Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A quietish driven day

As the season's end approaches, the pheasants become more and more scarce. Predation, poaching and pressure all add up, so we're now shooting birds that know what's what. As we gathered for our guns briefing, the expectation was set that if we bagged 30 birds, it would be a good day. I drew Peg 1 for the first time this season; and for the second shoot in a row Dickie drew the peg next to me. We give each other endless crap and (respectfully) poach each other's birds so it works out ok as long as we're both in the game. As we approached "The Gums" which would be our first drive, we moved dozens of pigions from the cutover maize poaddock we walked across. They'll need sorting out at some stage. As the dogs and beaters approached the copse of gums for which the drive is named, a zillion sparrows and finchs in the trees silenced their calling and took to the air, but not a single pheasant did. The birds that were in residence pushed forward into the scrub and then took off in singles. Not many took to the air, but Dickie uncharacteristically pricked and donated me a nice big cock bird on the first drive which I cleaned up overhead. I pricked a hen bird after waiting for her to clear the pickers behind me and that was my lot. I think only a couple of birds were taken, and that set the tone for the day. We moved through the steep drives and with the wind that we had the birds that did fly on the whole were absolute whoppers, high and magnificent and hard earned. In one particular drive the birds that came used the breeze to curl over the guns or simply got higher and higher. One cock bird flew down the line with guns popping below and not a feather was touched such was his high trajectory. Those ones live with you after standard birds are forgotten. We all managed a few misses along with the hits and all in all had a great time.

The bag was 19 pheasants and a pigeon. But the best part is seeing all the folks who work their dogs out and enjoying themselves, and I'm really pleased to see how dad's getting around now he's off the chemotherapy. He and his mates seem to have a blimmin good time and that's what it's all about in my book. 5 drives were done and dusted by 2pm, which to me seems a good time to call it and have a barbecue and a few beers.

Next shoot will be Beater's Day; I'm looking forward to thrashing bushes and pushing birds for the guys who have done so well for us all year.

Fran getting it done

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