in the actual hunting world here. I've said before how very different it is to organised shoots in the UK; it's almost always a single hunter with his dogs here. Still, I think we could have a lot of fun and it would be wonderful for the dogs, especially Willow. Yesterday on a countryside walk, the dogs put up about six game birds (I have to work on my identification), I blew my whistle and all three Labs stopped perfectly. It got me quite excited about the prospect.

    It may never happen; we might decide it's not for us, but even going to the range is something to look forward to next year :)

    I guess if we choose to give it a go, I'm going to have to harness the dogs' inner Spaniel. I'm not ready to take on the real thing just yet!
     
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  2. Emily

    Emily Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Sounds slightly scary and super exciting at the same time!

    Looking forward to the next instalment :D
     
  3. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    I'd have to get a fluorescent orange wardrobe. No way do I want to blend into the scenery with the other nutters around :eek:
     
  4. edzbird

    edzbird Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Well this sounds very exciting. I'd get stuck at the clays - there's no way I could shoot a living creature! I know - that's a bit 2-faced coming from a meat-eater. Though I would like to get a firearms licence just to own a beautifully engraved shotgun, some of them are works of art.
     
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  5. heidrun

    heidrun Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Before you go along that route I would try and go on a walked up shoot somewhere in the UK where you will have to dispatch birds that have been shot, and retrieved but which are not dead. Not everyone can do this and I fully understand it but it is necessary if you are contemplating going shooting yourself.
     
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  6. Beanwood

    Beanwood Moderator Forum Supporter

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    OH has a gun license and shotguns here. He is thinking of taking up shooting too...but it is so expensive to go on a proper shoot! :eek: He is also qualified to despatch birds.
     
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  7. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    I've dispatched a goose on the side of a road (hit by a car) and an injured rabbit, so I don't think that would be an issue. J's good at all that stuff, too. I would like to know how to do it "properly", for sure, and would make sure that was something I was comfortable with before we went out. I can't imagine getting good enough to shoot anything by this time next year, so I think we have a good while before it would become a reality anyway. Not to mention having to do a touch more training with the dogs first!

    Side story: the first time I cooked a lobster, I was feeling really bad about it. I had put it in the freezer to make it sleepy and knew where to put the knife in to make it as quick as possible, but I was still hesitant. Then I looked at the pile of mussel shells from our starter and wondered how I could find it OK to kill that lot and yet not a single lobster. It seemed a bit messed up. I suppose I was at a bit of a pivotal point; if I thought that the lobster's and mussels' lives had equal value, I could either decide never to eat mussels again (and, by extension, any other animal-derived product), or I could dispatch the lobster in the most humane way I could and pop it in the pot.

    That lobster was really yummy. :D

    I'm certainly not saying I'd be comfortable killing any type of animal myself, even for food purposes, but birds, once I know how best to do it, no bother.

    I haven't even looked into the regulations and etiquette here yet. Even that may put us off. Of course we can find out about some of it online, but I don't think we'll get a real feel for it until we've made contacts in the shooting world. First stop, clays :)
     
  8. Beanwood

    Beanwood Moderator Forum Supporter

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    It is difficult, I am not sure my OH is even making the transition from shooting clays to shooting live birds tbh. On the humane culling side, we are just used to it from processing our own birds, which is harder in a way as we have hatched and reared every single one. We both still get upset and hate doing it.
     
  9. Karen

    Karen Registered Users

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    This is a tricky one, to be sure... I don't mind going pheasant shooting, indeed it is a great day out and we all enjoy it. Pigeons too, which are a bit of a pest, I dont mind being shot. But I hate seeing wild birds, like snipe or woodcock shot, and I cannot bear to see a hare being shot... I know it's not really logical, other than that the pheasants are bred and put out for the shooting. I think, though not sure, that if I had my own land I would want it to be a kind of sanctuary...
     
  10. heidrun

    heidrun Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I am totally with you on this, Karen. I absolutely hate the idea of snipe, woodcock or hares being shot. But I have no problem with pheasants. I'm also not that keen on seeing partridge and duck shot. I love working my dogs for people who like to shoot pheasants and it is something I do several times a week from October to February but I have absolutely no desire to shoot game myself.
     
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  11. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Sadly no land here is free from the hunters unless you apply to have it made a no-hunting zone, which will then be ignored anyway. They have to stay a certain distance from the house, which they usually do. But there are no trespass laws when it comes to the campo, so anyone can walk anywhere, unless it's fenced. In any event, our land isn't good for hunting, and we are working to make it even less appealing, simply because we don't want mad people with guns walking around our land.
     
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  12. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Anyway, I'm interested in your train of thought as to why it's ethically better to shoot something that's been bred and released for purpose, than a wild bird? There is some release of birds done here, but they're mainly wild. I'm not saying I disagree, as I don't know enough at this stage to have an opinion, I'm just interested in your reasoning?
     
