Gone Wild Fowling
Opening Day 2018-2019
By The Ole Hedge Creeper.
This is dedicated to a very special little dog who you all know, Lady Brook, who sadly passed away on the 7th November 2018. Run free girl.
This story starts way back when I was just a Yonker (kid) being told all sorts of stories by my Pappy (grand father) and Dad all about amazing wild fowl flights, I never got to go as I was told I was too young and it was too dangerous, now me a high spirited kid to say the least could dream of nothing more of an adventure to head out after geese or duck from those stories told in front of the log fire in the middle of winter.
I wrote about my first trip in my first book the chapter is called Teal Time, the books are available from www.reallywildadventures.co.uk and all the money goes to the Young Sports Organisation called Pass It On Young Sports that I head up, the money helps a little to run the taster days and events we run on a purely voluntary basis none of us not even me earns a penny from it, but we do get paid in heart tokens when we see the smiles on the young sports faces.
I kept on nagging my Dad & Pappy to take me wildfowling, they eventually gave in and here I am almost forty seasons later still going out on the first day of the season, its the same now as it was back then, for weeks leading up to the 1st of September I cant sleep, I hear wildfowl everywhere I go, the 31st of August well I might as well just not go to bed as there is no way I can sleep, I am more excited than a normal kid on Christmas Eve, in fact truth be known I was never very exited on Christmas Eve for me my Christmas started on the 31st of August, apart from the year I got my 20b a gun of my own on Christmas morning when my dad proudly handed it to me in front of my Pappy and Uncle Dave both countrymen of the old school, this was was three days before my 11th Birthday, I still have that old gun now and use it for all my pheasant and partridge shooting she is still as sweet as the day I got her with a cleaning kit that I still have too.
So as you can see wildfowling runs deep through my veins going back many generations of my family, now the 31st of August was no different except my Pappy is no longer with us God Rest His Soul and my Dad and Uncle Dave no longer come out on morning flight, that said I had my ole mucker Nik along and his son young son Alec, who reminded me of me 40 years ago with a new gun and wanting to go wildfowling, Nik is a member of a wildfowling club down South but the foreshore is no place for a young boy cutting his teeth, so I said bring him with me we will get him out on the river and then do a spot of pigeon & Corvid (crow family) shooting through the day then go just inland from the foreshore on evening flight in a nice little area I know.
For me its all about seeing the sun rise on morning flight and the same on evening flight seeing it set, all the rest is just gravy, I could not sleep counting down the hours until the alarm went off, Nik he slept like a baby but young Alec was just like me he could not sleep either with that wide eyed look of excitement and the twinkle in the eye, we passed each other in my hall way on our way to and from the loo, I said you cant sleep either then kiddo he said no and I keep hearing duck outside, I laughed and said that’s the true fowler’s excitement son as his ole Dad snored like an old diesel engine.
The alarm went off but we were already awake and dressed with coffee in our fits in record time, Mags my secretary and neighbour banged on the door, I think she was as excited to be out too, so we loaded up the truck with the dogs and guns and headed down to the river, Nik and Alec set up down by the old bridge I went up the far end with Mags and the dogs settled in and watched the sun come up in the East of the ancient hills, 40 seasons later and I never tire of that magnificent sunrise, mere words or pictures just don’t do it justice, I sat down with a mug of tea from the flask and enjoyed the spectacle a blessing from god as I than the Lord for being alive.
I loaded up the Ole 10 bore or the fire breathing dragon some of the lads call it like my ole mate Bruce who I got it off of, its an old Spanish single barrel but all I need is one shot on a ghost rider a wild goose, I hear duck in the distance and then see a mighty flight take wing, Mags and I could of shot several as we let sword after sword of duck fly over us, all young duck flappers some call them, a lot of folk shoot these but not me its not about pulling the trigger its about being there seeing the sights smelling the smells and enjoying gods grace, a kingfisher sat on the gate between us Mags eyes were wide as she loves Kingfishers, a peregrine falcon stooped on a pigeon and we got to witness a beautiful sun rise with a magnificent flight of duck, a brace of older duck dropped right over Nick and Alec and they both saluted them alas they did not connect as the shot well behind them forgetting how fast they fly.
