Mick Garvey enjoys some terrific hunting in the company of like-minded sportsmen
Mick is in the Lake District, and Norfolk, with fellow musketeers- hunting heaven!
This month was always going to be busy. My brother, Richard, and his wife, Michelle, were over from the States for a week’s holiday in my beloved Lake District, and whilst we were up there, we met up with my old mate, Ben, for a carefully planned night on the rabbits. At the end of the month, I was in Norfolk for a 50th birthday knees up with family, and some of my old mates from the RAF Regiment – this proved to be an interesting evening, to say the least.
First things first, and after picking up Richard and Michelle and getting them settled in we decided to have a short session on the recently cut grass fields on my permission. At the recent Northern Shooting Show I had picked up a set of Enforcer Pro Series Decoys from DJ Decoys. I had heard many a good report on these and I was keen to give them a once over, so after a lengthy chat with Gwyn and Sharon, I found myself fully sorted with the magnificent-looking Enforcer Decoys. The whole package is very impressive, with carryalls for the full-bodied decoys and a separate carry case for the floaters. Separate compartments for each bird is much better than stuffing everything into an oversized duffle bag where everything gets knocked about and eventually damaged. They would be perfect for my shooting, and on this short stint give bro’ a chance to pick off a few woodies, I hoped.
I decided on a more random pattern for the Enforcers, with the two floaters set up at the rear of the rough pattern. These floaters have an amazing life-like action. The wings really open up as the wind gets under them, giving the realistic look of a landing bird, and the 10 full-bodied birds have a great look to them, too. Six feeders and four sentries and the pattern looked good. How could we fail?
TWO FROM TWO
I had sorted Richard out with the FX sub 12 ft.lbs., .177 Impact and a fixed 10x Sidewinder, and after a zero check using the usual AA Diablos, he was set. I used the FX FAC Wildcat in .22 because I’d be taking my shots from a greater distance, but my priority was for ‘Chard to get his first woodie. This proved harder than I expected. The birds just weren’t there, and a reshuffling of the decoys
“He’d only gone and got one! A nice plump woodie lay lifeless in the centre of the pattern”
still didn’t get any interest. I have total confidence that these Enforcers will be a winner – absolutely no doubt about it – but today was maybe too soon on this known hot spot. My log showed that bags of 20-30 have been taken in a session over the last few years, but maybe it was too soon after the cut, or maybe they had found a flattened crop somewhere. Time was ticking by, and I was willing the birds in. My attention was taken by movement to my left, on an old oak tree, where a squirrel was scampering up and down the trunk, but with no clear shot I decided just to observe. I then heard the faintest of noises and looked immediately to the field. He’d only gone and got one! A nice plump woodie lay lifeless in the centre of the pattern, a ‘between the shoulders’ shot had brought ‘Chard his first woodpigeon. I mimed for him to stay put and see if anything else came in. and sure enough, a second woodie came straight to the fallen one. One more shot from the Impact, and another one was down. Maybe this was the start of them coming in, but we would never know because we had to make moves and get home. Two from two was enough to keep him happy, though, and we even breasted them to take with us to the Lakes. Next stop, Penrith and some serious action on the rabbits.
We met up with Ben a couple of time before our air attack on the rabbits. Plans were made, and times were agreed. Richard was eager to see how Ben and I tackled the immense tract of land at our disposal, so we opted for an early evening start to get acclimatised to the lie of the land. Richard used the FX Wildcat throughout the daylight hours, and then he turned spotter with my Quantum XQ38 when darkness fell. Ben was utilising his now repaired Daystate Air Ranger, and I had the .25 FAC FX Impact with my new Pulsar XQ50 trail thermal scope. I’m going to say it again – the guys at Scott Country International really do look after their customers, and that includes me. The Pulsar is not a review item; it is mine, bought with my own hard-earned cash and it complements the Impact perfectly.
like Olympic sprinters, ready to pick off a few rabbits before dark. First shot was a small young ‘un, and it was a miss by – you guessed it – me! I can still hear the sniggers now, but that was to change. After a couple of hours, the light was fading slightly and it was only now that we realised it was the longest day and probably wouldn’t get really dark at all. We had already taken eight rabbits between us – Ben had four, and two apiece for Team Garvey –but now the thermal would come into its own and we steadily worked the fields – one shooting, one spotting. and one unluckily carrying the game bag. The conditions were perfect and we had to return to Ben’s Tonka truck to empty the game bag because they were good-sized rabbits and quite weighty. At one stage, we were treated to a little victory dance from our host as he came back from the semi-darkness with four rabbits, which he insisted were taken from four shots. I managed three from three before the rabbits got spooked and headed back to their burrows.
This is a very special place Ben has, and I hope to be coming here with him for years to come. We have a great relationship and I am now fully conversant with the land so Ben is
“over the moon with the rabbits and passed on the message that I was welcome any time”
happy for me to roam in one direction whilst he takes the other. This always gives us our best results because together we usually spend too much time chatting, laughing and joking, but one day we will give it 100% and records will be made. Our previous best was 26 and Ben didn’t think we’d break that tonight, but I had no doubt we could do it and the last field we covered was a firm favourite of mine. We weren’t sure exactly how many we had, but we guessed another six would do it, so it was time to get serious – well, maybe for a short while.
I was on point with the Impact, Richard on bag duty, and Ben on spotting. We worked the hedgerows, picking off ones and twos before heading out into the field centre, and the bag was getting full … and heavy. In fact, it was so heavy that the straps broke so we had to take it in turns to carry it, and in the end it was a two-man job to lift it over the fence. We had covered the field as a team and shot as a team. Our original estimation had been slightly out, but with 13 in the last bag we had nailed a total of 30. Ben and I gutted them all and put them in the farmer’s freezer for the beaters’ fund. I later found out that he was over the moon with the rabbits and passed on the message that I was welcome any time – great result! After the pictures had been taken and handshakes all round, we realised it was 2am and not even really dark. We talked constantly during our drive back about what a great night it had been and how perfect preparation is key to successful shooting.
My next outing was just about preparation. I was going to meet my good friend Tony, on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, and taking the .25 Impact just in case anything showed itself, but the main plan was to get to grips with this new land I had been invited to shoot on. Now, I don’t ever recall saying this before, nor do I expect to say it again anytime soon, but I really wish I had taken my shotgun instead of the Impact. I witnessed the most prolific flight-line ever. In just over an hour we must have counted around 1000 woodpigeons flighting down the side of a thin line of trees. The crop was sugar beet, and I have been asked to accompany Tony after the harvest when he will take the far end with his shotgun, and I will set up at the other end with my Enforcers, and either the Wildcat or Impact – from what I’ve seen, it will be a great day.
So there we have it, three of a kind. Three really good mates who share my enthusiasm for shooting. I
Despite the faces we were very happy with the result.
Richard got quite attached to the Impact.
So, we were off out of the starting blocks Every corner gives another breathtaking view.
The deal is done for harvest time.
How can these Enforcers ever fail, looking this good?
Relaxing with big Tony.
Just the two, this time.