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

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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.

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