Wildfowling is the pursuit of wild fowl in wild places. As a shooting sport it is unique in that success depends more upon the wildfowler’s knowledge of the habits and habitat of his quarry than upon his marksmanship skills. It is, however, more than just a sport. For those who have responded to the call of a wild estuary, fowling can become a way of life, a consuming passion which leads them relentlessly to seek a better understanding of the birds which inhabit the land and water beyond the tideline.
In the eyes of many folk, the wildfowler must appear to be a very strange individual. Whether he sets out on a mild October morning, battles against the gale of a November storm or endures frozen fingers in late December, the longshore gunner is privy to a world which is known to only a tiny proportion of 21st-Century mankind. The marshes and saltings below the sea wall, especially in mid-winter, constitute one of the last remaining areas of true wilderness to be found in this crowded country. When the rest of the nation is asleep, a solitary wildfowler can experience a communion with nature which is well-nigh impossible in any other setting.
Not only will he share his world with a rich multitude of genuinely wild fauna, he will encounter weather conditions which would send most of his compatriots scurrying for sanctuary. To be successful at his craft he must learn to read the natural signs – wind, tide and moon – and become thoroughly familiar with the topography of his chosen estuary. Dawn and dusk will become as significant to him as “News at Ten” is to his city-bound brethren.
All the fowler’s senses play their part in revealing to him the full wonder of this environment. He sees dark storm clouds scudding across a slowly lightening sky. He hears the ebb and flow of tides and the myriad calling of dozens of species of shore birds. He smells the iodine of estuarine vegetation and tastes the salt spray in the air. All of those combine to fill out the mental images which colour his anticipation as each new season draws nigh and they are all part of the memories which sustain him through the days when his gun is safely locked away in its cupboard.
The east of Scotland contains several of the UK’s prime wildfowling areas – Montrose Basin, the Tay and Eden Estuaries and several sections of the Firth of Forth. In some place the wildfowling is now restricted by permit schemes but, in others, it is still pursued in the traditional manner under the ancient rights of the Scottish foreshore.
If the sport of wildfowling is to survive in the east of Scotland (and Scotland in general), it is essential that everyone who comes here for fowling supports this club. There are three categories of membership: Full Member, Junior Member and Supporter Member.