The Grey Area

The grey Squirrel

The grey squirrel was introduced to the UK in the 19th century. Since its introduction it has spread across the UK and is universally regarded as the cause of the decline of the native Red Squirrel;-

The Red Squirrel

  • The red squirrel or Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is a species of tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus common throughout Eurasia. The red squirrel is an arboreal, omnivorous rodent.
  • In Great Britain, Italy and Ireland, numbers have decreased drastically in recent years. This decline is associated with the introduction by humans of the
  • eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) from North America[3][4] and habitat loss.[5] Due to this, without conservation the species could be extirpated from Britain by 2030. (Wikipedia 2018)

Squirrel posing.jpg

The Red squirrel is under threat and classified as “near threatened” in the England, Wales and Ireland. It is common locally to small pockets in Scotland. As briefly mentioned above the largest factor to its decline is the introduction of the Grey in the 19th century.

The main reasons the grey squirrel is a threat are;-

  • Grey squirrels are more likely to eat green acorns, this puts pressure on the food source of the Red. This is because the Red cannot digest mature acorns.
  • Greys carry a disease called squirrel pox, this can kill greys also but s more likely to cause illness rather than death. This disease is largely deadly to the Red squirrel.
  • Further to this it is observed when Red squirrels are put under pressure because of the above reasons they fail to breed further contributing to the decline.

Grey squirrels are a pest species

Example of bark stripping (https://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/infd-7rlgm2)

Further to the recorded damage to other native species, the grey is a pest within the forest.

The grey squirrel will strip bark from growing trees, it is not possible for the Grey to strip the bark of older trees (40yrs+) as it is too thick, it is also unlikely they will strip the bark of younger trees as it will not support their weight.

Species of tree susceptible to bark stripping include the British oak, another native species seen to be in decline. This is just another example of the knock on effect of an invasive species.

Should we do something?

It could be argued that nature is about survival of the fittest. The grey based on current estimates would cause the decline and extinction in the UK of the Red by 2030 based on report’s by authors, Dawn Burnham and David MacDonald.

However the Grey was introduced as nothing more than a curiosity. So it begs the question, as “man”, should we rectify the mistake made by our recent ancestors. It is my opinion that the answer is yes. I am all for working with nature, however the equilibrium has been broken in this instance and I believe as people we should hold ourselves to a higher standard.

What can we do about it?

There are various methods being trialled across the UK, trapping, shooting and even contraceptive pills.

Trapping – It must be pointed out that trapping essentially means death for the grey. It is simply not possible to re release them as well as it being illegal, this would only add back to the problem and it is not really financially viable to transport them back to North America.

Shooting – This tends to be the most viable option, to some it seems cruel but it is a harsh reality of the situation we are in. If you agree that we need to save the Red it is at the expense of the grey in the UK.

Contraceptives – Yes, this is an option and a viable “pill” is being developed and sponsored by the UK government. The Royal Forestry Society has more information here. But essentially it would allow the population to die out in the UK with little intervention.

How can I help? britons.jpg

Most people can play a useful part in the process. It is widely accepted that the response needs to be coordinated. I recently met a group of people trying to do this, their group name gave me the title for this blog post. The group is looking for Professional’s in different areas Landowners, Farmers, Gamekeepers, Pest control, Hunters, Wildlife experts, Councils and Public who want to help.

The group has a Facebook page, and a private group for those who control the numbers, the group is further broken down into map reference areas where groups locally record numbers to be added to the national tally. Please like their page below.

https://www.facebook.com/squirrelsTheGreyArea/

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The danger of the Echo Chamber

What are you on about echo chamber… you mean that thing where ducks don’t quack…No not there and a ducks quack does echo by the way it’s science…

No I’m talking about the closed idealology echo chamber that “the Facebook group” can be. Now I am not knocking the Facebook group. I have learned 90% of what I know about shooting from these groups. It’s a wealth of knowledge whether it be the vermin control groups, the wood pigeon groups, UK country sports etc. You know the places. You probably found this article there, god knows the ramblings of this writer is not good enough to get up the Google rankings.

Anyway the point!

What I’m writing about here is how when we create our little club and we all pat each other on the back and we all agree. Sometimes we all agree on the wrong things. Now thankfully the shooting community is largely awesome. I mean to have a SGC/FAC you need to be a reasonably reputable person. The thing I’m talking about is questioning why, as opposed to simply repeating things parrot fashion.

