Last weekend was the last day of the pheasant season and the one where we get to celebrate J’s birthday!
To start the weekend J, I and my parents met at the wood to ‘walk’ round and see if we could have pheasant for dinner. This is something I remember my parents doing every year when I was growing up and J and I have talked about for the last few years but have never done.
While we’ve been working on clearing the overgrown brush and bramble from the wood to a more manageable level, there are huge parts that haven’t yet been touched.
Dad was working Kai, I carried a gun but mostly acted as a beater, with Mum and J as walking/standing guns. The first section we weren’t expecting much so we weren’t disappointed! Nothing at all.
Then round to where I was more hopeful, Kai worked the less-thick brambles while I stumbled through the only-slightly easier route. In taking a route across the ditch a few metres to the side of the bridge, I slipped over tidily. Although the water has started to drain off, the top inch of any exposed ground is incredibly slippery. I popped out at the pond and a pheasant broke out ahead of me. I rapidly closed my gun, mounted and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. I had the safety on as well as the gun broken! By that time the opportunity had passed, but I was pleased that the bird was exactly where I was expecting it to be.
A few steps forward and over I slipped again. This was becoming an unpleasant habit!
Round the corner and the thicker bramble started – Mum and J had already moved forward and I started to do what I could. Kai took the opportunity to run to the next easy bit which was a little further than we’d have liked. He flushed 6 pheasants, seen by J but out of range, but more excitingly for me – the first woodcock I’ve seen in the wild! It was a lovely sight, and only a couple of metres away from me.
We continued on, with one final pheasant flushed to conclude a really good experience. We didn’t take any home, but it was a good learning experience for next time.
After a lunch with the in-laws, J and I returned to the wood with Myr for a windy evening pigeon shooting. Myr sat with me beautifully, seeing nothing, until I got a call from J calling for retrieving skills (mine over Myr’s still, but she’s working on it). On the way round another pigeon was dropped to the side of me, straight into the bottom of a very steep bit of stream. I led Myr towards it, through a little bit of bramble that she’s not very happy with, and pointed her down. She ran straight to the bird, but as it was pricked she wasn’t comfortable bringing it back to me. So, in my non-waterproof trainers and the steep, slippery bank, down I slid. Not a problem with the help of gravity, however getting back up again was more of a challenge. Every time I thought I got purchase, down I went again. Myr was trying her best to help me by getting as close as she could under my knees….
Eventually I got back up, and with the pigeon (not the one we were sent for originally!) and Myr by my side, another one dropped to J’s gun. J went with Myr this time, and she did an excellent job of heading straight to it, and with encouragement bringing it to J.
A discussion followed about the first one dropped (nowhere near where I was sent initially!) and this time found very quickly and Myr, obviously growing in confidence, retrieved it perfectly. We called it an evening at that point and headed home.
Sunday morning was the club clay shoot; it was very windy still and made for some interesting stands. My favourite was a pair with the first a veerrrrry slow crosser, appearing to stop and go back, followed by a very fast crosser. I concentrated on smoothness and broke all 6 cleanly, having the best 6 consecutive shots I’ve ever made! Overall I shot really well, equalling my PB and winning the classification.
After a break at home we headed back to the wood to meet friends for more pigeon shooting. While the wind was still up the pigeons weren’t about. I ended up wandering the wood to see if they were on the other side and shot a lone one. J accounted for 4 rooks over the course of the evening, but he and A saw little else.
My evening was completed by watching a bat working over the pond and then a heron coming in to land at the edge – beautiful.