What a weekend!

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It started with a wildfowling trip out first thing Saturday. I was introduced to a new marsh – nice and firm, but a maze of deadends. I was invited to lead the way (as this would be the best way for me to learn the marsh (!)), and with the help of Google maps (satellite view), I led the 3 of us to the main channel.

Settling into our respective mudholes (literally in the case of J and A, significantly less so for me), we could hear the wigeon calling further south, mixed in with the occasional quack of a mallard.

A teal landed in the creek, and drifted gently with the tide, just out of range until it decided it had teased us enough and left. J had a chance at a wigeon, and we were given a masterclass in labrador retrieving skills, bringing it in.

An amazing red sky heralded the sunrise.

A set out some lovely groups of decoys, and J demonstrated the fine art of “chuck ’em and see.”

The sounds promised a lot, but sadly little showed for it, until A got the fidgets and went for a wander further down the marsh, returning with a teal. I then joined him to take a look at the other channel and, on taking separate forks, a group took flight. Shots were fired but no results. Heading back to J we started to pack up, and wigeon came in..and went away. Tried to pack up again, and the same thing happened. Overall, I think I put my gun away 5 times! A discussion was had between me and J about “a duck that’s not a cormorant” until A pointed out that it was the rarely-seen-round-here pintail, and we got to see a second fine example that was easily recognised on the walk back. A high up flock of around 80 wigeon gave promise for the future.

Home and cooking for the evenings festivities – chilli, soup and a honey quince cake from a recipe by the Gamekeepers Daughter.

Walking round our wood led to a surprise meeting of a man with his goshawk and German long haired pointer. After apologies were given on behalf of the misbehaving goshawk, we gave him space to encourage her down. With the arrival of friends, the bonfire was built, and fireworks set up for an evening under the stars.

And the ducks from the morning, they were cooked on the smoker in last year’s homemade plum sauce, and were absolutely delicious!

Today, with a still relatively early start, I headed alone to the Garrison clay club. A kind group welcomed me joining them, and with some trepidation I opened the shooting. With relief I broke both the first pair, but soon settled into a less consistent pattern. There were discussions on foot placement, gun up or down and I was asked my opinion of my ear defenders, that amplify ambient sounds while diminishing shots. A very tough layout today meant that I was very relieved to finish on the same score as two others in my group, but with hope for the future.

I’m entered in for my first ladies clay shoot on 1st December and don’t think I’ll embarrass myself…I hope..

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