What you rambling on about I hear you say. Now the thing that sparked this little thought was a discussion on a Facebook group surrounding gun laws in the U.S.

Side note. If you think gun laws in the USA in their current guise are sensible then just jog on now… I try to stay away from the realm of opinion and stick to facts. In this instance assume the way they do things is just wrong, because well, it’s lunacy… And I own loads of guns, I love guns, guns are cool.

Now the discussion was around gun control in the US. Firstly, you would have thought everyone was a US citizen. The outrage at the suggestion that an amendment can be amended was ridiculous, especially when the place is 1000’s of miles away. Now for those that are not aware, said amendment has already been amended. But most don’t know this. The original wording was “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” now by that wording people were breaking the law for a long time… So it was changed, basically by order of the NRA. (Edit: strictly speaking the amendment was not amended but 3 supreme court verdicts changed the accepted interpretation of the section.)

Another side note, do not confuse the NRA (US), with that of its quite un-similar counter part the NRA in the UK. The NRA in the UK is a much older organisation , its a progressive sensible organisation and it’s existance benefits us as shooters, unlike the US organisation which appears to be manned by nut jobs, (sorry fallen into the realms of opinion there, I’ll go back to facts now.)

Now back to the point. We’re in our generic Facebook shooting group (I won’t name which one) and we have a discussion that’s gone one way, everyone patting each other on their backs. Full of throw away comments and statistics made up on the spot.

Now I wasn’t the one to disagree but I watched the tirade of abuse against the first person to offer an opinion that differed to the narrative, simply suggesting some checks… It was ridiculous, the level of abuse from the same community I previously stated was awesome.

The problem in this scenario was the throwaway nature of many of the comments. But this can be dangerous, people have a misplaced sense of anonymity online and forget they’re liable for their words. So someone will walk away from that experience believing the rhetoric and the figures made up on the spot. The problem with people is once they’ve said something they don’t want to admit their wrong. Further to that, and this is the big issue, someone will believe said misleading fact or figure. And it’s with them, because “it’s easier to fool someone than convince them they were fooled.” (Possibly said by Mark Twain) now what happens next is that same person will continue that rhetoric elsewhere.

The most annoying thing about these scenarios is the idiot always shouts loudest (we have all come across the militant vegan who refuses to take any reasoned argument.) But we as a community can be guilty of this also. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect. This basically means the stupid are cock sure and the intelligent are doubtful.

dunningkruger
(image credit Johnathon Randell)

Side note – this is also why your boss is an idiot, but he’s a confident idiot. (To Succeed in life, you need two things: Ignorance and Confidence. – Mark Twain)

Everyone reading this will have seen this elsewhere, usually in the anti hunting camp. But maybe you haven’t recognised it within our community.

I think what needs to be said, and… this is with myself in the past doing exactly what I’ve pointed out, that people need to think before they post. Now that’s somewhat a throwaway comment also. So what do I mean by this. Question everything, provide sources for your arguments (that is not a newspaper… or Wikipedia) and assume everything you say is wrong so back it up, don’t give ammo to those who wish to decimate shooting. And above all always be polite, when someone is wrong, be nice and convince them with fair reason, especially anti’s you will only get their backs up and create a more determined enemy.

Oh and another thing, beware of the Facebook algorithm. Facebook tailors what you see and makes the Echo Chamber even smaller. This means if you like and share something you will have adds, posts, etc. tailored to you, so if you like a political post, you will soon see nothing but that area of politics.

Facebook, where as it is useful, it is also dangerous. (I’m not a conspiracy theorist by the way…) and if you want an alternate source of social media which doesn’t target you, try twitter. Or just watch a few TED videos they are 87% guaranteed to make you smarter, or did I just make that figure up…

Thanks for reading my ramblings and I hope this makes sense, if you would like to read more on staying safe online specifically aimed at the shooting community check out my social media security blog post 

Which all round shotgun? 

This article is aimed at novice shooters

I wanted to write a piece on choosing the right shotgun. Specifically for an individual looking for a quality gun to use in a multitude of disciplines. And this article is aimed at the novice looking into starting shooting. (See also my article on how to start shooting here)

So a gun for all occasions. Now I’m not going to say there is a perfect gun for all occasions. The clay disciplines alone have a myriad of different setups. From choke to rib and cheek piece variations. Semi auto, Side by side and over and under.

Now for an all rounder we can start to wittle down the options.

