Q & A with BASC’s Northern regional director – Duncan Thomas
As a part of our “twelve days of shooting”, Bene & Hott’s founder Gilan Booker catches up with Duncan Thomas, Northern regional director at the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and for seven years, Duncan’s work across the region has been significant. His drive to promote and protect shooting for future generations has made him a leader and inspiration within the community.
Best or most exciting wildlife siting on the moor? We took a small group of enthusiastic bird watchers up into the Moor who had won the trip/day in one of our Youngshots/Conservation fundraisers. The trip was packed with some really impressive species being ticked off their lists, Curlew, Ring Ouzil, Peregrine, Golden Plover. I was explaining how a Palid Harrier (very rare) had been seen recently when the very same bird appeared on the horizon, it quartered the Moor towards us ending up flying past at less than 25m away, they were transfixed, very very lucky and an amazing experience.
What is it about grouse that makes it the king of game birds? Grouse are an incredible bird, truly wild and very hardy. It’s a miracle of nature that they can survive and breed in some really challenging conditions at times. Everything about them impresses me, they fly so well, hugging the contours and can flick a wing and change direction in an instant. They taste amazing as well!
On the moor, what is the one piece of clothing that you don’t leave home without? Without doubt a lightweight waterproof jacket, the weather can change quickly and nobody enjoys a soaking. Equally, late season grouse soon wise up as to the line of guns, so keeping “green” is essential.
What’s the best thing to come out of good moorland management? The advantages of grouse moor management are endless. Both the bio-diversity and the extensive list of species that benefit is impressive. Driven grouse shooting, is also a valuable source of income generation within isolated rural communities.
Best looking moorland region and why? * You can’t say your home patch! We’ve recently been delivering C19/shoot briefings and I’ve had the pleasure of spending a week up in Northumberland, the scenery is just stunning. My mother comes from near Hexham it was great to be back amongst some of my roots.
Key preparation for the shooting season ahead? It’s vitally important to prepare and practise your shooting. Some of the clay grounds have a superb grouse layout and we use the one at Coniston Cold regularly. Always wear the kit you shoot in when practising so you get used to both the mount and range of movement.
Favourite memory of being in the field? I’ve helped introduce thousands of youngsters and novices to shooting sports, it’s an amazing part of my job. I’ve seen scores of people shoot their first grouse and I think this is probably one of my fondest memories. That and a few “life changing” retrieves from my dogs over the years!
In recognition of his tireless conservation and educational work across the North of England, Duncan has recently been given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Great British Shooting Awards – congratulations Duncan and thank you for all of your hard work.