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technology and nature. Day trumpeted the maleness of gunning, ending his 1948
Wild Wings with some 'Gunroom Philosophy':
[A]n immortal temple of memories, a snug house-corner forever masculine, a
room whose four walls are an enclave of enchanted memories of marsh and
mountain, river and tidal mudflat…nothing keeps the domestic female more
effectively at bay than a half dozen stuffed birds.
(Day 1948:211)
Day's Broadland commentary policed the region for non- or anti-masculine action,
behavioural or architectural traces of decadence, femininity or effeminacy: '[T]he
banjo boys of the Broadland summer season' who would hardly be up to holding a
gun (Day 1951:57); the 'little standardised boxes of mock Tudoresque which are as
much out of place in the countryside as a woman with fox furs and high red heels in
a muddy lane' (Day 1967:191); the 'scantily clad summer beauties from Leeds and
Wigan' who frivolously disregard local nature (Day 1953: 87). Day salivated (with
anger) at such scenes.
Day set various forms of gunning against the scanty banjos. Wildfowling was
upheld as a free, authentic and embedded local practice:
I may be prejudiced, but somehow I think that wildfowling is one of the last
forms of strenuous relaxation left to the man whose heart and soul are so
essentially masculine that he must by necessity escape from the shams,
conventions and orthodoxies of modern life.
(Day 1935:25)
Day was hardly against arranged shoots, though, especially when these were deemed
part of local tradition. He celebrated the annual or biannual Hickling coot shoot:
thousands of birds driven to one end of the broad, to panic and fly back over the
guns: 'Then the fun begins. The punts rock, the gunners load and fire, the coots fall
and fly…. The average bag is about 500, but it varies enormously' (Day 1949b:
236-7; 1950:46-8). In 1927 twenty-one guns killed 1,175 birds. If coots are so
common as to be fit for carnage, rare birds are to be watched, preserved and
hopefully not shot, although Day could not always resist the latter: '[T]he land-rail
or corncrake is, alas, nowadays a comparative rarity. I shot one on a fen adjoining
Calthorpe Broad in the autumn of 1945, whilst walking up snipe' (Day 1953:147;
1967:168). For Day, such birds could survive because of the care given to wildlife
by sporting estates. Shooting and naturalism were linked through this socio-economic
institution, the decline of which, he argued, had allowed destructive birds such as
crows and little owls to flourish (Day 1951:47-8). Care of the Broads by those
dwelling in and by them implies a bolstering of the estate. In Norwich and the Broads,
Day praised the former owner of Catfield Hall, Lord William Percy:
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