Susannah not backing down after outrage over pics of her daughter enjoying duckshooting

Yesterday we and outrage over a t-shirt some womble scientist wore, the other day it was over Susannah Constantine’s photo of her daughter duck shooting.

Susannah, of the Trini and Susannah TV show fame, is made of far sterner stuff than the scientist who cried over the shirt.

She sticks it to the moaners and whiners.

I’ve learned in the past week that sometimes in life it’s better to duck. When a newspaper ran a piece about my daughter on her first shoot with the headline ‘Ten years old and smeared in blood’, the fallout was loud and instantaneous. My daughter Cece was horrified – because she’s 11, not ten.

I’m certain that the hullabaloo about her age will haunt us for weeks. But the rest of the article, which was centred on the fact that she had shot her first duck and, in the time-honoured country tradition, had been ‘blooded’ with a quick smear of the cheek, completely passed her by. Water off a duck’s back, you might say.

To her, a country girl, shooting food for the table is a natural part of rural life. My only regret is that the fuss brought about something I’ve always tried to avoid. I’ve never wanted to include my family in my professional life – and never have done – but sadly her picture was only deemed to be newsworthy because I’ve been on TV.

The one thing I’d do differently is not post the photo on Instagram. It was naive of me to think it would stop there, and naive of readers to believe a picture speaks a thousand words when it camouflages the sportsmanship, conservation, habitat management and regulation that lies behind all country sports.

The brief media clamour was, however, a sign of how times change. When my father took me on my first shoot and blooded my face, it was a regarded as a celebration of rural life. Everyone understood it, everyone supported it. My father was not a TV presenter, and no one cared what he did in his private life. But it was also 1970 and people were still watching the Black and White Minstrel Show – and that was OK too.

‘Duckgate’ – as we now call it at home – and the overwhelming response (both positive and negative) has caused me to reflect on my views about rural life. If I’m honest, it gave me a sense of pride to see my daughter tackle something adult and challenging – and succeed.

Awesome.

Having spent the past century over-complicating our lives, we’re now devoting much of our time trying to simplify them – and paying for the privilege in the shape of farmers’ markets and so on.

If the trend continues, the intertwining of city and country life can only strengthen – but only if those people who are into the rural dream, those who buy ‘farm-fresh meat’, wise up about where it all comes from. If you’re a meat-eater, you have to accept the fundamental fact that pretty much anything you consume that once lived, was bred to be eaten.

Whether farmed animals are raised on a battery farm or by a farmer on a smallholding, or whether the meat on your table was a wild animal shot by a landowner on his own land, the end outcome is the same. The animal is killed and eaten. I am a realist about that and not ashamed of it.

I confess that as a child on a shoot, it was always killing ducks that upset me. Not because I had a problem with killing an animal, but because I was told ducks mate for life. I often slept in the stable with my pony, but never once questioned that the duck was going to end up on the table. I am not alone in that.

While my reaction was an emotional, human one, overlaid with human and social considerations, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation’s view is entirely practical: ‘The sportsman’s aim is to achieve the instantaneous kill of each bird or animal that he or she shoots at, and then its speedy retrieval so that it is put to good use and not wasted.’

Until the development of mass-produced food, most people shared this less sentimental attitude. You ate what you produced and, put simply, it was someone’s job to catch it and kill it. People’s views about animals bred for food was different to animals bred as human companions and the two attitudes could, and did, easily co-exist. I suppose my attitude is still the same.

I think arguments about things like whether fish feel fear or pain are redundant. You’re either OK with them dying for your consumption or you’re not. It’s a choice you make. And although figures for vegetarianism are rising, the majority of people in Britain are clearly OK breeding animals for the table, even if the ‘fishetarians’, ‘flexitarians’ and ‘meat-avoiders’ seem to me like a way of salving guilt.

Surely we have lost our way when so many people claim to be both pro-countryside and anti-shooting or hunting. The two are historically and forever intertwined. Negative attitudes to, say, badger culling are emotional responses, not practical ones. At least not if you’re a farmer.

I’ve heard fools exclaim to me when I talk about hunting that I should just my meat from the supermarket….think about that for a moment…where does that fool think the meat comes from? How did it get all hermetically sealed on a plastic tray? What was it before it was tastefully arranged in a chiller with sprigs of parsley?

My kids know where meat comes from, they know how to dress and animal that is freshly killed and they know to get it cool and away from flies pretty damn quick.

They learned that because we shot animals together, animals that fill our freezer and sustain our family, despite living in a large city.

 

– Daily Mail


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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