We had our first shoot day of the season on Saturday which, whilst it got off to a good start, sadly ended with one of the dogs collapsing and subsequently having to be put down.
Daisy had worked well on the first 3 drives, retrieving downed birds, but keeled over at the end of the final drive and despite being rushed immediatley to the vet, could not be saved. We decided to put an end to the day there and decanted to the pub.
But what of the shooting? And more importantly, the birds. Well, I missed several sitters, despite having been down to Urchfont for pre season practice: clearly must do more. But the birds were fabulous.
Firstly, there were dozens. On the second drive, as the beaters brought up one of the hedges and a strip of maize, we must have seen 50 – 60 birds run and fly across the top of the field into the adjacent maize. This confirmed our approach of planting both more and better cover crops than last year.
On the third drive I walked up with the beaters, who flushed several flurries of birds out of the cover, only for me to miss them… Darn.
As I stood at the end of the drive waiting for more birds to emerge from the maize, out popped an adult fox, at full speed making for the hedge across the field. In the distance Mr FM was urging me to shoot it, so I gave it both barrels, but sadly it was out of range. More lamping needed!
Two minutes later after a few pheasant flurries, all further up the line beyond where I was standing, a young roe deer emerged and sprinted towards me, only changing course about 20 yards away. Oh that our sporting rights included deer!
So all in all, the shooting was a great success. Vastly more birds than we saw all of last year, vindicating our revised cover crop plan and, a reasonable bag of 9 from 3 drives. The total bag should have been a dozen or more….. had we all shot better!
The evidence in the back of the landrover. Now plucked and in the freezer for next weekends enjoyment!