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Hunting

La chasse est la traque d'animaux dans le but de les capturer ou de les abattre, les manger ou les détruires, en respectant une réglementation très stricte. De plus, il existe plusieurs disciplines concernant la chasse.
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    • Try something a little different with the best ingredients of the season, follow Philippa Davis' recipe for cider and buckwheat crepes with asparagus and trout

      These crepes with asparagus and trout can be served as a starter or a main.Asparagus and trout are undoubtedly best eaten simply with a squeeze of lemon. But if you are tempted to try something a little different, have a go at Philippa Davis’ cider and buckwheat crepes with asparagus and trout. Delicious as a starter and main, serve one pancake per person for a starter and two for a main.

      Asparagus and trout are wonderfully versatile ingredients. Try our shakshuka with trout and asparagus, and serve for brunch, lunch or light supper.

      CIDER AND BUCKWHEAT CREPES WITH ASPARAGUS AND TROUT
      Serves 4/8

      - 250ml dry cider
      - 50ml whole milk
      - 1 egg
      - 1 tbsp olive oil
      - 100g buckwheat flour
      - Extra oil or butter for cooking
      - 40g butter
      - 40g plain flour
      - 300ml milk
      - 100ml cider
      - 2 level tsp Dijon mustard
      - 70g grated mild cheese, such as gruyère
      - 150g asparagus, tough ends removed
      - 4 fillets of trout, cut in half lengthways
      Preheat oven to 220°C/425°C/Gas Mark 7.

      To make the batter for the crêpes, measure the cider and milk in a jug, lightly beat in the egg and oil.

      Place the flour in a bowl and slowly whisk in the liquid ingredients until smooth.

      Leave to rest for 30 minutes then cook the crêpes using a little olive oil or clarified butter to stop them sticking. They can seem more delicate then normal crêpes so you may want to turn them with a spatula.

      For the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan on a low heat then stir in the plain flour until smooth.

      Slowly whisk in the cider and milk and cook until thick. Stir in the mustard and 60g of the cheese. Keep warm.

      In each of the crêpes place a few spears of asparagus, 1 strip of trout and a spoonful of cheese sauce.

      Roll up and place in an ovenproof dish, big enough to fit all eight pancakes in comfortably.

      Repeat with the rest of the pancakes, then pour the remaining sauce over the top along with the remaining cheese.

      Bake on the top shelf of the oven for about 8 minutes or until the trout is cooked and the top golden.

      Serve straight away, allowing one per person as a starter and two as a main.
      Try something a little different with the best ingredients of the season, follow Philippa Davis' recipe for cider and buckwheat crepes with asparagus and trout

      These crepes with asparagus and trout can be served as a starter or a main.Asparagus and trout are undoubtedly best eaten simply with a squeeze of lemon. But if you are tempted to try something a little different, have a go at Philippa Davis’ cider and buckwheat crepes with asparagus and trout. Delicious as a starter ... See more
      See more on line
      Cider and buckwheat crepes with asparagus and trout
    • Mat Manning considers the maximum lethal range for sub-12ft/lb air rifles and decides that it is more about the shooter than the gun

      Shooting at extreme range is for paper targets and spinners, not live quarryHow far is the maximum distance for hunting with a legal-limit air rifle?

      It is something I get asked all the time but it is a question that has no straight answer. Gun shops that sell air rifles as a sideline but have no real experience of using them in the hunting field usually cite the default 40m, which is incredibly misleading. Fair enough, a pellet fired from a sub-12ft/lb air rifle will still be carrying enough energy to deliver a clean kill at that range — and significantly further — but most newcomers, and 
a lot of experienced Shots, would really struggle to achieve the accuracy needed to consistently land a pellet 
in the right place at that range.

      If you can’t group pellets inside a circle the size of a 2p piece, you’ve exceeded your killing range

      The scant shock energy delivered by a pellet fired from a legal-limit air rifle means we usually need to hit our quarry in the upper part of the skull to ensure clean, humane kills. 
There are a few exceptions — small quarry such as magpies and collared doves can be swiftly despatched with a strike to the chest, and a shot to the heart and lung area can snuff out larger quarry such as woodpigeons, crows and grey squirrels if delivered with precision and at the correct angle. But for the average shooter, head shots are the most reliable option, and I usually stick to the 
same practice when using FAC-
rated airguns.

      When it comes to head shots on airgun quarry — and heart-and-lung shots for that matter — you are talking about a very small kill zone. I use 
a diameter of 30mm as a basic rule of thumb. So the best answer to the maximum lethal range question is: whatever distance you are able to consistently land shots within a circle just a shade larger than a 2p piece. That is 
an extremely small target but modern 
air rifles are very precise instruments — it is just a matter of choosing the right pellet and putting in lots of practice in order to learn how to get the very best from your gun/ammunition combo.

      Practice will help you understand your airgun’s performance and your own limitations

      Fancy pellets
      Choosing the right ammo doesn’t mean carrying out lots of tests on ballistic putty to find a pellet that does maximum damage. Pellet manufacturers make lots of claims — most of them probably cooked up by their marketing teams — about pointed pellets improving penetration and hollowpoints turning your airgun into a sledgehammer. It is a subject I don’t want to get too embroiled in here but, by and large, fancy pellet designs make very little difference to knock-down power.

      The most important consideration in airgun pellet selection is accuracy — land a pellet in your quarry’s brainbox and the unfortunate 
critter is going to fall over dead regardless of the shape of your 
little projectile. For this reason, the 
high-quality domed pellets used 
by Field Target and Hunter Field 
Target shooters are usually the best option, and they also give a nice compromise between penetration and energy transfer. These pellets 
are not outrageously expensive — 
you shouldn’t have to pay much more than £15 for a tin of 500 — and tried and tested lines are available from 
the likes of Air Arms, JSB, Daystate, Bisley, H&N and RWS.

      Using fieldcraft to get close to your quarry is far more responsible than taking shots at extreme range

      Experiment
      Airguns can be very pellet-fussy, and it is likely that your barrel will be better suited to one brand of pellets than another. A bit of experimentation can go a long way when it comes to finding the very 
best ammunition for your gun. My advice is to ask fellow club members or airgunning friends to let you try 
a variety of their pellets so you can find the best match — even if you have to buy them a pint, it is a lot cheaper than forking out for half-a-dozen or 
so tins of pellets and then junking most of them.

      When you find a pellet that really suits your airgun, stick with it and don’t be tempted to switch to a cheap alternative for practice sessions. Practising with anything other than your favoured hunting pellets is 
a false economy and a waste of time. The downrange performance of different ammo can vary greatly, so chopping and changing will ruin your chances of fully understanding your pellet’s trajectory so you can use correct hold-over and hold-under to stay on target over varying distances.

      With your ammo sorted, you can then set about practising from various stances in order to establish the maximum range at which you can expect to hit that all-important 30mm target — that distance will be your self-imposed ceiling and will vary depending on factors such as wind strength and your shooting position. Average expectations might be 20m for freehand standing shots, 25m for sitting or kneeling shots and 30m when shooting prone. If you use a recoil-less precharged pneumatic airgun, you can increase these ranges by using sticks or a bipod to take supported shots, and even by leaning against trees and fence posts — it is not cheating, it is exploiting the full potential of your airgun.

      In still conditions, with the right kit, and with lots of practice, you 
can expect to achieve clean kills 
on rabbits at 45m when shooting prone and with the added support 
of a bipod — but it hinges on being able to confidently land your pellet between the eye and ear.

      Humane despatch with an air rifle demands sportsmanship and fieldcraft

      Getting close?
      I would argue that a true sportsman should turn the initial question on its head, though. Rather than getting caught up in trying to work out the maximum range at which a sub-12ft/lb air rifle could potentially despatch live quarry, 
you should be asking “how close can I get for 
the shot?”.

      Stretching range increases the risk of wounding, eventually 
to an unacceptable level 
and I’m always more impressed by shooters who demonstrate restraint and 
a sound knowledge of fieldcraft than those who try to use long shots to make up for the deficit. Getting close to your quarry is what makes airgun shooting so exciting, and there is nothing more rewarding than making a clean kill after putting in the groundwork to close down the distance.

      A buyer’s guide to airguns
      Taking the second-hand route when buying an airgun can save you a small fortune. But if you don’t know what…

      Five popular air rifles for under £500
        1. Logun Solo A wallet-friendly price at £299, this single-shot PCP air rifle is built to withstand regular use. It…

      FAC air rifles – are they necessary?
      One of the perennial issues facing the air gunner who wants to move up to something bigger is where to…

      Watching rabbits scurry off into 
the brambles or hearing pigeons 
clatter from the treetops as you try 
to creep closer might be frustrating 
but it doesn’t linger like the sight of 
a wounded animal dragging itself into cover after a recklessly long shot goes wrong. Fieldcraft and sportsmanship should be at the top of the airgun shooter’s priorities.

      There is nothing wrong with pushing the distance with your air rifle but shooting at extreme range is for paper targets, not live quarry.
      Mat Manning considers the maximum lethal range for sub-12ft/lb air rifles and decides that it is more about the shooter than the gun

      Shooting at extreme range is for paper targets and spinners, not live quarryHow far is the maximum distance for hunting with a legal-limit air rifle?

      It is something I get asked all the time but it is a question that has no straight answer. Gun shops that sell air rifles as a sideline but have no real experience of using them in the ... See more
      See more on line
      What’s the maximum distance you can hunt with a legal-limit air rifle?
    • Mike Fairclough, head teacher at a junior school in Eastbourne, explains how including countryside management in the curriculum can have both an academic and environmental impact

      West Rise Junior School believe teaches countryside management equips the children with vital character traits, and encourages them to love coming to school. West Rise Junior School has made countryside management part of their curriculum. The school, which is the highest performing in the area and in the top 5% nationally, has a small farm and the children look after beehives, learn to fire shotguns and air rifles and regularly prepare, cook and eat game. Headteacher Mike Fairclough explains why teaching countryside management is crucial, both academically and environmentally.

