When I was around 10 years old, my parents belonged to a do-it-yourself shoot syndicate, and I went along a number of times as a beater. I loved it. It was hard work on very heavy clay soil, but being out in the countryside was something I really enjoyed, and clearly that hasn’t changed.
Over the last year, and with getting our first labrador, I’ve been thinking more and more that beating is something I’ve wanted to get back into, and wondering how to go about it.
While buying cartridges one day, I conveniently bumping into one of the wildfowlers, and knowing that he was involved in other things, I thought he may be able to point me in the right direction.
As it turns out, he was able to do one better and invited me along to beat on a newly set up syndicate, and the first day was Saturday.
I was naturally somewhat nervous, both about how I’d be treated, and also on not really knowing what I was doing, but I shouldn’t have been! Everyone was really friendly, and I already knew a number of people there. The farmer running the shoot made sure everyone knew what they were meant to be doing and explained the plan before each drive, which really reassured me.
After a chat about the rugby match we were missing (England v Australia!) and a sloe gin, we headed out to the first drive. I was let in very gently with walk through a lowish cover crop. The second drive down-hill through a wood and it was elevenses which meant a quick catch up on the rugby score, and some very good snacks!
3 skeins of geese went over as we headed off to drive 3, which gave hope for the evening pond flight for those who were coming back for it.
Drive 4 finished the day, giving a few opportunities for the guns, and the day rounded up nicely. I wasn’t able to join the others at the pub but will definitely next time…
I couldn’t stay on as I was off for the next adventure….