CARNANTON, CORN­WALL

CORN­WALL A shoot which means the world to those who run it shows chal­leng­ing birds to a team that knows where to put its bar­rels.

Shooting Gazette - - This Month - WORDS AND PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: CHRIS WAR­REN

Guns and shoot own­ers with a pas­sion for their sport unite. By Chris War­ren.

Mo­bile phones don’t do Corn­wall or rather they don’t do Cor­nish. I’m not talk­ing cov­er­age here – it is no worse in Corn­wall than many other ar­eas of ru­ral Bri­tain – I’m talk­ing auto-cor­rect. Pic­ture the scene. You are in a Gun­bus and every­one is talk­ing 20 to the dozen and one of your hosts is telling you the name of the val­ley and the name of the river that runs through it. Now, spell­ing has never been my strong point and Cor­nish is not very pho­netic so I ask her to spell the names so I can en­ter them on my phone. I have to do this three times what with the noise of the Guns’ chat­ter, the sound of the trac­tor and the bangs from the trailer as we go over the rough ground. I fi­nally

think I have them down and put the phone away. Later, when I come to look at my phone, I dis­cover that the val­ley is called the Vale of Lanterns and the river is ap­par­ently named the River Mé­nage. So I have to ask yet again. I now look like an id­iot. So, note to self: when in Corn­wall, carry an old-fash­ioned ana­logue notebook. ( Ed: You know you can turn the de­vice’s auto-cor­rect off don’t you, Chris?)

Cor­nish names have an air of ro­mance and the Vale of Lan­herne and the River Me­nal­hyl sound rather more beau­ti­ful than my auto-cor­rected ver­sions – I hope that Claire Young-jamieson, for it was she, will for­give my seem­ing in­com­pe­tence. Claire’s hus­band Paul has run the shoot at Carnanton since suc­ceed­ing to the es­tate in 1995 and he has de­vel­oped it from a rel­a­tively small syn­di­cate shoot to one of the premier shoot­ing des­ti­na­tions in the West Coun­try. They have never ad­ver­tised and find no prob­lem fill­ing the days they or­gan­ise. Paul and Claire host ev­ery day and as well as help­ing with the Guns Claire en­joys work­ing her dogs. Three years ago Lee Nobbs, who had been an un­der­keeper there for six years, took over as head­keeper.

The nor­mal pre­lim­i­nar­ies of peg draw­ing, safety talk and get­ting suited and booted com­pleted, we were off. Corn­wall looked stun­ning in the win­ter sun­shine as I stood look­ing down the tree-topped slope over the Gun line north­east­wards to­wards the charm­ingly named town of St. Columb Ma­jor. The green­est of greens un­der the bluest of skies with hints of gold from the dust­ing of leaves still hang­ing on the oaks. First drive, first bird out, first car­tridge fired and first one in the bag – a good omen for the day ahead. Lo­cal restau­ra­teur Jamie Yoki was the

man re­spon­si­ble and very smartly done too. Hang­ing Wood was a lovely starter, though the bright sun and ab­sence of wind meant it wasn’t as spec­tac­u­lar as it can be. But no mat­ter, the birds flew well enough, the ex­pe­ri­enced team chose only the tallest and you don’t need to fill your boots with the rest of the day to come. Cer­tainly it ap­peared that the pro­fes­sional cadre of pick­ers-up had enough to do. The night be­fore we’d had din­ner in Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant and had done rather well, but any lethargy pro­duced by the mod­icum of fer­mented grape juice we had con­sumed was well and truly ban­ished.

Show­ing their met­tle

The Gun­bus next de­posited us in the beau­ti­ful Vale of Lan­herne for Mill Lane. A proper Cor­nish coombe, at this point the val­ley floor is quite wide be­tween the steep wooded slopes and the Guns get a good view of the birds as they fly high and fast above the trees. By this time the clouds had cov­ered the sun and the birds showed their met­tle. Even with good Guns us­ing tight chokes not all hit birds fold in the air and Paul makes a point of call­ing “mark” from his po­si­tion some­where near the mid­dle of the line when he sees a bird shot but not killed, so alert­ing the pick­ers-up to pos­si­ble run­ners. It is good to see this kind of re­spect shown to the quarry and it was ev­i­dent watch­ing the pick­ers-up that all ef­forts were made to find ev­ery sin­gle bird that had been hit. At Carnanton, Paul is very happy to let Guns work their dogs af­ter the horn has gone and the pick­ers-up ob­vi­ously re­spect this. Robert Sy­mons’s dog Elvis, a rather fine fox-red lab, had plenty to do on ev­ery drive.

A re­laxed elevenses fol­lowed. I chat­ted with Joanna Wil­son, who was shar­ing a peg with her hus­band Kevin. They travel quite

Jamie Yoki, who lives lo­cally, is well bal­anced on Young Squires.

Kevin Wil­son on Lawreys Mill, a coombe made for shoot­ing.

Gun Charl Oosthuizen keeps his stuffer busy.

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