Jeremy Clarkson stands up for game shooting in The Times

A group of shooters and beaters walking away from the camera on a game shooting day

As Clarkson rightly states, the campaign to ban shooting is a class war, and absolutely nothing to do with the welfare of grouse, pheasant, or any other kind of bird - Credit: Emily Damment

Rural hero Jeremy Clarkson stands up and defends shooting in an article in The Times, stating that opposition to shooting is nothing more than class war...

The problem with the shooting community is that its not very media savvy, and it doesn't have many high-profile supporters.

Come to think of it, when I write "the problem with the shooting community", what I actually mean is "the shooting community's problem", since of course there would be no need for media savvy-ness or high profile supporters if we weren't being publicly and relentlessly attacked from all angles. 

Sadly, though, we are, and the fact of the matter is that we are very bad at defending ourselves in the mainstream media. Short of placing adverts like BASC did at the start of the grouse season, we don't really have a foot in the door of the media giants, and sadly their editorial standards seem to be sorely lacking. The vast majority of mainstream press coverage of shooting is biased, and clearly not fact-checked. In fact, much of it seems to have been copied and pasted directly from Wild Justice press releases.

For all Chris Packham and Ricky Gervais's heart-rending declarations that "animals don't have a voice", we would tend to disagree - particularly when it comes to grouse, pheasants and partridge, they actually have several rather loud and and irritating voices spouting complete twoddle on their behalf.

So, it's a big deal - a huge deal - when someone with a voice stands up and defends our sport and way of life in the mainstream media. And that is exactly what Jeremy Clarkson did recently in his article for The Times

Clarkson is fast becoming somewhat of a hero for the rural community. A comment on Facebook recently summed it up perfectly I think - "Clarkson has done more for British farming in one season than Countryfile has in 32 years".

His article in The Times is characteristically jovial and light-hearted, while directly holding to account those opposed to fieldsports for their own undeniable hypocrisy. Tackling the issue head on, he gains points in my opinion for immediately relating it to food production, which of course it is. If people working at a slaughterhouse are allowed to smile at each other and make jokes, then why not people shooting game? 

He writes: "If you are a carnivore, you will accept that an animal should be dead before you break out the knife and fork. Which means someone had to kill it. So what are you saying? That the person charged with this task must be unhappy about it?"

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More brownie points come for pointing out the very obvious comparison to a much more popular meat - chicken. Clarkson writes: "... it's not food that was reared in a shed, in artificial light, up to its knees in its own faeces like the chicken you're having fro lunch today. A pheasant can fly away at any time, but it chooses to hang around because it's fed and watered and given a home. It has a genuinely happy life."

He goes into detail about the skill required to shoot a pheasant, detailing the fact that it is a sackable offence to shoot one that's not flying high enough, and also covers the fact that in order to keep pheasants, gamekeepers look after woodland and surrounding areas which benefits game, wild birds and insects alike. 

Going in for the kill, he moves on to predications about what would happen if shooting was to be banned: "I get that Chris Packham wants pheasant shooting banned but I think he's wrong. I think that if there was no shooting, landowners would be less bothered about looking after their land. I think a great many countrymen who earn a living on shoots would lose their jobs.
"I think woods would be bulldozed to make was for something profitable, and I think that we'd not only have less choice of what to eat, but also that what we were offered would somehow be less wholesome."

Rounding off the article, he states exactly the issue that the mainstream press tends to shy away from - the class war. 

Clarkson writes: "So, sure, campaign to end shooting by all means, but know this. What you're actually doing is waging a class war. You're not trying to make a pheasant's life better, because it's already very good and frankly you don't really care either way."

The full article makes for wonderful reading, and we would strongly encourage you to sign up for The Times subscription, which is not expensive and goes a long way to supporting good, unbiased journalism... which, let's face it, there's not nearly enough of these days.