Last weekend was busy with the last main shoot of the season and the BASC Ladies Introduction to Wildfowling course that I’d been asked to go along to.
Saturday was beautiful – the proper crisp, clear winter day, something we just haven’t had enough of this winter.
Last shoot day, Myr was allowed to sit on a lead during one of the drives, but the opportunity wasn’t there for her this time, but did she did come out at elevenses. She was a bit calmer than on previous occasions, but still more practice is needed.
Straight after the shoot we headed to the BASC course. Sadly due to last minute drop outs, there were only 2 ladies, but these were keen. One I had met at the first BASC Ladies Introduction to Duck Flighting that I attended in November, the other had only heard about it the week before but was keen to try something new.
They had already done some practice clay shooting, range judging and setting up hides, and I chatted with them about wildfowling, and added some reassurance.
I have noticed over time, that when people talk about wildfowling they tend to tell the bad stories: the time we got stuck, or the time the water came up, and so on. These are the times that people got it wrong, but when talking to someone that has never been wildfowling before before, telling stories in this way just scares them and risks putting them off. I fully believe that people need to know the risks and what they need to do to ensure that they don’t get stuck on a marsh, and what to do if the unexpected happens, but this should be done in a considered way.
After working out the best clothes for the two, (because waders designed for men don’t always fit women), and I confirmed that I’d find spare coats and gun slips (because nice tweed will be ruined on the marsh), we parted ways for the evening, and confirmed times to meet the next day.
I was slightly concerned about how much mud walking would be needed and on asking what the marshes were like was told “just like yours, horrible!” The problem with this is that ours are really pretty solid and easy walking.
I spent the night having bad dreams about it, panicking about getting stuck, but thankfully when the alarm went of at 4.25am I was back to my usual self.
BASC had teamed up with Blackwater Wildfowlers Association for the course, and the volunteers from BWA were brilliant. We met at one member’s house before travelling in convoy to the seawall. A 10 minute walk, with a small wade, along a shingle beach and we reached the marsh.
We split up into 2 groups at the start of the marsh and headed to different points. It was worse than ours, but nowhere near as bad as my dreams! While my feet were sinking in a few inches, they came out of the mud just as easily. With the tide being higher than ideal, one of the narrow bridges was half under water which added to the challenge!
I settled in my usual way, a bit higher than usual with water lapping around my ankles and listened to the sounds. There was a lot of brent geese just in front, but also mallard and the very occasional wigeon and teal – more than I’ve been hearing further up the coast!
As it got lighter the birds began to move. I had an opportunity on a teal, but wasn’t quick enough turning round.
As the sun rose the temperature dropped, something that always happens, and then the others got their opportunities, but unfortunately weren’t able to take home any ducks with them.
Dusting the frost off the gunslips, we headed back, with 2 new converts to wildfowling.