      The future of fieldsports is in the hands of the next generation. Enthusing and encouraging youngsters is key, but when should they start shooting? Read what age should youngsters start shooting?

      WEST RISE JUNIOR SCHOOL
      Educating children about countryside management is not compulsory for schools but I believe it should be. Since becoming the head teacher of West Rise Junior School in Eastbourne 14 years ago, my team and I have embraced the great outdoors. We have a small farm, which is home to chickens, goats, sheep, alpacas and a herd of six water buffalo. The school is located on a council estate, where most of our children come from, and is adjacent to a 120-acre piece of marshland, which we lease from the local authority. On this land, our children are taught to light and cook over an open fire, identify the local fauna and flora and forage for food. Using knives, bow saws and hand drills, they make items out of wood, such as jewellery, wooden mallets, whittled sticks and shelters. We also have several beehives on the marsh, which the children look after.

      Working with BASC and the Countryside Alliance, the children, aged seven to 11, are taught to fire shotguns and air rifles and about the law pertaining to firearms. BASC has also taught them about ferreting, using gundogs and how to shoot pigeon. Farm manager Alex Richards teaches them how to prepare game, including skinning rabbits and plucking birds, which they then cook and eat outside. These experiences would not be readily accessible to most of our children as there is high socio-economic deprivation on the estate.

      Academically, it is the highest performing school in Eastbourne and in the top 5% nationally, within aspects of the core curriculum. We attribute this success to the fact that the children love coming to school and the vast majority acquire grit and resilience through being outside for long periods.

      We are fully supported by our parents, the local authority, the Health and Safety Executive and Ofsted. Additionally, the mainstream media regularly celebrates the outdoor learning at the school. We have been on BBC’s Countryfile, Blue Peter, BBC TV news, GMTV and in every major British newspaper. A recent Channel 4 news item endorsing the school has had 16 million views on Facebook to date.

      However, not everyone agrees with our approach. Some people believe that exposing children to hunting and shooting is wrong. These individuals also say that it is unnecessary to shoot rabbits, pigeon and grey squirrels. This is where my belief that countryside management should be part of the National Curriculum comes from. I don’t judge the people who criticise my approach because I realise that their beliefs stem from a lack of education about the countryside. There are also those who feel that children should not be exposed to death. However, the vast majority of people across the world embrace what we do.

      In addition to the positive academic impact, learning outdoor skills also educates children about the lifecycle, food chain, economics of the countryside, responsible use of firearms and equips them with vital character traits, such as endurance and perseverance. Most importantly, the children grow to understand the need to manage the countryside and how this is carried out.

      My two sons, who attended the school a few years ago, both shoot and provide the family with rabbits and pigeon for the pot. This is where I intend to take the project next. The pupils at the school have only shot clays and never shot a live pigeon. Given that many of them have prepared and cooked game, this seems to be a logical progression.

      I will continue to promote this approach to other schools. TES [formerly the Times Educational Supplement] awarded the school “Primary School of the Year” in 2015 on account of our outdoor learning provision. TES supported the school when we first started shooting and has continued to do so. I recently became a columnist for the magazine, which will act as an additional platform for my approach. I’ve written a book, Playing With Fire: Embracing Risk and Danger in Schools, which many schools now refer to and is on the reading list of two teacher-training universities in the UK.

      Finally, I will continue to work with the mainstream media. I frequently receive messages from fellow head teachers, who have developed their outdoor learning programmes as a result of seeing my school in the press or from reading my book. There is a real momentum within education for this approach; change is definitely happening.

      Of course, countryside management sits within a much broader context than education alone. The billions of pounds it contributes annually to the UK economy is an under-celebrated fact. The jobs it provides and its contribution to British cultural heritage is undervalued. Again, this is why countryside management needs to be on the curriculum. Until that time, we will continue to educate the children at my school and promote the approach to others, regardless of the inevitable criticism from those who have yet to learn accurately about the countryside.
      Mike Fairclough, head teacher at a junior school in Eastbourne, explains how including countryside management in the curriculum can have both an academic and environmental impact

      West Rise Junior School believe teaches countryside management equips the children with vital character traits, and encourages them to love coming to school. West Rise Junior School has made countryside management part of their curriculum. The school, which is the highest performing in the area and in ... See more
      See more on line
      West Rise Junior School: lessons in country life
    • Call them 'lady Guns", they don't care: but what can shooting do to encourage more women to take up the sport, asks Eleanor Doughty


      Lady Melissa Percy says that shooting is her favourite fieldsport A Gun is a Gun is a Gun, isn’t it? If you’re out shooting on a game day, you are known as a Gun, end of.” So says Tracy Meston, senior coach at the Roxburghe Shooting School in the Scottish Borders, 
one of a growing number of women 
in the UK who shoot.

      As other industries begin to look closely at their treatment of women — questioning gender pay gaps, inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment — some in the shooting community are wondering if it is time to do the same.

      “The way that shooting is going, it’s going to end up being licensed,” says gamekeeper Jonathan Davis, who works on the Babworth estate in Nottinghamshire. “You can talk about biodiversity and sustainability all you like, but there needs to be equality throughout and that includes an 
equal number of male and female Guns on each of the drives.”

      Women shoot few days a year than men, but their average bag size on a driven day is likely to be bigger

      There are a variety of causes of growing perceived inequality in shooting. Jonathan blames social media in part. “I’m sick of seeing genuine comments from women who want a little bit of advice, then straight away there’s 150 men jumping in with their patronising comments,” he says. “I’m not some raving liberal, but there has to be equality within the game shooting industry.”

      Others say the infamous helicopter-and-cigar City boy client days of shooting folklore are preventing women from wanting to join in. Says one Gun who is often tasked with taking clients out on driven days: “There has been a huge boom in male-only parties that end up with the most spectacular lousy, louche chat. It’s fun to be part of, 
but it would be a field day if it were 
to get out.”

      Women really ought to be welcome on these days, he adds: “There is nothing quite like the refreshing presence of female Shots to keep you on your toes. It brings out the best 
in both sexes.” A keen grouse man 
adds: “Some of the girls I know go on these big shoots and they absolutely love it — they get lots of attention.”

      Liam Stokes, head of shooting at the Countryside Alliance, urges critics to look upon commercialisation of the sport as a positive not negative idea. “When I first got involved in shooting about 14 years ago, it was a lot harder to go shooting than it is now,” he says. “You had to know the right people. 
If you want to go shooting now, you can find a day that suits what you 
can afford.” With more people shooting, more women are inevitably going to join in, he says. “Increasing the accessibility will increase the diversity in terms of women over time.”

      Victoria Knowles Lacks, gounder of the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club shooting group

      Gender is irrelevant
      Some women feel this debate is a little over-egged. Lady Violet Manners, the eldest of the 11th Duke of Rutland’s five children, grew up on the Belvoir Castle estate in Leicestershire. “We always had women shooting at home,” she says. “My experiences have generally been very positive. For the past four years I’ve just loaded, for men and women, but over the past year or so I’ve been shooting more and had an amazing couple of days on friends’ shoots, where there have been women in 
the line with their own guns.”

      Stunning #TROYgirl Violet Manners @mannersviolet rocking our suede Baker’s cap Rg @rutlandemma @lechameau1927

      A post shared by T R O Y London (@troylondonuk) on Nov 9, 2017 at 9:48am PST

      Gender is irrelevant, she says. “Shooting is such an accessible sport in the sense that it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, it’s down to co-ordination. I don’t think it’s hugely sexist in that sense.”

      Fieldsports writer Kate Fensterstock agrees. “It’s not that [men] don’t like [women being in the field], but it’s not something they are used to and often they don’t know how to handle it. They want to be able to make you feel included but [some of them] are not quite there yet. Every day that I show up with a gun they assume that I’m beating or loading 
for someone, and then I [stand] 
next to them on the peg.”

      Kate is pretty robust about the whole thing. “When you get a bunch of guys together doing something ‘manly’, they’re going to be men no matter what. I don’t think that’s limited to shooting, it has to do with how men are.”

      Women shooters are getting out there
      Despite the media prominence of big-bag days, where helicopters and cigars are inevitably involved, women shooters are still getting out there. According to the GunsOnPegs Census 2016, women shoot fewer days a year than men — nine compared with 14 — but their average bag size on a driven day is likely to be higher, at 155 compared with 135. The census found that female Guns are still in the extreme minority, making up only three per cent of the survey’s respondents.

      Women only
      Nevertheless, the number of women-only shooting environments is growing. Alongside the popular Chelsea Bun Club  are the clay shooting club Femmes Fatales and Holland & Holland’s Green Feathers course, which launched in 1995. Tracy is all for more women getting involved but “a lot of the girls out there are getting involved with shooting as a bit of a fashion statement and I don’t believe in that; I think 
it gives us a bad reputation”.

      While all-female environments offer new opportunities for women who fancy a go at shooting, they are not going to solve the problem overnight. “Girls are being given the opportunity to shoot, but only with each other,” says Kate. “The most important part of the process is making sure that girls will feel that they can shoot alongside the boys. That’s the biggest hurdle — they can feel confident with women, but they still won’t shoot with boys, and that isn’t going to change anything.”

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      Browning B525 Liberty Light
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      £2,289.00 Lady Melissa Percy on why shooting is her favourite fieldsport
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      Encouraging women into shooting
      There is still more to do to encourage more women to go into the shooting world, playing whatever part they like best. “A positive way to take women off peg-stand duty is to get them beating or doing something productive to feel like a part of the process, then they have their own role,” says Kate.

      Liam Stokes turns the question of how to encourage more women into shooting around: “In the shooting magazines, the vast majority of photographs are of men but when you ask the shooting community to submit their pictures, as we do in our Love of Shooting campaign, 80 to 90 per cent of the entries are women.”

