Saturday, 1 November 2014

Not a pleasant shoot

I saw a pheasant 'shoot' this week. I wasn't invited. I just happened to be there. I guess there were a couple of dozen people with guns and half a dozen people who were running the event. It was held, as you would guess, in the countryside but all these people were wearing fine clothes. One person in particular looked very fine in his suit. The strange thing was that at times he was driving a quad bike. These were not the types of clothes that you would want to get dirty. Having said that I don't think they did get dirty.

I saw the delivery of food and bottles of wine and cans of beer to wash it down. I saw a camaraderie among the shooters. I saw them displaying their trophies. I saw them enjoying themselves. But most of all I saw pheasants being shot.

My guess is that around 60 pheasants flew across a field in the space of five minutes. The first dozen managed to fly across and none were hit. There was a great number of gunshots. The vast majority must have missed their targets. Then one or two slowly landed in the distance. I guessed they had been shot but I wasn't certain as they could have been trying to hide. I soon put two and two together. They had been injured.

I saw pheasants that were hit and then plummet to the ground. They may have been killed instantly. Then I saw a pheasant flying very close to where I was sat. It was hit in the wing and was trying to fly away with it's one remaining wing. It flew straight into a stone wall. I think it died on impact.

I began to wonder what sort of person shoots pheasant. They are bred for this 'sport' so it's not to keep their numbers down. I decided that they must be people with a fairly significant disposable income that don't mind injuring and killing animals, but mostly they are people who use the shoot as a social gathering. It may be that these five minutes were repeated a few times in the day and I only saw one of them but it did take all day.

Then I saw the collection of the carcasses. There were two dogs which were highly trained and they were sent to carry the birds back to their owner. You could see where the birds landed. You didn't need dogs to find them. You didn't need dogs to carry them back as the field was not that big. The bird that hit the stone wall did not land in the field and the dogs were not allowed to enter this area. So the only time when a dog might have been useful to find a bird they were not used. Yes they were highly trained but a shoot is no reason for giving them this training. I am sure they could perform other very useful tasks.

I am not concerned with arguments about whether game birds are bred in captivity, or whether the game birds' natural predators are trapped and killed. I am not bothered if the birds are eaten or if supporters of the shoot are those who maintain the countryside. I am not even concerned about whether shooting is really popular. Any pro-shooting argument is 'shot down' by the shoot itself. I did ask who would do such a thing. Well it's obviously someone who doesn't mind giving pain to these birds.

Change the world

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