Hunting fieldcraft

Hunting fieldcraft

Every outing with the rifle contains both a lesson and a reward. The rifle is just part of the hunter’s wider toolkit; Binoculars, Nature Cameras and a fungi guide provide a way to deepen the experience and to ensure that you never return home empty handed, Charlie Portlock explains.

As the last of the apples and chestnuts fall from the trees we can feel a hint of winter. Ground frost and bright, fresh mornings herald the slowly changing season and as the leaf litter grows underfoot, it is a great time to be out in the field.

There’s plenty of adrenaline to be found in creeping to within 50 yards of one of Britain’s largest mammals.

It’s been exciting to wake and step outside to hear the belching call of fallow bucks echoing in the pre-dawn. I have stalked this sound deep into the woods to their rutting stands and secluded sanctuaries armed only with a pair of cast antlers (for rattling to attract male deer), a Nature Camera and my best impression of a rutting buck.

There’s plenty of adrenaline to be found in creeping to within 50 yards of one of Britain’s largest mammals and spending an hour just sitting and watching the rut unobserved is a thrilling experience.


Nature Cameras

The Nature Camera that I’ve set up at key points have yielded some great footage of deer activity and have helped me to begin to understand the social structure of the herd

...great way to encourage children to engage with the natural world.

After leaving a Nature Camera up for a month, it’s exciting to see what will have been captured. These traps are useful tools for observing all of our native wildlife and they’re great way to encourage children to engage with the natural world. Playing back the unseen footage feels a bit like unwrapping presents at Christmas.

  • Hawke Nature Camera

    NATURE CAMERAS

    14MP | 1080P | Waterproof

    Infrared LEDs to capture images and videos at night. Display screen to edit settings and review images in the field. Wide angle PIR sensor (motion detector). Robust and compact design - Weatherproof.

    Find Out More

Wild food

Squirrels are now increasingly active at all times of day as they gather and cache food for the winter. The grey spends over 60% of its year on the ground and the coming months are peak season for the air gunner as they have no dependant young. If, like me, you’re looking to add some squirrel meat to the pot, there’s something special about those bright cool mornings spent alone with the rifle. Squirrel and boar burgers work well and the freezer is filling.

There’s something special about those bright cool mornings spent alone with the rifle.

Although the changeable weather and early frost has been unkind to them, mushrooms are still abundant. There are over 22,000 species in the UK alone and some of them are delicious. However, be very aware that even though several animals will nibble them, many species are poisonous to humans and some are deadly (the Death Cap will kill you in five days and there’s no antidote). Make sure that you’re 100% certain in your ID before eating and definitely purchase a good field guide. If in doubt at all discard.


More than the shot

Hunting is often portrayed as being solely about shooting, but most shooting people realise that it’s also about learning and about re-connecting to the natural world. There are many rewards to holding a rifle and the shooting is just one. Conservation, stewardship and wildlife management are all important elements of what we do.

The shot itself is taken in a matter of seconds but it can take hours to compose. It’s a journey. Let’s remember that and let’s share it.

Shooting folk are the guardians of a rare store of knowledge. How many modern people know a deer couch or a hare scrape when they see one? How many can tell the rook from the crow by call alone and, how many people know exactly where their food comes from? The shot itself is taken in a matter of seconds but it can take hours to compose. It’s a journey. Let’s remember that and let’s share it.

Find out more about how to use harvested wild meat from our friends at Talking Game with the best squirrel risotto recipe  our follow our loin of venison recipe here 

Click here for more top tips from Charlie Portlock or read more airgun articles here.

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