By Nick Wall.
As we made our way along the drove to the River, an excited Brook (Rob’s Labrador) in tow, the light was starting to peek over the horizon. This was the first morning of the Wildfowl Season here in North Somerset, and although I had been out a couple of times last year, my attempts to shoot a duck had thus far proved entirely unsuccessful. Although dry, there was a bite to the air as a gentle breeze blew through the dark, cool night. We could hear the echoes of Geese and Ducks calling through the valley, but a remarkable calm was present. I couldn’t help but feel expectant and full of excitement as we rumbled along the track.
No sooner than we had got out of the car, and collected the guns and cartridges from the car, a mallard duck flew overhead, disappearing into the light mist, towards the river. I had a feeling that this was to be a morning that, whether or not we fired a shot, would create memories that will remain with me for the rest of my life. As the sun began to rise above the distant hills, and the low mist started to clear, as it moved with the mellow breeze, shapes of a small group of birds appeared along the river. What we had wrongly believed to be a covert of coots were soon revealed as a mixed group, most importantly, including Teal. Rob signaled for me to sneak forward, and with Brook walking by my side, we slowly advanced on the ducks.
As we approached a small tree on the side of the river, Brook moved forward and flushed the duck. As they lifted off the water I fired a single shot. Brilliant, I thought, as Brook dived in to retrieve the duck. However, to my surprise and amazement, there was not simply a single Teal, as I had wrongly assumed. There was another female that had risen just behind the first and the single cartridge had brought down both birds. I could not believe my luck; not only my first duck, but a brace of teal shot with a single cartridge – a rare occurrence by any means! As I walked back to the gate, Rob shook my hand and I sat down, marveling at the beauty of these magnificent birds.
To be honest, my feelings of joy, at having finally succeeded in my aims, were mixed with a twinge of sadness, having taken these two beautiful birds. However, the lives that these ducks have lived, are a thousand times better than that of a farmed bird, and having been dispatched quickly, and treated with respect, I must say that Wildfowling has certainly proved to be a challenging, exciting, but entirely ethical sport, grounded in Conservation, it is certainly an experience I cannot wait to try again.
Soon after we had settled down, we heard a volley of shots from along the river. Ryan had shot a brace of Mallard, and these were swiftly retrieved by Ryan’s spaniel Bramble, and Brook, Rob’s Labrador. As the morning went on, and the sun rose higher in the sky, the ducks movements slowed down, but the moor was a hub of activity, with Kingfishers regularly flitting along the river, and Water voles swimming to and fro, and squeaking loudly in an attempt to protect their territory from rivals.
And this seems to me to be what, not just wildfowling, but all shooting is all about. Being out in beautiful countryside, seeing some fantastic wildlife, the very best that Britain has to offer, and harvesting a moderate amount of wild, natural, delicious meat to eat with family and friends. As I write, I have just finished preparing the two Teal for the table, and look forward to eating these delicious little birds tomorrow.
Many thanks to Rob, for providing such a wonderful morning’s sport, one which I hope will remain in my memory for the rest of my life!
Nick Wall. ( Young Sport)
Woodspring Pigeon Shooting & Wildfowling Club
Rob concludes the day.
Well as you have read above Nick one of my Young Sports has captured the opening mornings flight so wonderfully and I truly don’t think I could of written it any better myself, Due to family commitments Nick could not make the rest of the days sport but I will try to relate to you here what a brilliant day we had after opening morning on the pigeons using Air Arms Air Rifles and on evening flight with the rest of the club that very evening.
As Nick said opening morning had a real bit of Autumn in the air, and I am glad I was wearing my new Jack Pyke Hunter Jacket as that really kept the wind and cold out. I take a long time before I part with hard earned money and watched my fellow club members stay warm and dry all last winter wearing theirs, and now I have one of my own and I will say its the shizzle and really does what it says on the tin.
I cannot recommend all the Jack Pyke gear high enough, If any of you want to see for yourself take a look at their gear on the Here. as I have found it to be the most warm soft dry silent and camouflaging gear I have ever owned like I say it does what it says on the tin so has The Ole Hedge Creepers seal of approval and that I telle is not easily earned.
Well that day moved from morning flight to go and have a belly buster fry up, and to raise a mug or two of tea to our fallen fowling brother Marc who I have written about in fowling memories also here on The Countryman Diary, Well after this we were all set to go and have a bash at some pigeons I wont go into too much detail here as I will cover it in my next article on pigeon shooting called Advanced Decoying part2 but I will say we had a cracking time with the the Air Arms S510 and S410 and young sport Ryan really bagged up on woodpigeons and proved he is a chip off the ole Collins block and one day with take over as the next Ole Hedge Creeper as I say that’s my boy.
Evening flight came and we were a little late meeting my Dad ( Bob snr ) and Vice Chairman of the shooting club, as we were having fun with the pigeons as well as doing a very important crop protection service. By the time we had got there Dad had already bagged a teal as it was flushed from the pond not a lot gets passed my ole Dad and as you can see had have had a good teacher in him and my Pappy ( Grandfather ) and now my son Ryan as well as my Daughters Shannon and Emilie will carry on this tradition of Collins hunters.
Well Andy and Young Sport Josh turned up and all was set for a cracking opening evenings wildfowling was set as the Young Sports said shall we put out decoys out? Well of course lads you did such an amazing job cleaning them and painting them up a couple of weeks back geed on and get them out on the pond here is the key to the lock on the big bin.
Well what a somber moment and the look on the Young Sports faces as they had discovered we had been robbed!
Some very sad poor excuse of a human being had broken into the young sports locked bin and stolen their decoys and all the hard work they had put in was wasted, I must admit I felt very angry at first but took a breath and said ahhhhh well kids don’t worry they obviously needed them more than us and the good lord and karma will deal with them. But still the look of sadness on the young sports faces was completely heart breaking as they loved those old decoys as they loved to look after them and set them out etc you know they have been there for over ten years and this is the first time someone had touched any of our gear.
A very sad moment indeed and I suppose a small minority of these people in fieldsports is to be expected in today’s modern world, but as my Pappy taught me head up chest out and geed on boy. And to those that stole the kids decoys I say this if you are reading this Karma and the good lord will deal with you as one day you will stood before both so enjoy them while you can.
Anyway rant over we all settled in to await the arrival of the wildfowl, and as we sat there I looked around at my Young Sports with their mentors at their sides and thought ahhhhhh man I have missed this as we start to see the first duck of the evening Ryan and I got on the calls, and started playing that duck music as the fowl slipped air and circled us.
We finished opening day with three mallard, three teal, and a bag full of woodpigeon some very happy and sad young countrymen and some truly amazing memories that will last a life time. And as a last gesture of remembrance we all fired one shot each as our way of a twenty one gun salute to our fallen comrades and our gun dogs that have walked beside us in passed seasons whose bloodline still walks with at our heels with us now.
All in all a brilliant day and night as we start the 2013 season and is this the best season ever or not? stay tuned as each article unfolds of this magical season ahead of us.
By The Ole Hedge Creeper.
Aka: Rob Collins.