      As for the terminology, “lady 
Gun” is beginning to sound dated. 
“It does annoy me because deep 
down I don’t think there should be 
a distinction,” says Kate. “At the 
same time, I encourage people not 
to read so far into it. We’re still at 
a stage with women in shooting that if that distinction has to be made, at least girls are involved.” Tracy adds that, with reference to the actual equipment, “a lot of people use the term ‘ladies’ gun’, but it’s simply 
a smaller bore”.

      Lady Violet doesn’t take the term to heart. “I don’t think we should get too prissy about the title that we give ourselves,” she says. “There’s something incredibly refined and chic about being called a ‘lady Gun’. There’s nothing more glamorous than a woman standing on a peg with 
her own gun.”
      Call them 'lady Guns", they don't care: but what can shooting do to encourage more women to take up the sport, asks Eleanor Doughty


      Lady Melissa Percy says that shooting is her favourite fieldsport A Gun is a Gun is a Gun, isn’t it? If you’re out shooting on a game day, you are known as a Gun, end of.” So says Tracy Meston, senior coach at the Roxburghe Shooting School in the Scottish Borders, ... See more
      See more on line
      How can shooting encourage more women into the sport?
    • Shooting gets people active, reduces social isolation and promotes well-being, a select committee inquiry was told

      "Shooting really is a sport for everyone" says Olympic gold medallist Peter Wilson With potential rises in licence costs, GP fees and long waiting times for certificate renewals, shooters could be forgiven for thinking that their sport attracts little support 
from the Government.

      However, good news could be on the horizon, as a result of the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee inquiry into the social impact of participation in culture and sport. Organisations and the public were invited to submit evidence showing how culture and sport are linked to positive impacts on health, community and education.

      Shooting is good exercise for many

      Shooting promotes wellbeing
      A detailed 10-page document submitted by BASC explained 
how shooting can help to get 
more people active, reduce 
social isolation and promote personal well-being while encouraging engagement 
with the natural environment.

      Peter Wilson, Team GB Olympic double trap gold medallist, confirmed this 
after his 2012 success.

      “Shooting really is a sport for everyone,” he said. “I cannot emphasise enough how easy it 
is to get into. Whether fat or thin, tall or short, you can shoot, so why not get involved? Six years ago 
I wanted to start shooting so I typed ‘clay pigeon shooting’ into Google and found my nearest range. I’m now a gold-medal Olympian.”

      One of the questions posed by the inquiry was how could access to cultural and sporting professions be improved to enable greater diversity? In its submission BASC recommended that regional centres of excellence for shooting sports be developed across the UK so that promising shooters could be identified and coached in a consistent way to fulfil the Government’s target of creating 
a “pipeline of talent”.

      Kate Ives of BASC said: “Our evidence shows how shooting supports the key themes of the inquiry, including social mobility, health, education, community engagement and diversity.”

      Beating the black dog
      You may remember me, or rather you may dimly recall the monthly pieces that I wrote for Shooting Times, about fishing (occasionally) and shooting…

      A new series on starting shooting
      Funny old world, isn’t it? In spite of society throwing its hands up in horror at the mere mention of…

      Dr Conor O’Gorman of BASC added: “Shooting is probably unique as a recreational activity in the many ways that participants of all ages and abilities can take part on an equal footing regardless of gender and background. It contributes not only to personal well-being but also benefits and shapes the natural environment and supports livelihoods and local communities across the UK.

      “BASC is leading the way in increasing participation in and awareness of shooting though 
a wide range of activities including ladies’ and Young Shots’ events, coaching at shows and jamborees, educational events for students, game cooking and so on; the list 
is long and we have detailed all 
of this in our inquiry submission.”
      Shooting gets people active, reduces social isolation and promotes well-being, a select committee inquiry was told

      "Shooting really is a sport for everyone" says Olympic gold medallist Peter Wilson With potential rises in licence costs, GP fees and long waiting times for certificate renewals, shooters could be forgiven for thinking that their sport attracts little support 
from the ... See more
      See more on line
      Government told of shooting’s unique benefits to health
    • Gamekeepers swapped estate tweeds for mankinis to climb a Munro in aid of Cancer Research, with £2,000 raised to date.

      Is it a hallucination? No, it's a group of Angus Glens keepers in pink mankinisHighland walkers enjoying a hike up Mount Keen must have thought they were hallucinating when they spotted a group of burly men standing at the top wearing pink Borat-style mankinis.
      It was in fact no vision, but the reality of a group of gamekeepers, who raised a solid £2,000 for Cancer Research as a result of 
their cheeky charity walk on Saturday, 12 May.

      Surprise and amusement of other walkers
      Twenty-one keepers from the Angus Glens Moorland Group took part, dressing more traditionally for the 3,081ft climb before stripping down to skintight mankinis at the summit, much to the surprise and amusement of other walkers.

      Keeper Neal Annand, who took part, said: “I think Amazon must be wondering what is going on in the glens of Angus because they have had lots of online orders for pink mankinis in the past few weeks.
      “Gamekeepers might not 
be the kind of people traditionally associated with dressing up like this, stuck up in the hills all day, 
but it was a great way to get together, have a blether and 
a laugh and raise some cash 
at the same time.”

      The keepers who took part dressed rather more conservatively for the 3,081ft climb

      Raising money for an important cause
      Neal’s  wife Samantha added: “The idea initially came about mainly because we wanted to do something different. Loss from cancer doesn’t get any easier and, unfortunately, many of our friends have been affected too. Quite a few of the boys who took part in the walk have experienced the loss of loved ones but this was a great way to raise money for such an important cause. Hopefully we didn’t scare too many sheep or Munro bloggers.”

      Keepers helped feed homeless this Christmas
      Angus and Grampian gamekeepers teamed up to give more than 600 homeless and vulnerable people a freshly cooked meal of…

      Grouse shooting: why moorland managers are conservation heroes
      If the critics are to be believed then the picturesque patchwork of heather glens and valleys that comprise our nation’s…

      Samantha and her sister lost both parents to cancer and they have been raising money since, 
to a total of almost £20,000.
      Gamekeepers swapped estate tweeds for mankinis to climb a Munro in aid of Cancer Research, with £2,000 raised to date.

      Is it a hallucination? No, it's a group of Angus Glens keepers in pink mankinisHighland walkers enjoying a hike up Mount Keen must have thought they were hallucinating when they spotted a group of burly men standing at the top wearing pink Borat-style mankinis.
      It was in fact no vision, but the reality of a group of gamekeepers, who raised a solid £2,000 ... See more
      See more on line
      Keepers in pink mankinis? Really?
    • A post-Brexit world calls for simple and sophisticated environmental solutions for subsidies. With CAP no longer a binding force, Tim Field explains that now is the time to set the agenda

      Smaller holdings could see a helping hand in a post-Brexit world.With Brexit seeing Common Agricultural Policy set sail from our shores, we have the opportunity of a lifetime, says Time Field. Now is the time to set the agenda for post-Brexit agricultural policy.

      For more on farming, Tim Field marks a key moment in the farming calendar in spring turn out: put out to grass.

      POST-BREXIT AGRICULTURAL POLICY
      After 45 years of turgid bureaucracy, Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) prepares to set sail from our shores, leaving behind a blank canvas and opportunity to redefine British farming. CAP began with wine lakes and butter mountains, put production in check with set-aside, spruced up the margins and boundaries and made a recent attempt at “greening” across farms. Yet prevailing policy trends for input-intensive farming have seldom looked at efficiency, have only ever achieved stuttering farm profits and made little impact on key environmental indicators, such as water quality and farm biodiversity.

      The Government’s Command Paper, Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit, sets the scene as we conceive a new generation of agricultural policy. So how is Defra proposing to implement this and will we be any better for it? The Command Paper has little detail on the execution; however, it does show the Government’s intentions for some noticeable shifts in public spending.

      Existing Basic Payments are calculated on the size of holding. In simplistic terms, you are entitled to this chunk of subsidy if you stay within the law. This mechanism is due to be phased out, primarily because of disproportionate benefit seen by the largest landholders that should be more efficient by virtue of scale (notwithstanding less favourable areas of farmland, which are another kettle of fish). However, all is not lost for the large landowners; the new policy will deliver significant subsidies where there is tangible delivery of public goods, that is, going above and beyond producing food within legislative constraints. Any initiative that motivates larger holdings into more environmentally balanced methods of production can only be a good thing as most receptors – be it water quality, biodiversity, flood management, climate change mitigation or others – require landscapes not small, isolated farms to create change.

      A HELPING HAND TO SMALLER HOLDINGS
      The smaller holdings, which make up the majority of UK farms (the average UK farm is around 200 acres), could see a helping hand, too. Natural England has been adopting the GWCT’s concept of Farmer Clusters, where environmental objectives are tackled with collaborating neighbouring farms, in recognition that many of our targets (from grey partridge pairs to watercourse quality) don’t acknowledge farm boundaries. This form of collaboration is nothing new to the fieldsports community and is certainly something to rally and seek funding for.

      Sharing productive land with public goods, whilst losing Direct Payments, might be perceived as uncompetitive on the global stage; however, the report recognises the value of some public goods to underpin a viable harvest and business income, such as improved soils. The lack of reference to increasing yields is noticeable by its absence; something that will no doubt anger those with the 1980s policy mindset that big is beautiful. Instead, collaboration again features heavily, from agronomy to markets, and addresses efficiency, productivity and competitiveness. This is no doubt based on the success of recent initiatives, such as the Innovative Farmers research programme and concepts such as digital machinery-sharing forum, Farm-r.

