CHRIS GREEN THE ‘CORNISH COUNTRYMAN’
Was born in the Westcountry in 1961. He has always been and still is a true hunter gatherer.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
“As a small boy I used to watch my dad get ready for a shooting trip. He loved Wildfowling and Pigeon Shooting. Regardless of his chosen quarry, his shooting clothes remained the same; a very long raincoat, once popular in the fifties, a homemade woolly hat which he knitted himself, ( it more resembled a flat tea cosy!) and he often wore very short Wellington boots, which came up just above the ankle, pretty pointless I thought but he said he preferred them.
His Gun was an old single barrelled Duck Gun. The long barrel was pitted but was very strong. Its firing pin was a fraction too short and misfires were common with the old paper cartridges. Dad never used to think big where shooting was concerned, he literally couldn’t afford to.
I can still remember the smell of those empty paper cases”.
EARLY PIGEON DAYS
Chris’s Father was typical of many in the sixties; old fashioned, with Victorian values and high standards.
“Dad used to keep his gun either under the stairs or leant up against the wall by the back door.
He was very strict and he knew we would never touch it. It’s amazing to think back now, that in those days no one ever used to lock their doors at night. How things have changed!”
“It took me a whole year to prove I’d learnt Dad’s strict gun safety rules, but at the age of twelve one Winter’s afternoon he took me with him to one of his favourite Devonshire farms, he gave me three cartridges and left me at the top of the wood by a steep quarry whilst he went further down the valley. I only had one chance that afternoon at a Woodpigeon sat on a branch at roost time; I took aim, held my breath and squeezed the trigger. Click! – The first of many misfires! It took the strength of my two thumbs to re-cock the hammer; the Pigeon saw me and departed. Hugely disappointing for a small boy but all part of a very long apprenticeship. Later that Winter I shot my first Pigeon, a flying shot! What a momentous day that was.”
EARLY WILDFOWLING DAYS
“My Mother bought me a second hand pair of binoculars and from that one Birthday present my Wood pigeon and Wildfowling studies began. Dad took me with him one icy frosty wildfowling trip. I was eleven years old and I fell in love with his magical world of estuaries, ducks and wild places.
It took three more Winters till I shot my very first Wigeon, a cock bird, lightly hit, that planed down way out across the estuary, I had no dog so had no choice but to dash headlong after it. The duck luckily had died by the time I reached it, the tide was waist deep, I was soaked and far from dry land, but I’d got it! I really got the bug and have been a mad passionate ‘Fowler ever since”.
Chris grew up like many other kids of his day with no money. If he got sixpence pocket money he considered himself lucky, so he spent his boyhood exploring, fishing, tree climbing, bird nesting, Rabbit catching and living off the fat of the land. Teaming up with a good friend from school , he caught his first Rabbits with Ferret nets, snares and long nets and has spent many hundreds of hours long netting at night. He actually prefers it to any other method of Rabbit catching.
After a severe apprenticeship he excelled at poaching in his day. Inevitably he got into trouble. His Dad’s punishment (in true Victorian style,) was to ban all further shooting trips until further notice. This was inconceivable to Chris, so he set about designing and successfully building a working Shotgun – at the age of Fourteen! All done undercover in his Dads shed and at school. Some of the parts were made under the very nose of his teacher in his metalwork class.
“I was unlucky getting caught poaching by a Farmer with that gun. I’d taken a shot with it early one frosty morning in a field of cabbages. Unfortunately old Bill Ellis happened to be in the same bloody field! “Oi, you’ve got a gun!” he shouted. After a bit of a chase, gun in hand, I leapt over the hedge at the far end of the field, I cleared it, but on landing on the other side got totally stuck in a great mass of brambles. Knowing I couldn’t move, the Farmer casually reached down, grabbed my homemade gun and snatched it off me. I was proper gutted. There was nothing I could do. “I’m taking it to the Police” he squeaked in his high pitched Westcountry voice…
NEW BOOK COMING SOON… (That’s actually not a bad idea! – Chris has hundreds of hardcore incredible stories ! – Who wants more?)
That was all a long time ago.
Chris has since designed and built a triple barrelled eight bore muzzle loading Punt Gun which he still uses today – legally! This gun with its service charge of half a pound of shot can be seen in action in his epic film; Wildfowling ‘The Whole Story’ volume 1.
Working as a carpenter and always a keen inventor he made a living on and off for several years by designing and manufacturing the equipment to make the decoys he’d invented, but his real breakthrough came with a brilliant product that sold really well. He used the money he had generated to invest in his next idea. It set him back more than he had expected so after careful consideration he remortgaged his house.
This turned out to be absolutely slap bang at the worst possible time – 1989! The year before the worst recession for a generation.
DARK DAYS AHEAD
Almost overnight it seemed, no one needed a carpenter. The decoy sales ticked over but it wasn’t enough to pay the bills.
Along with many others – he eventually lost everything!
The workshop he’d built, his Screw cutting lathes and presses he’d saved so hard for. The spraying machines he’d designed and built, all his engineering tools he’d spent years collecting, not to mention his house then finally his long suffering wife, everything gone! And not a penny to scratch his arse with! – Let’s be honest, things were not looking good.
One thing that makes this man remarkable though is that he never lost hope; he never lost his dream of being ‘someone’ in the World of shooting. Nor during those ‘dark years’ did he lose his inventive genius; he conceived dozens of ideas which he filed away in his head till he could afford to go into production. This he eventually did with the help and encouragement from a new friend John Dryden, then Regional Officer for BASC
CHRIS GREEN THE SHOWMAN
Always a keen volunteer and supporter of BASC, for the past twenty three years he has been a familiar figure at Game and Country Fairs across the length and breadth of England, Scotland, Wales and even Northern Ireland where he is well known for his entertaining and amusing arena displays, People can tell that this man knows his stuff when he demonstrates his many country skills. His ability to draw the crowds with his infectious style has stood the test of time.