We finished morning flight and headed back for a mighty breakfast Mags cooked us all, we then headed out on some fresh cut maize were there were a few pigeon and Crows hitting in on, I thought this would be a great place to get Young Alec shooting with his new gun, Alec watched the flight lines and chose where to put the hide he set the decoys out and the floater and in the hide he and his dad went, I had a lot of paper work to sort out and emails to send so Mags and I sat in the truck and watched, Alec and Nik got in some good shooting for an hour or so then Alec flagged he was falling asleep so he went for lay down in the truck with Mags and I got in the hide with Nik using Alec new gun, a sweet little gun to that had been measured for the lad of course a little short for me so I just extended my forearm to compensate, I telle I dropped some cracking shots with that little gun.
Alec woke up and came back so Nik went for a lay down and I coached Alec on how to shoot pigeons and crows, the boy had some lessons on the clay ground which paid off, I taught him how to read the birds and to shoot at the right time, the boy was a natural pulling off some amazing shots on some fast moving jackdaws and pigeons, one as Brook was retrieving a pigeon from some of the standing maize another right to left crosser flicked across us Alec mounted swung through and dusted the pigeon centre spread right over the standing maize, I don’t know who was more proud His Dad and I or Alec himself as the Cheshire cat smile on the boys face said it all, the day went on much like that and we finished pigeon and crow shooting in time ready to head out on evening flight, we put all Alec own birds he shot in front of the hide and took a pic for the boy to remember the day, then cleared off and headed down to a nice little bit of ground just in land from the fore shore.
We walked out around some of the small river to see if we could get the boy a chance of an early duck, alas the ducks were just a little quick for the boy but what a great experience for the boy just the sight and sound of wildfowl taking wing makes the heart race, I set Nik and Alec up on a small ditch pond that often gets a few duck in there, I set up in the edge of a the maize with my ole 10 bore over looking a big pond that often gets geese on it, as the sun went down in the West the sky looked like it was on fire, like I say mere words and pictures just don’t do it justice, both the boys had deer and hares bimble and dance right across in front of them the boys jaw just dropped at the sight of it all, the Lord really was bestowing his blessings on us today.
A lot of duck took flight right over us all, way to high to shoot so we let them go on unsaluted, Nik managed one shot off at a low crosser but missed behind again, you a lot of hmmmm shooters would of a shot at those high birds the same as geese going over or past too far out of range, and that to me is the sign of a very poor wildfowler just wounding birds, the same as going wildfowling without a dog or indeed shooting birds like pigeons and crows over standing crop, you have almost no chance of retrieving the shot birds and if they are left to rot in say the wheat or barley the bales are no good and cause disease in the farmers stock.
Then I heard it the sound that makes all real wildfowlers hearts race, the sound of the wild ghost riders echoing on the wind, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as my heart raced and my breathing shallowed, the sound of wild geese coming our way, I got on my Canada goose call and laid it on thick, I turned the skein right towards Nik and Alec, I was willing for Nik to take a goose so Alec could hold it and take it home for roast goose, alas the Skein passes left to right 40 yards out from the boys, Nik never fired he did not consider it a good shot that would kill stone dead, now that’s the sign of a good wildfowler not wanting to wound a bird, the boys came back Alec was jabbering like an excited ferret all about his experience with the geese/deer and hares, you know I never fired a shot wildfowling that day but to me it matters not we had such an amazing day coaching a young sport in the ways of the Countryman.
I went back a few days later as the maize had been cut and I was training Dads young springer spaniel Tess, I took the 10 bore again not intending to shoot anything but a goose if they came over, I noticed an older mallard green head feeding in one of the little reins, so I worked the young dog along side old Brook just to give her some experience, it worked like a dream as the young dog flushed the ole mallard from the waters edge, I took a left to right crossing shot with the 10 bore dropping the duck on the far side of the river bank, I sent Brook for the retrieve to show the young dog how it was done, Brook was not impressed has she had just found herself a full maize cob, she dropped it next to the duck retrieved the duck to hand gave me one of those I am not impressed looks then went back across the river to get her cob, I don’t know that old dog has some quirks I telle, I did a couple of blind retrieves with the young dog in some cover with the shot duck, lets just say there is a lot of work to be done there but she is getting the idea, we walked the reins and rivers flushing wildfowl and pheasants, I never loaded the gun just giving this young dog some experience.
All in all a magnificent start to the season, I took only 1 duck when I could of taken a bag full, I only needed one for my table, remember don’t take more fowl than you need its the true Countryman’s way, and remember get out on the first and last day of the season, as an old fowler once told me either use it or lose and he was right.
By The Ole Hedge Creeper
The Rainbow Bridge.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….