Feel­ing in the pink

Tom Sykes heads out with his good friend to try to in­ter­cept a fresh in­flux of pink-footed geese, which marks the true start of the sea­son

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - WILDFOWLING -

For most wild­fowlers, the sound of pink-footed geese can make the hairs stand up on the back of the neck; it of­ten marks the true start of the sea­son for some. Pinks usu­ally ar­rive with us in the north-west of Eng­land to­wards the end of Septem­ber, but they were a lit­tle early this year. Their dis­tinc­tive “wink, wink” can be heard over the house as the skeins head to the lo­cal roost and feed­ing ground, which al­ways gets me in the mood for a wild goose chase.

A browse of wild­fowl­ing so­cial me­dia groups re­vealed that some of our club mem­bers had al­ready been out and struck gold. The fore­cast for the fol­low­ing morn­ing was for rain and a good strong wind, which in the­ory should have helped as it would force the birds to fly at a lower al­ti­tude. Un­for­tu­nately, the morn­ing was un­suc­cess­ful as the birds left the mud over our bound­ary as lit­tle specks in the dis­tance and I was un­able to get a shot.

There were a few strag­glers but the broad day­light vis­i­bil­ity and the lack of de­coys re­sulted in the birds spot­ting my po­si­tion be­fore com­ing in range. I de­cided to pull up the stumps and re­treat de­feated.

My brother Jack de­cided to try his luck the day af­ter my failed at­tempt. As with most broth­ers, there is a lit­tle sib­ling ri­valry be­tween us. So far this sea­son, I seemed to have lost my mojo and Jack had ap­par­ently ac­quired it. He has had few trips this year but is clearly a mag­net to geese be­cause he has left most flights with a bird or two for the ta­ble.

Jack hit the right day be­cause there were plenty of fresh birds in the area. He bagged three geese from three dif­fer­ent bunches and for three shots be­fore the sun was even up. Happy with the bag, he left the marsh early and left the birds to it. He was keen to ex­press his joy and suc­cess in a wild­fowl­ing group chat we have be­tween a few friends, which spurred our good friend Tom and me to hatch a plan for the fol­low­ing day.

Best chance

Jack had given us ac­cess to the in­for­ma­tion he had ac­quired while out. He sug­gested the birds’ move­ments and what he be­lieved to be the best plan for suc­cess. Tom and I de­cided that we would take a few de­coys to give our­selves the best chance at a shot. Tom was keen to make the flight count be­cause he lives a good two hours away from our club.

We have been friends since school as he shared nu­mer­ous classes with Jack. Though they are a few years older than me, they were great at let­ting me tag a long on oc­ca­sion. We all joined our lo­cal wild­fowl­ing club as Young Shots and have shot to­gether most years since be­com­ing full mem­bers.

“He bagged three geese from three dif­fer­ent bunches and for three shots be­fore the sun was even up”

Tom is a ma­jor in the Bri­tish

Army, a fab­u­lous job that has al­lowed him to see the world but has also in­ter­fered with his shoot­ing at times over the past sev­eral years. Luck­ily his fam­ily have stayed in the area, giv­ing him a good base to stop when over this way. As our club has a long wait­ing list, Tom re­mained a full mem­ber, even when fight­ing for his coun­try over­seas.

The pres­ence of pinks in the bay can en­tice plenty of wild­fowlers out of bed at an un­godly hour, so we had an early start to en­sure the best

Tom sets out the de­coys to give the best chance of a shot at the pink­feet

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.