I’ve always been an active outdoors person. I’ve loved adventure from a very young age. I was never indoors. TV had no attraction for me, but playing kick the can until it was dark, building dens in the woods, and thinking you had hit the jackpot when you found a cooking apple tree full of apples, were how I spent my days. As a young teenager I got into fishing, often cycling 10 miles with all of my fishing tackle to fish a small lode or river before cycling home again. Then I got into metal detecting which kept me outside exploring for historic treasure before heading off into the Army for a life of foreign travel and adventure – or so I thought. Had I left it to the Army, certainly in my early years, to deliver on the promise of adventurous sports across the globe I would still be waiting. However, making it happen by getting out there myself opened the door for Army funded expeditions. Climbing and mountaineering were my passions back then. I’d try and climb pretty much anything and would practice whenever I possibly could. All good things come to an end though, and all too soon my focus had to shift to proper work. The world had become a more dangerous place and military priorities changed to dealing with the new threats that had emerged. For the next 15 years therefore, my outdoor adventures were certainly more work related than fun! I did manage to advance from coarse fishing to fly however and occasionally got a day on a lake or river. Shortly before retirement, in my late 30s, I learned to ski (self-taught so not the best!). This became the family’s annual pilgrimage and whilst I no longer need to ski from dawn until dusk we still try to go once a year.
Countryside pursuits, such as shooting and stalking, didn’t come into my life until more recently. It all started, about 9 years ago, when I was invited to a driven pheasant shoot at Glenarm Estate in County Antrim. The invite was from Nick as it happens who thought I was already a keen shot. I spent the day missing every bird I raised my gun to and can still remember the kind old gent who realised I needed some ‘monitoring’ who, if he said it once said it a thousand time “you’re just behind that one!”. The only wildlife I came back with from that shoot was a cocker spaniel pup! Since then, I’ve taken to these country pursuits in a big way. To start with I went to more driven days, then discovered the freedom of true rough shooting, fell for deer stalking in a big way and re-invigorated my love of fly fishing, especially for brownies on a small river.
So, what’s my point? You aren’t likely to be interested in my biography, why would you be? This short narrative really isn’t about my journey, my passions, my love for all thongs outdoors. Its about that intangible attraction that drags me, and others, to it. I firmly believe its in all of us. Our primeval nature to hunt also fuels our thirst for adventure. Some people never become hunters in the way those of us engaged in country pursuits do, but they all hunt. Human nature has a basic need to survive and I believe that extends to a need to ‘hunt’ for knowledge. Knowledge can only truly be attained by physical investigation and experience. At the end of the day your life is defined by the series of activities and events that you have experienced throughout it. You get these experiences by action – not by reading a magazine or watching YouTube videos. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with doing either of those but they won’t give you the experience of the actual event and wont therefore change your life. Memories are precious which is why we love to holiday with family and friends as we want to make memories of those episodes in our lives. Reading about great events won’t give you a memory of them.
Country pursuits are open to all. Our videos, podcasts, social media posts, and the Infozone on our website are there to show you that you can do it as well. Don’t live in these virtual environments. Come and join the community of thousands who are out here already experiencing the beauty our countryside has to offer, the adventure our wildlife can provide, the healthy and sustainable food that you can harvest, and the memories that you can make. Stop reading about it, or watching it, hoping that will give you the same experience. It won’t. Stop thinking that other people do these things as they have been brought up doing them and have access that you can never achieve. Most didn’t and don’t. I was motivated by chance and now have friends across the world who share the same love for the outdoors and country pursuits as I do. OK, I already had a network of friends globally, but it wasn’t until I started talking to them about hunting, shooting and fishing that I discovered so many of them were also already passionate about it. You will be very surprised at just how many of your friends or acquaintances are actually already involved in this world and who can help you become part of it.
So, stop thinking about it and get out and live it.