      REWARDING ENVIRONMENTAL OUTCOMES
      The current agri-environment schemes rely on selection of actions from a list, such as sowing a “nectar flower mix”, that prescribe what’s needed, where and when. The crux of the new policy hinges on an Environmental Land Management System and this looks to reward environmental outcomes; with our example, the outcome to be rewarded would be “availability of nectar”. Natural England is trialling a results-based payment approach in four scenarios. This element is refreshing and gives scheme ownership to the farmer and hopefully greater leniency to manage the holding to the best of his or her ability to achieve the desired environmental outcomes. This needs to be a sophisticated design but simple in execution. Rather than prescribing a specific option on which to be judged (for example, “reduced flood risk from tree planting”), I’d like to see how payments can support a combination of management practices in-field and beyond the farm gate, such as tillage, rotations, compaction, take-up in neighbouring farms and other holistic practices that would have exponentially greater impact. Environmental initiatives can benefit in-field and beyond farm boundaries as well as margins and less productive areas.

      The 64-page Command Paper throws up many more ideas with enough detail to provoke a consultation response. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to set our own agenda and many in the fieldsports arena have vested interests and acute understanding on how to get it right. You have until 8 May to have your say.

      Follow Tim and Agricology @agricology
      A post-Brexit world calls for simple and sophisticated environmental solutions for subsidies. With CAP no longer a binding force, Tim Field explains that now is the time to set the agenda

      Smaller holdings could see a helping hand in a post-Brexit world.With Brexit seeing Common Agricultural Policy set sail from our shores, we have the opportunity of a lifetime, says Time Field. Now is the time to set the agenda for post-Brexit agricultural policy.

      For more on farming, ... See more
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      Post-Brexit agricultural policy: the opportunity of a lifetime
    • If you're a Forum user then you should know that our location for group chat is changing. Read on to stay involved.

      We’re really sorry to be the bearer of bad news regarding the ShootingUK Forum.

      The Forum has for many years been a source of pride to the ShootingUK team – it is a warm, helpful community where advice is freely given and many friendships have been made, not just via screens and keyboards but out on in the field too.

      Nevertheless unfortunately the time has come to close the doors, for a variety of reasons.

      Under the terms of the new privacy legislation (GDPR) that comes into force this week, any holders of private data are required to keep that data safely and securely, with huge fines in the event of improper use or data breaches.

      In our view, the technology underpinning the ShootingUK Forum is not sufficient to meet our responsibilities under this legislation.

      So today I’m letting you know that the forum will close in its current form on Thursday May 24.

      However, you can still continue to chat under the ShootingUK banner at a new Facebook Group we have set up which you can join here. 

      We’d like to offer sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed to the ShootingUK forum over the years, to everyone who has offered advice, made jokes, arranged meet-ups or in any way built this community.
      If you're a Forum user then you should know that our location for group chat is changing. Read on to stay involved.

      We’re really sorry to be the bearer of bad news regarding the ShootingUK Forum.

      The Forum has for many years been a source of pride to the ShootingUK team – it is a warm, helpful community where advice is freely given and many friendships have been made, not just via screens and keyboards but out on in the field too.

      Nevertheless ... See more
      See more on line
      The Shooting UK Forum is changing
    • Philippa Davis suggests two versions of trout carpaccio with asparagus - both make impressive supper party starters

      Trout carpaccio with asparagus, fennel, shallots and lemon makes a subtle starter, allowing the flavour of the trout to shine through.Both trout and asparagus are at their very best right now. Philippa Davis’ two versions of trout carpaccio with asparagus makes delicious starters. As the main ingredients in these recipes are served raw this should only be done when they are both really fresh. The first recipe uses subtler flavours, which lets the flavour of the trout shine through. The second packs more of a punch.

      For more recipes that use trout with asparagus, try our shakshuka with trout and asparagus. This Arabic dish can be served as brunch, lunch or light supper.

      TROUT CARPACCIO WITH ASPARAGUS, FENNEL, SHALLOTS AND LEMON
      Serves 2

      - 1 shallot, finely sliced
      - 3 dsp lemon juice
      - 60g asparagus, tough ends removed then the rest finely sliced on a diagonal
      - 20g finely shaved fennel
      - 1 dsp roughly chopped dill, plus 1 dsp fronds if there are any
      - 2 dsp extra virgin olive oil
      - 60g trout fillet, skinned and deboned
      - Zest ½ lemon
      In a small bowl, mix the shallot with a pinch of salt and 1 dessertspoon of the lemon juice and leave for 10 minutes.

      In another bowl, mix the asparagus, fennel, dill (and fronds if using) with the olive oil and 1 dessertspoon lemon juice.

      Strain away any liquid from the shallot and mix into the asparagus. Season.

      Thinly slice the trout and lay out on your serving plate. Season.

      Pile the asparagus into the middle of the trout then drizzle over the remaining dessertspoon of lemon and olive oil.

      Finish with a sprinkle of lemon zest and serve.

      TROUT CARPACCIO WITH ASPARAGUS, WASABI, SOY AND GINGER
      Trout carpaccio with asparagus, wasabi, soy and ginger packs a flavourful punch.

      Serves 2

      - 60g raw trout, thinly sliced
      - 30g raw asparagus, ends removed then thinly sliced
      - 2 red radishes, finely sliced
      For the dressing:

      - Zest and juice of ½ lime
      - ¼ tsp wasabi
      - ½ tsp freshly grated ginger
      - ½ tsp soy
      - ½ tsp sesame oil
      - 8 coriander leaves
      Spread trout onto your serving plate and season.

      Whisk together the dressing ingredients then mix with the radish and asparagus.

      Scatter on top of the trout and eat straight away.
      Philippa Davis suggests two versions of trout carpaccio with asparagus - both make impressive supper party starters

      Trout carpaccio with asparagus, fennel, shallots and lemon makes a subtle starter, allowing the flavour of the trout to shine through.Both trout and asparagus are at their very best right now. Philippa Davis’ two versions of trout carpaccio with asparagus makes delicious starters. As the main ingredients in these recipes are served raw this should only be done ... See more
      See more on line
      Trout carpaccio with asparagus
    • What's best for your dog? And your household?

      Dogs fed raw should not be allowed to run free on pasture ground Q: I am thinking of changing my dog onto raw food, but my vet is not keen. Why are you vets so against raw?

      A: Oh dear! You have opened a veritable can of worms that is overflowing with myth, mystique and misinformation. I hardly know where to start but here goes…

      “All vets are opposed to raw food for dogs …”
      No they are not. There are over 70 raw feeding companies registered with DEFRA and they supply many veterinary practices. I know of one that sells six tonnes of the stuff every month. Another has three deep freezers in the waiting room. (But decries practices that sell conventional dog food for being financially motivated!).

      There is a Raw Feeding Veterinary Society, but Marge Chandler, co-chair of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Global Nutrition Committee, suggested recently that there was little evidence to support the claimed benefits of feeding raw. And there is the rub.

      As a veterinary surgeon, my advice to you has to be factual, scientific and evidence based. Mike Davies, a RCVS recognised specialist in veterinary nutrition stated recently that “feeding raw meat to pets is reckless, irresponsible and ethically questionable”. I spoke at the Scottish Great Dane Society AGM about bloat (which is reduced by feeding raw). The subsequent speaker was an amusing lady who was a proponent of raw feeding. After a short while, I had to get up and interrupt because she was just making facts up. Vets are not allowed to do that!

      “Feeding raw is healthier!”
      The argument is that wild dogs fared better than our current pets, but that is nonsense. They didn’t live as long. They were less evolved to digest carbohydrates. Steenkamp and Gorrel investigated the skulls of African wild dogs who ate a pretty natural diet of antelope: 41 per cent had periodontal disease; 83 per cent had teeth wearing and 48 per cent had fractured teeth, which are painful and debilitating. Feral cats on Marion Island had less tartar on their teeth but 61 per cent had periodontal disease.

      Raw meat diets can lead to tooth damage

      A study that looked at 200 homemade raw diets showed 95 per cent had at least one essential nutrient deficiency and 83.5 per cent 
had multiple deficiencies. Raw diets are likely to be deficient in calcium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc but have an excess of Vitamin D, which can be dangerous, especially to puppies. Contrary to popular belief, feeding raw bones can cause oesophageal, gastric and intestinal foreign bodies.

      “Feeding raw is safe!”
      Well it’s probably not and vets have an obligation to consider the risks to the 
dog and to the client and their family. 
Here are some facts: Campylobacter causes 280,000 infections and around 
100 deaths in otherwise healthy people every year. The Food Standards Agency reports that 73 per cent of UK chickens are contaminated with campylobacter. Salmonella kills around 200. Dogs that are fed raw may be symptomless but excrete more of these bugs in their faeces, which can affect humans in the household and will increase contamination of the environment.

      Raw meat diets may contain parasites and bacteria that can cause illness in humans and animals

      A group in Utrecht analysed 35 raw meat products from eight different widely available commercial brands. They found that nearly a quarter contained the bacterium E. coli. You’ve probably heard of it. Even worse 80 per cent of these bacteria were antibiotic resistant. Eight of the foods contained the protozoa Sarcocystis, which can be dangerous to livestock. Two of the products were found to have Toxoplasma gondii; a real risk to some pregnant women and, as you might expect, 20 per cent were contaminated with salmonella. Over half contained Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause serious illness in humans, is life threatening to neonates and can cause abortion in pregnant women.

      How often and how much should I feed my dog?
      How many times should I feed my gun dog everyday?

      Should I feed a dog before exercise?
      Q: I was told that you should 
not feed a dog before a day’s shooting. I typically feed my dog…

      BARF diet for dogs – the risks and benefits
      Bones and raw food for dogs I’ve long been an advocate of feeding dogs as natural a diet as possible,…

      The current, rational, evidence based veterinary advice
      - Raw meat diets may contain parasites and bacteria that can cause illness in humans and animals.
      - Pets used for therapeutic purposes and pets living in the environment of people with a weakened immune system (for example, the elderly, the ill and those on chemotherapy) should not be fed raw meat.
      - Dogs fed raw should not be allowed to run free on pasture ground, as their faeces may contain parasites that are harmful to livestock.
      - Raw meat diets should be frozen at -20 degrees for at least three days in order to kill parasites. (Most domestic freezers cannot achieve this temperature.) And remember, bacteria will not be killed by the freezing process and may be abundant in the liquid that runs from raw meat as it defrosts, making hygiene difficult.
      - Meanwhile, I await with bated breath, the long term, properly conducted clinical trials that prove that feeding raw actually conveys a significant health benefit to those that eat it.
      What's best for your dog? And your household?

