Conservation and consideration.
Ye Ole Hedge Creeper.
Tales From Mother Natures Garden.
Well I have not written in a while, simply because I have been out in the wilds of my beloved North Somerset so much. What’s been happening you may ask? And I simply don’t know where to start.
When I last wrote Pass It On was in full swing with the various shows and taster days around the country, with all our regional advisers pitching in.Just like my good ole mucker from the North DVS Chesterfield laying on our Northern taster days. A taster day consists of everything traditional from field sports to country crafts, and laid on completely voluntarily by the people who come and try to inspire the kids and families, and beyond to get off their backsides and off the streets and try and show them a constructive way to live their lives. Well as we take a break for the winter and start concentrating on our field sports we have in mind the following year that will be upon us in no time at all, I must say everyone involved really do put in allot of time and effort, and out of their own pocket too so I send a massive thanks to all those involved and look forward to your continued support, And now we are starting all over again with many events and taster days already booked in with more to come just take a look on the events page on our website www.pass-it-on-young-sports.org.uk and we look forward to seeing you all there.
Well what a sporting season we have had and although it’s been a wet one, all of us in the shooting club have had some fine sport in one way or another. Whether it is Wildfowling or on our wild bird shoot or just doing the vermin control duties the club has for our land owners. I have got to admit even though it’s been a wet year we have whilst protecting the farmers suffering crops and livestock had some wonderful wild food for the table, from the humble Rabbit to the mighty Wood pigeon all gracing our dinner table and also not forgetting some fine fowl from Ducks to Geese, and the Pheasant and Partridge off the shoot,
I remember one wonderful evening wildfowl flight down on my river just after the snow recently. I had already fed the ponds and have trebled the feeding in this harshest of weather and leave them quiet and don’t shoot over them, But Like I say we were down on the river as the sun set with a gun over my arm and my trusty Black Labrador by my side as the Sun went down the moor came truly alive, I will try with mere words to describe this truly wild and wonderful place, I love so much and have written about many times in past Scribbles.
With the sun setting over St Edith’s (the highest point) High up on the Clevedon Hills, in the West and the Moon rising over the Wraxall and Failand Hills to the East. as the daytime animals say farewell and give way for the night time animals to come out for their evening foraging and hunting, I catch a glimpse of a flutter in the dim light and it’s my old friend Barney The Barn Owl coming out of one of my Owl boxes ready for an evening’s hunting, I pretty much know most creatures down on that moor by sight as I spend as much time there as I can and often even though I have the gun and dog with me I often just sit there and just blend in to the scenery and just simply watch, This is something my Pappy(granddad) taught me down there as a very small boy and even though I am a predator hunting for my dinner of wildfowl sometimes just sitting and doing nothing fills the heart and lightens the soul, Barney(the owl) came and landed not 16ft away from me on the other gate post as if to say evening boss, much about? As he preened himself and got his feathers straight ready for his evening hunt, I saw him look round and then saw another flutter it was Terry the Tawny Owl from over the farm across the other side of the river as he silently glided across the moor, dropping down from time to time and catching something for his dinner, Barney took off in another direction completely silent as I watched him quarter the field and hunt for his dinner, all this seemed like hours but was only a moment or two and both myself and the dog sat there completely transfixed. As we both let out a sigh almost at the same time and right then and there I knew I was truly alive yet again,
I was awoken from my daydreams by the sound of fowl first came the Mallard. Then I heard Teal (a small type duck) then Widgeon (another type of duck) now with my senses fully switched on my eyes straining in the dim light for any movement, and my ears fully catching every quack and whistle as my heart beat out of my chest, This was when I saw them the little twisters. The teal heading straight for me even the dog had spotted them as they slipped air paddles down coming right at me and they flare (fly up) right at the last moment, for two shots I bag one lovely Cock Teal and my good ole dog crossed the river to retrieve our prize that we had been blessed with from mother nature’s pantry, She brought it to hand with a mouth as soft as velvet but no time to waste as more were coming, and as the next pack did the same I managed a Hen Teal from this pack it almost dropped right at my feet the dog looked at me as if to say you can retrieve that one yourself!.
As we stood there next to the river all the sights and sounds were almost ghostly and that’s when I hear the echoing sound, that gets all wildfowlers hearts pumping and the hairs standing on end and that chill running down your spine. Just like you have seen a ghost what sound can you hear? You ask? Well the sound of the Wild Ghost Riders the Wild Geese as the sound echoes across the sky I strain my eyes and ears to focus and find them as all my senses are fully alert, Then there they were all forty of them honking across the sky heading towards Portishead well out of range but what a sight and I thanked the great spirit for blessing me with such a glorious spectacle. No time to relax as I hear the whistle of Widgeon straight over my head as I hear every beat of their wings, as they turn and come straight at me I can see their silhouettes clearly in the moonlit cloud as they fly right past me, I swing through and take a tail end bird from the pack with one clean shot as my old dog silently and gracefully trots off to retrieve our prize, A wonderful Cock Widgeon to add to the shopping list I turn to the dog and say “ten more Minuit’s girl then we better get off as the snow is coming”. And we have these duck to prepare so off home we trotted with full hearts of an evening Wildfowling with some fine wild food from Mother Nature’s Pantry,
Also this year I have noticed an up serge in the rat population and not just down my pond or on the farm but also in the town and have been seeing rats almost everywhere??? Now I know many of you will think I have not seen any but remember I have a trained eye for such things and you really are never more than 6ft away from a rat at any given time, Now I have waged war on the Dastardly Mink as you have read about before and we are winning that battle but not the war just yet but now the rats have my attention too, As with the Dastardly Mink my main weapon against the Dirty Rat are the live trap and the Air Rifle and I tell you this in the right hands the Air Rifle is a formidable weapon of choice for these rodents dispatching them cleanly quickly and humanly.
Recently myself and a couple of the shooting club lads were called in by one of our farmers with a real rat problem and as the poisons were not working could we have a go, Not one to have to be asked twice we were there in a flash and upon getting there in the early evening we saw rats straight away, So going into hunting mode we shone the lamps and picked off rat after rat from inside the farmers barns with the trusty old Air Rifles and big ones too, One thing I have also noticed are that the rats are getting bigger this could be for a multitude of reasons from the ready supply of fresh food water and shelter but I think they are becoming immune to the poisons and what you are actually doing is feeding the rats instead of the latter but this is my personal opinion,
Any away after about two hours of shooting we finished up with around the forty plus rat mark we did not really count as we shoveled them up into a box and the farmer burnt them in his incinerator, Also don’t touch rats with your bear hands use gloves as we do as they carry all sorts of nasty diseases so we washed our hands and used the sterilizing hand gel that I always carry with me now, I will say the farmer was more than happy with our efforts and has asked us back many times since, I must admit we in the shooting club do a bloody good job for our farmers protecting all their crops and livestock etc.,
Well as the Wildfowling and game seasons are coming to a close soon we really start getting back into our conservation mode keeping on top of the mink and vermin down by the ponds etc. And making sure all the nest boxes etc. Are in good order and ready for Spring to arrive and my beautiful North Somerset comes back to life with a fresh canvas for another year to start, Also among many other jobs that have to be done by the volunteering shooting club members we also have all the repairs to fences gates trimming and creating habitat for all animals and insects and birds etc. To do,
As I wrote at the start we at Pass It On are gearing up for the spring summer season of country shows and taster days and if anyone wants to pitch in help or volunteer or possibly you may have a traditional country craft you want to pass on the skills to the next generation drop us a line via our website, Never Forget TOGETHER WE CAN INSPIRE