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

Sporting Shooter - - Notes From Ireland -

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’

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