A decade ago it would have been unthinkable to leave a shoot without a hand-written card to remind the shooter of the essential facts about his day. Information such as weather conditions, drives and species shot; each numbered according to the quantity bagged, as well as a list of the Guns present, would be recorded as a memento of the day.
For many of us, the game card preserves the bare facts of the day we need to enter into our personal Game Book at home and remains the sole permanent memento of the day.
It is thankfully rare, but not unknown, to end the day empty-handed; having tipped the 'keeper with a note-filled handshake but receiving nothing in return by way of game card. We think this is lamentable. The game card is a tradition that should be honoured.
When shooting days were overwhelmingly by invitation only, the guest list was easy to acquire, as they were inevitably friends of the host. In these days of commercial shooting, with days booked by an entity or an individual unknown to the estate (beyond an e-mail address and a bank account number), it is perhaps inevitable that the link between those hosting the day and the Guns present is somewhat detached. This is no excuse.
Formal shooting is a wonderful tradition and those involved sign-up to maintaining those traditions of our sport; even if they do so implicitly. It takes no great effort to request the names of the Guns in advance and, even if they are not forthcoming, to make a discreet enquiry to the nominal head of the team for that information during breakfast, or coffee and biscuits, at the start of the day.
All that is then required, is for someone to sit at a desk for ten minutes and write-out eight game cards. Tedious, I admit; but not overly burdensome and all part of the necessities for the day.
No, the workload cannot excuse it.
What of the cost? Perhaps in these days of the overt commercialisation of recreational shooting, cost cutting is always in focus. Some observant bean-counter has found a way of shaving a few pounds off the bottom line of the end of year's accounts by axing the design, print and filling-in of the shoot card thirty times a year?
That too is a poor excuse. When pheasants are charged at upwards of fifty pounds per bird (plus VAT) and grouse at over four hundred pounds a brace, slicing off the little details that make our sport special for the sake of the price of a bottle of whisky on the bottom line is penny-pinching at its lowest.
So, come on shoots, buck up your ideas, design yourself a stylish, witty or beautiful game card, write in the names of every Gun in your best copperplate script and tell us which drives we did, where the wind was coming from and how wet we got.
We do care about what birds we shot and the identity of the 'various' that made up the bag.
For most of us, the game card, along with our memories and a brace of oven-ready partridge, is all we take away from the day.
Put some effort into making it notable.