Behind the Line
One of the best things about our picking-up team is that none of us are greedy. We even things out among ourselves and the younger ones always volunteer to walk long distances across the glutinous plough.
We also have a process whereby the first pickers-up to arrive at a new drive walk the longest distance in order to allow latecomers to slip unobtrusively into place.
Arriving late with my black cocker, Granite, one day, I snuck in behind No. 10. I couldn’t help noticing his canary yellow stockings. In my experience, guns in the tattiest kit are often the best shots, so it was no surprise that His Elegancy was struggling to come to terms with the pheasants.
At the end of the drive, Mr Yellow Stockings (YS) had just one pheasant down. It had looked like a dead bird, falling into a deep ditch bordered by a tall, thick hedge. So I stayed put and asked Granite to “get back” and hunt up the ditch.
I soon became aware of someone yelling on the other side of the hedge.
I was astonished to see that Mr YS – now revealed to be sporting a matching yellow waistcoat – was running about stamping dementedly on some sticky plough. As his expensive boots became increasingly heavy, he began trying to collect up a hen. Granite, who had paused to watch this strange human, collected the bird with minimal fuss.
Mr YS, however, seemed to be set on making a great deal of fuss, enquiring belligerently whether I was blind/deaf/ stupid. I apologised for not realising his bird was a runner and explained that I had to be careful because my recently broken leg resembled an ancient cracked gunstock repaired with a metal strap, screws, copper wire and the medical equivalent of cable ties. YS was not amused.
The Guns, the keeper and the other pickers-up were waiting impatiently by the Gunbus about 300 yards away. YS set off across the gooey prairie, hell bent on giving someone else a piece of his mind. I gave the team a quick headsup on the radio.
He picked on our Suffolk equivalent of the Ancient Mariner, who apparently calmly replied: “Well Sir, we wouldn’t be having this problem if you’d shot it cleanly, would we?”
“Guns in the tattiest kit are often the best shots.”