All we need now are the ducks
With two ponds to play with, the photographer in tow, and more hope than experience, Tim Maddams plans the first duck flight of the season
Flightponds are terribly personal things and while “mine” actually belong to someone else, a sense of custodianship has rapidly grown within me for these special places. Both ponds belong to a close friend, Nigel Parris, a local dairy farmer whose family have helped to shape the local landscape since parish records began, or so it seems.
A few years ago Nigel was kind enough to invite me to his annual walkabout shoot — a proper rough day just after Christmas, children in tow, big hills, slippery slopes, a handful of pheasants and a few ducks flushed from a pond in the wilds of east Devon. After this excellent example of having fun while shooting almost nothing, a fantastic lunch of lasagne and roast potatoes was served — a hitherto unknown combination but one I was delighted to make the acquaintance of. I asked Nigel if he ever flighted the ponds. His negative response set me on a mission to begin doing so and a plan was hatched.
The idea was simple: I would organise some wheat and feed the ponds, and organise the odd flight with Nigel. A dubious acquiescence was coaxed from Nigel and off I went to start the feeding.
32 • SHOOTING TIMES & COUNTRY MAGAZINE
The first time we went to flight, some nine months later, plenty of ducks came in but shooting was erratic and some further convincing that “flighting was the thing” was needed. Luckily the next attempt, a fortnight later, was in excellent
“For 45 minutes we had teal and mallard circling and dropping in. It was epic”
flight weather. Stormy, big moon, overcast — and the flight was epic. For 45 minutes we had teal and mallard circling and dropping in, some got shot, all got picked and Nigel was converted. The excitement of wild duck shooting in the near darkness had worked its magic on him.