A breath of fresh air
Rupert decides to seek solace from the blistering heat with a few hours up in the high seat – a move that pays off in more ways than one
Getting in from work one Tuesday evening I immediately flop onto the sofa with a mug of coffee, wrecked from my day’s activities. Unusually high temperatures for this time of year mean that those of us who work outdoors are finding it gruelling; 30°C being far more than we are used to, and indeed far more than we can cope with.
Some years ago I befriended a couple of Australian chaps that were over for a coursing meeting in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. As it turned out they were avid shooting men as well, resulting in the three of us drinking far more than was healthy. I invited them pigeon shooting the following afternoon, a foray that exceeded both my and their expectations. The upshot of the whole scenario was that they invited yours truly to go over and shoot duck in the outback. I was giving their proposition some serious thought until one of them dropped a bombshell by mentioning that the temperatures mightn’t be to my liking. When he mentioned that they would be between 40 and 50 degrees my enthusiasm took a quick nosedive. Even inside my house, in the relative cool of the evening, everything is hot. I decide to bite the bullet and travel down to the farm. A few hours up in the high seat will bring my temperature down, especially as there’s nearly always a breeze at that height, or so I hope. There’s always the prospect I’ll bag a fox or two. Half an hour later and I’m sitting 12 feet from the ground with a lovely evening breeze blowing into my face. Resting my rifle at one side I pour a large mug of steaming coffee from my thermos and relax into the comfort of the chair. It’s amazing what a difference a few feet can make when it comes to the view. Far out in front, the majestic Knockmealdown mountains rise up to meet the sky, or so it seems. A flight of cormorants can be seen following the path of the River Suir system, their lazy and unhurried flight recognisable, even at a distance. Just below, a group of goldfinches munch their merry way through several seed heads, balancing precariously on each before quickly moving to the next. Rabbits start to emerge all around, including our resident black fellow, who I must admit is a bit of a favourite. All the latter are totally unaware of my presence apart from a new Angus bull, one that my brother has borrowed from his neighbour for courting purposes. Rather worryingly he has been tracking my every move, no doubt trying to figure out how to dislodge me from my lofty perch. I must admit that they are the one breed of bull that I have the utmost respect for, having had first-hand experience of their unpredictable nature on several occasions over the years. I am just about to nod off when an alarm call from a nearby blackbird heightens my awareness once again. The local bunny population have their
Not only does a high seat provide respite from soaring temperatures, it also gives you a bird’s eye view of the flora and fauna below and the chance to take in the splendid vista.
heads up as well, which leads me to believe that something is lurking with intent nearby. Sure enough, out from the undergrowth to my right strolls a large dog fox, proceeding to walk directly underneath where I lie in wait. Annoyingly I can’t swing my rifle down that low; he must be in the only spot where I can’t put a bead on him. Instead of being patient I try to contort myself in such a way as to be able to shoot. My rash movements only serve to show him my whereabouts, and within seconds he has vanished into the undergrowth from whence he came.
As day turns to evening some old cock pheasants, ones which escaped our clutches on several occasions the previous season, start to appear, before making their way to a small pine plantation that Dad planted many moons ago. From one of the ponds in the field next door comes the alarm call of a waterhen, and immediately I make a mental note to freshen the bait in the mink traps. These scourges seem to be more abundant than ever this year, wreaking more havoc than I care to think about.
Just as I’m about to enter dreamland once again something far to my right catches my eye. Raising my scope I spy another fox sneaking along a nearby hedgerow. He walks within 10 yards of some watching rabbits, as if nonplussed about having a snack, before jogging on again in my general direction. I retreat further into my ivy-covered seat while tracing his every move. He disappears behind a large oak, much to my annoyance, but with recent mistakes still fresh in the memory I don’t move a muscle for a good 30 seconds. My patience pays off as he reappears once again, this time some 40 yards directly in front. As unhurriedly as I can, I raise my rifle to my shoulder, take a couple of deep breaths, before releasing a round in his general direction. That would have been the outcome if I had chambered a round. I quickly flip the bolt and fire just as he realises the error of his ways. More by luck than good fortune I manage to drop him at the first time of asking.
So instead of frying in my living room for the duration of the evening, I saw some amazing sights and bagged a fox into the bargain. It must be one of the most relaxing ways to spend an evening. So if you haven’t tried it, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
‘My rash movements only serve to show him my whereabouts, and within seconds he has vanished into the undergrowth from whence he came’