Shooting On Islay
I visited the Isle of Islay earlier this week for some walked up shooting, in which two guns are accompanied by two gamekeepers and their dogs for two day of rough-shooting. This is my favourite form of shooting, as one never knows what, if anything, is going to happen, and one has to be one one’s mettle all the time. Added to which the going is so rough, and the temptation to lose concentration so profound, that it becomes a real challenge to take home a bag. In the event my friend and I had a splendid time, particularly on the Monday, when the weather was astonishingly good for the time of year. We finished with a mixed bag of 30 - mostly woodcock - a game bird that the French have written more than 90 books about, and which exerts an endless fascination - akin to love - in the roughshooter. On Wednesday the outstanding chef at the Bridgend Hotel made us ‘woodcock à l’ancienne (i.e. with the guts in and the head intact) - a wonderful treat.
Shooting is an odd and complex undertaking. My own feeling is that it satisfies a deep craving in its aficionados to not succumb to the modern malady of assuming that everything one eats should be handed to one on the proverbial plate. I would far rather go out in all weathers and shoot what I wish to eat, instead of relying on some faceless person to kill the animal for me in an artificial, and therefore unconducive, environment. The same applies to fishing. What better way to ‘connect’ with oneself, one’s companions, and one’s prey, than to follow nature’s way, and hunt it oneself. I have no time whatsoever for the arguments put forward by apologists for penned livestock and farmed foodstuffs. They are missing the plot. Which is that the actual act of killing and eating is only the culmination to a far more profound undertaking, which incorporates the noumenal within its elemental unravelling. It will be to mankind’s profound loss when so-called civilization distances us finally and completely from nature via the enforced mechanization required to service the army of citizens who prefer to be drip-fed rather than to confront the elements - people who turn their backs in horror from the natural and necessary realities of life and death, and who strive to perpetuate such ignorance in others out of a misguided belief in the righteousness of their own arguments.