My personal recollections of watching the brown hare in Hertfordshire and the need for a ‘close season’…

I’ve often wondered exactly what factors are needed to create a naturalist. I mean, what exactly is it that causes that insatiable thirst for information and a life long appreciation of the natural world?

I know a number of those who’ve ‘found’ nature had a sense of feeling ‘different’ from other kids – a sense of isolation. Others with a love of nature suffered bullying as children and a few (like me) had what is often described as a ‘troubled’ background.

This troubled background stemmed from a violent and alcoholic father and it was the need to escape his wrath that pushed me out into exploring our countryside, rootling through hedgerows, splashing through streams and turning over logs and rocks studying the various creepy crawlies that lived underneath.

And, whilst doing so, the memories of the smashed-up living room, broken vases or the cruel words aimed at me lost their power and prominence in my mind. Friday nights were always the most dreaded and it became a ritual to ‘evacuate’ the home and, accompanying me on many a Friday evening ramble through the Hertfordshire countryside, was my little sister (and our dog, Lucy).

It was on one such escapade that we stumbled quite by chance into the ‘Kingdom of the Hares’.

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