Game season for pheasant and woodcock

As you know I don’t shoot, hunt or fish. But I’ve no problem with people killing for fun. Whatever you or I may think of the field sports industries, they contribute to conservation in our British countryside. For a while I’ll write about the shooting seasons here in Britain as they come around.

We’re two weeks into the season for pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) and woodcock (Scolopax rusticola).

The pheasant is one of our most familiar birds but it’s not native here. It’s an alien species, introduced 2000 years ago and now farmed for shooting. The woodcock is a migratory species. This is a wild bird, a subject of research by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT). Many woodcock breed and spend winters here.

You might enjoy cooking and eating game. Here are some seasonal recipes for pheasant and woodcock. Feeling hungry now?

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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12 Responses to Game season for pheasant and woodcock

  1. Carol Hague says:

    I understand killing for food (although as a vegetarian myself, I dislike it), but I honestly don’t get what’s “fun” about taking a living breathing fascinating creature and turning it into a corpse for no useful purpose. To me that’s just waste – and possibly cruelty as well, if its not a clean kill.

    If we kill something, I think we should make as much use of what we’ve killed as we possibly can.

    And I can’t help but wonder that if, as a society, we tolerate killing other animals for fun, if it teaches us to place a lower value on human life as well.

    • argylesock says:

      I find it weird to kill for fun. But I find it weird to go skiing or to watch golf, too!

      The current badger cull is misguided, in my opinion, but I don’t mind whether or not the shooters enjoy their work. No, in fact I do mind. I want them to enjoy it so that they’ll do a good job. When I went out with a gamekeeper, lamping for rabbits he made it look as easy as swatting flies. A few did run injured and that annoyed him so he shot extras, more than I really needed.

      Whether shooting is cruel, I’m not sure. Any wounded bird or rabbit is likely to fall prey to a fox or some other predator. Have you seen data on how quickly this happens? I haven’t. Starting this series about game seasons, I notice that I’m quite uncomfortable about some of the species shot, esp deer. And that I certainly disapprove of blood sports in which the point is to torture the animal – dog fighting, bear baiting, cock fighting – I’m glad those are illegal here now.

      I don’t have a clear response to your idea about whether shooting animals causes people to undervalue human life. Again, I wonder whether there’s data addressing this question.

      • Carol Hague says:

        “I find it weird to kill for fun. But I find it weird to go skiing or to watch golf, too!”

        I agree with both those, but neither of them involves ending the life of another creature, so I think they’re in a rather different category.

        “Any wounded bird or rabbit is likely to fall prey to a fox or some other predator.”

        True, but they’ll be in pain and possibly afraid in the meantime, however long that may be. I can’t see how inflicting pain for no purpose can be anything but cruel.

        “I don’t have a clear response to your idea about whether shooting animals causes people to undervalue human life. Again, I wonder whether there’s data addressing this question.”

        I don’t know about hunting specifically but apparently many serial killers start their “careers'” by torturing and killing animals, which is what makes me wonder about it :-

        • argylesock says:

          In four days’ time, the season for stalking female deer in Scotland will begin and I’m gestating a blog post about it. It’ll be open to everybody to read, like the rest of this blog. I’m liking my decision to post here about blood sports. I’ve often felt pressured to be silent on this topic. Blogging about it here is my chance to explore my opinions.

          But if some of my posts aren’t to your liking, I hope you’ll scroll past. You and I have known one another for a good while by now and we don’t need to agree on everything.

          • Carol Hague says:

            It wasn’t that the post wasn’t to my liking – I felt a different viewpoint might be of interest. I meant to offer it in a polite and respectful way and if I failed in that then I apologise unreservedly. If you want to delete my comments here (or if you’d like me to do so for you) I shan’t be offended.

            This is your blog and you should never be made to feel that there are subjects which are taboo for it. As you say, we don’t need to agree on everything but I’d like to be clear that even where we disagree it doesn’t mean that I think you’re a bad person because of it.

            • argylesock says:

              You’re such a good person Carol! Thank you for your kind words. I’ve no desire to delete what you’ve said, in fact I don’t delete what anybody says (I suppose that might change if a troll or spambot targets me, but you’re nothing of that kind.) If you choose to keep reading and commenting here, I’ll be glad.

              It does seem that some of what I want to write about here involves breaking taboo. Without planning it this way, I find myself mostly surrounded by people who live in towns, vote Labour and disapprove of certain things eg meat-eating, blood sports and GM crops. In that sense, I break taboo. Otoh it’s a great relief that some people agree with me. Also, importantly, that I know good people like you who don’t agree with me but who do value good manners.

              Just after reading your comment here, I wanted to write about rabbit shooting. So I researched that and wrote about it late last night. In terms of people reading me, I hope my rabbit-shooting post will pave the way for me to write about deer stalking in a few days’ time. In terms of how I feel, I’d had a difficult day at work so I felt inclined to break the gun taboo. As I left the coffee room at work, to start something that had to be done on time, I mentioned my shooting posts to richardgunton and he said that he’s got supportive news for me about it 🙂

              • Carol Hague says:

                I hate to hurt people’s feelings and if I do it’s usually by accident! I think it’s important to be able to express our opinions but it’s also important to respect other people’s spaces -plus, I’ve yet to see anyone change another person’s mind about anything by being rude to them! 🙂

                My father in law used to shoot rabbits with an airgun because they live in a very rural village and the rabbits would devastate the garden. Or at least he’d try – I understand he didn’t ever hit very many! These days they have four cats (and a fifth one who seems to be angling hard to move in :)) and the garden remains largely unmolested, although they still have a chickenwire fence around the veg patch as a precaution.

  2. EqFe says:

    I would find it interesting if you did a post of Deer hunting. One of the things that interests me is that in the UK I don’t believe that you have wild predators that prey on deer. In my area of the US, call it a 20 mile radius from the center of the nations capital, we are overrun with deer. They outnumber the deer that lived in these parts in 1491 by many multiples, because no only is this area virtually devoid of deer predators, the local population density of humans is too hign for hunting. So young deer run into moving cars (literally I’ve witnessed it) obviouly at night get caught in headlighs and hit, The amount of road kill in the Spring is ridiculouw They also eat gardens and shrubbery, and at times block traffic or takover people decks, backyards etc. It’s amazing how many I see, and I live in a city.

  3. Pingback: Buzzards and pheasants | Science on the Land

  4. Pingback: Wild food | Science on the Land

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