CROCKETT’S COUNTRY WAYS:
A simple shoot-day shelter
When I was six years old I was taken along to my first driven shoot. I remember being in awe of all the grown-ups with their sticks and shotguns, and the dogs running everywhere; and can remember, as if it was yesterday, the air of excitement. A whistle was blown and everyone gathered around a man who I later learned was the headkeeper. I don’t remember what he said because by then I had my own stick and was trying to copy my father’s stance, pretending my stick was a gun.
The day sadly went downhill from there: it rained! It rained so hard that the Guns were making Noah’s Ark jokes. I was drenched, cold and getting increasingly tired and hungry. It was only at the end of the day that we got to the barn. It put me off for a few weeks, but for less than £100 in today’s money we could have had a refuge at the end of the drive.
These days, I wouldn’t be able to run my courses without putting up a giant tarp. I use an 8 x 6m tarp strung between two trees and roped out at the corners and the middle. Here’s how to do it.
I use: 1 x short ladder (6ft), 1 x tarp, 1 x rope, 2 x webbing straps, 4 x slings, 4 x carabiners and 8 x ratchet straps (make them bright so that they don’t garrotte anyone).
Lay out a tarp upside down. Place a long length of sturdy rope (second-hand climbing ropes can be picked up cheaply these days) along the middle of the tarp. Now you’ll need to fix the rope to the tarp. I use prusik knots: make a loop from a piece of webbing or string. Place one end of the loop under the rope [pic 1] and then thread the other end through the top of the loop at least three times [pics 2, 3 and 4]. This knot will loosen when you push it towards the middle of the long rope, but will tighten if you pull it. You can slide the knot away from the middle until the rope and tarp are taught.
Now you need four slings. Loop the first sling 10ft up a tree, wrapping it around the trunk or over a bough. Place the first carabiner in the end loop. Then do the same at the bottom of the tree. The second two slings and carabiners should be put on the second tree in the same way. Clip the rope through the top carabiners [pic 5]. Tie over-hand knots with a loop at either end of the rope so that they hang around 5-6ft above the ground. You can then use a ratchet strap to connect the bottom carabiner to the loop that you’ve tied on each tree [pic 6]. Now start to tighten the rope using the ratchet straps to raise the tarp. You can adjust the position of the tarp between the trees by loosening one side and tightening the other. Now attach the other six ratchet straps between the corners and some pegs or, even better, to trees. Then you can attach the middle of the tarp to pegs and trees and tighten accordingly [pics 7 and 8]. Et voilà – an ideal waterproof shelter for the end of the drive that can be kept up all season.