The Semi Automatic

18328652_2

The semi auto is a capable piece of equipment good on pigeons or game (frowned upon though in the game shooting world) but its a single barrel. Which means it can only have a single choke fitted. (Choke changes the pattern size at different variations, check back here soon and I’ll have another article on choke.)

The problem with a single barrel is when shooting clays, and in some cases game it is useful to have different choke sizes. For example on a sporting layout you may have a close in bird followed by a far away bird meaning it’s advantageous to have different chokes in each barrel.

This leaves us then with the choice between SBS and Over and under.

The side by side

sbs

The side by side is the favoured gun on the game shoot. In my opinion mostly down to tradition. However some would argue there are technical benefits. But for this article I’m not going to get into the debate. Most SBS guns are a fixed choke usually 1/2 and 3/4 or 3/4 and Full. However you can get multi choke versions. You could use a side by side as an all rounder but especially in the clay shooting world they are quite uncommon.

So the Over and under…

The Over and Under

oau

The Over and Under will always be my choice of gun for all disciplines. Available in fixed and multi choke it’s the run away favourite of most shooters across all disciplines.

So what next?

So if your still with me that an over and under is the way to go what do we look for next. I’ve touched briefly on choke. Choke as I mentioned above will change the pattern of a gun at different distances. A close in target you may use a more open choke e.g. skeet or cylinder. And a further away target you may select a full choke. A skeet choke will give you a larger pattern at a close distance and a full choke will give you a tighter pattern at longer distances. So if we were to choose a fixed choke gun we loose options further down the line. So the best option is to get a multi choke gun. This allows you to change the chokes giving us more options with a single piece of equipment.

So, so far we’re looking for a multi choke over and under. But what to buy?

Makes and models

There are lots of brands of shotguns around and lots of different price tags to go round too. Price isn’t everything, you can buy a gun for £500 or £100,000 and it will do the same thing. Now the mortgage priced guns are no better than a more down to earth price. However a gun with a large price tag will likely be hand made with better woodwork, the price comes from the fact it’s hand made by a master craftsman over what could be a year or two. (Check out Purdy shotguns if you want to see something you can’t afford. Video below.)

I’m a working bloke with a passion for shooting so I advocate for 3 brands and most will agree. Browning, Beretta and Miroku. Now there are more expensive guns and there are cheaper guns. But in this market, 2nd hand, you’re looking between £800 to £1800. I paid £1050 for a browning ultra XS sporting, I’m not sure of age but it will last a lifetime. It’s a lot of money to me for a hobby but, and it’s a big but. I’m only buying once. These 3 brands should serve you just fine as a rule. There are other brands that are good also, Lanber and some others are still good but I have heard hit and miss things, I’m not saying they are not great guns I’m just saying you now with 100% certainty you can’t go wrong with Beretta, Browning or Miroku, in this situation anyway.

Where to Buy?

For me, I would go to a gun shop. you can get things all over, gunstar, guntrader etc. but you get peace of mind from a gun shop.

Further to that buying from a gun shop gives you security, at the very least you have an easily enforceable 3 month warranty, it’s likely if there is something wrong with your gun you’ll find out within that time. Also when it comes to servicing it in the future, you’re already a customer, so you tend to shave a few quid off.

Fitting

Gun fitment is everything! see also my article on how to get into shooting. I talk there about instructors and gun fit. if it doesn’t fit you, you’re about to spend a sum of money on a useless bit of kit. Again in this situation, for a beginner looking for an all rounder its worth getting an instructor, have a few lessons and borrow any guns you wish to buy and go out with your instructor. (you can borrow guns from a gun shop for up to 72 hours)

If you take but 1 thing from the article, its this. MAKE SURE IT FITS!

Glossary

A Glossary of terms for the shooting beginner

A

BASC – British association of shooting and conservation

Beater – see the NGO’s page on beaters here 

Choke – See also extended choke. A choke is a device that changes the pattern of a shotgun spread at different distances.

D

E

F

Glass – Scope

Hushpower – A brand of shotgun with a moderator. The term hushpower like Hoover has become the name for all although technically it is a brand name.

I

J

K

L

Moderator – A “silencer” used to moderate the sound of a rifle shot (or shotgun see hushpower.) Not strictly silent but much quieter.

