‘THE spring tide started to creep its way through the myriad creeks, and soon swirls of water were appearing, Waders in their thousands could be heard bubbling away in their gregarious and often hysterical fashion.'

Jim Emerton’s descriptions of nature are sharp and evocative. From the ‘eerie, plaintive’ cries of the curlew to the ‘squabbling charms’ of goldfinches.

His observations of the sights and sounds of life in the great outdoors reflect his love and respect for it.

‘The sound of wild geese in the estuary is primal and elemental, and thrills you to the bone,’ writes the former Bradford College student in his book ‘Countryman’. ‘You hear the sounds from afar and then the clamour overhead in a moment when they become your world.’

A book about one man’s love of country pursuits, Jim describes his experiences hunting, shooting and fishing.

I’m not a fan of hunting, and for anyone of a similar outlook this paperback is not for you, but Jim - who hung up his gun many years ago - at least makes full use of his prey, with each bird or animal ending up on the dinner table.

He speaks of partridges as ‘excellent shooting and good eating, along with the wily old cock pheasants, rabbits, hares and the odd duck.’

He adds: ‘Rabbit stew with dumplings is delicious, but not as delicious as the exhilaration of the chase.'

As hunting, shooting and stalking are the life-blood to many rural economies across Britain, so hunting for the pot is part of Jim’s upbringing. ‘In days gone by I would get up at the crack of dawn with my Labrador Ben and walk the stubble fields, the woods and hedges to flush out pheasants, partridges, rabbits and hares,’ he writes.

In his book, Jim - best known for his expertise in the pigeon racing world - recalls the joys of growing up in the Lincolnshire Wolds, Derbyshire and later Yorkshire, ‘far from the pulse of city man.’

‘We lived as a feral bunch of lads, climbing trees and collecting birds’ eggs in boxes of sawdust.’

In Lincolnshire, jackdaws used to nest in the chimney pot of the family’s outhouse as well as the nearby ‘jackie trees’. ‘I admire them for their wily intelligence and survival cunning,’ says Jim. ‘The corvids as a group are true survivors with their cunning and adaptability, and their descendants will surely be among the last life forms on the Earth, long after man has gone.’

He describes his ‘modest success’ with a fishing rod catching ‘minnows to tommy ruffs, stone loaches and bullheads’.

The great country characters Jim came to know are here too - Dave, Mick and ‘Wild Goose Man’ Mackenzie ‘Kenzie’ Thorpe, an artist and ‘wildfowler par excellence’ who lived on a boat in the Wash and invited people to stay and observe the wildlife.

Jim was fortunate enough to spend time with him. ‘His eyes were deep with knowledge, his face craggy with wind and salt exposure. He was a unique and solitary figure in the bleak landscape.’

He relished the experience. ‘The saltings were a wild, rugged and remote wilderness of tidal creeks, sea lavender and samphire. At high spring tide the boat lifted on its moorings and you were floating on the edge of the North Sea.’

The marsh can be unpredictable and it can claim the life of the innocent or unwary, Jim stresses.

‘Man is the interloper here, and this flat wilderness can do fine without us. It is all too easy, through over-excitement, fear or stupidity, to fall foul of this inhospitable place.’

As a deep-thinking intellectual, Jim - who now lives in York - also provides a more philosophical take on nature, the wild and his experiences.

‘Now in my years of quiet reflection the past looms large, with its memories of times when the spirit was wild, unfettered and free,’ he muses.

*Countryman by Jim Emerton is published by Mereo Books and is available from Amazon and to order from bookshops.