My First Day Out In The Field As A Young Boy
Chapter 1 My 1st day in the field, this is a chapter from my very first book I wrote The Ole Hedge Creeper (From The Start To The Heart)
The very 1st memory I have was on a cold Wednesday December morning at 5am 1974, I know it was December as all the Christmas Trimmings were up and I know it was a Wednesday as Dad and his Muckers (friends) always ferreted on a Wednesday as this was always the traditional day they had off of the docks as they were all Dockers, 5am was the time as over the years this was the normal time to meet and this first time was no exception.
I awoke with Dad tripping over my toy tractor as he tried to sneak down stairs then upon hearing my Mums soft voice from the kitchen I awoke further, I heard her say shut up you noisy bugger you will wake the babies, too late even back then I could hear a ferret sneeze from a 100 yards.
So here I am 2 years old well nearly 3, I grabbed my teddy bear then checked that my little brother was ok then went down stairs to the smell of fresh bacon cooking and the kettle boiling, as I write this I have tears in my eyes just remembering all this.
Well now I knew Dad was going ferreting this morning as I heard him on the phone to his pals the night before, I had been keeping onto him for weeks to take me and did not want to be waiting on the back step again waiting for his return, he made me a promise if I was up when he was ready to go I could go ferreting with them,
Dad did not think that was a promise he would have had to keep for a fare few years yet, I can still see the look of shock on his face when I came round the corner in my Rupert Bear pyjamas carrying my Teddy Bear, Mums says my first words were I am up so you have to keep your promise Daddy you have to take me with you, I looked around I could see all my uncles there, They were not really my blood uncles but I still think of them as such, right there stood in front of me was a man mountain Uncle Les well over 6ft tall ex-Army and built like a tank, he gave me a wink and said yes lad you can come, Uncle Chris uncle Barry and Uncle Bill gave Dad some ribbing saying there ya go a chip of the ole block and you can’t go back on a promise to your son now can you.
Dad was not too happy to start with as he kept trying to say you’re a bit young and it’s too cold outside for you etc. but the lads just ribbed him even more, Uncle bill sat me on his knee then told me a story of when he was a boy and of all the old time ferreters of who had gone before me, Let’s just say I was enchanted all I could think about was getting out there, I could not eat my scrabbled egg on toast fast enough, then came a knock at the door who was that ? could it be my Ole Pappy ? but no it was my Dads younger brother Uncle Dave stood there, I can see it now just as if it were this morning, it was like meeting the hippy from the young ones with his long hippy hair white daps(trainers to you modern kids) blue jeans and an old Army camo coat, although Uncle Dave is Dads brother we are more like real brothers too in later years he was my best man at my wedding but we will get to that later in the book or maybe the next one, Dave came in kissed my mum said get the kettle on then ruffled my hair nicked my toast then said you’re up then you coming ferreting then, I was more excited than a ferret Faced with a Rat as Mum tried to dress me in one of those thick padded suit things with my Rupert The Bear Wellies gloves & hat to match.
Well it seemed like a life time to this first time ferreter as we drove to the farm about an hour or so away, I must have fell asleep as the next thing I know good ole Gyp our Whippet was jumping all over me licking my face as if to say come on young master we are here wake up, I remember that early morning frosty air hitting my face and stinging my nose and ears for the first time, the car door opened and Uncle Les Gave me a purse Net as he said that’s yours lad and it’s a lucky one, this is a tradition I have carried on with every young sport I have taken out for their time ferreting, I remember I just could not wait to get to the warrens as my Uncles were debating and deciding what warrens to do first, I was almost bursting with excitement it was a bit like waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve.
We got to the first warren as uncle Les Dog Skipper marked to say a bunny was home, now this is a true story but a comical one too, As Skipper(he was a Springer Spaniel) would mark to say bunny was at home he would break wind, so the lads would say how many are home skip ? however many break winds he did that was how many rabbits were at home, now I can’t write what they really said but I know you can all guess and the dog did not break wind to how many rabbits were at home he just broke wind when excited, but it is very funny and you had to be there to really take it all in, for a first timer like me that was the start of the most memorable day of my life so far, Dad taught me how to lay my net. I can still hear his voice in my head now, make sure you put the ring down the whole so the rabbit trips over it and falls into the net make sure there is no tangles and the other ring is at the top of the whole with the peg is good and strong as the bunny will run of with your lucky net, we don’t want that do we, Right then and there was the first lesson I got in field sports, and I telle it was not going to be the last as we all learn something new every day That’s something my Ole Pappy taught me,
I still remember that first warren we had five fresh healthy rabbits from it, The warren was about a fifteen hole warren with most being on the other side it was under a bramble hedge where two barbed wire fences met at a gate on the corner, as I sat on the ferret box behind my hole on the open field Dad whispered in my ear if a rabbit shows at the net look away as it wont bolt if you look at it also grab the rabbit not the net, I still tell this to first timers and novices now,
As I sat there on my ferret box watching I could hear voices behind me, excited voices saying quick in the net quick get another net over look out ones slipped the net back netted its self, I did not move I knew my net was a lucky net as Uncle Les told me so, then there it was almost like in slow motion in a film everyone else was busy behind me and for the first time I heard that noise that makes all ferreters heart race, and for this first timer the young hedge creeper was no exception that noise still makes my heart race now some 42 years on, there it was again it sounded like a marching bands drummers??what was that I though my heart was beating out of my chest no other sound existed but this drumming?? then I felt it under my feet and up through the ferret box and into me, I could feel something magical was going to happen then all of a sudden silence for what seemed like hours but was actually seconds,
Then there it was a rabbit sat in the hole just behind my lucky net, I froze like a heron ready to pounce then In my head I heard my Dads words? If a rabbit shows at the net look away it won’t bolt, so I looked away but just could not help but look out of the corner of my eye, all of a sudden as my ferret Sam caught up with rabbit it hit the net like a bullet from a gun, I can still see this big buck rabbit in the air pursed good and tight in my lucky net as the peg held strong and pulled it back to ground.
I was on it like Jason Robinson landing a winning try for England, Dad tells me all he could see was the bottoms of my Rupert the bear wellies sticking out of the rabbit hole with a load voice shouting in the net in the net I got one in my lucky net.
As my Uncles picked up the nets they kept saying well done lad that’s the first of many for a life time ferreter like you, uncle Les giving me a cheeky wink saying see told you that was a lucky net didn’t I and he was right too as that net had caught literally hundreds of rabbits for me over the years now.
So that’s where I cut my teeth ferreting and catching my first rabbit instilling in me a passion for all field sports, with traditional ferreting still being my favourite field sport to this very day, the rest of the day went on much like that and I got another three fresh clean healthy rabbits in my lucky net, but None So memorable as that very first big buck with my own ferret big Sam bolting it into my first lucky net that I still have hanging in The Cupboard to this day.
This is the rough sort of un edited version of chapter 1 from my first book The Ole Hedge Creeper (from the start to the heart)Books available from The Out Post over at www.reallywildadventures.co.uk or see me at one of the game fairs for a story a pint of cider and a jolly good giggle and a personally signed copy pf one of my books.
All the money from these books get ploughed back into Pass It On Young Sports thus helping securing our generations of field sports countrymen and women yet to come and follow on from us, oh and before I forget ask me if you see me about a saying we have and must be said in a German accent DONT BITE THE FERRET 😉
By The Ole Hedge Creeper.