THE shooting season is upon us.

I hate it. It has changed mightily and not for the better.

Beating, in my youth, was something to be enjoyed.

Not of course the beating of any human or creature but the beating of the undergrowth, kale field or woodlands to disturb pheasants causing them to fly over waiting ‘guns’.

A gun would be a waiting human armed with a shotgun.

They would fire at the driven pheasants, often missing because the wild Cotswold pheasant seemed to have a native cunning and would fly high wide and handsome.

If shooting is a sport this was it.

A days beating would result in some welcome pocket money, and often a brace of pheasants.

Two Saturday cinema seats were easily paid for and there was no problem if either Ann or Doreen wanted an ice-cream.

Luxury indeed!

Now it is all so different.

There are large Cotswold shoots where the day’s number of birds shot can approach four figures.

These are not wild Cotswold pheasants, they are hand reared and released into the woods in September.

Devoid of native cunning, they fly low over the waiting guns and are blasted out of the sky crashing to the ground full of lead shot.

There is money in this.

City men, stockbrokers and industrialists pay big money for a day’s shooting and estate owners are well aware of this.

They provide the pheasants, the cash pours in and the half tame birds are sacrificed.

Some of them do not even make it into the air.

You see them ‘flat packed’ on our Cotswold roads.

I grew up with a sport, now I live with slaughter.

Happily there are still some small shoots that are not tainted by shooting tame pheasants.

The landowner will invite his friends for the day and a splendid social occasion will result.

Some readers may abhor shooting in any form.

This is understandable but please directs your ire at the large syndicates.

There should be no place for them in the Cotswolds.

The indiscriminate killing of so many hand reared birds gives country sports a bad name.