Be­hind the Line

Shooting Gazette - - Gundogs - by Gath­erer

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.”

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