      Dogs fed raw should not be allowed to run free on pasture ground Q: I am thinking of changing my dog onto raw food, but my vet is not keen. Why are you vets so against raw?

      A: Oh dear! You have opened a veritable can of worms that is overflowing with myth, mystique and misinformation. I hardly know where to start but here goes…

      “All vets are opposed to raw food for dogs …”
      No they are not. There are over ... See more
      See more on line
      Raw food for dogs – a good or bad idea?
    • Not all dogs gobble up their food in seconds ...

      Some dogs are very fussy eaters Q: I have a nine-month-old Labrador-golden retriever cross, which is not growing well because it is not eating properly. It has been checked by my vet and he is satisfied it is healthy. I have been using dry all-in-one dog food since it was a small puppy and providing water in a separate bowl. It is fed morning and evening, but it will not eat its meals but picks at the food for an hour or so. I have tried gravy, which works for a week then we are back to square one. I was told not to feed raw food because the dog will be used as 
a gundog and that food will spoil its mouth. Can you please advise?

      A: The last point is totally incorrect. Feeding fresh meat and other 
raw foods will certainly not affect 
its training nor subsequent use as 
a gundog. It would be much better to feed a healthy raw diet to make sure your puppy develops into a strong adult. Over many years I have fed all types of diet and I found that the best was raw food; however, it was more costly, more difficult to obtain and to store. Therefore when I had a kennel full of dogs, Skinner’s Working 23 served me well for more than 20 years.

      How often and how much should I feed my dog?
      How many times should I feed my gun dog everyday?

      Should I feed a dog before exercise?
      Q: I was told that you should 
not feed a dog before a day’s shooting. I typically feed my dog…

      Picky eating can be cured quite easily, but you need to be firm with your feeding regime to effect a cure. 
I would make sure that no other treats are fed in between meals, just clean fresh water while the training takes place. Put a small bowl of food down for your dog and give the command to release it to eat. If it does not go straight to the food, pick the bowl up and do not present it again until the next meal time. It may take three or four days but hunger will eventually overcome its picky eating and the contents of the bowl will disappear immediately.

      A post shared by (@stare_mieso15) on May 9, 2018 at 7:47pm PDT

      And what if your dog bolts his food down?
      Q: My spaniel bolts his food down, and then almost immediately regurgitates it. Any suggestions on what I can do about it?

      A: This is a common problem in both greedy and fearful type dogs.

      They make no effort to chew food and just swallow whole, dry kibble, often also gulping down large amounts of air. Some will regurgitate and then be able to re-consume their meal without problems, although an acid burn of the oesophagus can occur if the problem becomes long term.

      Sometimes soaking food can help a little but you could try one of the four solutions below.

      Tips to stop your dog bolting food
      - - Feed from a height, so that the dog  has to stand up on his hindlegs to reach food.

      - You could try the Buster Dogmaze from Kruuse UK, an interactive toy that allows the dog to see and smell food but requires it to use its nose, tongue and paws to chase individual bits of kibble to the exit points.  It can be particularly useful for easily bored dogs or to entertain dogs that have to be rested due to injury.
      Buy the Buster Dog Maze Now from Amazon from £22.77

      - Experiment with a few large (so that they cannot also be swallowed!) smooth pebbles placed in the food bowl so that the dog has to work around them to pick up food.
      - Dry food can be put in a two-litre plastic drinks bottle with a few holes cut in so that the greedy hound has to roll it around to get food to drop out.
      Not all dogs gobble up their food in seconds ...

      Some dogs are very fussy eaters Q: I have a nine-month-old Labrador-golden retriever cross, which is not growing well because it is not eating properly. It has been checked by my vet and he is satisfied it is healthy. I have been using dry all-in-one dog food since it was a small puppy and providing water in a separate bowl. It is fed morning and evening, but it will not eat its meals but picks at the food for an hour or so. I ... See more
      See more on line
      My dog is a picky eater – any ideas for a cure?
    • Surprising himself, Charlie Flindt finds stepping down from head-turning luxury to a bottom-of-the-range runaround highly satisfying

      The Hyundai i20 has a new, fine-looking exterior.After a few months of gloriously excessive road tests, Charlie Flindt steps down to the bottom-of-the-range Hyundai i20 1.2S. But with a well designed dashboard, low insurance and good looking design, he finds himself highly satisfied with this fun drive.

      For the opposite end of the spectrum, read Charlie Flindt’s take on the Bentley Bentayga Mulliner “Field Sports”. Could this be the perfect shoot wagon?

      HYUNDAI i20 1.2S
      If you were looking to explain Hyundai’s meteoric rise from South Korean obscurity to one of the most successful car manufacturers around, you would not have cited its cars’ looks. Reliability? Yes. Value? Certainly. Eye-catching design (and in a good way)? Not really.

      Step forward a fellow called Peter Schreyer, who joined Hyundai a decade or so ago and has been working his design magic (he came up with the iconic Audi TT) on the complete Hyundai (and sister brand Kia) range.

      We tried out the i20, Hyundai’s competitor in the Fiesta/Polo/Fabia segment, and, following a month or two of road tests that featured glorious six-figure excess, had a go in a model at the very bottom of the range for a change.

      Luggage capacity is 1042 litres.

      So what you’ve got is simple: a five-door supermini, with a basic 1.2, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol engine (although its days are numbered and an oh-so-trendy three-cylinder turbo is on the way). Herr Schreyer has modified the bodywork with his magic pen and the old, dumpy, awkward shape of the i20 is gone. This new one is bang up to date and really very fine looking.

      The simplicity continues to the interior: the “S” spec has everything you need and nothing you don’t, which makes a refreshing – if somewhat Benedictine – change. So you have good seats, a knob-free steering wheel, rotary controls for the heating (but no air conditioning) and the simplest of radios (with aux input but no CD player). All the controls are light, easy and precise. Special mention should be made of the dashboard, which is the clearest and best designed I think I’ve ever seen. Designers of many of the dashboards available should be forced to settle down in the i20’s driving seat and told, “See? That’s how you do it.”

      The old-fashioned 1.2 engine is on the limit of being underpowered, and speedy overtakes uphill can prove a bit of a challenge. For 90% of modern driving, it and its delightful five-speed fingertip gearbox are just fine. It’s a bit heavy on fuel consumption – and the tax band reflects its efficiency. It’s also spookily quiet; at idling speed, you can’t hear it at all from the well-insulated cabin.

      Clear, simple controls.

      Open the bonnet and there’s room for a bit of DIY – and that’s a rarity. Not that DIY should be needed, of course. The i20 comes with a five-year warranty and Hyundai has a fine reputation for warranties never being called upon.

      The i20 has stopped being the stunning good value that it used to be back in the days before Hyundai became fashionable, but it’s still hugely competitive and its popularity has meant that depreciation is a lot less crippling. Yes, the fuel costs may be high but insurance is low and servicing costs are reasonable. Extra bargains are available as the old 1.2 engine is phased out, too.

      There was something enormously satisfying about the i20. It was basic and vernacular but, at the same time, fun to drive. The fact that it is also good looking would once have been a bonus; nowadays, it’s typical Hyundai.

      HYUNDAI I20 1.2S


      Engine: 1,248cc petrol
      Power: 75PS
      Max speed: 99 mph
      Performance, 0 to 62: 13.6 seconds
      Combined fuel economy: 55.4mpg
      Insurance group: 4E
      Price: £11,755
      Surprising himself, Charlie Flindt finds stepping down from head-turning luxury to a bottom-of-the-range runaround highly satisfying

      The Hyundai i20 has a new, fine-looking exterior.After a few months of gloriously excessive road tests, Charlie Flindt steps down to the bottom-of-the-range Hyundai i20 1.2S. But with a well designed dashboard, low insurance and good looking design, he finds himself highly satisfied with this fun drive.

      For the opposite end of the ... See more
      See more on line
      Hyundai i20 1.2S. A highly satisfying runaround
    • This year marks the 70th birthday of the Land Rover, but is it still king of the countryside or is its long reign over, asks Dave Philips

      The Defender Works V8 was launched to mark Land Rover's 70th birthdayAs the king of off-roaders celebrates its 70th birthday, some unwelcome guests have gatecrashed the party. There are plenty of other 4×4 manufacturers eager to snatch its muddy crown. So has Land Rover taken a wrong turn?

      Problems with oil leaks
      Opinion is divided. In 1948 the Land Rover had few rivals. But 
times have changed and though 
many traditionalists remain loyal 
to the green oval badge, others have swapped allegiance to the many Japanese 4x4s available. Among 
them is keeper Rory Gordon. “I was brought up with Land Rovers on 
a small farm,” he says. “About 15 
years ago, I inherited a Defender 980 from my uncle. It had a constant oil leak and was costing me as much as 
a new one to keep it on the road.

      “In 2007 I bought a brand-new Defender 110 crew cab. I took it out to 
a shoot working party to show it off and, at the end of the day, beneath it was the biggest pool of oil you’ve ever seen. The turbo gasket had gone.

      “Soon afterwards I was driving down to Tavistock from Nottingham. It rained all the way down and by the time we reached Devon the footwells were full of water. The cab hadn’t been properly sealed in the factory.

      “I finally got rid of it and today 
I drive a Toyota Hilux. It never lets me down. It has a 2.2L diesel engine, does 34 to 35 miles per gallon and is brilliant off-road. It is more comfortable, reliable and economical than the Land Rover.

      “There are some shoots where you get funny looks if you turn up in anything other than a Land Rover, but that’s down to tradition. I wouldn’t buy one again. I feel like I wasted 
10 years driving Land Rovers.”

