Saturday morning, bright and early .. no wait, this is England so it was dark at 7.00am… so Saturday morning, dark and early The Fisherman and I headed West along the M4 into deepest Mid Wales for a days rough shooting.
As dawn broke and the clouds thinned, we could see that after a week of howling gales and rain the sun was out over the Wye valley. Promising indeed.
So, after a quick coffee, it was boots on, guns out and off we went in the Land Rovers for the first three ‘drives’ – I’m using parentheses because this was not a formal shoot, but beaters and guns working with dogs through woodland with 3 of us on the edge of the wood, spread out, but not on pegs.
The Fisherman had promised me varied and interesting shooting amidst spectacular shooting and I was not disappointed. From the end of the lane where we parked the cars we walked a couple of miles over and around a wooded hillside and down the other side to a huge field leading down to the river. Pheasants eluded me, but a flight of duck took off from the river and circled tantalisingly around me out of range. But in range for Robin, who bagged a teal.
Back in the vehicles we drove a mile or so along the valley to another long wood flanked with muddy waterlogged fields. With all this water and mud, walking in boots carrying a gun and what can only be described as an optimistic number of cartridges, is not easy. So, having added a couple more pheasants, a woodcock and a pigeon to the bag, we headed back to the cottage for lunch.
Out again promptly, refreshed by hot Muligatawny and Fullers London Pride, we walked down through the gardens, over a field and along the top of a wooded valley leading down to the river. The eager spaniels flushed three birds out in quick succession and I managed to bag two, although one did a runner back into the cover.
Down into the valley we walked – hoping for woodcock – but The Fisherman and I waited patiently in vain, finally walking back up to the cottage without firing a shot. We had enough time for two more drives and headed off immediately into thick woodland, with me standing out in the field.
Sadly we’d seen the best of the pheasants earlier in the day and save for a woodcock out of range and a sheep that seemed to be in the middle of dying of something – not a gunshot would I hasted to add – there were no more birds.
So, total tally was; 16 pheasants, 1 pigeon, 1 dove, 1 woodcock, 1 rabbit, 1 duck.
The Wye valley is beautiful, the weather was kind and company excellent. All in all a very good end to this year shooting season and, best of all, I took the teal home and we ate it on Sunday. Yum.