Here is a sad tale of events which took place last week. We all have our own views about foxes and we all have our own views about shooting of pheasants - some for and some against. I can only report what happened - and I feel totally impartial about it, although sad. I don't agree with fox hunting, and I don't agree with shooting, but our little group of local farmers do have a bit of a syndicate, shooting on our own fields through the pheasant-shooting season. The farmer doesn't shoot but he does enjoy walking round with the beaters and we both enjoy the social occasions when the season is over. Because of the syndicate, they buy around 250 pheasant 'poults' and keep them in a pen in one of our neighbour's fields.
Here begins the story. One of our farmer neighbours has a small caravan park on his land and over the last few weeks it has been full (5 maximum caravans). The people staying there have been absolutely delighted by the sight of a vixen playing with her two young cubs. I have to agree that it is a sight which I would also love to see. Then one night last week the vixen earned a black mark from the watchers when she turned up home with the day's food - two black hens.
Where they came from nobody seems to know, but obviously from some hen coop not too far away.
The next night saw a very different and much more dramatic story, when the two cubs got into the pheasant pen intent on having some fun. Of course, the more they dashed about and jumped in the air, the more the pheasant chicks panicked and by the time the cubs had finished, eighty of the chicks were dead. (noneof them eaten).
We have a patient young man willing to sit and wait for them to come back. He sat, he waited, they came back the next night. Sufficient to say that he despatched them both quickly and cleanly. I suppose all we can say is that shooting, if it is cleanly and accurately done, is more humane than the hunting with dogs, which is what would have happened once the fox-hunting season arrives. But there are no winners here, only losers - and sadness all round.