1988 The current owner purchased the cottage and spent the following years, restoring it, extending it and creating a garden.
1998 Ten years later, the owner was informed by the owner of the fields which surrounded the cottage of an intention to create a shoot. Fences were erected and thousands of trees were planted. It took a while for the trees to establish.
Selfishly placed trees blocked the sun’s light and warmth.
1998-2012 The logistics of maintaining the shoot, grew too. Gamekeepers drove backwards and forwards: closely round the cottage.
Pheasants proliferated They were visible from every cottage window.
On shoot days Beaters circled the cottage.
On shoot days Guns stood beside, beneath and above the garden.
On shoot days Pickers-up waited, watched and picked up by boundary fences.
2012 October In 2012, the cottage owner published a website, called Common Decency
The objective was to expose the actions and behaviour of the shoot and to challenge the culture, and the laws (or rather lack of them) that made rural homes vulnerable to shoot mindset and behaviour, and to maybe, hopefully, bring the shooting round the cottage to an end.
Thousands of cards were distributed to market the website. One was given by hand to the landowner.
The shoot continued as previous years.
2013 January By January, as the shoot season drew to a close, Common Decency had succeeded in triggering a variety of responses from different interests.
One of the responses implied influence could be brought to bear to address the dilemma of the shoots proximity to the cottage. Two people from The British Association of Conservation and Shooting, representing The Code of Good Shooting Practice visited the cottage.
The BASC officials, guided by the landowner, walked the fields either side of the garden.
2013 February - Machinery sounds were audible from the woods north east of the cottage: trees were being felled.
2013 May - The pheasant pen close to the end of the garden, just 50 metres away, was being enlarged.
An intervention, however, resulted in the pen extension being dismantled, along with all of the original closest pen.
Meanwhile the flailed cover crop (south) above the cottage had been sprayed off.
The cottage owner had been given to understand it would be returned to pasture, so concluded the nightmare of the previous ten years was, at last, over.
2013 June - Just one month later the sound of hammering was heard.
A new pen was being constructed (south) above the cottage.
The large field above the cottage was not sown with grass but a game crop. Likewise, a sprayed off narrow strip in the field north west of the cottage, behind the central band of trees. The cottage was now sandwiched north and south by game crops.
Consequently in September there were poults everywhere again.
2013 November A letter from the Secretary of The Code of Good Shooting Practice dated 18 November 2013 arrived, it stated “He has also said that there will be no shooting on his field near to your house, that no birds will be shot near your property and that you will not be able to see any shooting or participants from your house”.
Beaters continued to drive pheasants at the bottom of the garden.
Guns stood just beyond the central trees.
Pickers up waited by the field gate.
Un-shot fleeing pheasants flew across the garden.
The southern field above the cottage was returned to pasture: but, hidden from view, a broad band of maize cover crop ran down its western side.
The narrow game strip in the north west field, beyond the cottage, was fenced off to a much wider area; over the following years the shape and game crop varied.
The original closest pen which had been dismantled, was re built, albeit half the original size.
Consequently there were pheasants, again, round the cottage and in the garden.
As Guns had taken to standing among the trees above the cottage and in the south western field, shot birds continued to fall close to the cottage.
Fleeing pheasants flew south to north towards and over the cottage.
Guns lined up in the west field beside the cottage.
Keeping a dated and timed record of the shooting round the cottage, was given another dimension by the vigilante of video cameras, pointed fingers, lane and public footpaths obstructions.
2015-2018 Seasons A few token photographs to illustrate the next four seasons.
The proliferation of pheasants persisted in the lane and fields, beside and round the cottage, as well as in the garden.
The beater’s route either side and at the bottom of the garden, persisted too.
The Guns on driven days, and the beaters on walk-up days, in the fields (seen) and in the woods just above and beneath the cottage (heard) also persisted in snaring the cottage with their shooting.
Likewise the pickers up.
Some pheasants were not always picked up, others fell in the garden.
2018 The pasture field above the cottage was returned to a maize cover crop.
Chronological maps showing the difference between 2012 and 2018 can be compared here.
After a number of email exchanges which began in October 2018, two people from BASC visited the cottage on 6 June 2019.
The Secretary of the Code of Good Shooting Practice sent a letter dated 27 June 2019 outlining The Codes conclusion to their visit: ‘The landowner and shoot are complying with the Code and no contravention has occurred’.
Comments on The Code and the cottage owners reply can be seen here.
Seven years on - same as, same as: except for a visiting cat not destined to be a plummeting ball of feathers.