      How often have you had your elevenses off the back of a Land Rover?

      Divided opinion
      But not everybody agrees. Shooting Times contributor Tom Payne is among the many fieldsportsmen who wouldn’t dream of driving any other 4×4. “I own a Defender 90 XS hardtop and there isn’t a better vehicle off-road. I travel all over the country and it’s perfect for what I do. I’ve owned Land Rovers for 15 years and I’ll be staying loyal to them.”

      In 1948 the Land Rover was a new product for the post-War world.

      The Land Rover story begins on 
30 April 1948, when it was launched at the Amsterdam Motor Show. It was an instant success, which surprised the Rover company, whose main reason for building the aluminium-bodied workhorse was as a short-term stopgap because steel was rationed.

      The Land Rover Defender plays a starring role in Netflix drama ‘The Crown’

      Unrivalled
      In its early years, there was nothing to rival the Land Rover if you lived and worked in the countryside. But from the late 1960s, 4x4s from other makers ended its monopoly — and nearly all were cheaper.

      Land Rover launched a few 
new models of its own to rival those competitors. The first, in 1970, was 
the Range Rover. Today it is seen as 
a rich man’s luxury 4×4, but back then it was aimed at the countryman, with footwells that could be hosed down after a hard day out in the fields.

      It was joined in 1989 by the Discovery, which was priced to take the fight to Land Rover’s Japanese rivals. It succeeded and became Europe’s best-selling 4×4 until it 
was ousted by the Freelander in 1998. Since then, a bewildering choice of models have appeared, including Range Rover Sport, Evoque and Velar. They are all capable off-road, but have too much carpet and bling to impress many country folk.

      Plenty of room and always practical

      Rural essential
      To traditionalists, a Defender 
is a rural essential, which is why 
a good Tdi-engined example from the 1990s will still set you back £5,000 or more. The reason prices are so high is because they have stood the test of time. Among their fans is Shooting Times writer Richard Negus, who drives a 20-year-old Defender 110 with a 300Tdi engine and 207,000 miles on the clock.

      “I’ve always driven Land Rovers,” he says. “I’m a hedgelayer and run 
a garden business. It is the perfect work vehicle. There’s plenty of space in the back. I can get to inaccessible places and I can stand on the bonnet or the roof to reach high branches. I’ve never got stuck and it has never 
let me down. My only worry is whether I’ll be able to afford another one when this one dies, as prices are becoming astronomic.”

      It’s true that Defender prices are high, but the good news is that depreciation is practically non-existent and, properly maintained, the vehicle will go on for ever.

      Country workhorse

      If Defenders are too pricey, you can always consider other Land Rover models. For value, it is hard to beat 
a Discovery 3. With greater comfort, towing ability and load capacity, it 
is the perfect 4×4 workhorse, but 
still looks smart enough not to embarrass you in good company. 
A tidy second-hand TDV6 diesel will cost around £6,000.

      Former keeper Allen Mills, 
from Northamptonshire, runs 
a Freelander. “When I ran a shoot 
I had a Series IIA Land Rover, then an Isuzu Trooper, but I did prefer the Land Rover, so when I gave up the shoot I bought a Freelander. It’s ideal for me, as I still do a bit of rough shooting and it is good off-road.

      “My keeper friends don’t have the same love of Land Rovers as they used to. Most of them don’t run large 4×4 trucks at all, but drive all-terrain quad bikes with cabs. If I was still running 
a shoot, I think I’d do the same.”

      Can you imagine the countryside without the Land Rover?
      Can you imagine a countryside without the Land Rover? As a much-loved rural icon turns 60, Alastair Balmain reflects on…

      Your most faithful shoot companion: celebrating the Land Rover Defender
      Used on shoots to carry Guns between drives, store the shot game and provide shelter to dogs and Guns alike…

      Best of both
      David Dixon, a keen shooter who runs a logs business near Stamford, has the best of both worlds. His everyday workhorse is a Mitsubishi L200, but 
at weekends he drives a Discovery.

      “The Mitsubishi can carry two tons and does 30 miles per gallon. I have to drive across very soft ground for my coppicing and wood business, but it’s never got stuck. I can just chuck everything in the back — it doesn’t matter if it’s plastered in mud. My Discovery is more like a car and I like 
to keep it that way. It looks good and 
it’s perfect for taking my wife to the 
pub for Sunday lunch.”

      If money is no object, the 
ultimate vehicle has to be the Range Rover — in particular the Holland 
& Holland special edition, which 
is a collaboration between the two brands to produce the perfect 4×4 
for shooting enthusiasts. Prices start 
at £180,000.

      As Land Rover celebrates its 70th birthday, it is only fitting that a new Defender is expected to join the line-up later this year, but whether it will conquer the countryside as comprehensively as that 1948 original remains to be seen.

      Meet the opposition
      These days, there are countless 4x4s available. Land Rover’s serious competitors include those below.

      Toyota Hilux: The world’s best selling 4×4, but still sits on leaf springs at the rear

      Nissan Navara: not the cheapest, but great off-road

      Mitsubishi L200: Another 4×4 pickup; rather truck-like

      Isuzu D-Max: Basic workhorse from as little as £15,749 new

      Volkswagen Amarok: European pickup to rival those Japanese 4x4s. Expensive, but car-like feel

      But remember that few 4x4s enjoy the longevity – and country cred – of Land Rovers. Spare parts and service costs are also much cheaper.
      This year marks the 70th birthday of the Land Rover, but is it still king of the countryside or is its long reign over, asks Dave Philips

      The Defender Works V8 was launched to mark Land Rover's 70th birthdayAs the king of off-roaders celebrates its 70th birthday, some unwelcome guests have gatecrashed the party. There are plenty of other 4×4 manufacturers eager to snatch its muddy crown. So has See more
      See more on line
      Has the Land Rover had its day?
    • A reader wonders if she should have her eight year old bitch neutered

      Normally the decision to spay a dog is influenced by its condition Q: I took my eight-and-a-half-year-old bitch to the vet because she was being a bit slow with her food. It transpired that she was having a phantom pregnancy. The vet advised that 
I have her neutered, but I am wary of this because of her age. What do you think?

      A: We commonly see problems developing in bitches as they get older.

      Diseases affecting the ovaries, uterus, vagina and mammary glands develop due to the effect of female hormones, principally oestrogen and progesterone, on the body over the years. Take away these hormones and the problems do not occur. Neutering your bitch will stop her getting pregnant and prevent her suffering from false pregnancies, pyometra or vaginal prolapse. One study found that spayed bitches live, on average, 12 to 18 months longer than entire ones.

      Phantom pregnancies
      - False, phantom or pseudopregnancy can affect bitches of any age.
      - The signs of false pregnancy generally start four to nine weeks after a season.
      - In most cases the mammary glands become enlarged and milk can be expressed.
      - The dog’s behaviour can change; they can become clingy with their owners, possessive over toys, and generally unsettled.
      - Dogs may start nesting
      - Some dogs will go off their food.
      Advice on spaying gundogs
      To spay or not to spay? It’s a question that faces most of us who own or work bitches, and…

      Should we neuter dogs?
      Neutering of dogs is something that most of us take for granted. If you’ve got a bitch that you don’t…

      Spaying does not change behaviour
      Age, in itself, does not preclude 
a bitch from being spayed. Normally the decision to operate is influenced more by the condition of the individual dog. Some bitches seem to age more quickly, while others remain fit and healthy until well into old age. Spaying a bitch will not change her behaviour, though it does reduce her metabolic rate. This means that she will need at least 10 to 20 per cent less food to prevent weight gain. Controlling excess weight in spayed bitches can be problematic but there are now several low-calorie dog foods on the market. Bodyweight is more effectively controlled by reducing the amount of food given several weeks before the bitch is spayed.
      A reader wonders if she should have her eight year old bitch neutered

      Normally the decision to spay a dog is influenced by its condition Q: I took my eight-and-a-half-year-old bitch to the vet because she was being a bit slow with her food. It transpired that she was having a phantom pregnancy. The vet advised that 
I have her neutered, but I am wary of this because of her age. What do you think?

      A: We commonly see problems developing in bitches as they get ... See more
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      Spaying an older dog. Should you?
    • Labradors are a family favourite. So can the reports be accurate?

      Most dog attacks are by Labradors - purely by numbers? I have just been alerted to a story in The Times that the breed of dog blamed for the most dog attack claims in the UK is the Labrador. This doesn’t surprise me at all, despite the fact that almost all the Labradors I have met have been big softies, without any hint of aggression. However, Labradors are so popular that there are a lot of them around.

      Labradors, German shepherds, Jack Russells …
      With the Labrador population so high, there is bound to be the odd one that is aggressive or overly protective. If it is only 0.05 per cent of the total UK Labrador population, that is still quite a few dogs. You are unlikely to be surprised that German shepherds and Staffordshire bull terriers are also frequently implicated in attacks, along with border collies. Another breed with a poor rating is the Jack Russell.

      Show-bred cockers are more likely to “see red”

      Though I have often read about golden retrievers and golden cocker spaniels suffering from rage syndrome, it is something that I have never come across. 
It is genetic and apparently only affects solid-coloured cockers. As far as I am aware, it occurs more commonly in show-bred dogs, which might explain why I have no first-hand experience of it.

      While rage syndrome might be genetic, many dogs become aggressive because of poor training or bad handling, not because of bad breeding. I’m surprised that more dogs don’t bite, as many put up with a huge amount of abuse without responding with so much as a growl.

      How about a silver Labrador?
      The colour of the coat of the golden retriever has long been a subject for debate. The Kennel Club’s breed…

      I’ve only been bitten once, by a friend’s miniature schnauzer. It didn’t hurt me badly, but made me wary of the breed. Once, in rural Romania, a mongrel tried to attack me. Dogs, and wolves, rarely attack from the front but prefer to ambush from behind. I’d already spotted my would-be attacker creeping up behind me, ears flat and generally looking anything but friendly. I turned round and ran at it, scaring it off. I’m not sure what I would have done if it had stood its ground.
      Labradors are a family favourite. So can the reports be accurate?