NGO – National Gamekeepers Organisation

O

P

Q

R

Shotgun – A shotgun is a smooth bore gun which:

  • Has a barrel not less than 60.96 cm (24 inches) in length and does not have any barrel with a bore that exceeds 5.08 cm (2 inches), in diameter and
  • Has no magazine, or a non detachable magazine incapable of holding more than two cartridges and
  • Is not a revolver gun



Trap
– A device for throwing clay targets. Manual and automatic devices are available. 

U

V

W

X

Y

Z

1

2

E

4

5

6

7

8

9

0

The working man’s all round rifle setup (.243) (Part 2 – Rifles)

Recap

All round .243, why .243 its universal (ish) there is no perfect all round. But we’re looking for an all round work horse for the working man (deer, fox, targets etc.) Cost, Quality and COST! are our main factors. (Read the last article here.)

Remember this is an experiment and at this stage it’s still a paper exercise, so comment below and throw in your two penneth.

Rifles –

So the 3  NEW rifles I have worked down to are;-

634504_ts (1)

Ruger American - .243 Win

Mossberg Patriot Synthetic - .243 Win

All the rifles I have looked at are synthetic stocks, some are available in wood etc. but at a greater cost.

Price 

Marlin X7                                   £425
Ruger American                       £749
Mossberg Patriot                      £539

Warranty

Marlin X7                                   3 year
Ruger American circa             1 year
Mossberg Patriot                      1 year

Magazine Capacity 

Marlin X7                                   4+1
Ruger American circa             4+1  (removable)
Mossberg Patriot                      4+1

Barrels 

Marlin X7                                   22 inch
Ruger American circa             22 inch
Mossberg Patriot                      22 inch

Triggers

All have safety triggers and all are good quality (I put no stock in trigger pull lbs etc. its personal preference)

What’s each rifles Pro’s?

There isn’t much in it. So some of these are stretching to find a real difference

Marlin

  1. Most adjustment on the scope rails
  2. Grooved bolt, ideal ingress of dirt
  3. 3 year warranty

Ruger

  1. magazine, detachable, in my opinion its a benefit, some people may argue its something extra to lose or break
  2. 70 degree bolt lift, allows room for gloves
  3. metal to metal contact on the stock to barrel

Mossberg

  1. Fluted barrel – not as much as more expensive models but will allow some cooling. How much is left to be said.
  2. A con to note about the Mossberg is the butt pad is quite poor quality

Conclusion

There just isnt much in it, I haven’t dropped the specs but some new CZ’s are pretty good for the money also, It’s also worth looking at 2nd hand Tikkas and similar, but you’re into the 2nd hand market then and outside the gun shop (and sometimes within) you don’t know what you’re getting.

The Ruger is the best of the 3, but it’s also only just “budget” in fact for £100 more you can get a tikka t3, which is a Sako in drag, so the Ruger is well out.

Of the 3 I would have the Marlin. The longest warranty and cheapest price coupled with some really good aspects.

Remember we want an all round .243, the rifle has to eat 100 grain plus to be legal on larger deer species. I will follow-up on this article with the practical test.

The working man’s all round rifle setup (.243)

This is the start of an experiment which I intend to see through over the next year or so. 

Introduction

The reason for this is, I like many shooters, are on a strict budget. I have, over a couple of years of shooting, found myself into clay shooting, pigeon shooting, rabbit shooting and deer stalking. Each discipline requires a different setup and it can become costly.  I have permission to shoot any legal quarry over about 1000 acres. This is because I have a few very generous farmers. I keep the pigeon numbers down, set up a few sunday clay shoots for the farmer and his friends/family and in return I can take the odd deer and shoot game birds. In return I wish to be useful, which means having the kit to do a number of jobs around the farm. So after some research I found the best all round calibre to be .243 you can shoot almost anything reliably with it. Fox, roe, muntjac, sika, fallow and even reds (you can shoot red stags but you MUST be entirely confident in the shot.) 

(Image credit shooting uk magazine.)

So what do we need to know. What have I learned so far.

Setting up a roundly rifle for stalking and as an all rounder, everyone comes back and says the same thing, spend as much on glass (scope) as you can afford and then strap any old rifle under it. This is the prevailing theory. Now I’m not entirely disagreeting with this but I wish to put it to the test. They say buy German (swarovski, zeiss etc.) Years ago BMW and mercedes were the king of quality, now you can reliably buy cars from all around the world with greater warranty at much lower cost, I wish to test if this is the same accross other fields of manufacturing. 

