I remember talking on many occasions about wasteful game shooting. I was reminded of it on the weekend after a friend had an invite day down south, 10 guns for seven hundred and something pheasants. Now I like my game shooting, second of course to my stalking and I have done my fair share of shooting, luckily in many parts of the world.
I have run a small shoot for around 30 years, mostly driven and fighting for 5 or 6 guns, maximum bag of 60 and also done bigger days from the more normal 100-200 bird days through to 500 plus days.
Now what I quickly came to realise, was the more you shoot the more you forget and I don't think it's untypical that when you get to shoot 150 plus, the number of shots actually remembered at the end of the day dramatically falls to a point where you would have had better memories from a walk around and a bag of half a dozen.
I remember suggesting to my friend only a few weeks ago that on the larger days, if you can actually remember a handful of shots you are doing well. So I asked my mate a question bearing in mind he's a fit young guy, a national coach at another sport who loves his shooting and someone that has a fantastic memory, does a lot of public speaking, commentates for a TV company and someone you can rely on to remember something.
The question was...... "how many shots can you remember after using nearly 200 shells?"
The answer was......"three".....followed by "one really, I had to see the other two on the Go Pro to remind myself"
So it just confirmed to me once again that I am not unusual. On larger days, I cannot remember each and every shot, far from it and I guess the limit for me would be 100 birds or so between a team of guns. On a day like this I'll have a chance of remembering what I will have shot and hence will not have wasted my money or a friends hospitality. If I had the time or could afford to shoot large bags every day, I would choose not to do so. I may have chosen to shoot every day the half dozen..... a different matter.
I'm not sure what people actually get out of it unless they have some sort of incredible memories. I know that the guy that goes out of a weekend and bags a couple of birds or even nets a couple of rabbits will have exactly the same amount of fun doing so, maybe more so, not concerned about the rubbish weather or getting annoyed because the gun next to him constantly poaches your birds at a cost of £*!*! each.
Now stalking......a different matter.....
I shoot between 20 and 50 deer every autumn/winter and I have been stalking for over 30 years. There will not be many shots I cannot remember and if I'm in a bit of woodland, I'm sure I can remember all the deer I've shot there and even the deer I've seen.
Now that's value...... memories....
Without memories you are nothing and what you MAY have done is pretty meaningless wiyhout them. That's why whenever I can, my wife or myself films as much as possible so when the day comes when I cannot remember so well, I'll be able to put on a dvd and remind myself ... :-)
I'm not sure what it is but it will be a mixture of planning, the countryside, the smells, weather, all the wildlife you see from close encounters with the smallest firecrests to having ravens talking in the trees around you waiting to pinch some gralloch once you've departed. Maybe it's the adrenalin that's still there after more than 30 years, and always there whether stalking the humble muntjac doe to the grandest stag or buck. Time helps and the adrenalin is easy to control nowadays, but when it leaves me, that will be the time to stop stalking unless it's done for a job.
So there we have it.......my thoughts on a successful days hunting....... a couple of hundred birds or a day with deer?
Not to mention respect for your quarry........