      Most dog attacks are by Labradors - purely by numbers? I have just been alerted to a story in The Times that the breed of dog blamed for the most dog attack claims in the UK is the Labrador. This doesn’t surprise me at all, despite the fact that almost all the Labradors I have met have been big softies, without any hint of aggression. ... See more
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      Most dog attacks are by Labradors. Seriously?
    • Police are investigating a death threat against Mike Cantlay following criticism by naturalist Chris Packham of the decision to license a raven cull in Perthshire

      The cull of ravens in Perthshire is to protect wading birds such as curlew, golden plover and lapwing Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) chairman Dr Mike Cantlay has received a death threat after Springwatch presenter Chris Packham criticised a decision to license a raven cull in Perthshire.

      SNH granted 
a research licence to Strathbaarn Community Collaboration for Waders, which wants to protect declining wading birds such as curlew and lapwing. Activists have reacted angrily to the decision, describing it as a betrayal.

      Mr Packham has denied any link between the death threat and the email he sent to Mr Cantlay and has called for the abuse to stop. Police are investigating the matter.

      Wholly disingenuous of @thetimes to imply that my letter to the Chair of @nature_scot prompted threats to him when my policy of democratic , peaceful and polite protest are well known . . . and . . . 1/2 https://t.co/pdiYT3BekG

      — Chris Packham (@ChrisGPackham) May 4, 2018

      A difficult topic
      Nick Halfhide, head of sustainable development at SNH, told BBC Scotland: “We understand that people find this 
a difficult topic. Killing one species to protect another isn’t something that others like, but unfortunately it’s something land managers do on a regular basis and they have to do that to protect their interests.

      “It’s not just land managers, farmers and gamekeepers, 
but it’s also something that 
the conservation bodies do on 
a regular basis. Indeed the RSPB itself acknowledges that it kills more hooded crows in a year 
than we have given a licence 
for for ravens in this case.”

      Liam Stokes, head of shooting at the Countryside Alliance, said: “As the anti-hunting, anti-shooting campaigning has become increasingly fraught, online abuse has increased alongside it. When Mr Packham talks about ‘bloodied tatters’ rather than engaging with the substance of the debate, abuse 
is always bound to follow.”

      Chris Packham accused of misleading public
      Chris Packham’s latest grouse against fieldsports is, literally, grouse. The BBC presenter has been using his public profile to endorse…

      Should Chris Packham be forced to pack his bags and leave BBC Springwatch?
      Tim Bonner writes: “The new edition of BBC Wildlife magazine carries a column by Chris Packham which is remarkable in…

      Tough choices
      Mr Cantlay told Shooting Times: “I absolutely appreciate the emotion that people feel for our wildlife. Every member of staff at SNH wants to do the very best for Scotland’s nature. But with our changing climate there are tough choices to be made.

      “To not consider ideas from local community groups who see and deal with these issues every day would be a blinkered approach. We need to explore every method we can to help us protect some of our most loved species. We want to encourage community groups to come forward with projects like this, and I will commit as chair of SNH that through our scientific advisory committee we will fully share our findings and any future advice.”
      Police are investigating a death threat against Mike Cantlay following criticism by naturalist Chris Packham of the decision to license a raven cull in Perthshire

      The cull of ravens in Perthshire is to protect wading birds such as curlew, golden plover and lapwing Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) chairman Dr Mike Cantlay has received a death threat after Springwatch presenter Chris Packham criticised a decision to license a raven cull in Perthshire.

      SNH granted 
a See more
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      Death threat to Scottish National Heritage chief after raven cull decision
    • Despite acknowledging the vital role of keepers, Bradford Council lacks a coherent plan for Ilkley Moor's future, as Matt Cross discovers

      Vital help from keepers has been lost from Ilkley MoorOn the other end of the phone the keeper let out a short, exasperated sigh. “The peewits will go, curlews, grouse of course, they’ll lose the lot.” “How long until there is a big impact” I asked.

      “Two years maybe, certainly not more. “

      We were discussing the likely outcome of Bradford Council’s decision not to renew the grouse shooting lease on Ilkley Moor.

      The moor covers 676 hectares above the west Yorkshire town and has been managed for grouse shooting by the Bingley Moorland Partnership for 10 years.

      Under pressure from a campaign group called ‘Ban Bloodspots on Ilkley Moor’ the council decided it would not support moves to renew the shooting lease. This decision took the costs and decisions about management away from the Bingley Moor Partnership and handed them to Bradford Council.

      Wildlife has crashed on Ilkley Moor. Ask Bradford Council to not renew its grouse shooting license : www.bit.ly/IlkleyMoor #Ilkley #IlkleyMoor #Wharfedale #Bradford #BradfordCouncil #WestYorkshire #Leeds #Skipton #Yorkshire #Wildlife #Conservation #Grouse #GrouseShooting #BanGrouseShooting #Animals #AnimalProtection #Tourism #YorkshireTourism #IlkleyTourism #CowAndCalf #CowAndCalfRocks #YorkshireDales #Pennines #BradfordEvents #LeedsEvents #BradfordProtest #LeedsProtest #IlkleyEvents

      A post shared by Ban Bloodsports on Yorks Moors (@stoptheshoot1) on Aug 20, 2017 at 1:40am PDT

      Bradford Council’s future plans for moor
      I was keen to understand what Bradford Council had planned for the moor. I asked the council some detailed questions about how it intended to control predators, manage fires and prevent irresponsible access.

      - Which department of the council has responsibility for the management of Ilkley Moor?
      - What budget has been assigned 
by the council to the management 
of Ilkley Moor?
      - Has the council sought funding from any external agencies to assist with managing Ilkley Moor?
      - What practical steps have 
been taken to manage predators 
on Ilkley Moor in advance of the 
2018 breeding season for ground-nesting birds? In addition, have cull targets been developed for foxes, corvids and mustelids, and if so 
what are those targets and are 
they being achieved?
      - If not, how does the council intend 
to discharge its responsibility to protect ground-nesting birds from predation?
      - Has the council developed 
a heather management plan with 
a scheme of rotational burning?
      - What steps is the council taking 
to prevent nest disturbance/poaching on Ilkley Moor?
      - What steps is it taking to reduce 
the risk of wildfires on the moor?
      - What steps is it taking to monitor changes in biodiversity on the moor?
      I also asked for a copy of the minutes of the meeting at which it was decided 
to end the shooting lease on the moor.

      The council’s response
      “Bradford Council’s countryside and rights of way service manages Ilkley Moor, working closely with key partners, such as the Friends of Ilkley Moor, and using its own operational budget and grants income.

      “Detail … is set out in Bradford Council’s Ilkley moor Management Plan which was developed in consultation with partners includign Natural England, Historic England, RSPB, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Wharfedale naturalist’s Society. The plan aims to manage the heathland, increase tree coverage in appropriate areas, restore peat and blanket bot and reduce floor risk for the surrounding areas.”

      Lapwing are one of the ground-nesting birds now at risk due to lack of predator control

      Likely outcomes
      We know what will happen not just from the lived experience of moorland keepers but also because it has been well documented and studied. The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) studied the effect of the end of grouse shooting in the Berwyn mountains in Wales. When grouse shooting ended, populations of wading birds declined dramatically, the former grouse moors lost all of their lapwings, the vast majority of their curlews and golden plovers and a large proportion of their snipe.

      Another study by the GWCT, the upland predation experiment shows why. When moorland gamekeepers controlled foxes, crows, stoats and weasels on plots around Otterburn in Northumberland the breeding success of ground nesting birds increased significantly. When they stopped it crashed.

      Financial implications
      Predators and the threat to ground nesting birds are not the only problem that Bradford Council has taken on. In November last year the Yorkshire Post reported that “Bradford Council is proposing more than £30m in budget cuts over the next three years in a move that could see 153 jobs axed at the local authority.” At the same time the council raised council tax levels to help fill the gap between its obligations and its resources. It seems a curious time for the council to shed income and add to its costs, but this is what the decision to end shooting on the moor has done.

      Edward Bromet who chairs the Bingley Moors partnership outlined the financial cost to the Council of ending shooting, “We were paying £14,000 per year in rent which we offered to increase to £16,000 per year. That is additional to the £60-70,000 we were spending on managing the moor.”

      To maintain Ikley Moor in the same condition will cost the tax payer £74-86,000 per year. When asked how they intended to meet the costs of managing the moor they replied to do so “using its own operational budget and grants income”.

      Grouse shooting has failed Ilkley Moor. We have a better plan. www.stoptheshoot.com #Ilkley #IlkleyMoor #Wharfedale #Bradford #BradfordCouncil #WestYorkshire #Leeds #Skipton #Yorkshire #Wildlife #Conservation #Grouse #GrouseShooting #BanGrouseShooting #Animals #AnimalProtection #ChrisPackham #Tourism #YorkshireTourism #IlkleyTourism #CowAndCalf #CowAndCalfRocks #YorkshireDales #Pennines

      A post shared by Ban Bloodsports on Yorks Moors (@stoptheshoot1) on Aug 7, 2017 at 11:56pm PDT

      Access concerns
      The official case for ending shooting was based on Bradford’s Labour group’s “concerns” over access. Local resident Charles Hartley flatly denies that there were problems with access, explaining:  “On days when shooting occurred signs were posted warning walkers so if they wanted to avoid it they could, but if they didn’t they could still access the moor, but were often asked to wait until drives were over. Some refused, so beaters and guns would stop and wait for walkers to pass.”

