DCSIMG

Fishing and Shooting: One old cock went forward and was shot by three people

  • by Alastair Robertson
 

Three men enjoy a last-gasp shoot of the winter season

AS no one has asked me to shoot partridges in Morocco or sand grouse in Egypt, my shooting season this winter ended on 31 January with our traditional knockabout walk-up, which consists of surrounding a quarry owned by a cousin in the hope of finding a pheasant, scouring two small mixed plantations and trying to get through a completely collapsed and windblown bit of forestry. There are a couple of other bits we had in mind, but the widow who owns them and is in theory very happy to let us shoot it, decided this year to put a ban on hen pheasants and woodcock, which I strongly suspect is a completely pointless, if well meant, conservation measure.

The chances of three men and two dogs seeing, let alone shooting, even a quarter of the wild game on 100 acres are pretty poor. We ringed the disused quarry, now full of whins and gorse with a few young trees round the edge, and sent in a son and Crumpet the working cocker. Alf and another cousin guarded the outer fringes while I was sent to stand in the middle. Absolutely nothing happened until the last moment, when we were unloading and a huge cock cackled out over my head and flew safely into the cemetery across the river. During the general cursing a hen flew out of the whins and disappeared in the same direction, unharmed.

On the strips of young trees we did better. There is generally nothing there. But on this occasion the Hydro were drinking tea in their Land Rovers on the road above and must have acted as stops to prevent any birds running out of the cover as we approached. Out of these two unpromising strips came three hens and a cock. One fell the wrong side of the river, but the dogs found it almost immediately.

On the semi-felled forestry, a nightmare of broken and partly felled Sitka all at 45 degrees, two birds went out at the top almost immediately. One old cock went forward and was shot by three people.

Down at the river at about midday we decided to wait for half an hour to see if the ducks would turn up. We suspect they live on a small lake in the grounds of a very sumptuous mansion owned by our local self-made millionaire, who is thought to feed them in the late morning, but in so doing puts them off the lake and down to the river. About 30 came storming over, turned and, clearly spooked, speeded up downriver, rising as they went. We got three. Crumpet and Mango the retriever, who seldom retrieves anything, headed them off downstream and came back with two. Crumpet went back for the third washed into the far bank. How do dogs know how to do that?

 

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