Blakeney & District Wildfowlers Association
The Blakeney and District Wildfowlers Association (B&DWA) was formed in 1927 to represent the interests of local wildfowlers who have been sourcing food from the marsh for the table (in the form of ducks and geese, etc.) for many generations. This very traditional form of shooting over the coastal marshes became popular towards the end of the 19th century when shotguns became affordable for the working man. This was often the only meat to be put on the family table, other than the odd snared rabbit or poached pheasant! This tradition carries on to this day and wildfowlers continue to harvest a sustainable surplus of ducks and geese for the table. Wildfowlers and wildfowling clubs follow strict codes of conduct and restrict what, when and how many birds they shoot, in order to maintain a healthy population of all species which are permitted to be taken. Wildfowlers rarely sell any of their ‘bag’, preferring to eat them themselves or give them to friends to enjoy. In fact, it is illegal to sell a wild goose (but not a duck)!
Back in 1950, B&DWA was one of the five founding club members of the Wildfowling Association of Great Britain and Ireland (WAGBI), which, in 1981, became the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the voice of the whole shooting community in the UK today. B&DWA members exercise their ancient rights to shoot over the marshes and foreshore with the consent of various local landowners such as the National Trust, Natural England and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. These bodies respect the honourable traditions of wildfowling and recognise its continued sustainability. In return, members act as unofficial, unpaid ‘wardens’ of the marsh, ‘policing’ illegal and unwanted activities within this sensitive habitat. A mutually beneficial and harmonious ‘partnership’ where the real winner is the fragile eco-system we all cherish.
Many of the local bridges across various creeks and gutters were built by wildfowlers, without which access to large parts of the marsh would be impossible. Wildfowlers also established many of the ‘safe paths’ across the marsh, still in use today for all those hardy enough to venture out onto this harsh and unforgiving environment.
Wildfowling takes place from 1st September to 30th January, only. Members endure some of the foulest of weather (sic) to pursue their passion, in sub-zero temperatures, howling gales and whatever the elements can throw at them. Long slogs across glutinous mud, wading through creeks and risking limbs with infamous ‘ankle-breakers’ (small, deep, invisible holes just big enough to ensnare an unwary foot!) are just some of the obstacles brushed aside by ‘fowlers intent upon reaching their favoured spot. And just to rub salt in the wound, much of this takes place in pitch darkness, as ‘flight’ time for the quarry is normally at dawn and dusk! Oh yes, and then there is the risk of losing one’s way in a fog or snowstorm, cruel and unpredictable tides and a fickle micro-climate prone to unexpected and seemingly instant weather changes! Not a pastime for the feint hearted but ‘fowlers just yearn to be ‘out there’, in blissful (and often hopeless) anticipation, at one with nature and the world. Can they be ‘right in the head’? Ask any ‘fowler and the answer will be an emphatic “Maybe”!!!!!! The peace, solitude and often remote chance of a ‘meal’ to be found in wild and inhospitable places will always triumph over the trauma of getting there, enduring the hostile elements in wait and returning safely home.
To confirm their affection and respect for the local community, B&DWA make donations each year to worthy local charities and members often assist others with various fund raising activities. The village of Blakeney and the tradition of wildfowling have been and continue to be, inextricably linked. It was this community spirit and affinity with wildfowl which prompted B&DWA to create, build and maintain the Blakeney Conservation Duck Pond.
B&DWA are very proud of their heritage and look forward to seeing sons following fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers into the timeless search for tranquil hope in the face of adversity! Wildfowling is an ancient and honourable sport that B&DWA are determined to maintain for future generations, as well as its current devotees.
All enquiries regarding B&DWA and membership should be directed to the Hon. Secretary:
Paul Reed: Tel. 01263-741220, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“We protect, we conserve and we sustainably harvest our wildfowl, as we have for generations.”