      Fury as councillors end shooting on Ilkley Moor
      Bradford Council’s Labour Group has refused to renew the grouse shooting lease on Ilkley Moor in a move shooting groups…

      Grouse shooting: a vital local industry
      A new survey by the Countryside Alliance shows local communities wholeheartedly support grouse shooting

      Even the anti-shooting campaigners seem to have been unable to find someone who had their access tampered with. Their website carries two quotes on the issue of access, one describing how a walker ‘would feel’ ‘if ‘confronted by grouse shooters with shotguns and another from a runner “intimidated by the idea of encountering a grouse shoot”. But no quotes from anyone who had had their rights of access infringed.
      Despite acknowledging the vital role of keepers, Bradford Council lacks a coherent plan for Ilkley Moor's future, as Matt Cross discovers

      Vital help from keepers has been lost from Ilkley MoorOn the other end of the phone the keeper let out a short, exasperated sigh. “The peewits will go, curlews, grouse of course, they’ll lose the lot.” “How long until there is a big impact” I asked.

      “Two years maybe, certainly not more. “

      We were discussing the ... See more
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      What does the future hold for Ilkley Moor without grouse shooting?
    • Chris Parkin takes two high-end thermal-imaging rifle scopes from Pulsar through their paces and compares like with like

      The Trail is the quicker and more reliable of the two to set up mechanically with simple zeroing on a hot handwarmer sachet for a targetThe cost of a thermal-imaging scope could easily exceed that of your day scope or rifle.

      At the top end of its range, Pulsar offers two distinct options: the Trail XP50, which bolts to the Picatinny rail on a rifle for dedicated night operations, and the Core FXQ50, a handheld spotter that will also double up as a thermal-capable optic when mounted to the front of your rifle scope.

      Either would deserve their own review but for a more direct comparison, Nightmaster loaned both to trial side by side. I mounted the Trail on to my .223 foxing rifle and zeroed it using my favourite method of a disposable heat pack taped to the back of a steel gong for a nice circular 100m target.

      In good dry air conditions, you can see a solid black target on white backing paper, but if there is moisture in the air, all you will see is a direct heat source such as that offered by this target or, ultimately, live quarry. The unit offers zero setups for three rifles with five distances for each, two colours of 13 reticle styles and five levels of brightness display, 
in addition to the usual brightness 
and contrast options for the image.

      All details are explained in the extensive menu. Four main buttons on top control functions, with on/off to the side and a data port if you want to download any of your saved screenshots or video. Wi-fi will also stream live to a smartphone or tablet. Internal screen focus is controlled with a rear eyepiece collar for your personal needs. Frontal/image focus is adjusted using a dial above the front end, just behind the 50mm objective lens with a base level 1.2x magnification that can be boosted 
to 12.8x digitally by the electronics.
      Chris Parkin takes two high-end thermal-imaging rifle scopes from Pulsar through their paces and compares like with like

      The Trail is the quicker and more reliable of the two to set up mechanically with simple zeroing on a hot handwarmer sachet for a targetThe cost of a thermal-imaging scope could easily exceed that of your day scope or rifle.

      At the top ... See more
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      Our reviewer tries out two top thermal imaging scopes. What did he discover?
    • What is the ancestry of the modern Labrador?

      Labradors certainly have an affinity with water Q: I read that Labradors originated from dogs used by fishermen in North America and were used for helping to retrieve nets from the sea and estuaries in their country of origin. Interestingly my own dog, since it was a small puppy, has always retrieved dummies from water by grabbing the throwing string attached to the eye rather than by grabbing the body of the dummy. Do you think this is a throwback to its ancestors 
all those years ago? Were Labradors from Newfoundland?

      Modern Labrador origins
      A: The ancestry of the modern Labrador is not clear and though we refer to dogs brought over from the area of Labrador and Newfoundland, 
it is not certain whether they were 
a pure breed or, more likely, those 
dogs were crossed with our existing retrievers, of which there were quite 
a variety of different types, to produce the modern Labrador.

      In Britain, before the Labrador 
was recognised as a breed, there 
were smooth, curly, wavy and flatcoated retrievers, and probably many of these had derived from the odd setter that was used to retrieve as well.

      A phenomenal retrieving gundog
      Selective breeding, using those imported dogs from North America over many decades, has produced 
what we recognise as the Labrador retriever today and, of course, 
what is a fact is that the breed is 
a phenomenal retrieving gundog 
and the most popular.

      What makes the perfect Labrador?
      If you wanted to start an argument at a game fair, 
you couldn’t go far wrong with initiating a discussion…

      11 questions we’re often asked about Labradors
       

      The right training develops natural instincts
      With the right training this natural desire can be developed to the highest level and most Labradors can be taught to retrieve just about any object the trainer wishes it to. The throwing string is carrying your scent, which would encourage your dog to grip and retrieve it — I doubt that it is a throwback to its distant ancestors that may have worked with fishermen.
      What is the ancestry of the modern Labrador?

      Labradors certainly have an affinity with water Q: I read that Labradors originated from dogs used by fishermen in North America and were used for helping to retrieve nets from the sea and estuaries in their country of origin. Interestingly my own dog, since it was a small puppy, has always retrieved dummies from water by grabbing the throwing string attached to the eye rather than by grabbing the body of the dummy. Do you think this ... See more
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      Do Labradors really originate from Newfoundland?
    • James Ward’s work, whilst reminiscent of Stubbs’s, went further, addressing the possibility that animals had feelings, says Janet Menzies

      James Ward's L'Amour de Cheval.James Ward lead the way for change in his work, says Janet Menzies. While reminiscent of Stubbs, his art went further and considered the animals’ lives and their feelings, as the first major exhibition of Ward since the 1990s shows.

      For more sporting artists, Andrew Kay uses the scenery that surrounds him as his canvas. And it is time for us to revaluate the work of Raoul Millais.

      JAMES WARD
      Viewing a James Ward oil painting of a stallion can be confusing at first. Is it a Stubbs? The composition, the subject matter, that pose with exaggeratedly arched neck and flared nostrils all seem very familiar. However, Ward (1769-1859) was working a generation later, during the Regency period. Viewed in isolation, some of Ward’s work can seem derivative but this will be contested by the new exhibition at Newmarket’s Palace House National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art.

      Palace House curator Dr Patricia Hardy feels that seeing a Ward in isolation can give a false impression of his work as a whole. She explains: “People know about George Stubbs but we feel that Ward has been rather neglected and there hasn’t been an appreciation of the versatility and the breadth of work he produced over a very long career – he was 90 years old when he died.”

      Fight Between a Lion and a Tiger, which opens the exhibition.

      One of the most dramatic of Ward’s works, Fight between a Lion and a Tiger (1797), which opens the exhibition, seems heavily influenced by Stubbs in its subject matter and composition but another oil in the exhibition, L’Amour de Cheval, painted 30 years later in 1827, has moved a long way from that early preoccupation with menagerie animals. Dr Hardy says: “That later painting was criticised at the time because it was felt the mare was more eager than the stallion. More importantly, both animals are depicted as older and the suggestion is that their love might be emotional rather than physical. Ward was one of the first painters to address this possibility of animals’ feelings.”

      Bookended between pioneering Stubbs and the great Victorian sentimentalist Landseer, it would be easy to overlook Ward’s particular contribution. Ward, however, was a contemporary of William Blake, who wrote The Tyger just three years before Ward produced his painting. Like so many artists in his circle, Ward was responding to the Romantic movement and attempting to express the sublime. Dr Hardy comments: “He was one of several artists who were depicting the arc of an animal’s life and he was trying to encourage viewers to engage with this as comparable with the growth of the human spirit. It was a change in sensibility at the time across the arts.”

      A STRONG HIERARCHY
      Leading the way in this change wasn’t easy for Ward. As in Stubbs’s time, there was still a strong hierarchy in what was thought a fit subject for serious art work. Allegory, history and religious topics were considered worthy of recognition, portraits and animal studies were low down the scale. Ward had been born into a poor London background, growing up among the Thames warehouses as the son of a merchant. His instinctive love of sketching and painting animals and horses was not something to be proud of. When he was made a full member of the Royal Academy in 1811, Ward told fellow artist Joseph Farington: “I don’t wish to be admitted to the Academy as a Horse-Painter.”

      Acknowledging his influences, Ward made little of Stubbs, even though his early work clearly owes inspiration to his predecessor. Instead, Ward insisted on Rubens as a hero. But his own attempts at allegorical, historical and mythological subjects, including Venus Rising from her Couch, lack the vitality and credibility of his landscape and animal work. Sadly, Ward’s great venture into the world of high art, painting the recent Battle of Waterloo in his grand-scale Allegory of Waterloo, was a flop and has since been lost – possibly not a bad thing considering the reviews it received.

      View in Tabley Park (1813-18).

      Ward wanted prestige, including financial recognition, but his true gifts as an animal and landscape artist must have seemed to him a hindrance. Dr Hardy agrees: “While it isn’t easy to understand what Ward’s thinking must have been at the time, my intuition is that there was inner conflict in him about where he wanted his art to go.”

      Luckily for us, as his career developed Ward resolved this dilemma by being to true to his love of animals. Dr Hardy says: “The great thing about an exhibition is that you have the opportunity to show the totality of the artist’s work and put it in context. By having this first major exhibition of Ward since the 1990s, we are able to show his artistic progression and especially the great love he had for working animals.

      “I think Ward is one of the first to ask the viewer to think of what animals might be feeling and thinking. Later, Landseer had a more sentimental approach of imposing human emotions on the animals he depicted, whereas Ward is trying to get to grips with what the animals’ lives were actually like.”

      “James Ward: Animal Painter” will be at Palace House, Newmarket, from 4 May until 28 October 2018 (tel 01638 667314; www.palacehousenewmarket.co.uk)
      James Ward’s work, whilst reminiscent of Stubbs’s, went further, addressing the possibility that animals had feelings, says Janet Menzies

      James Ward's L'Amour de Cheval.James Ward lead the way for change in his work, says Janet Menzies. While reminiscent of Stubbs, his art went further and considered the animals’ lives and their feelings, as the first major exhibition of Ward since the 1990s shows.

      For more sporting artists, See more
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      James Ward, sporting artist