Field sports

If you’re interested in the land, you’re going to come across field sports. Some of which are also known as blood sports.

Today I’m wondering about points of view among the people who read my blog here. I’ve had an old slogan thrown at me on WordPress about the meat industry; will the same thing happen about field sports? Perhaps I should lay my cards on the table.

The meat industry is one of which I’m proud to be part. The field sports industry doesn’t happen to appeal to me, personally, but some of my collaborators at work do kill animals for fun. I’ve academic papers in preparation for which the samples were collected by people who enjoyed rough shooting. I’ve been out at dusk picking up freshly shot rabbits while they were still kicking.

Here in Britain, field sports remain popular. The Countryside Alliance promotes hunting, shooting and fishing. So does the Fieldsports Channel. At agricultural shows, and at game fairs, you can find the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Game Conservancy Trust and the Game Farmers’ Association.

Me, I like the tweed and the waxed jackets 🙂 I like some kinds of game on my plate, but now that I’ve seen what wriggles in a wild rabbit I’m not enamoured with that particular meat any more. Tell you what, though. I once spent a day in a game butcher’s workshop, breathing the smell of blood, and I went home hungry for meat.

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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15 Responses to Field sports

  1. pcawdron says:

    It’s a tough one… I loved hunting as a young teenager, but haven’t been out hunting in a couple of decades. Cruelty is never to be condoned, but hunting need not be cruel.

    It’s only in the last hundred years we’ve gravitated away from catching and killing our own meat. We’ve become a bit squeamish, thinking chicken comes shrink-wrapped 🙂

    • argylesock says:

      What, you mean it doesn’t? 😉

      It’s true that many people in the rich world hunt, and enjoy it. It’s true also that many people’s families killed and ate wild animals within recent history. I agree that it doesn’t have to be cruel although it certainly can be done cruelly.

      Why did you stop hunting?

      • pcawdron says:

        I would go hunting with my step father in New Zealand as a teenager. When I moved away from New Zealand to the US, then Scotland and finally Australia, I lost touch with that side of my upbringing. These days, I prefer hunting for bargins at the mall and catching fish at the supermarket 🙂

  2. I used to love fishing for Smelt in Cayuga Lake, NY, USA. But once I saw the heads of all those wiggley things trying to get out of the meat – – – well – – – let me just say that I have not been Smelting in over 45 years.

    • argylesock says:

      Do you still eat fish?

      Thanks for your comment. It’s good to feel at least partly safe in writing about the science I do. Everybody is entitled to an opinion. But I prefer not to be pushed towards ‘admitting to’ some kind of shame that I don’t feel.

      • I do eat fish. Blue fish if it is in a Greek restaurant otherwise Blue fish (or is it Bluefish?) is too strong. I used to catch them off shore on Cape Hatteras but never learned how to properly cook them.
        I do eat trout when on streamside. But I boil them pretty good in the oil. They don’t get all dried out and tasteless when eaten right out of the stream.
        I missed you point on “admitting to” some kind of shame. Did I say something?

        • argylesock says:

          I’m sorry, no you didn’t say anything rude at all. I wasn’t being clear.

          The thing is that some people who think I shouldn’t eat meat, shouldn’t do science on samples from animals killed for me, shouldn’t get on well with people who shoot and hunt and fish, do get rude. As if I had a guilty conscience or something. But I don’t tell people what to eat or not eat. I don’t tell people what to do or not do, within the law. It’s irritating, I find, when the same courtesey isn’t done to me.

          It’s made me doubt whether I should mention meat farming or field sports on this blog of mine. Hence today’s post. You and pcawdron have made encouraging responses. Thank you.

  3. Of course you should mention meat farming and field sports 🙂 The problem with discussing these issues, along with some of the other issues you mentioned is that people are very emotive on these topics, on both sides,

    Whilst I have my own personal opinions on these issues, and of course will try to find information to back up my side of a discussion (confirmation bias ftw!), I am aware that the issue is rarely as black and white as is portrayed.

    Re: Hunting, I am not a fan of much of it, but that is due to my opinion that it is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel sometimes, with beaters, and dogs. I have eaten rabbit, duck and pheasant which were caught on hunts, and it definitely tastes better than the supermarket version!

    Out of choice, I am not a fan of hunting, although I know people who are, and I prefer vegetarian dishes if there is a choice available. My partner is an avowed carnivore, who insists bacon is either a vegetable,or a spice…so we have some interesting discussions over the nutritional need to eat meat.

    I have concerns regarding modern intensive farming, both for meat and agriculture, and the amount of resources used for cattle-farming especially. Ultimately, I am unlikely to be persuaded from my personal stance on meat, because I do not like the taste of much of it, and prefer the texture and flavours of vegetarian dishes. I believe there are strong environmental reasons (Especially in the US and South America) for reducing the intake of meat, and I am concerned about the quantities of grain and water being diverted to feeding cattle. I also think the way that meat has been getting ever cheaper recently is not an indication of improving technology, but rather an indicator of declining nutrition and animal welfare. I do not think all livestock farmers behave in a cruel way to their livestock, but there are definitely some who do.

    I think there needs to be an open discussion, where both sides feel able to state their opinions, politely, and with respect for others viewpoints.

    • argylesock says:

      Thank you for being so supportive. I kind of need that, sometimes. Writing this popsci blog is great fun and it’s good to know that at least some people want to read me.

      I agree about black/white arguments. We’re doing science, not thumping the furniture.

    • argylesock says:

      PS You have a good point about resources being used for cattle farming. The idea that ‘we all’ eat too much meat – bad for our bodies, bad for our world – might come mostly from the Americas, I think. Maybe I’ll blog about that idea if I get around to researching it.

  4. I’m against the killing of animals for food or fun in this country. I find the more visible blood sports more obviously distasteful since they are so public and celebratory but I think the factory farming of animals is probably a bigger problem.

    • argylesock says:

      It probably is, yes. The mistreatment of pets is another problem. I get quite frustrated whenever the foxhunting debate is resurrected because I think it’s a smokescreen for more difficult questions.

      Thank you for reading my blog and responding politely. Now you mention it, I should blog about factory farming shouldn’t I?

      • Re: factory farming: For humans rather than the farmed animals, I worry about the use of last-line-of-defence antibiotics on animals to increase yield, it seems very dangerous to me to risk more antibiotic resistant diseases. I wonder what your more informed opinion might be.

        • argylesock says:

          Yes I think it’s downright dangerous. Likewise the casual use of antibacterial cleaning products in homes and public places as well as on farms. There have been some changes in legislation… this is another good idea for a blog post so thanks for suggesting it.

  5. Pingback: Wild food | Science on the Land

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