Glass

So with that said I decided to look at cheaper glass, I found myself thinking where in the world are they huge on hunting, ‘Merica… came to mind (make sure you read “‘Merica” in that accent from Team America.) So after a quick look over I started to realise things are much, MUCH cheaper. Now this could be easily explained away by economys of scale e.g. a larger market. Or by other factors. But I wanted to probe the idea. So from the scope perspective why is stuff so much cheaper. Well after speaking to a few guys over facebook shooting groups they tend not to prescribe to the German only perspective, now this could be down to our American cousins being very proud of their own manufacturing. But I think cost is a factor. 

So I started to look at cheaper scopes that were big sellers in the US. Nikon and Sun optics appeared to be the ones that people suggested. 

Sun Optics were reresented at the Northern Shooting Show (2017) and I spoke to their sales director Jim and we had a look over their range. Jim very kindly gave me a scope 6-24×50. No strings attached, he said he was that confident in the system, I said I’d give an honest review. 

Part 1 – unboxing 

First thoughts, packaging is strong enough to protect the scope, however lacks the quality of some other products, for example zeiss. When you get your iPad it comes in a really tactile box which inspires confidense, minor point I know but often it shows quality.

Looking through the window and out in the garden the clarity looks spot on. The zoom between 6-12 is good but becomes harder to focus up to 24 (when I will ever shoot on 24 I don’t know.)

It’s clearly labeled made in China. Now whether it really matters anymore is the question.

Manufacturers specs 

First Focal Plane Variable Series

High performance first focal plane optic delivers no point of impact change at any magnification! Geared and ready for any high performance shooter.

• 30mm one-piece tube design for superior strength
• Precision ground, fully multi-coated lenses with wide band coating and extended polishing process for crisp edge-to-edge clarity and maximum light transmission
• Windage and elevation adjustments in milimeters
• Glass-etched reticle
• Fast-focus adjustable ocular for precise clarity
• SWP down to 10 yds
• Nitrogen filled for waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof peace

Conclusion

Not really a conclusion at this point but next steps are to do an in the field comparison with schmit & bender and swarovski. Checking in low light conditions and various other tests. 

If anyone has any test ideas please comment on this article. 

Further reading 

http://www.shootinguk.co.uk/shooting/instruction/rifle-shooting-the-243-calibre-18450

Vocabulary;-

  • Glass = scope

Deer Stalking for Dummies

​What is deer stalking and why do we do it.

If you’re reading this from an anti hunting perspective please read on. Your my main audience, I wish to dispel myths and misconceptions surrounding deer stalking.

Why?

Firstly we must understand why we must control deer numbers I mean why would you want to shoot such a beautiful beast (see above.) Before man got all meddley with things we had a wolf poulation in the UK. The wolf population would kill the deer until there were not many left then the wolves would starve and the deer population would rise again. So that’s the yr 7 biology bit. Now as I’m sure you are aware we no longer have a wolf population so the deer numbers continue to grow. Whys that our problem? well like when the Wolf runs out of venison to eat the Wolf dies the same happens for the deer. so the deer starve. But their is grass and food everywhere? Not really different deer species munch on different foods and they can be quite picky. To the point of starvation. This is especially so in the Scottish Highlands once the snow falls on the mountains.

Culling to save the population?

Sounds counter intuitive. Essentially you can cull a number of deer, say 500 on an estate and this will save a greater number.  Experiments have taken place in the past where estates would normally take X amount each year. The following year they take none and count the bodies in the spring. And as a rule of thumb the number of starved animals would number between X times 2/3.

Shooting and conservation go hand in hand. But it just doesn’t sound right does it. There is one other way to control deer numbers in the UK. That is by re releasing wolves. Now, it’s worked in yellowstone national park, ish. With some very unhappy farmers. But our little island is nowhere near as vast and sparce as yellowstone. By the nature of farming in the UK we would end up starving ourselves with wolves acting as a pest species to british cattle and farmed animals. We could import more food but that would be a poor environmental choice. So in conclusion we must cull. By any naturalist or conservational argument the cull is the sensible choice.

Hunting not killing

We know why we must cull the population, now how do we do it. Notice I type hunting not killing. Hunting trips are not always successful, if they were it would be called killing.

We call it deer stalking as we must stalk the beast first. When we cull a population we must select the right animals. There’s no point setting out to conserve a population and taking the fattest beasts. The bigger the beast, i.e. the ones with the greatest fat reserves, the more likely to survive the winter. We must select the animals unlikely to survive, small animals and those carrying injury must be taken. Older animals and late born calves should also be taken, it’s very hard to shoot a calf and it’s not a nice experience but any calf born late in the season is simply going to die if the weather gets bad, in the north of england and Scotland that’s a certainty.

