When Laurence Catlow, a classics master at a Cumbrian boarding school, sees a beautiful pheasant in flight, he wants to reach for his gun.
In this diary of his sporting year, he asks himself, between days on the local rivers and shoots, why this is so.
His answers are surprising, controversial and convincing. They provide an articulate response to the anti-fieldsports arguments, and he presents them in an entertaining, frank and amusing manner.
During the year, Laurence's diary records his hopes of buying some precipitous shooting ground in the Pennines, his fishing days on the Eden, Wharfe and other rivers, the arrival of a second gundog and days spent together on shoots. All this activity is interspersed with Laurence's quest for his true motives in killing what he most loves. He looks at foxhunting, vegetarianism, man as a hunter, man as created in God's image and man as a creature doomed, himself, to die.
This diary remains highly topical, thought-provoking and original. yet its tone is also very human and it comes from the pen of a true nature-lover.
Author: Laurence Catlow
ISBN: 978 1 873674 24 6
Published: November 1996
Latest edition: March 2004
No. of pages: 304
Reviewed by Roger Scruton of The Times in November 1996
'If you are looking for a present for a friend who shoots or fishes, then you need look no further than this book.
His detailed and loving descriptions of fishing are particularly good and will be a joy to anyone who shares his passion.
I sincerely hope that Catlow's thought-provoking book will awaken those who shoot and fish to the danger that they too will face, should intransigent sentimentality succeed in outlawing the sport of kings.'
Reviewed in Country Sports Magazine in November 1996
'Reading a book written by an author whose command of the English language is not only obvious, but is also imbued with a deep knowledge of his subject, is indeed a rare treat... Anyone who has ever ridden to hounds, shot a pheasant or caught a trout will identify completely with the mixed feelings that Laurence relates in nearly every chapter of his book.'