Ha­trick in the af­ter­noon

So­meti­mes luck smi­les upon you...

SA Jagter Hunter - - INHOUD - FX Jur­gens

The e­ve­nings and mor­nings we­re crisp, the days shor­ter and the nig­hts lon­ger. The signs we­re the­re that win­ter had ar­ri­ved, and with it wingshooting se­a­son. E­very chan­ce I got to do so­me wingshooting was grab­bed with both hands and e­very pi­ge­on that flew o­ver my hou­se was fol­lo­wed with a cal­cu­la­ting eye.

Li­ke an ad­dict suf­fe­ring from wit­h­dra­wal symp­toms and al­ways on the look­out for his next fix, I was con­stant­ly ma­king plans for shoot­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. W­hen the chan­ce thus pre­sen­ted it­self to slip a­way from work e­ar­ly one day I pho­ned Jaco, my shoot­ing com­pa­ni­on, to he­ar w­het­her he could ac­com­pa­ny me.

Lucki­ly Jaco could al­so es­ca­pe

from work e­ar­ly. Ex­ci­ted, we quick­ly ma­de ar­ran­ge­ments and be­fo­re long my car’s no­se was poin­ting to the north. Jaco’s un­cle farms ne­ar Sett­lers and we are pri­vi­le­ged to ha­ve free access to the pro­per­ty w­he­ne­ver we want to vi­sit and do so­me wingshooting. The me­a­lies and sun­flo­wers had re­cent­ly been har­ves­ted and t­he­se fields we­re at­tracting lar­ge flocks of pi­ge­ons and do­ves.

Af­ter doing the u­su­al round of greet­ings at the farm­hou­se and being in­for­med w­he­re the bi­rds are flying, we went off to a re­cent­ly-har­ves­ted land. As we dro­ve, it be­ca­me ob­vi­ous that the droug­ht’s ef­fect had di­sap­pea­red. The crops that we­re not har­ves­ted yet we­re look­ing he­althy and we we­re con­stant­ly seeing groups of spur­fo­wl run­ning in­to the gras­ses bor­de­ring the fields. We par­ked the car be­ne­ath a tree and quick­ly scou­ted a­round be­fo­re com­men­cing the shoot.

SETTLING IN

On the ed­ge of the field, be­hind a stand of trees is a deep quar­ry. It was ex­ca­va­ted ma­ny y­e­ars ago to use the gra­vel for a lar­ge buil­ding pro­ject. The ex­ca­va­ti­on re­mai­ned a deep, dry de­pres­si­on for so­me y­e­ars and we would so­meti­mes use it as a “shoot­ing ran­ge” to pat­tern our guns.

Jaco’s un­cle ho­we­ver told us that the rains had trans­for­med the a­rea. To our sur­pri­se the past se­a­son’s rain had trans­for­med the gra­vel pit in­to a small wet­land e­cosy­stem. Reeds had sprung up on the ed­ge of the pit and the pit it­self was half fil­led with wa­ter. A pair of red­bil­led te­al was lei­su­re­ly swim­ming in the midd­le of the “pond”. The bi­rds we­re a­lar­med by our ap­pea­ran­ce – sud­den­ly six mo­re ap­pea­red from the reeds at the ed­ge of the wa­ter and the w­ho­le flock took flig­ht.

As the te­al flew a­way to our rig­ht I li­ned up on one and squee­zed the trig­ger of my new Fran­chi Fee­ling Steel o­ver-an­dun­der. The te­al sim­ply fol­ded its wings and plum­me­ted to the earth – sto­ne de­ad. The flock s­wung back and flew al­most rig­ht o­ver us. This ti­me it was Jaco’s turn and at the sound of the shot a­not­her te­al drop­ped from the sky. Ob­vi­ous­ly Jaco’s old 1960s Br­no si­de-by-si­de was still as let­hal as al­ways. We we­re smi­ling from ear to ear as we col­lected our bi­rds. They we­re beau­ti­ful and fat; ob­vi­ous­ly the diet of mai­ze was keeping them hap­py and he­althy.

It was ti­me to turn our at­ten­ti­on to the pi­ge­ons. We swit­ched am­mu­ni­ti­on – No 5s for No 7s, dec­ked out the de­coys and took up our po­si­ti­ons un­der a li­ne of trees bor­de­ring the mai­ze field. It was qui­te win­dy, cau­sing the bi­rds to fly low. Most shots we­re thus on low, fast flying bi­rds. Flocks of rock pi­ge­ons we­re fol­lo­wed by sin­gle laug­hing do­ves and pairs of red-ey­ed do­ves.

The shoot­ing was ex­ci­ting

» and de­man­ding and the bi­rds kept us on our toes. I was a­gain re­min­ded how im­por­tant sa­fe­ty is du­ring a shoot such as this. Jaco’s ca­mou­fla­ged clo­thing and the long grass ma­de him dif­fi­cult to spot and had the­re been mo­re shoo­t­ers, it would ha­ve been es­sen­ti­al for e­ver­yo­ne to be a­cu­te­ly a­wa­re of all the dif­fe­rent shoo­t­ers’ po­si­ti­ons. Ob­vi­ous­ly with just the two of us it was less of an is­sue.

As I wa­t­ched a pi­ge­on Jaco had just shot, fall gra­ce­ful­ly from the sky, I no­ti­ced a S­wain­son’s spur­fo­wl in the midd­le of the field. The sound of the shot and the pi­ge­on that fell c­lo­se to it must ha­ve flus­hed the bi­rd. It flap­ped its wings as if to ta­ke off but then di­sap­pea­red in the stub­ble.

FLUSHING A SPUR­FO­WL

We de­ci­ded to try to walk up the bi­rd. I kept my ey­es glu­ed to the spot w­he­re the spur­fo­wl had di­sap­pea­red. I kept a li­ne s­lig­ht- ly to the left of the spot and Jaco to the rig­ht. Just as my mind was star­ting to que­s­ti­on w­het­her we had wal­ked too far or not qui­te far e­nough the S­wain­son’s flus­hed rig­ht at Jaco’s feet and flew fast and strong to his rig­ht. Jaco moun­ted his Br­no in one smooth mo­vement and cle­an­ly took the S­wain­son’s with his first shot. With the spur­fo­wl re­co­ve­r­ed we re­tur­ned to the trees to re­su­me our pi­ge­on shoot­ing.

At sunset we pac­ked up and re­tur­ned to the farm­hou­se to de­li­ver so­me of the bi­rds and thank Jaco’s un­cle for the pri­vi­le­ge of on­ce a­gain al­lo­wing us to shoot on his farm.

As we he­a­ded ho­me I re­mi­nis­ced on the af­ter­noon’s shoot­ing. How lucky we we­re to bag a hat­trick of spe­cies in a sin­gle af­ter­noon – pi­ge­ons, S­wain­son’s spur­fo­wl and red-bil­led te­al. I was al­re­a­dy look­ing for­ward to our next ou­ting.

A­BO­VE: Bi­rds and gun. This picture was ta­ke­nona­not­her oc­ca­si­on w­hen we shott­wo spur­fo­wl. MAIN FOTO: The “dam” men­ti­o­ned in the text. My f­riend Jaco, po­sing with the red-bil­led te­al­he drop­ped wit­hhisBr­no.

Red-bil­led te­al ta­ken with a trus­ty f­riend, my new Fran­chi 12ga.

The guns we u­sed du­ring the shoot – an old Br­no si­de-by-si­de that be­longs to my f­riend and my new Fran­chi o­ver/un­der.

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