So we know why we’re taking the deer and what we’re going to take but how do we take it. The stalking part e.g. crawling up to about 30m of the deer is open for so much discussion ill not even bother  starting, professional stalkers of many years all have completely different styles. And then Highland and forest stalking are two wholly different bags. But as for basics they include, wind, camoflage, noise, smell etc. Clothing should not russle, shimmer or shine.

How do we take the beast. In the UK there are legal minimum calibers dependant on species you can find a full list on the basc website, https://basc.org.uk/cop/deer-stalking/ . On top of minimum calibers there are minimum grain amounts for the rounds dependant on species. See above.

Shooting for sport

I wanted to make a point about shooting for sport. When the term sport is used it’s not used in the same respect as rugby or football. It’s about being sporting, it’s about giving a fair and fighting chace to anything we would kill for our own food. It’s about respect. We could use high caliber super velocity rounds and shoot deer from a mile away, we don’t do this as it would be unsporting. That’s what sport means, it’s about respect.

Where can you go deer stalking? 

Anywhere you have permission. That might be on invite or a booking on an estate in Scotland or similar?

When can you go?

Depends on the species and the sex. You can learn more on the BASC website in the previous paragraph. Harking back to the points on stalking another reason for stalking is to identify the sex and species to make sure we can indeed shoot the beast legally.

Photo credit/copyright http://www.deerstalking.info

So I’ve opened up a can of worms with this thread. It’s such a collosal topic but hopefully this should be a starting point to allow anyone who comes accross this to Google further.

Further info here;-

https://basc.org.uk/cop/deer-stalking/ 

Social Media and Shooting

Foreword;-
I originally wrote this article on my phone, but due to stupidity I managed to loose it whilst in offline mode, so had to write it again. Note to self save your work. Now I shall move on to telling you how to be better with IT…..

#SocialMediaAndShooting

As well as being a keen shooter I work in the world of IT. Social media is ingrained in our way of life now and it’s not going anywhere. I thought I would pen down a few words about social media in relation to shooting.

Social media a double edged sword

So social media like many technological advancements is a double edged sword. Something that can draw old school mates back together and in our instance provide a forum in which shooters can share stories and swap advice on everything from clays to stalking. And then to the more sinister side, from breaking of privacy and again, in our instance, for anti shooting peoples to stalk us.

I run a shooting group on Facebook, I work in IT and I’m very security savvy but I cannot account for everyone in our group. It’s a double edged sword, we give ourselves a forum in which we can have fun and learn things but we also open ourselves up to more sinister things.

So here’s a few tips on being safe online from the perspective of a shooter. Remember to check;-

Privacy Settings – we show a lot of information about ourselves online. For years marketers had to pay us for our information in surveys, now we just offer it up free of charge. We don’t just offer this up to marketers we offer it to everyone, who needs to know your date of birth? people to wish your happy birthday or someone who wants steal your identity and run up some debt. Mothers maiden names, addresses mobile numbers and a whole host of other information I can use to hack your accounts security settings. So stop offering it up, go to Facebook and use the view my profile as function (google it) and check who see’s what, not even your friends need to see most of the stuff up there, if they’re friends they should know your birthday. Anti hunting types trawl Facebook shooting groups looking for targets whom have poor security settings, they could do anything from sell your “fulls” (“Fulls” a portfolio of information enough to open a credit card account online) to stalking you when you go out. Hunt saboteurs thrive on information obtained freely publicised by ourselves.

Your Friends list – Remember that fit bird who added you with the big tits, the one way out your league who you didn’t actually know , the one with the bikini photos you were perving on, yes her. It’s more likely a him! The internet is full of “bot” Facebook accounts designed to entice you in and click accept friend request. They do this so they can see the information you tried to secure by following the paragraph above. Criminals are looking for “fulls” provided by fools. Don’t think too that because you have mutual friends that they are OK, remember your mates are perves too.

