Fieldsports April/May 2018
Issue 1802

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Have you ever sat by a fire at the end of the day and wondered what it might have been like to grow up 100 years ago? Fewer people, fewer cars, wild game galore, no internet, no mobile phones, no social media… 

Growing up, many of us will have studied bird books, searched for prints in bare earth, hatched frogspawn, got filthy, stayed out until it was dark – the countryside was our playground. Today's world is different. Did you know that the words ‘blackberry’, ‘bluebell’, ‘cygnet’ and ‘kingfisher’ no longer feature in the Oxford Junior Dictionary? The word ‘broadband’ does, though, along with ‘chatroom’ and ‘blog’.

So many of today’s youth are missing out. Respect, responsibility, appreciation, empathy – there are so many qualities youngsters can glean from being in the field. It really is a classroom like no other, and a captivating one at that. 

But to blame the sorry situation on modern society is too easy. There’s much we can do, and indeed much that many do do to nurture and bring on the next generation of countrymen and women – the future guardians of our sports. It’s so encouraging to see classes of schoolchildren being taken to rural estates, meeting gamekeepers enjoying cookery lessons, skinning rabbits, plucking pigeons and pheasants, gutting trout. To see them begin to understand what happens in rural areas, beyond their day to day lives.

For all this to be worthwhile, however, we must leave our sports and our countryside in a good state of repair for those in the future to enjoy. Just as our woodlands, rivers and moorlands need managing and looking after, so too does the image of our sports – more so now, perhaps, than ever before. Education, fighting our corner, finding common ground and being proactive rather than reactive will all play their part.

Along with reams of game shooting, stalking, fly fishing, food, art and sporting history content, this issue of Fieldsports discusses much of the above in more detail, and celebrates everything that a youngster getting into the sport today might look forward to. We can only hope that the next generation will be able to escape the trappings of modern life like so many of us do, at one with our natural surroundings, our quarry and the way of life we hold so dear.