For a while, I worked for a company whose CEO and deputy were shooting men. We got on well together, even though my interest was in the protection and conservation of birds and theirs in the hunting of them. One day, I was walking to a meeting with the deputy CEO and we were deep in conversation (He was probably the best friend I have ever had). We met a member of staff, who stopped in front of us and said:
"I don't understand how you two can get on together. Jake, you conserve birds, and Alf, you shoot them."
Alf replied: "Jake protects songbirds. We only shoot game birds."
To which our interlocutor replied:
"You mean you shoot the poor little buggers just because they can't sing?!"
Today, with my friend and piri, Peter W, I spent a couple of hours with a farmer who, at first, was suspicious of us, and said, defiantly, that he was a shooting man. We went round his farm with him looking for suitable spots to mount Barn Owl boxes. He has a modest spread of 100 acres, but with nestboxes and feeding stations everywhere. Even the cover crops he puts down for gamebirds are winter havens for songbirds - and he knows it, and rejoices in the fact. Once he realised that Peter and I have no problem with wildfowling, we became the good guys. We know that the countryside would be much much poorer without the shooting fraternity.
I once went out with the CEO and deputy referred to above when they were on a shooting quest for partridge. I know I could never shoot a partridge - or any other bird for that matter - but I could see the attraction of their sport. And at least they ate everything they killed. When the barricades go up - just so you know - I would rather be on with the wildfowlers than the anti-hunting lobby, mostly because the latter really know so LITTLE about the reality of rural communities, and the former, on the whole, care a great deal about their environment.