We go Fishing not Phishing – We have all seen them, the guy in the Facebook group that shares the lude video, “step dad bangs step daughter” or “check out this woman banging a tiger.” guess what not even that idiot would actually share the fact he is a perv to the whole world, but he did click the link himself. A link which directs us to another “spoof” page that looks like the Facebook login only at a different URL(web address) we then foolishly put our password into the box, the spoofed page redirects us back to Facebook and we never got to see the woman getting banged by the tiger either… What’s just happened is our details have been phished, we’re now part of the botnet army posting rubbish to Facebook groups to trick more unwitting people.

Watch what you post – when you write something on social media it’s the same as writing on paper, you are liable for what you type. Don’t argue, don’t make veiled threats and think before you speak. I’ve long thought the only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked. Well here’s the exception to the rule, If you have a .22 on an FAC don’t ask if it’s OK to shoot Roe Deer with it. As well as anti hunters, Licencing staff trawl Facebook shooting groups too. They’re hunters also for the most part. If they see your from their patch you may get a visit. Google everything first before posting, it might just stop you from looking stupid. Oh and JOIN BASC! they have a hotline and they will answer any questions for you. That’s not to say don’t post in groups, but groups are for opinion, which wellies, which decoys, where is good for a driven day, etc.

So my final piece of advice – if I haven’t scared you off the internet yet, check your passwords out are they all the same? Yes, well they shouldn’t be change them. remember when we got phished for clicking the tiger video, they had our password and email combination which they can use to hack all our accounts. Here’s a tip for passwords;-

Capitals, special characters and numbers but memorable enough to remember but different enough that the bots cant use it on every site. Choose a secure password and change the ending dependant on what you’re signing into. e.g.

Password£1234fa – Facebook
Password£1234ho – hotmail

I hope this has been useful, and coherent. I quickly rewrote this whilst in a rush so I haven’t even spell checked, I’m sure you’ll let me know in the comments. If you really want to learn more about the saudid underbelly of the internet google future crime by Marc Goodman, it’s on audible too.

Advice from the Police, NCA and BASC

Vegetarians…

An odd title in a shooting blog but veggies can be shooters too. Most likely clay shooters or target shooters but nether the less they are part of the shooting community.

Now I’m writing this one as more of an extended Facebook post type scenario. Usually I tend to write how too guides but bare with me. I’m no columnist.

Let’s start by pointing out this is not a veggie bashing blog post. If that’s how you choose to fuel your body, crack on and you know what, fair play. If you can get through life without eating an animal and your happy then good on you. Now me, I like bacon too much. But I digress….

Back to the point… Essentially, I came across a veggie the other day at work after mentioning something about rabbit shooting. Another colleague quickly shushed me pointing out the colleague sat at the other end of the table was a veggie. (Doesn’t it annoy you when people take offence on someone else’s behalf. Let them have their own outrage and pipe down.) So before I could start my usual spiel about “I eat free range organic meat that’s higher welfare than a cow in India.” Said Veggie piped up. I thought here we go HR’s coming… But no, I got one of the most reasonable vegetarians I have ever had the pleasure of speaking too. They were completely on side. She quickly shot my other colleague down, explaining she used to be a meat eater but decided if she couldn’t kill it, prepare it and cook it herself that she wouldn’t bother. She then proceeded to explain my own argument to everyone there. My Argument being an animal that’s wild, hasn’t been stuffed full of antibiotics, force fed and crammed in a cage it’s entire life is a much more ethical choice of food stuff than the range of Ginsters pasties and caged egg sarnies about the lunch table.

So next time you come across a veggie give them a chance, and if you come across those militant ones (usually with a series of piercings across their face looking like they got cought up in your tackle box) take a breath and explain the alternative and that they should probably start with the Tesco caged egg eaters before the person with the courage and knowledge to prepare free range, organic food for their families. So like I always try to point out be an ambassador and show off the shooting community in a good light.

Getting Permission to shoot over land

There is no exact formula for gaining permission to shoot over land. But the golden rule is to remember, essentially you are going up to a stranger and saying can I play with loaded guns on your land. Remember that and act accordingly, here’s some tips;-

What are you actually asking for?

You need to know what you are asking for, simply asking for permission to shoot is very ominous and will likely result in a quick firm no. Think about what you want to do. If you are looking to shoot clays somewhere as you’re sick of the prices at the local shooting ground think about where exactly you may do this. Remember a farmer doesn’t want his fields trampled when you go to pick up the clays you have missed. How are you going to throw the clays? You will need a trap manual or automatic, think about offering to store it on the farm or if possible out in the field (if secure, ish) and offer the land owner the use of the trap and leave a few boxes of clays with the trap for him/her to use.

