J C Jeremy Hobson

From Trail-hunting; Rabbiting and Ratting with Hounds and Terriers… Skycat Publications, April 2014


In my youth, I used to love reading the tales of the Bagley Rat Hounds which appeared regularly as articles in the Shooting Times during the early 1970s. Penned by the somewhat eccentric Jack Ivester Lloyd, they were enough to fuel the enthusiasm of a young teenager with a couple of terriers, his grandfather’s collie cross, and time on his hands!

Sporting Lodges: Sanctuaries, Havens and Retreats 




Where, in any lodge or country household, can there be a room more evocative than the place in which the accoutrements necessary for any kind of field sports are kept and equipment cleaned? The smell of gun-oil, leather, saddle-soap and that faint, yet unmistakable whiff of fish-scales and rotting watery vegetation caught in the mesh of a landing net (and which never fades no matter how many times it is washed) are all instantly recognisable and will invariably bring back memories of exploits past.

The older the room, the better the ‘feel’ and atmosphere: any wood surfaces will, over time, have gained a patina from ingrained oil and polish that cannot be reproduced artificially; in the corner might well be an old armchair – unwanted in another part of the house, but too good to be totally discarded – in which countless family dogs have since sat and rested whilst their owners’ tinkered around doing whatever needs to be done and, tucked away in dark corners, on high shelves, can often be found pieces of equipment no longer used but which are now relics of a bygone age. Hats, coats, riding jackets, gun-slings and riding crops hang from hooks set around the walls and, in the best organised places, some obvious methodical order can be found.          

Glass-fronted cupboards might be a repository for rosettes won years before by hounds and horses, boxes of flies or fly-tying equipment which are nowadays so brittle that delicate feathers and wools disintegrate on touch, ancient paper cartridges (which should, by rights, be secure in some gun cabinet) and an old fishing reel made by one of the well-known and respected manufacturers. In table drawers – the top of which is the place to lay a disassembled gun, rod sections and bridle parts for cleaning – is often tucked all those things that are not wanted now, but ‘could just be what I’m looking for’ at some later date.

A Practical Guide to Modern Gamekeeping



Today’s gamekeepers’ are more enlightened and responsible regarding what constitutes a predator and in their ways of dealing with them. Gamekeeping techniques have also changed: quad-bikes, tractors and 4x4s have replaced the need for the keeper to walk everywhere, or to use a pony and cart to transport birds, equipment and food out to where they were needed on the shoot.

Scientifically formulated compound crumbs and pellets have usurped the secret recipes manufactured on a daily basis by the Victorian and Edwardian keepers’ and modern incubators and brooding equipment means that one person can, if necessary, rear several thousand poults to maturity without the need for a single broody hen.

Mobile phones and emails are nowadays essential in ordering food and contacting beaters, pickers-up and other shoot helpers as the season approaches, and advances in veterinary science have produced medications and hygiene products totally unknown to the early keeper.

Various bodies’ exist to look after the interests of the gamekeeping and shooting individual.; perhaps most notably, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the Countryside Alliance, National Gamekeeper’s Organisation (NGO) and National Organisation of Beaters and Pickers-up (‘NOBs’).


Adapting to change

Today’s gamekeepers, professional or amateur, must learn to adapt and to deal with new pressures that are placed upon them. For example, whilst keepers have always had to contend to a lesser or greater degree with diseases on the rearing field and in the release pens, it is only recently that Avian Influenza, for example, has become a real potential problem.

In a litigious society, it is also necessary to worry about completing risk assessments, and to spell out the obvious to those participating in a days’ shooting in order to avoid the possibility of being sued as a result of a beater tripping over barbed wire or cutting his thumb on the edge of a particularly sharp leaf of maize – and, lest you think I exaggerate, both are true examples.  

Thankfully though, despite the world economic worries that exist at the time this book is being written, many of the large, commercially run shoots still keep going under the watchful eyes of professional gamekeepers’.

Just as many are, however, peopled by enthusiastic amateurs’ who, by renting small parcels of land on the outskirts of the bigger shoots, or from interested farmers, manage to keep the art of gamekeeping very much alive.

