Monday, October 18, 2010


Pheasant season has just began. Did you know pheasants are bred expressly for hunting? Apparently I should have known, having read Roald Dahl's Danny, the Champion of the World (and seen the film) and lived in the country for three years. Well, I know now. It seems a trivial and tragic existence for a pheasant, a handsome yet stupid bird. At least other animals are bred for food, which seems more essential than hunting (though if the pheasants are eaten afterwards, I guess it's okay. In fact they probably get more freedom to roam than most other animals).

We were driving through the country and noticed a line of men waving large coloured flags. Scarecrows? Crazy country folk? I wondered. No, my boon companion corrected me, they are pheasant 'beaters'; men (occasionally women) who drive the birds into the line of fire for the shooters. Sounds like cheating to me. Beating is apparently the new shooting, with one such beater quoted in the Daily Telegraph (never!) as saying he prefers the excitement of beating to shooting. You get a radio and everything.

To me it seems a pretty easy job but apparently there's quite a craft to it. And now an organisation with a website: the National Organisation of Beaters and Pickers Up (otherwise known as NOB; I kid you not... there's a very immature pun to be made about beating and NOBs but I'm not going to go there).

1 comment :

Pearce said...

I've always thought that hunting involves going and finding something. You don't say "I hunted for my keys" if what you mean is "Someone threw my keys in the air in front of me."

If shooting pheasants is "hunting" then skeet shooting is hunting.