If your asking to shoot pigeons which is a common pastime offer this as free pest control, wood pigeon is a major agricultural pest if the farmer has rape crops or peas then he will likely want them to be thinned out. Think about offering to share the bag if this is something he/she likes to eat.

Game shooting, it’s very unlikely a land owner will give up his game for free. If this is what you are after then you may have to pay. This is assuming there isn’t already a shoot on the land. If there is a shoot on the land and you want to shoot game you will have to foot the bill of joining the syndicate if a position is open. If there is a game shoot this doesn’t necessarily mean no, ask to shoot pigeons and crows as pest control. Crows especially are a major pest for nesting game birds. You may come accross a very generous land owner who allows you to shoot game but the likelihood is you’re going to have to start on pests first. I have permission to shoot game in a few areas free of charge but this is because my primary effort is the pest control, the odd pheasant, duck or goose is a thanks from the farmer.

You know what you want to shoot. How are you going to shoot it?

In all cases know your ammunition and make sure the land owner knows you know. Let’s assume you’re shooting shotgun. What type of cartridge do you need? Fibre wad is always going to be the one, a farmer doesn’t want a field full of plastic. How far will your shot go 300m is the exclusion zone you’re looking for (this is just a rule of thumb.) Remember Safety Safety Safety. Show the land owner you understand your craft.

And remember you hate litter, you pick up 100% of cartridges and you make a point of picking up any others you find.

When are you wanting to shoot?

Let the land owner know when you plan to be out, let them know that you will text him/her every time you go out. Also let them know you will be calling 101 to inform the local police force when you are out. The land owner doesn’t want the police tipping up on reports of gun fire.

Where can you shoot?

Make sure you know where you can shoot. We’re still in our initial conversation with the land owner so tell them if they give you permission you will come back with a map to be clearly marked. (Try google maps they have satellite images you can print off and this shows field boundaries.) Also get written permission. You do not need written permission by law but it’s much better if you get it. The land owner may be a farmer with employees that don’t know you, written permission and a marked map will quickly end any uncomfortable conversations when handling a firearm. It’s also good to display this in any vehicles, it will put peoples minds at rest. Let the land owner know this. Written Permission can be in any form but I suggest the BASC form you can download the PDF here. Ensure the land owner knows you are aware of any public rights of way and think about highlighting them on the map.

Dress nice

Dress respectably, I’m not talking suit and tie but dress appropriately. (No trackies and trainers. And if you drive a Corsa with a K&N air filter and stainless exhaust get a lift.)

Who are you talking too?

If you’re tipping up at someones door, ask them if they are the land owner if you don’t know. Remember who you are talking too, it’s Sir or Mam, if you know the family name you can also use Mr or Mrs/Miss. If they introduce themselves by first name try using sir anyway, most people will say “please jut call me Jeff.” It shows respect and gets you on a good footing.

References

Have you got any other perms? ask them if its OK to share their number for a reference. If your reading this you may just be starting out so think who you know that may offer a reference. References are best coming from a pillar of the local community, if you are local try the post master, pub landlord etc.

Also get a business card or if you have a work one then use that.

Insurance

If you don’t have it, GET IT! You need public liability insurance and you need to make sure the land owner knows this there are many products I use BASC. As of the last time I checked this was the most comprehensive, you get a nice magazine every few months too as well as other membership benefits.

What if they say no?

More often than not the answer will be no, remember you are asking a lot of a person. They may already have some people shooting for them. It will be annoying, but don’t let this show. Say it’s OK you understand that you are asking a lot of them. Leave a business card (if a work one mark it up with what your asking for) tell them if they change their mind then you would be happy to come back.

First Impressions are everything

As most people will make up their mind about someone in the first few seconds it’s worth thinking about what you’re going to say, your reading this so it’s likely you have given this some thought. When driving over just run it through in your mind what you might say. I’m not talking full word for word script just enough so you’re happy. People will pick up quickly on those who have thought things through and this will come accross in your favor.

CHECKLIST – make sure the land owner knows  

  • you’re only using fibre wad cartridges
  • you’re only shooting where and when it is safe to do so
  • you always carry a written permission slip and shotgun/firearm certificate 
  • you always carry a marked map
  • you are insured
  • You are happy to give references 

And….

  • dress appropriately (and no chav cars)
  • don’t forget a business card or contact information sheet.
  • first Impressions are everything
  • address them as Sir or Maam until told differently