I’ve been shooting geese and observing their behaviour and yearly cycles for 50 years, and I feel this gives me the right to express my opinion about wildfowling and what it brings to Aberdeenshire and Scotland.
For years goose guides in the North East of Scotland and probably all across Scotland, have been targetted as many unsavoury things. Things like
- doing it for their own personal gain & greed
- no respect for their quarry
- cowboy operators
- shooting large bags
- accused of dumping carcasses of geese around the countryside
this list could go on and on.
I’ve been thinking about these accusations and what critics say and here are my thoughts and some things for people to think about.
Am I the only one who gains financially? What about the farmer who I pay each day for using his land? Where do the visitors stay? I book hundreds of nights of accommodation in local hotels, guest houses and B&Bs during the four-month season. My visitors don’t just come to shoot and stalk, they visit distilleries, shops, bars, restaurants, castles and numerous other tourist venues across the area bringing in thousands of pounds in revenue to the local economy over the season.
Respect for their quarry, who is the biggest offender? Is it me with my team of guns who are shooting over decoys which are set up within range or is it the lone gun hiding behind a bale on a windless day with his belching Bertha which in his opinion can shoot geese at three times the effective range and he is usually sitting there until 4 O’clock in the afternoon.
Which of us has the least respect?
Cowboy operators and dumping carcasses
Who is responsible for the alleged dumping of carcasses? Is it the guides who are processing their birds each day and having the waste products collected by the offal companies or is it the visiting guns who shoot large bags and then find they have no room for them in their vehicles? I process all my birds each day, and I donate carcasses to a local bird of prey rescue centre each week.
Lastly the thorny subject of large bags. In the current era of hype and social media there are regular posts from people, who have been out shooting and showing their bags, let’s call our shooter ‘Bill’. Bill goes out and shoots 19 geese and posts pictures on Social media, all Bills friends like this post and are leaving comments like “great shooting Bill!”
Now I go out with seven guns and between them they shoot 95 geese, what is the difference between my team of guns who have shot maybe 13 or 14 geese each and Bill with his 19? The difference is that we are branded an embarrassment to our sport and disgusting. Do we go out and shoot 95 every day? No absolutely not, my seasonal average over the last 20 years varies between 46 & 49 geese per flight, or 8 geese per gun. Is this overly excessive, no, most of you probably won’t be old enough to remember over 20 years ago when the count over the Loch at Strathbeg was around 32,000, now go and look at the figures for 2017 there are over 120,000 geese come to this corner of Aberdeenshire alone, so are the geese over exploited?
No absolutely not!
Good sport everybody