Picking up birds
IWAS picking up pheasants after a superb drive at Mells Park in Somerset, when I spotted a bird that turned out to be a mushroom. The pheasant-back mushroom is both edible and unmistakable—there’s no poisonous fungi that it could be confused with—which is a perfect combination for a forager like me.
I had shot so unusually well on that drive that I handed my gun to a young lady for the next. Under the expert tutelage of shoot captain Robert Cuthbert, Eve downed her first pheasant curling over a yellowing ash tree to all-round cheers and much personal pride. To be honest, it was the highlight of the day for me, too. There’s something extra special in introducing someone to a sport or pastime that you love. Certainly, shooting could benefit from more newcomers.
The forthcoming debate at Westminster, driven by a petition to ban driven grouse shooting (see Leader, page 29, and Town & Country, page 31) should be a stark reminder that our sport’s future cannot be taken for granted. The hunting fraternity may have won the arguments, but that didn’t stop the sport from being banned by people who didn’t—or didn’t want to— understand it. MH