Fishing and Shooting: I didn’t think it was sporting to keep banging away at the ducks
I AM probably getting old and soft, but I have rather gone off shooting ducks.
Or at least reared ducks, the sort that go round and round and get higher and higher, almost asking to be shot. It’s not the ducks’ fault, it’s the fault of the people shooting at them.
Now I am as keen as the next man to creep about in the dark and wait in the evening for a flight of wild teal or mallard, suddenly appearing out of nowhere silhouetted against the early evening sky. But this day I had gone to shoot pheasants with Crumpet, the cocker spaniel, at the invitation of a friend who had taken a day’s shooting (I acquitted myself astonishingly well for once; which makes me wonder what on earth is going on the rest of the time.)
About the third drive, the one after the cherry brandy and sausage rolls, it was announced we would “do the ducks” which live on a series of ponds in a partially wooded valley. Once the guns had crept onto their various pegs, the beaters went in and with a terrific whoosh, several hundred duck zapped past at high speed in different directions; a mayhem of shots, crashing ducks, dogs and whistles.
With wild duck that would probably be it – an initial confusion, a few shots and then a lot of carry on with the dogs looking for birds. But these just kept coming back, which is fine, up to a point.
But every time they came back, they got higher and higher and slower and slower. At which point, I am afraid, I stopped. I really didn’t think it was quite sporting to keep banging away at them, though goodness knows I have in the past.
And ducks are tough. At that sort of height the shot can literally bounce off their feathers. All the same, it seemed a bit pointless as they were almost hovering overhead trying to get home – where’s the fun in that? Anyway. The dog did brilliantly. At least I think she did.
She had beetled off after a pheasant miles away behind us and come back empty handed when a shot duck crashed into the undergrowth beside me and she was on it. Too slow. Still alive, the duck did what ducks do, headed for water a few yards away and dived. Crumpet went in after it and dived too, but came up a few seconds later empty-mouthed. The duck had gone, as they do, downstream underwater.
At the end of the drive we had to walk back along the burn and just as we started going uphill through the birches she appeared from the edge of the burn with a duck.
One she missed earlier? Who knows? But all the other dogs had too.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east