Well the end of the pheasant season has fast approached and after weeks of beating for the guns this week was our turn to bag a few.
I do beat on a couple of shoots but the shoot that i am featuring today is a small syndicate shoot that takes place around a 100 acre wood.There isn`t alot of birds left this time of year so anything between 20-40 birds is a good day for us as they only shoot 50 birds on the main days,the trouble on our day is there`s only usually 2 dogs in the line and they are like headless chickens that can run through the drive before the beaters have got ten yards and the guns that have shot all year are like a bunch of OAP`s so any rough cover that holds the birds often get a little over looked.With most shoots a beaters day consists of two teams of beaters , one will stand and shoot while the other team beats,once that drive is over the teams swap over to give the first team a standing shot,this will be the pattern untill the day is finished but on the shoot in this feature its the guns that have shot all year that beat for us.
The day starts off in the meeting room,coffe and a drop of whisky is passed around while we get all the names in the book and you get your number of birds that you think will be shot put in for the swepstake.
After all the banter and paperwork done its time to pick your stand number for the first drive,usually on this shoot there is eight guns but today there was nine of us,so there was a back gun on most drives.
After all the stand numbers were picked the safety talk was read out by the shoot captain , this is the most important part of the morning and you should take notice as failure to do so could result in a very serious if not fatal accident.
Now all thats sorted it was off to the first drive,i had picked number nine so as i had no stand and on this drive , you cant be a back gun as the birds going back will be facing guns anyway so i decided to go out in the field at that side of the wood that has no guns on.This was a sneaky tactic as i dog the hedgde in here with another beater and we are on stop once we get to the wood , At the start of the drive we usually see a few birds break out here so i thought i was in for a little shooting myself.
Well the whistle went and i was at the ready and was still at the ready half way through,nothing so far, i thought to myself that i should walk down a bit just incase one broke out further down but i walked and walked and for the first week in 11 nothing showed,thats just typical on my part i though but hey theres more drives to go.
The drives are close together here ,with it beeing a wood you are just playing catch up all day, so it wasn`t long before we was ready for the next drive ,this time i was number two,with most shoots on every drive your stand number will go up by two numbers so this gives every gun a chance to get at least two good stands through out the day.This stand can throw up a couple of birds and it wasn`t long before i got my first go.A cock bird had broke out infront and started to double back,it came between me and another gun but i had got a bead on him quickly and took him out just behind,a quick smile towards my neighbour and we was ready for another.
A few minutes had passed and the beaters had got infront of us when there came a call came for a partridge coming back towards us,the gun at my left got first shot but he missed and as he only had a single shot gun i had the chance to get him and i didnt dissapoint the beaters for their efforts.
That was it for this drive as the rest of the birds went forward and after we picked up and took the birds to the cart, it seemed most of the birds kept on going forward aswell.
We missed the next drive out that we usually do as there isn`t many birds in it and moved on to the drive that produces at least 20 birds towards the total bag.I was in the pen this drive and it usually produces a few birds as they are pushed right towards me,this drive has head high brambles most of the way so its perfect cover for the pheasants and is the only part of the wood with this much ground cover.
Well i could go on and on how rubbish this drive turned out to be as the beaters only got about six birds to fly and they all went where there was no gun.This can only be put down to only having two dogs on the drive and there is no way you can get birds to fly from here just by hitting the bushes,its just to thick and the birds were either sitting tight or running back between the beaters.
Well that was the morning drives over and time for soup and a pork pie that was suplied by the shoot captain.This is where our shoot differs from alot of the mainstream corporate shoots.Every week the guns bring dinner for the whole team on the day and the beaters are fed first,then when dinner has been eaten the shoot captain comes round with a nice shot of whatever the guns will be drinking.They take all the banter that we can throw at them when they miss and you feel part of the day rather than bird scarers for a load of toffs.
Dinner over and off to the next drive.My stand was on the edge of a pitt hole,this produces a few birds early on and i was ready while other guns were still unzipping there cases.As usual the oposite happened and nothing showed,a few birds were shot further down the wood and a couple were missed by the single shot to my left but that was it ,another cold stand for nothing.
As there was not many birds showing we decided to miss a couple of not so good drives out and go for the last big drive.We have cleared a few trees on this drive so it gives the guns a little more time to see the birds coming and the birds seem to get up better now,so off to my stand and i had high hopes this time.
The drive started and i could hear shots going off both left and right of me but nothing came to me for what seemed like an age.The gun to my right had missed three nice birds and when one came while he was re loading i took my chance and shot a nice hen with the second barrel.Another couple of minutes passed and through the corner of my eye i just cought a partridge flicking over the trees infront of me,i dont know how i got it but i hit it full on with my first shot and fell like a brick through the trees.
My last bird came late on and was a nice hen coming straight at me over a tall tree.I followed it through the thick branches and plucked her out of the sky as she came into the open.
I will confess that i had a cock straight after, that a blind man could have hit and i missed with both barrels,just aswell no one was looking as i said it was a screamer and was just to fast to my mate next door.
Well that was it for the day,we only managed 22 birds on the day but it was put down to no dogs on the main drive and severely crushed our chance of beating the guns for a second year.
We will be going for a bit of roost shooting this week so will hopefully get a few pictures and will report the bag as usual.