Today was the first shoot we went on this season- and quite possibly the last :( This is due to the farm being sold to the Earth Trust at the end of last year, they let us have last season but wouldn’t allow another, so the shoot had to go. Luckily, our lovely syndicate managed to negotiate two walked-up days this season, today and one in December.
We (unusually) were the second people to arrive. Normally we’re pretty close to last! It was nice to have a chat with David before everyone else got there, discussing the plans (are there any? – Chris is in charge?! :S) for the day and the great, big, fat pheasant we saw when we were driving in. In fact, we got so excited about said pheasant, we stopped the car there and then, and nearly got the gun out. But we though that might be the only bird we see that day, so maybe it would be kind to let everyone else see it first! It was so lovely to see everyone that we haven’t seen since February!
We were quite optimistic going into this first drive as we saw a couple of birds flying in as we walked over. Lots of birds came out of this wood on the edge of the farm, lots of bangs… but none down. The guns are obviously just out of practice, right?
Drive 2- Poplars:
Poplars is right along the river, and when we had complete run of the farm it went river, woodland, cover crop. But of course now there is no cover crop, and no birds to be seen! Although out suspicion is that may be more to do with the woman who walked out of the wood with her dogs (trespassing- naughty naughty) just as we arrived to do the drive, saying ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were shooting today!’ more than the lack of cover crop. I was pretty impressed by Bramble at this point- he isn’t know for his obedience in the field and today he came right back at the end of each drive, and walked to heal off the lead in between! Lots of gravy bones for Bramble!!
Drive 3- Old Buildings
Having been so good so far, and with the undergrowth so thick, I decided Bramble could stay off the lead for this one. After all, how much harm could he do if there were no birds to be found? (The bag was still 0 by this point) In true spaniel style he plunged himself into his namesake bush and flushed out a few birds… this must have taken the guns by surprise… or something? When the wood widened out to the building bit he was quite good and went left-right rather than racing straight for the end of the wood. Between him and the rest of the beaters we threw out a few birds, and had 2 down!!! Both were shot by the same gun, who was pretty pleased with himself as he was also the oldest there!
Next was the best bit – elevensies! =D We had parsnip and curry soup with roles, and, of course, lots of sloe gin. Which brought out a comment ‘Have some sloe gin. It’s a bit tart. Like my mother-in-law, she made it’ I can’t comment further on this as I neither met his mother-in-law or tasted the sloe gin – I had my trusty polka-dot hipflask ;)
Drive 4 – House wood:
We weren’t meant to do this, because Earth Trust thought it might upset the people in the house, but we went and asked them nicely and they were more than happy for us to beat the wood. This is where Bramble fell in a bog, and came out black, resulting in him having a hose off at lunchtime! Someone also shot their first ever pheasant on this drive, which was pretty cool!
Drive 5 – Rough Ground
This was a pretty successful drive, nothing really happened until the end when 3 flew over Paul and he had them all down. It was quite impressive to watch really. They were hastily retrieved by Bravo, much to everyone’s amusement! Poor Lucy didn’t get a chance !
Drive 6- Beaches
Not much in here…. Although wasn’t impressed with Bramble going off on one and taking a few minutes to come out. Saying that, it’s a vast improvement on a few seasons ago and with no training what-so-ever in between, quite good going :P I can’t complain if I don’t train him really can I ?
Drive 7- New Plantation
All the birds had gone home by this point… I put Bramble in the side that Chris advised, and he ran straight to the other. I did warn Chris this might happen, but he said ‘But Bramble’s my friend, he’ll do it for me’ He obviously had the wrong kind of bribery…
Drive 8- Pen Wood
Bramble pulled out his trick of disappearing to the opposite side of the wood and then not coming back. Not the best way to end the day on but in general I was pleased with him. He managed to completely cover himself in nettle string, gauge a chunk out of his side and have a streaming eye. Think it’s time to go home… On the upside, someone managed to find – and shoot- another pheasant.
Bag: 7 – 4 cocks + 3 hens
That’s more than I expected
That’s all for now folks, going to watch some more bangs in the form of fireworks and being nagged to get ready (hence the rushed last few drives)
Maddi + Bramble xxx