I had an interesting encounter with a man with a gun today at Annieshill. There have been some new tracks cut through the trees and I was wondering what the purpose of them was. Coming off the hill I noticed a vehicle inside the gate and went to have a word with the person to see if they could provide me with an answer. As I arrived I could see the man stuffing a rifle inside the car, and immediately he was on the defensive. As far as I was aware from a previous conversation with Premier Woodlands there was no shooting here, and I mentioned this. “Who did you speak to” he asked. I told him. “Well, phone him then”. Which I did.
The man at Premier woodlands hadn’t any knowledge of this and said someone else might be dealing with it. A quick round of phone calls left me none the wiser. I then spoke to the Police who said that they were usually informed of any shooting taking place and would they like me to check. That drew a blank as well. As far as they were aware no-one was shooting in that area, but they would go out and visit the site and see if they could clarify things. I phoned back a few hours later to be informed that there was pest control taking place and they had failed to notify the police of their movements.
I’ve a few concerns here. The first is that Annieshill has two signposted public walks passing through it, as well as one of the new Core Paths. Yet there is no indication that authorised shooting may take place here. I’ve said this before but a simple sign put up by the shooters at access points would alert land users when and where shooting was taking place. It’s then their call as to whether they wish to continue or find another way round. My other concern is that by acting as he did the shooter has caused more bother than was necessary. If you notify the police of your activities they do not need to scramble a SWAT team to look for you. If you have permission to shoot, why hide it? If you have a contact number for the land manager, or a mobile phone, one quick call can sort out any queries, instead of playing silly buggers, and creating a situation which was not necessary.
My final concern is that I was dressed in camouflage clothing, as I was up taking photos of birds at the Lilly Loch. The fact that someone could be creeping around with a gun and may not see me will make me think twice about my choice of clothes for local rambles from now on. Where’s my hi-viz vest…