A late night phone call on Thursday changed my weekend. A family friend, Tim, rang and invited me to attend one of their shoots, all my plans went out the window instantly!
Although I'm a keen hunter (that said it doesn't happen very often) I've never on an organised shoot before, or shot pheasants or ducks really, so I was keen to experience it. As well as this the farm isn't very far away so it's a great way for me to meet people in the area and get some much needed exercise!
|A dog keen to do what it was bred for|
I was however a little worried about the etiquette and what to wear. One of my friends at work had lent me some of his shooting gear so I had more chance of looking the part but I'm sure I broke the first rule by turning up in a white transit! Luckily it's a very informal syndicate shoot and everyone was really friendly and not stuck up at all.
We did about 5 "drives" over the day (where the birds are driven towards the guns), but as it's only a small shoot we didn't see a very large number of birds. With 10 or so guns we only bagged 30 birds over the whole day (and a squirrel).
But it wouldn't have mattered if I hadn't taken a shot all day as it was nice to be outside with like minded people from all walks of life, and to watch the dogs work was a joy in itself. There was 8 or 9 Spaniels and about 3 Labradors all doing what they were bred for. The one lab fetched a bird from a fast flowing stream without skipping a beat, and most of the others worked hard to flush birds from the rough patches and pick up any we shot. Watching the dogs like this was probably the best bit of the day.
|5 pheasants and a duck should provide tea for quite a few nights!|
The sum total of what I shot was one duck. I seemed to have bad luck on where I was placed, I didn't fire my gun after the first drive as the birds were either too low or too far away. I'd rather not take the shot than take a chance on wounding the animal so my cautous aporach saved me from wasting too many cartridges but didn't make it any less fun.
As it's getting towards the end of the shooting season some of the regulars are getting a bit fed up with game, this worked in my favour as I managed to walk away with 3 brace of birds (much more than I shot), so that gives us a number of cheap and tasty teas to enjoy over the next week or so.
Today was a great experience and it felt like a true scene of the english countryside. Now I've just got to decide what to do with all these pheasants...