The latter are run mainly on a D.I.Y basis by a group of enthusiastic and like-minded friends, who quite often carry out the keepering duties on a rota system. In other cases, members might employ a part-time gamekeeper throughout the year or full-time between the busy months of July and January.

No matter how they are formulated, every one of these shoots and those involved in their smooth running has always made a significant contribution to the British countryside and it is to help ensure their continuation that this book has been written....

Success with Chickens



While some people are pleased to have transformed the lives of their rescue hens (see the end of the previous chapter), many more claim that chicken-keeping has transformed their lives. One high-profile owner who, understandably, asked to remain anonymous, states that she ‘was in a dark place until a friend turned up one morning with a trio of hens, a coop and run and a bag of food – together with the comment “if I find you’ve not been looking after these, there will be big trouble.” Having to be responsible for something other than myself was a good incentive to get up in a morning without first going in search of the gin bottle.’

            Less dramatically, countless back garden chicken-keepers (although it is estimated that there are at least 500,000 such people in theUK) have found a great deal of fun, achievement and contentment from their hobby. Whilst there have been times (during World War II for example) where they have been kept by all who could as a valuable egg and meat source, it seems that never before have so many been kept simply for the pleasure they give. The hobby appears to be a growing trend on both sides of the Atlantic and even inEurope – where it has always been common amongst rural dwellers – there is an ever-increasing interest in pure-breeds, rare breeds and exhibitions


Perhaps rather than ask ‘why keep chickens?’ it might be of more value to ask the question ‘what do you expect from your chickens?’ as, from the answers will come most of the reasons why you should keep chickens! It could be the simply achieved possibility of having a few attractive birds in the garden and being able to enjoy a home-produced egg or two for breakfast or when cake-making. Parents, worried about their children’s seeming addiction to electronic games and gadgets might think that getting their offspring interested in a new pastime will make them fitter and more interested in life outside the sitting room (and so it will – chicken-keeping is also a brilliant way of teaching youngsters to be responsible). Others, inspired, no doubt, by the welfare issues concerning commercial poultry production profiled in recent years by the likes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver, wish to give ex-battery or otherwise intensively housed chickens an extended period of life, whilst some are fascinated by the breeding side of things and want to perpetuate the genes of a rare breed. Yet more people hope to combine several of these aspects and show their birds at local, county and national level.


Making Traditional and Modern Chutneys, Pickles and Relishes: A Comprehensive Guide 



Confusingly, although the basic difference between a chutney and a pickle is usually described by those in the know as being that chutneys are cooked for a long time and set in the jar, whilst true pickles are either raw or just par-boiled and the preserving agent is mainly vinegar with a little salt. There is however, quite a crossover of names, especially when it comes to describing sweet pickles, normally made from fruits or sweeter tasting vegetables that are cooked slowly in a syrup of vinegar and sugar: Spiced pineapple pickle, together with several others featured here, are made by incorporating basic chutney-making methods – and yet they are called ‘pickles’! So we thought we’d start this particular section with some of the more ambiguously named before passing on to more clearly defined pickling recipes containing ingredients which are pickled cold and raw, or maybe slightly cooked.


Pepper Pot Pickle

Is it a pickle, is it a chutney? Whichever, it tastes very good and we are once again very grateful to Mary Hart for her generosity in allowing us to use her recipe.


450g/1lb cooking apples, peeled and chopped

450g/onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

900g/1lb15oz mixture of red, green and yellow bell peppers, de-seeded and diced

450g/1lb Demerara sugar

2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce

300ml/10floz red wine vinegar

85ml/2½floz balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon Tamarind paste

2 large carrots, scraped and finely diced

4 medium-hot chillies (Serrano or similar), de-seeded and chopped


Place the apples, onions, garlic, peppers and chillies into a preserving pan, together with the sugar and Tabasco sauce. Simmer very carefully over a low heat (bearing in mind the fact that there is at this stage, very little liquid included and it is easy to burn); stirring frequently until the apples, onions, peppers and chillies have all become soft. Add the vinegars and carrots and cook slowly until thick. Place in warmed, sterile jars; seal and label.