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s I write there are loud intermittent bangs from the farm land behind our home. It is


―the shooters‖ at play. This happens every year. As summer fades the shooters arrive, early, before 7am, on Wednesday and Saturday mornings from September to December. They shoot for about two hours at rabbits,


geese, an occasional pheasant perhaps, or a fox – anything that stirs, flies across the fields or creeps along the hedges. This has been going on for many years. It is


quite legal. The farmland is let to a shooting club by the tenant farmer. It used to be much more obtrusive than it is now and on a few occasions the shooting got quite out of hand. At one stage shooting took place most days of


the week, starting about 5am, shooting over part of our garden and disturbing many local families. It was like living next to a battlefield. Dead or injured geese fell into the traffic on Denham Way and into the primary school grounds. But the worst part was the impact on the nature reserve next door. This had been built up by devoted volunteers, with support from Thames Water.


Hides had been constructed and time and energy put into providing a safe, attractive environment for wildlife. A few rogue shooters found there was more


exciting prey in the wildlife area than in their open field so they fired over the boundary hedge, then trespassed through the hedge to retrieve their ―bag‖. This infuriated the wildlifers, who started to hide behind the hedge and when the shooters approached leapt up banging frying pans and saucepans. This became so fraught that we feared


someone would get hurt. At that stage the shooters dressed in camouflaged clothing and sometimes brought young children with them. Eventually we managed to organise and


eventually a satisfactory arrangement was reached with the co-operation (some very reluctantly) of those involved. Shooting now takes place twice a week, between 7am and 9am. A no-go area for shooters was agreed keeping


them away from homes and the wildlife area. This agreement has been respected most of the time since then. What I wonder is the attraction of going out


very early to shoot local wildlife. Why not just join a shooting range where such skills can be honed without disturbing the neighbourhood? Perhaps it lacks the same level of excitement. Can it be something to do with the ancient ingrained urge of the hunter-gatherer to kill animals to satisfy the need for food? But, the wildlife available isn‘t very edible unless you are really desperate.


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