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Richard Gurney: Stand up and be counted *H&H Plus*

Opinion

  • H&H’s hunting columnist calls for celebration not ridicule of the hunting community

    Let’s get one thing straight from the outset. I am fully aware that millions of people are suffering globally throughout this wretched period. But Horse & Hound asks me to write about the hunting community, and not for the first time am I becoming increasingly angry at the way that community is being portrayed by some sections of the media in this country.

    The Government’s decision to exempt trail-hunting and shooting – along with many other outdoor sports – from the “rule of six” led to the inevitable onslaught from certain parts of the press. They couldn’t believe their luck: “Toffs can go out on Boxing Day, but you can’t have your family round on Christmas Day.”

    I have mentioned many times in this magazine that hunting has suffered from an image and perception problem concerning who actually takes part in it and who benefits from it financially. It is about rural communities, but much more importantly it’s about the rural economy. Surely the decision should be celebrated, not ridiculed.

    Just think of those who earn their living from the numerous jobs that hunting and shooting provide; the strands of the rural economy that these two pull together are not insignificant, especially at a time when people are losing their jobs or have been furloughed. Not just for those who work directly in field sports, but also vets, farriers, tack shops, feed merchants, bed and breakfasts, pubs, gun-makers, butchers – the list goes on and on.

    Everyone has lost a part of “normal” life to this pandemic and rural communities are no different. For example, the loss of agricultural and puppy shows has taken its toll on the rural economy and those who enjoy and support them; children who compete at the country shows and adults who look forward to them and spend their hard-earned cash at the many tradestands, arts and crafts shops and, of course, the bar.

    Show your pride

    Those of us involved in shooting and trail-hunting must stand up and be counted. We should be proud of what we bring to the fabric of our society and its economy and not let bigotry and prejudice win the day. I still firmly believe the majority of British people don’t care much for hunting and shooting, but they care much less for those who seek to destroy it at every turn, waging a vicious and unjust war against them.

    Have faith in the people of this country, because they see through the politics of envy and spite and they see through the “journalism” of certain newspapers and other media outlets. They have agendas that are clear to us all, but even during a global pandemic, they continue to attempt to sabotage the lives of people they don’t understand or who hold views with which they do not agree.

    All those involved with shooting and hunting should observe at all times the Covid guidelines laid down by the British Association of Shooting and Conservation and the Hunting Office. As for social distancing while on a horse,

    I’ve had plenty over the years where it was impossible to do anything else!

    Ref Horse & Hound; 1 October 2020