THE WORLD OF TELEVISION
As the word spread about this ‘unusual ‘Country character, he gradually became the subject of many articles, not only in Shooting Times and other magazines but also in The Times national newspaper.
From this featured article came an introduction to Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s cutting edge cookery programme – ‘A Cook on the Wild side’ where Chris featured largely in the programme on teaching Hugh the ways of Longnetting Hares. This programme was to go out on SKY TV, which was repeated for ten years but oddly Chris never got a penny for his efforts. They even got his name wrong in the closing credits, Chris Smith? Who the hell is that?
The telephone rang. It was a request from Rick Stein’s crew to help with his brilliantly produced ‘Food Heroes’ series. They needed a Country ‘character’ that knew a bit about Pigeon Shooting, and a location… sorted.
It is August. The date for filming was set. Which was actually the very day of Chris’ 40th birthday. All the camera crew were there with the director and his assistants on that near Pigeonless field of Spring Rape in sunny South East Cornwall.
The Pigeon decoys were set. Chris and Rick got into the hide, quickly followed by Tom, Chris’ Dog. The film crew closed in ready for the first cut. Chris, perched on his shooting stool, gun at the ready, now and then peered through his hide, Rick, despite cheerily chatting to the camera was actually sat on the ground, (only because his researcher forgot to tell him he needed something to sit on).
Shivering with excitement between them was Tom, a Labrador, who was very experienced with this style of Pigeon Shooting and had reached his prime; a perfect understanding between gundog and his master. If Chris fired a shot, Tom knew there was something to fetch, which he always did with determination, enormous selfishness and great pride. (In fact if anyone shot a bird, no matter the distance Tom would do his best to be there before it landed, to fetch it back to Chris, his Master.
He was just that sort of Dog – The Keenest Dog in all England.
Action! In came the first Pigeon, over the decoys, quite oblivious to the filming frenzy of the crew in the hedge.
Chris raised his gun, Bang! “Tom, fetch ‘im on!” The camera man struggled to keep up with Tom’s speedy retrieve. In no time the Wood Pigeon was in Chris’ hand and was safely placed on the ground between Tom and Rick. This was the cue for Rick Stein to talk to camera about his favourite recipe for Pigeon and peas. The cut was going really well until Chris noticed the lower edge of the camouflage netting mysteriously moving. Then the nose of a scrawny Terrier dog was sniffing out the dead bird on the ground, and Tom had seen it, Oh No ! (Tom never shared his pigeons, Never!)
This called for immediate action on Chris’ part as he knew only too well what was about to happen, with Toms hackles already bristling there was no time to lose, Rick Stein was still talking to camera explaining the finer points of eating organic, so, quick as a flash Chris whipped up the Pigeon with one hand, grabbed Tom with the other and at the same time kicked the Terrier a walloping beauty right up the backside clean out the hide.
It was Chris’s only hope.
The Dog never knew what hit him and with an awful whimpering and rapidly moving little legs he scarpered off up the hedge to nurse it’s Welly wound.
Nonetheless the Film cut was ruined and they would have to start all over again.
Chris, however was well proud of his lightning reactions and how brilliantly he had just averted a blood bath, thought he’d better explain.
“Really sorry if that bloody terrier thing messed it up for you Rick, maybe I should have let Tom eat it, that would have taught it a lesson! Flipping production assistants should know better than to not have their dogs on leads”.
Rick never said a word.
Chris never used to watch television so how was he ever to know Rick Stein even had a really old Dog called Chalky? It died not that long after……oops!
WELCOME TO THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY
It could be a coincidence but oddly enough Chris was never asked to work with the BBC again.
It didn’t really matter, he’d already seen enough. “They don’t pay you anything anyway” he said.
He’d learned a lot by watching and chatting with the experts, and quickly realised the potential of these types of programmes. His mind was made up. He spent the next twelve months saving hard to buy a half decent digital camcorder. Talk about ambitious; he was going to make his own films! And edit them himself! The new camera alone cost £750.00 – a fortune of money to him back then. That’s as much as he’d ever spent on a car! Then he had to spend the next six months learning how to use it. It’s no joke it really did take him six months to understand the instruction book! You think that’s bad, Imagine how long it took him to use a computer let alone a nasty editing programme…
Chris always took his new camera with him every time he went shooting; he spent a lot of time experimenting with new ways to film things.
Little did he know that he was soon about to capture the luckiest piece of film imaginable!
Even the BBC, what with their massive budgets, would probably never have filmed what Chris captured that eventful day. (You will see all this in PIGEON SHOOTING THE WHOLE STORY Volume 1)
With his step son’s technical help, he was on his way to producing his first film which proved to be an instant success.
To date Chris has produced twelve epic films, six on Pigeon Shooting and five on Wildfowling. The latest of which is entitled ‘New Wildfowling Adventures Volume Two’ will be released on the 31st July 2015 at this year’s CLA Game Fair. Having also released the first in a series of Crow Shooting DVDs in 2012 there is every chance that later on this year will see the release of Volume 2. Watch this space.
During the past few years his own invented decoys have been so successful that inevitably certain cheats have tried to copy them. Not even properly copied but really badly copied!
And not just by one envious competitor but now by THREE copycat companies!
Chris says “you’ll always get cheap thieves wherever you go, most of them are so blind or stupid they don’t even know they’ve already missed the boat! The secret here is to get and keep ahead!”
And this is what Chris has done.
‘NEAR ENOUGH IS SIMPLY NOT GOOD ENOUGH’- that’s Chris’s motto, which is probably why his Films and Decoys are a million miles better than the rest. See for yourself!