Living in the countryside gives you opportunities to get involved in several different pastimes and activities one of which is shooting and conservation.
Having access to land near some forestry increases the opportunities to participate in this activity. If woods are properly laid out with a mixture of species and thick cover in suitable places along with feeding for example Game crop (which is a requirement for some Glas schemes) or feeding hoppers, they will attract woodcock and pheasant. With all these features in place you are rightly set up for a nice bit or Game shooting with your friends.
The expanding tree cover in Ireland has brought a welcome increase in the habitat for wildlife and if you manage your woods for shooting, you are not only creating a great sporting facility but helping wildlife at the same time.
In the past, shooting rights were jealously guarded by large landowners. The tenants had to make do with a spot of poaching, bagging a pheasant or two and snaring the once plentiful rabbits. Thankfully times have changed and the formation of local Gun Clubs have seen the relationship between landowners and shooting men dramatically improved.
Nowadays farmers often call on Gun Clubs to help them where their livestock or crops have been put at risk by vermin, pigeons and crows.
The shooting season for pheasant opens each year on the first day of November and to partake, all you need is a good dog, a gun, NARGC Compensation Fund, knowledge of the countryside and most importantly, the rules of the sport.
The NARGC is the National body as to which County Longford Shooting & Conservation Council is affiliated to and the Compensation Fund is shooters insurance.
Some people enjoy driven shoots where the pheasants are reared in pens, released into woodlands and then, on selected days, driven by beaters over the waiting guns.
This is one version of the sport; however, I prefer to just walk quietly in the fields, forests and along hedgerows with my dog and try and outwit the pheasant or woodcock in their own territory.
Standing in one place and waiting for them to fly overhead just doesn't appeal to me, to be honest most of the fun lies in watching my dog work.
The rules of shooting are strict and while some people choose to ignore them, they do so at the risk of their own safety and the welfare of our wildlife.
Loaded or unloaded, a gun must never be pointed at any person. It should be broken and unloaded when crossing fences and ditches and the safety device should only be released when firing a shot.
Never go shooting without a good, properly trained dog that will retrieve all shot game from hedges, briars or water. This will ensure that the odd winged bird is quickly found. No one who calls himself a sportsman would ever continue shooting without picking up everything that has been shot. A well-trained dog is a joy to shoot with.
Please do not shoot an abundance of pheasants, duck or woodcock on any one day, this ensures that enough birds are left for another day and in the wild to breed and maintain numbers.
Never shoot a bird running on the ground and never shoot anything that you haven't first clearly identified.
Always ask permission from the farmer before entering his land and always close gates and take care that fences are not damaged.
Most importantly of all look after yourself and whoever is with you. Have a good day on Wednesday, November 1.
- Owen McDermott,
Hon Secretary County Longford Shooting & Conservation Council
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