Whether you are a keen shot or not, there is no denying that pheasant shooting is not only big business but it also provides or contributes to the livelihoods of many people.
Not only do many country estates depend on the revenue from shooting to keep the show on the road but employment in the countryside is supported hugely by the sport. Keepers, beaters, breeders, dog trainers, gunsmiths, cartridge makers, feed merchant, clothiers – the list goes on and on.
But also many of the businesses in the locality of the shoot benefit from the income generated by the sport. Hotels, shops, restaurants, food and wine suppliers, taxi companies all enjoy the spin-off from this very popular sport.
Although a large proportion of pheasant shooting is for corporate hospitality – which can be a very important part of marketing and publicity – there is still a strong contingent of good friends who spend a day or two together and enjoy the shooting and the company of friends.
Here at Tall John’s House we are very lucky to be co-operating with Coleman Sporting who organise shoots in Wales and the Borders. We have welcomed several delightful shooting parties to stay with us and are yet another business that profits from this wonderful pastime.
However there are some tricky questions to answer about the sport and possibly the most important one is the problem of over-supply. Too many shoots are producing far too much excess game for game dealers to cope with. It is indefensible to suggest that birds should be shot purely for pleasure and not used in any way whatsoever. It is easy to see why 500-bird days have become popular with commercial shoots, because you only need the same number of beaters for 500 birds as you do for 200, so the basic overheads for the day are the same. And of course there is more potential profit with 500 birds at £35 each than 200 birds at the same price. Some commercial shoots go well above this figure and perhaps this ought to be controlled.
There is an old adage: “ If you can’t remember what you’ve shot, you have shot too many, haven’t you?”
Or perhaps we should be more innovative with ways to make use of the shot birds? Soup kitchens? Charities? Food banks? It needn’t be only the affluent who benefit from pheasant shooting.