PARTRIDGE

Farmland nature from a hunter's perspective

10 June 2022 - Published by Francis Buner
When I promised to write this blog about what farmland nature means to me as a hunter, it all started with a discussion about whether you can be both a hunter and a conservationist. But before I answer that, I would like to start somewhere else. Please be patient as I will answer the question in due course but be prepared – it will be personal.

I got my hunters license when I was 17 years old. I eat meat and I have killed animals.

However, recently I told a very close and dear friend of mine: “I don’t identify myself as a hunter”. The context of our conversation is not important, but the sentence somehow stayed with me long after we began to discuss other topics. I’m a thoughtful person so one day when I walked my dogs, I went back to the statement lingering in my mind.

How, then, do I identify myself? Wow, what a big and difficult question.

I’m a woman. I’m someone’s sister, daughter, friend, and life companion. Professionally, I’m a Game and Nature consultant at the Danish Hunters Association. I’m a dog lover, my favorite birds are long-tailed tits, jays, and partridges. I really hate raw bananas. I love nature and… yes, I’m a hunter. I identify myself as a lot of things.

For as long as I can remember, nature has been a very important part of my life. I grew up in the countryside, and farmland wildlife caught my interest early on. I taught myself about the birds I saw in the garden, and the species that lived on the arable areas surrounding our home. I remember the silly partridges who always ran in front of our car.

When I got older, I kept learning about nature and wildlife. I got my hunter’s license. I became one of the few female gamekeepers in Denmark and continued my education regarding agricultural flora and fauna. I had a strong desire to end up working with wildlife; especially farmland nature, and now that I am 37 years old, I have worked in the field for almost 8 years.

As a hunter, it is very important for me to stay humble and continue to educate myself so that I can understand the landscape in which I go hunting. I believe that conservation and management of nature and biodiversity should build on scientific evidence. Although I am not a scientist and have no wish to be so, I can support scientific research by collecting data in the field, and by teaching and communicating to others about farmland nature.

Personally, nature occupies a great space in my life, and not only for hunting purposes. I walk my dogs; I go on walks with my friends. I also go on walks by myself: when I’m happy and when I’m sad.

 

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Lene Midtgaard, Game and Nature consultant at the Danish Hunters Association, with her labrador Isa

 

And now I will try to answer the question: can a hunter be a conservationist? I truly believe so.

What does it take to be a “real” conservationist? A love for wildlife, knowledge about the natural world?

Call me naive, but I believe I check both boxes. I’m also very realistic, so I’m fully aware that when it comes to turning around the catastrophic decline in farmland biodiversity and biodiversity in general, we all need to contribute. Farmers, scientists, conservationists, nature lovers, and hunters - everybody can make a difference.

That is, in my opinion, one of many great things about the PARTRIDGE project – people from all different sectors working together to achieve our purpose: to increase farmland biodiversity. And why? Because we all love farmland wildlife!

My friend, mentioned earlier, said to me in another of our many conversations: why do we put people in these different boxes or categories? Why not judge people on their actions alone?

So yes, I’m a hunter, and maybe not in everybody’s opinion considered to be a “real” conservationist, but I will contribute to the care and conservation of our farmland nature in all the ways that I am able to do so.

I warned you, it got personal, but I think that it summarizes what I am trying to express: everybody who loves nature, who has a personal relationship with nature, regardless of how you identify yourself (hunter, conservationist, or banana hater), all that matters in the end are your actions.

Written by Lene Midtgaard at Game and Nature consultant at the Danish Hunters Association, our PARTRIDGE Interreg Danish Partner

Edited by Amelia Corvin-Czarnodolski, GWCT PARTRIDGE project placement student