Whistling Wings Under The Moonlight
By The Ole Hedge Creeper.
Whilst sat here in social isolation due to this ghastly Covid 19 virus that is running rampage through our beautiful world, I find myself catching up with my back log of all my articles and writing my next book, I distantly gaze out of the office window looking over the farm, this was when I drifted off in the sands of time and my memory of this last wildfowling season and more spent with friends, family and my awesome Young Sports Ambassador’s, I have aptly named this article Whistling Wings Under The Moonlight, as my first thought was of the first nights wildfowling in the 2019/2020 season with those awesome Young sports Ambassador’s.
We start off in late September early October, we had just managed to get all the wheat off in time before the rains came, this was just inland about a mile from the foreshore, fresh stubbles like a blanket of gold laid out the dinner table for the wildfowl and more, then the rains came just as the combine pulled out of the fields, this does not happen around here very often but fresh cut wheat fields that were late being cut, then rain making big flooded splashes with wheat chaffs and fallen seed all over them, this was like a magnet to all the ducks/geese and more, I set up 2 days after the harvest was collected in, joining me were my good friend Niall and Young Sports Ambassadors Harry, Oliver and Carter, oh not forgetting young Tess the springer spaniel, Niall and I set the hides/blinds up whilst the Young sports Ambassadors set out all the Jack Pyke Flock Coated Duck Decoys and the Canada Goose decoys from Riverside Outdoors.
We agreed we would let the Young Sports Ambassadors shoot the early birds and Niall and I take the later birds in the evening, well what can I say the ducks slipped air paddles down right into the decoy spread, all to the calling of my Young Sports Ambassadors on the Duck Calls I had sponsored them, the air was filled with a symphony of wildfowl calling from the boys, they were amazed how the ducks responded to the basic calling techniques I had taught them, I also taught them how to read the birds and when the right time to shoot was, to many make the mistake and shoot too early before letting the birds commit properly, Oliver dropping a cracking green head mallard with his first shot from right to left, then is was Carters as he dropped a fine duck in the decoy spread sending Tess straight after it as it was a runner, now it was Harry’s turn as a duck flew straight over him and he folded cleanly with one shot, I telle I don’t think those boys smiles could of got any wider.
Time got on and now it was mine and Niall’s turn to have a go, we got the boys doing all the calling and helping Tess to do the retrieving, the wildfowl just came like magnets to the boys and their calling as they were getting better and better by the minuet, I don’t know who was more proud me or the boys as I sat there wide eyed smiling like a Cheshire Cat, then I heard it echo on the wind, that ghostly bugle of the wild ghost riders echoing on the wind, by that I mean the wild geese, I said to Oliver lay it on this with that Canada Goose call and I will do the same with mine, then all of a sudden there they were a nice little skein of them coming our way round onto the wind paddles down honking back.
Tess the springer spaniel was up on her toes like a frozen to the spot shaking with excitement, Niall looked like a hawk ready to stoop and the boys so wide eyed with their hearts beating from their chests, well that could have been mine too as it was beating like a marching drum, we called them right in so close we could see the whites of their eyes, Niall dropping two with one shot right over the Riverside Out doors new Canada goose decoys, I swung through with my 10 Bore at a going away bird, the boys call that gun Dragons Breath as it fires a double magnum of bismuth and lets out a roar with flames especially in the low light, I dropped another goose stone dead in the air soon after, but we had to retrieve that later as it was the other side of the river and too big for this little springer and a long walk round too, we finished that flight with a brace of fine wild mallard each and a goose each to take home for Christmas dinner.
One of the next flights that really sticks in my memory was in early January, there are so many I could write about and may at a later date, but for now this one really stands out, for those of us there it sticks out as one of the most wind and wet flights, the wind really blew a hooley and it rained so hard we could not see 20 feet in front of us, we hunkered down and waited for the storm to pass, thank god we all had our Jack Pyke Hunter clothing on that took the worst of it and kept us warm and dry, the weather cleared the sun setting a golden sky behind us as the moon came up in front of us just as predicted, the young Sports Ambassador’s Harry, Oliver and Carter set the decoys out, we had mallard/teal/wigeon decoys out and my wind powered flying mallard decoys and some Canada geese decoys out for good measure.
All was set it wont be long now before the wildfowl start to fly in to my marsh down on The Somerset levels, first to drop in amazingly was a lone Cock Wigeon that none of us saw but Hawk eyed Oliver did, he mounted the gun like silk swung through and dropped this left to right crossing bird as smooth as silk, I have to say that’s one of the finest shots I have ever had the pleasure nay honour to whiteness, I really cant do that shot justice with mere words I telle.
Even Nik my good friend from another wildfowling club who came as my guest agreed that was a fine shot, this was about when again we heard that ghostly bugle echoing on the wind, the ghost riders were on their way, all of a sudden they appeared from the moon coming right into my calling as I was the only one with a goose call this flight, in they dropped from left to right over the decoys right across us, I shouted take them boys as all of us sprang into action, again four geese dropped, alas Nik dropped one stone dead right over the other side of the river so again we had to retrieve that after we had finished the flight, but I and Oliver had it marked down.
Now as the flight progressed the sound of Mallard/Teal/Wigeon/Shoveller filled the air as well as snipe/plover and an assortment of other birds and more filled the marsh, it was like the music of the night had started its show, I spotted a barn owl and gave it a few vole squeaks, it quartered right above us much to the delight of all the lads especially Young Sports Harry/Carter and Oliver, now the wigeon and Teal really started to move and dropped into my calling right into the decoys on the moonlight, it was truly magical, Carter would spot them really well early on but they were too fast for the boy, so his Dad Niall got in some fine sport.
Harry and Nik just could not see them fast enough although they got off a few solutes, But Oliver and I were on fire and worked as a team, we got in some mighty fine sport as these wild wind riders slipped air paddles down right into my decoys enchanted by my calling, this was a truly magical flight on a moon that made my marsh look like daylight and the silhouette of the moon on the splash that lay before us was quite simply beautiful, it also made the splash look like a giant shimmering lake too, I really cant describe this flight in all its splendour or do it justice with simple words, photos or video, you just had to be there.
We finished off the night with a nice bag of wild meat between us all, Mallard/Teal./Wigeon and Wild Goose to grace our tables, this night I say the man of the hour was Young Sports Ambassador Oliver, although all the boys did well and us old boys too, Oliver shot like an absolute pro and his calling under my tutelage well watch this space boys we have a NEW whistler in town and he is locked and loaded with my favourite Calls and not just wildfowl either.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this and maybe using your imagination we have taken you along with us to the marsh, as you feel the wind hit your face and the sound of wild fowl filled the air, or maybe I have reminded you of some great flights out there from last season or further back through the sands of time.
We also had a brilliant evening flight on a corporate duck shoot with a lot of our chums and all the Young Sports Ambassador’s, this was for my old Dad’s 70th Birthday as my gift to him as a memorable birthday with a truly wonderful birthday meal to follow too, we also did the British Shooting Show 2020 and my Young Sports Ambassador’s flew the flag brilliantly helping with the stand and our Game cooking Theatre putting into practice all the game prep they had learnt this last season, I did a great interview on camera called back on the sofa with my old friend James Marchington, keep your eye out for that video.
Take Care one and all, stay safe, stay well and above all stay at home, the quicker we don’t give this virus a host, the quicker it will die out, see you all on the other side muckers or in my next article.
Whistling Wings Under the Moon Light
By The Ole Hedge Creeper