Though most British hunters feel that Africa, Europe etc are exotic locations for their sport, few perhaps know that the UK is in fact a highly desirable location for shooters from around the world.
Our game birds cover most species including that Holly Grail of flying quarry the grouse, possibly one of the most demanding creatures to shoot with a shotgun. Likewise Scottish Red Stags are highly sought after, and the pinnacle of many a trophy hunter’s career.
On any decent Scottish estate going down to breakfast is like the League of Nations as to the many nationalities getting ready for a day of quintessentially British shooting!
Tip of the iceberg
These two examples are just the tip of the iceberg, OK they are high profile species, raised to generate revenue from their pursuit and both are mainly seen as rich men’s quarry. As they are what could be termed as a total package and experiences; the big trip to the UK, staying in the Highlands in a top hotel with all the comforts. Then traditional stalking with a Highland Ghillie, or getting on the tweeds and standing in the grouse butt double shotgun and Labrador or Spaniel waiting to retrieve the birds. Then afterwards maybe sampling a bit of our culture; in fact the whole nine yards!
Others come simply for the exotic; for example a farm I shoot over near Stratford upon Avon (Shakespeare country) has Fallow deer, and amongst this heard are the black (melonistic variety). These are truly magnificent beasts and I met a Danish business man who comes yearly and tracks the animal he wants then stalks it on the last day. When I met him back in 2003 he was happily paying £5,000 for the pleasure. Plus he takes his wife and daughter who do not hunt but spend the week doing the tourist thing; win, win!
Muntjac are also one of our most sought after deer’s. About the size of a medium dog this unique animal offer a challenging hunting experience. On the land I hunt in Suffolk the keeper has many Europeans coming over to try their hand at these cunning little creatures.
So let’s consider some facts and figures. Shooters spend £2.5 billion per annum on goods and services and the sport is worth £2 billion to the UK economy; that’s a chunk of money! It also supports around 75,000 regular jobs, which will include game keepers, gunsmiths, gun shops, taxidermists, hotels and restaurants etc, plus the part timers like beaters.
Nearly two million hectares are managed for conservation as a result of the industry. Equally £250 million a year is spent on conservation At least 600,000 people in the UK shoot game, clay pigeon and target shooting is massively popular too. Let’s not forget airguns as it’s estimated that there are 1.5 million airgun hunters out there taking live quarry.
In a country with very strict firearms laws and a majority, non-shooting populace who either don’t approve of guns and hunting, or are not even aware that we Brits can own firearms and shotguns it’s plain to see that shooting of all types and its associated industries is a serious business!