It's hard to believe it's nearly the end of the game season already; a years' worth of hard work & stress, pest controlling, feeding & watering, planning and preparation. All for eight days of driven pheasant and partridge shooting for our ten syndicate members. For me it's not a full-time job though, I have to work a 9 –5 job like most other people. Is all the effort worthwhile? Of course it is. Those days that the birds fly high and fast, catching the wind and challenging the guns. The good-humoured banter, the awful misses and the fantastic kind of shots that only happen once every few years. The joy on the beaters faces as their dog’s work for them and flush a fine brace up and over the guns. I see it all, and it fills me with joy and passion for what we do.
Sadly, we only have one more day left and next week we shall be pushing as many birds back as we can. There's a lovely old house a field away from the shoot boundary. The several acres of garden have been left to return to a wild state, and it doesn’t take long to realise this is a haven for many of the pheasants that have wandered to somewhere quieter. Luckily for us the owner is happy for us to put the dogs through it as and when (a kind of reserve if you like), so our last day should see plenty of birds if we can push those back.
Winter shooting for me isn't just driven pheasants. I have plenty of crops to protect, and pigeon shooting is one of my favourite forms of sport. The fields haven't produced much shooting this Winter, so it's mainly pigeon shooting in the many woods and spinneys that break up the fields. Recently they are venturing out into the fields of rape, and in big numbers too.
With all the usual reconnaissance done and a Saturday spare, I headed up to the farm. The rain was falling and the temperature was a chilly 1 degree, but I was excited to be back and the farmer was rather relieved too! I pulled up at one of the entrances that gives me a commanding view over several fields. Pouring a coffee into my mug I sat and watched... and watched. And watched. Nothing!! Must be on the other side I thought, so I headed over there. Again, nothing. Lunch time soon came and went, and as the rain continued to fall I began to realise today was just not going to be. I did manage to save a wasted day on my way out though as I spotted a few corvids, so using a small strip of hedge line I did get a few shots to dirty my barrels.
February will soon be here, and with that comes some roost shooting. I like to share this with some of my friends that I don't often see through the Winter as they have their own shoots, so it's great to catch up with them and listen to their stories of the season just gone. For added excitement I will have a new friend to introduce to the wonderful world we live in... a beautiful liver and white cocker spaniel puppy! Of course it will be many months before he is introduced to my lifelong passion of field sports, but I'm sure he will love it as much as I do when he is ready.
Until next time
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