Thursday, 2 April 2009

Hunting Ethics & Politics: A Reader Writes

Reading this entry I can't help wondering, where do the stray shots go? What if this blog catches on and we're all at it, stumbling around the fields, missing rabbits and shooting one another! [...]

Wishing you and the next rabbit well, JB.

Thank you, JB, all comments are much appreciated - that anyone takes time out of their lives to read this stuff at all is a tremendous compliment and one for which I'm very grateful.

Where do the stray shots go?

Well, since this is a 12ftlb air rifle we're talking about, generally, those stray shots - at rabbits, anyway - end up burying themselves in the turf about ten foot behind the animal that has just been missed. That's one of the - on the one hand - limitations, and - on the other hand - strengths of the 12ftlb air rifle: the pellets do not go a long way before they run out of puff. If I was taking pot-shots at rabbits - or indeed, at anything else - with, say, a rim-fire rifle the story would be very different: rim-fire bullets can go on for as much as a mile before they give up the ghost and fall earthwards. I'm not likely to be given the opportunity to threaten the local wildlife with a rim-fire any time soon; for one thing, a stringent assessment from local police firearms officers is obligatory before any of us citizens can - in search of their dinner -legally wield one of those.

What if this blog catches on and we're all at it, stumbling around the fields, missing rabbits and shooting one another!

Rabbits - along with Wood Pigeons and Rats - are classed as vermin, not least because of the tremendous damage they do to crops every year. Farmers, up until very recently, had an obligation to take extensive measures in the attempt to rid their land of infestation by these creatures. If shooting rabbits became more popular - and I'd be delighted if it did - then arable farming in the UK would benefit greatly.

Air rifles - although much less powerful than powder-driven rifles - are certainly not toys: people can get injured or indeed, on very rare occasions, killed by them - if they are mishandled. Last night when I was out shooting I took a shot at a wood pigeon - which missed, of course - but it was only after I'd taken the shot that I realised that someone, a hundred or so yards away from me to my left, was walking their dog in the next field. I was mortified and ashamed that I'd been so foolish as to take a shot when there was anyone remotely nearby, even if only - and this was the greatest risk that they faced, I'd say - because the sound of the shot might have alarmed them. I learned something about good practise in shooting last night and it's something I take seriously - I hope that I'll never become complacent as far as safety is concerned.

But even if I were to become an obsessional loon about safety, I couldn't eradicate the element of risk - to others, to myself - entirely. There's a school of thought that says that, in situations where it's judged to be the case that it's not possible to completely remove the possibility of risk, then that activity should be banned forthwith. I'm not a member of that school. Ultimately, I'd say, the only state in which humans can pose no risk whatsoever to each other is the health-and-safety nirvana of being safely dead and buried. Where there's life, there's risk - which is to say, the risk of life itself!

So I'm going to carry on examining the ways in which I need to adapt my practise in order to keep becoming a better, safer shot - but I'm still going to go out after rabbits because, as well as being a blight upon crops, rabbits are, and I can testify to this, very good eating!


  1. I don't think my first comment came through!

    Anyway, great answers to folks that ask the questions!

    I've clicked on your sponsors and will continue to do so, any friend of SBW and NorcalCazadora has got to be alright!

    The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
    The Range Reviews: Tactical
    Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit

  2. On a North American varmint eating tangent, thought you might enjoy this movie about raccoons.

    Happy Hunting from somewhere out by Drippin'

  3. Dear Mr. Rasch, thank you very much for your comment and thank you especially for your kindness in clicking as you did!


  4. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the link to that video. I pretty much agree with NorCal Cazadora's take on it (here: ).


  5. I thought the reporter THOUGHT he was "taking the piss" as you lot say, but he was actually the subject of the Coon Man "taking the piss" out of him.

    My two cents. Reporter comes across as smug and the Coon Man doesn't seem stupid and he hams it up while making a bit of fun of the reporter that I don't think the reporter catches and likely got paid for making fun of the reporter on television too, he was just subtle about it. American colored folk have learned how to be subtly fun of whitey for a long time. I was working a rich old white people wedding anniversary as a sound engineer for the band and I heard a old money white lady ask a black caterer "You got any more crackers?" and he said "Look around the room..." as he went to get more crackers for her gumbo. Sailed right over her head.