Shooters pride themselves as being custodians of the environment, and that means a lot more than just shooting the right animals, says Peter Carr
It’s not often these days that I experience a reality moment – hitting the half-century mark and all that means you’ve seen much of what life can throw at you.
However, during a recent visit to Cameroon, the devasting reality of mankind’s collective footprint on our planet came home to me. Forgive the purple prose, but I was experiencing one of nature’s finest sunrises – ochres and mauves haemorrhaged across the Atlantic seascape and lit up the Limbe islands like jewels from an unspoilt nirvana of tranquillity.
But looking over the Limbe seawall, my enjoyment of nature’s finery was instantly dashed. A raft of plastic detritus washed back and forth against the pristine sands as far as I could see, north and south. Humankind’s flotsam and jetsam had travelled the Atlantic and ended up spoiling a large chunk of the African coast.
It set me to thinking (not always a good thing), and my mind drifted back home. When one looks to our own lands and travels the country, the roadside verges are not much better. Littering, it seems, is an ineradicable flaw in many human beings.
Litter has always been a bugbear of mine. I’ve griped with clients over their thoughtless actions on too many occasions – mostly through carelessness but there are some who just don’t care.
As sportsmen we have a duty not only to our quarry and the other countryside stakeholders but also to the habitat and the very landscape that not only supports the wildlife but humankind too.
Plastic is a killer in many forms and the world has too much of it. Eradicating plastic is now a crusade for many, and good on them – indeed I’m one of those crusaders and I am sure many of you are too.
Specific to stalking and hunting, we can do more than be careful with litter and looking for plastic alternatives. We can address our footprint on the land, especially in selective areas.
A 4×4 chews up a lot of ground – I’m sure you get my meaning. Stalking should be about assessing the wind and probable location of quarry. The stalker then should grab his kit and head off on foot – tyre stalking is not really stalking, and definitely not hunting in any shape or form.
Of course larger species will need mechanical recovery at some point, but thought must be given to lessening impact on the environment. Dragging to the roadside is better than dragging to a woodland track.
Low-pressure tyres on ATVs do less damage on the hill but a pony is even better. Again you will get my drift. Shotgunners are already taking large steps to protect the environment.
Eley Hawk have developed eco-friendly plastic wads that dissolve once wet with little lasting trace. And BASC are urging their members to take up the cause.
Caroline Bedell, BASC’s executive director of conservation, said BASC acknowledges growing concerns around single-use plastics in our environment and wants to encourage personal responsibility for the recycling.
“BASC accepts there is no ‘quick fix’ to the wider issue of plastics in our environment, an issue which is rightly receiving worldwide prominence,” she said.
“BASC has started to take action on its own use of plastics. Staff have been dropping spent cartridges off at our Marford Mill head office and they will now be taken away and recycled. It’s a small step, but it is a signal of the association’s intent to deal with the issue.
“But we also want to give full support to cartridge manufacturers to develop and market alternatives. We have already met with our cartridge sponsor Eley Hawk and we know the company is keen to produce solutions for the market.”
BASC chairman Peter Glenser QC said: “The pheasant season is only just behind us, but we are urging people to consider their buying choices for next season sooner rather than later.
“There is always a check-list of jobs to be done and we would urge people to add plastics to that list.” Good on Eley Hawk and BASC, but we can all do our bit, and collectively we will make a difference.
Agri-Cycle can be contacted on 01673 878215 or firstname.lastname@example.org