  13. heidrun

    heidrun Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I simply can't see any reason to shoot woodcock or snipe. There is absolutely no meat on them, so nothing to eat. Their numbers here in the South West of the UK are not massive so another reason not to shoot them. To me the main reason for shooting a game bird is to put some food on the table. The pheasants around here are enormous and one pheasant can easily provide enough meat to feed two to three people. Hares around here are considered quite mythical creatures, they are relatively rare and no one here would shoot one. It is different in other parts of the UK though. Duck and partridge are just a personal thing of mine and I don't like seeing them shot.
     
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  14. Karen

    Karen Registered Users

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    As Heidrun says, there is no meat to speak of on snipe or woodcock. Snipe are so tiny it would be like eating a thrush or blackbird... Personally I'd rather eat pheasant, which has been bred and then released, and which lives in the wild, than some of our farmed animals, considering the lives they lead and the terrible deaths they suffer... But primarily my concern is about shooting threatened wildlife.
     
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  15. selina27

    selina27 Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I've always understood that shooting a snipe and especially woodcock is about the prowess of the person shooting it due to their flight pattern making it very hard, leading to the term "feather in your cap" meaning an achievement.
    I'm happy to say that the woodcock that have now arrived in the woods we walk in most days are safe from guns.
     
  16. Snowy

    Snowy Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    What excellent news. Not only will you have lots of fun, but you will also get to see the inside of a world that is painted so dark by much of the media, and you, as a yet another normal person who happens to own a gun, will be acting as ambassador for sporting gunners everywhere.

    Very interesting reading opinions about what's ok to shoot and eat, and what isn't.

    Bottom of my list of "meat sources" would be driven hunting, where the birds are bred simply to supply a moving target with a slightly more unpredictable flight path than a clay pigeon. It's shooting yes, but not really "hunting". Of course I don't mind if others have this hobby.

    At the top of the list is anything that lives "wild" and has lived its life as nature intended. The caveat being that the hunting is controlled * (e.g. bag count) to ensure it is sustainable and has no extinction risk.

    * Additional point here: Nature is not kind to itself. When food is abundant, game populations rocket. When food is scarce and/or populations outway resource availability, there is mass starvation with lots of suffering. Responsible hunting can work together with nature, ensuring populations continue at a level that the land/food resources can support.

    - - -

    I wrote somewhere earlier that I find eating hunted game much more ethical than eating meat from the supermarket. I've visited an abattoir and since that have found it particularly difficult to eat pork, at least if there is a wild option available in our freezer.
     
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  17. Karen

    Karen Registered Users

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    Absolutely, to both points. The thing is that in the UK, wild bird populations are massively under threat. I'm sure the situation is different in Finland, where you have a small population of humans, with a lot of wide open, mostly untouched land... I also don't like large driven shoots, I much prefer a smaller, more familial shoot with a very limited bag. We also love to do some rough shooting, but OH is onside about only shooting pheasants. And I completely agree with you about eating meat; I've given up pork completely. Not that simple, living in Germany!!! Here, wherever possible, I buy venison and wild boar meat, as both are plentiful and shot locally.
     
  18. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Wow, that must be tough! It would be the same in Spain, their diet consists of huge amounts of pork.

    I have a friend who is a pig vet in the UK who does eat pork, but only ethically produced stuff, which apparently looks and tastes completely different to the pork you buy in most places. He says it's much darker meat, not the almost white colour people are used to seeing in the supermarket or even most local butchers.
     
  19. Karen

    Karen Registered Users

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    It's not easy, but pigs are very intelligent animals and I just can't bear the thought any more of the way they are kept, transported, and killed... Agree with your vet friend, I would (and do) eat 'happy pigs', but you don't see them so much here as in the UK. Wild boar, on the other hand, I don't mind eating at all! Delicious - and they are becoming quite a pest here; they have no natural enemies, the climate has changed and become milder, and there is subsequently a population explosion. In addition, they are very clever, much cleverer than most of the people trying to shoot them, so they constantly evade the hunters! Smart piggies...
     
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  20. Snowy

    Snowy Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Admittedly we have a lot more "space" per person but the situation for game animals is only good because of carefully managed annual counts and restricted bag limits. 5 years ago there were actually too many capercaille and we were encouraged to take many, however this year they are protected in our hunting area.

    On the subject of the space vs. game animal availability, I was only thinking the other day that "wild game" can only support a very small human population. e.g. 100+ years ago the Finnish population was "only" a couple of million, but already moose were hunted close to extinction. They didn't do official counts back then, but the estimate 100 years ago was only 200 animals in the whole of Finland. The population today, with careful management, ithe population is maintained at a "steady" level (darker green in the chart below, measured from the right hand scale, which is in "1000s" of individuals).


    pic_5_3578700_k2229121_651.jpg


    For those still with enough free time to keep reading my thread-hijack (sorry SB :) ), the black line is the number of moose related road accidents. You can see the clear correlation between moose population and motorists finding a long-legged moose coming through their windscreen :( If you're a motorist, at least a sensible one, it's difficult to argue against hunting moose.
     

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