An ex­tra slice of sport

It is hard to beat those in­for­mal, tag-on mo­ments of a shoot­ing day, par­tic­u­larly when they in­volve a crack at the duck, says Blue Zulu

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Would any gen­tle­man care for a go at the dooks?” It is not a ques­tion posed much in the south, where covert Shots are too well trained to the mar­i­tal re­call whis­tle, aban­don­ing their com­pan­ions early for the hor­rors of a for­mal din­ner party.

In the more civilised parts of the realm, how­ever, a shoot­ing day isn’t quite over af­ter tea and fruit­cake. With the right game­keeper, there is al­ways the chance of an ex­tra slice of sport, some­times a chance at a buck but more often a crack at the fowl.

It would be much eas­ier, of course, for keep­ers not to make the of­fer, as game has to be hung and dogs need feed­ing. But most of them went into the pro­fes­sion through a pas­sion for sport and if there is a chance of adding to the bag, and the Guns are keen, they are often up for the chal­lenge.

It is an in­vi­ta­tion I never refuse. I love the change of pace, from the rigid for­mal­ity of the covert, where you have to de­cide which birds are yours, to the free-for-all of flight­ing, where if the shot is safe, you take it. There is no need for a bat­tery of kit ei­ther, just a belt of steel car­tridges, and while you might not be the best of shots on archangels, it is a chance for those brought up on the fore­shore to even the odds with the high-bird pro­fes­sors.

For flight­ing re­quires field­craft: the knowl­edge of how ducks come into the wind; how to wait un­til they are com­mit­ted; and the hear­ing and night sight to con­tinue shoot­ing af­ter the game Shots have given up.

Last sea­son a hand­ful of us took up the head­keeper’s in­vi­ta­tion af­ter most of the party had re­tired. The Hiluxes swept into the yard, the un­der­keep­ers still in es­tate tweed but now topped with camo coats. The for­mal­ity of the re­la­tion­ship, al­ways main­tained dur­ing driven days, evap­o­rates and you are now a hunt­ing party, on first­name terms, as you clam­ber out to open the gates that lead to the wa­ter.

22 • SHOOT­ING TIMES & Coun­try mag­a­zine

on this oc­ca­sion we were head­ing to a river with a good head of wild mallard and the oc­ca­sional teal. as such, there was plenty of room for ev­ery­one and we were blessed with an ab­sence of lemons: noth­ing ru­ins a flight faster than a bloke who fires too early, be­fore the ducks are drop­ping in; or the man who is too scared to shoot at all, al­low­ing the fowl to set­tle on the wa­ter and then exit against

“It is a chance for those brought up on the fore­shore to even the odds with the high­bird pro­fes­sors”

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