Phil Moor­som talks through some of the great sport­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that syn­di­cate mem­bers can take ad­van­tage of through­out the year

Sporting Shooter - - Contents -

Va­ri­ety is the best pol­icy to keep syn­di­cates happy

Ithink it is around this time of year that it re­ally hits home how lucky we are to have such a wide range of field­sports avail­able to us in this coun­try for the ma­jor­ity of the year. Fe­bru­ary the first seems an eter­nity ago and the Glo­ri­ous Twelfth now seems just around the cor­ner and one can start to get ex­cited about the up­com­ing sea­son.

I man­age to keep my hand (eye) in for most of the year. I am a mem­ber of a small clay syn­di­cate that shoots ev­ery other Sun­day over some rough ground on quite a large lo­cal farm. We in­vested in sev­eral man­ual traps and take it in turns to shoot or trap and we all pay a ten­ner for a morn­ing’s shoot­ing. As is usu­ally the case, one or two ded­i­cated peo­ple do the ma­jor­ity of the or­gan­is­ing and tweak some days to make it more in­ter­est­ing.

We al­ways have a fam­ily day, small bore days, the odd com­pe­ti­tion and the best is the Christ­mas driven day fol­lowed by a long lunch at the lo­cal pub – paid for out of the year’s subs. Ev­ery six weeks or so, in or­der to thank the farmer, we have a crow shoot just to keep the num­bers down.

One of the great perks of run­ning our syn­di­cate is vis­it­ing the many shoots that make up our cal­en­dar. I al­ways make the trip to new venues for the up­com­ing sea­son to have a good look around and to meet the keeper or shoot owner to make sure we are com­pat­i­ble. On some of our long-stand­ing shoots I of­ten take my three en­er­getic ter­ri­ers with me as they en­joy get­ting stuck into the hedgerows and may flush the odd bunny for the pot.

Per­son­ally, I love just walk­ing around and see­ing what wildlife is about. I went out for a walked-up af­ter­noon in March armed only with a pair of binoc­u­lars and my one well-be­haved ter­rier and man­aged to see a wood­cock, a snipe, a brace of pheas­ant, a par­tridge, a bar­rel of a munt­jac and seven roe deer all in the space of a cou­ple of hours.

Ev­ery year at the end of the shoot­ing sea­son many of our mem­bers are keen to find al­ter­na­tive en­ter­tain­ment once the game birds are tak­ing a well-de­served rest. Sim­u­lated days are a fan­tas­tic means of not only keep­ing your eye in but a great so­cia­ble event.

A well-run day should mir­ror a full driven one and will oc­ca­sion­ally re­sult in a slightly bruised shoul­der, a re­minder to have a les­son, a re­al­i­sa­tion that you need to book some game days and hope­fully that slightly tired sat­is­fac­tion that one gets from a day in the field. We usu­ally put a cou­ple in the cal­en­dar in dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the coun­try and they are al­ways well at­tended.

Keen to sat­isfy the de­sire for live quarry, we also ar­range some pi­geon days both over de­coys and roost shoot­ing, but as with all wild bird days it

is dif­fi­cult to guar­an­tee suc­cess. There is no sub­sti­tute for hav­ing your own per­mis­sions and re­ceiv­ing a call from the landowner in­form­ing you that a sud­den in­flux of ‘wood­ies’ is caus­ing him grief or that a sud­den ex­plo­sion of rab­bits in a cou­ple of fields needs im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion.

Luck­ily, I have quite a few ar­eas I am per­mit­ted to shoot over and I think too many peo­ple are a bit re­luc­tant to ask farm­ers or landown­ers for per­mis­sion as­sum­ing that the an­swer will be ‘no’ or that some­one al­ready has the shoot­ing rights sewn up. If you don’t ask you don’t get.

Once you do get a per­mis­sion un­der your belt, you may well be sur­prised how pos­i­tively neigh­bour­ing farm­ers will re­act to your re­quest. Of course, mak­ing sure you shoot re­spon­si­bly on their land and per­haps of­fer­ing some­thing in re­turn goes a long way. This could be fi­nan­cial, or sim­ply a cou­ple of rab­bits (in a pie), a brace of pi­geon or a bot­tle or two of some­thing.

This year, we have also or­gan­ised sev­eral days’ stalk­ing for mem­bers on many of the shoots that we visit dur­ing the game sea­son. The ma­jor­ity of these days are for novices who do not have their own ri­fle, but are keen to give stalk­ing a go.

Not all shoots are keen to wel­come novices, but if you don’t ask you will never know. Most shoots will of­fer a guided morn­ing or evening stalk for a very mod­est sum and some will hap­pily give you the meat to take away while oth­ers may charge the go­ing rate. It is a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence and who knows, you may get hooked and want to do more of it in the fu­ture.

A sur­pris­ingly large num­ber of the peo­ple I shoot with also seem to har­bour a pas­sion for fly-fish­ing. I have to con­fess that the in­fat­u­a­tion that ac­com­pa­nies fly-fish­ing is in­creas­ingly ir­re­sistible.

I do a bit of sea fish­ing and lob­ster pot­ting in Pem­brokeshire, which I love, but the thought of trav­el­ling to var­i­ous stun­ning, iso­lated rivers all over the coun­try just sounds too good not to at least give it a try.

I have been of­fered a cou­ple of lessons by a pas­sion­ately ec­cen­tric fish­er­woman who is a dear friend of my Mum. That, cou­pled with an in­vi­ta­tion to ex­pe­ri­ence the Mayfly trout sea­son, may well be enough to get me hooked (pun in­tended)!

How­ever, I am not sure how well an­other all-con­sum­ing hobby would go down at home.

The Rough Rovers or­gan­ise some pi­geon shoot­ing out­ings Sim days are not only ben­e­fi­cial for your shoot­ing, but are fun and so­cia­ble too

A num­ber of guided stalks have been ar­ranged for syn­di­cate mem­bers

Phil is tempted to add fly-fish­ing to his list of hob­bies

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