Some time ago I published a series of articles on gamebirds in this magazine. In the first, I asked the question - is this field sport growing and what indicates this? My gut feeling was that interest is growing and that view has been reinforced: this part of the hunting industry is growing fast. This is partly indicated by the increasing frequency of problems relating to gamebirds that have been presented to me and other persons concerned with their use.
These include localized pressures on this resource, many of which may be too subtle to be noticed by the hunter. However in some cases pressures placed on the birds are well known to hunters who can be quite perceptive at judging trends. Furthermore, if access and tenure to gamebird resources are tied to long leases, all should bode well. Conversely, when agreements for resource use are short, hunters can be notoriously indifferent to the pressures that they place on their quarry, and gamebirds are no exception.
Reasons causing resource depletion are often numerous and varied and can interplay in complex ways. They are usually obscure, imperceptible and the circumstances generally forgotten in the fullness of time. As formal monitoring of any kind is unusual, anecdotal accounts and dwindling numbers in the bag are the best indicators of trend that can be expected.
During the next couple of issues I intend to suggest some “danger areas” with regard to the use of some of our gamebirds. This will focus first on an introduction concerned with responsible use, followed by aspects of breeding biology and hunting seasons. I will start with species considered most sensitive - in my opinion the sandgrouse. In future articles I will deal with other gamebird species.