I have been going to a little shoot beating for best part of 8yrs or so. Its on the same ground as our deer syndicate and is a friendly little place jovial, relaxed and everyone chips in, most of us have done 5 or 6 seasons and we are youngish team with the average age probably about 32 . All the deer syndicate beat and this helps keep us together. Two years ago one of the pheasant shoot syndicate members asked a couple of the deer syndicate lads to help establish another little shoot on his ground. This was there second year having released 100 Partridge and 200 pheasants doing 3 or 4 days a season.
A few weeks back I got an invite along with the rest of the deer syndicate and some of the other regular beaters for a days mixed walked up come mini driven. The sell was not numbers but good company and the challenge to beat the bag record of 9 species. On weds we got a text saying looking forward to seeing everyone but the farms under water so don't get expectations up.
They need not have worried however, yesterdays weather was glorious and the water had retreated a little. We arrived to bacon sarnies, venison sausages, sausages rolls a cheeky tipple and a mug of tea. Half an hour of banter, sharing old stories, looking at new toys and talking dogs we were pulled away for some shooting. The first drive was at the far end of the farm and involved blanking in an old railway line and hedges to a maize strip. A rook dissected me and my fellow gun just out of range but hadn't seen a third placed as a shooting stop. He folded and the bag was under way. A hen pheasant curled back a crumpled to the shoot owner and then calls of partridge. Martin over. The problem was the sun and it wasn't until it was passed me that I had seen it. A safe shot was on but both barrels were wide and not particularly handsome. As we walked on some polite ribbing was provided.
We headed for drive two where we accounted for another pheasant and I got off the mark with a fenchman. We also added a Jay and a Squirrel for good measure. The third drive didn't add anything to the bag but we saw snipe and woodcock. We stopped back for cinnamon whirls more sausage rolls and a drink. The fourth drive was memorable working in the line was a friends GSP. Out she went and produced a rock solid point, Lisa walked up readied her self and gave the command. A big cock bird erupted, it departed down the line unscathed but it was brilliant to watch. 100 yards later and another rock solid point this time on command a red leg erupted it swung down the line past me and looked to be heading for the end standing gun, who happened to be my brother and the only man not to have dirtied his barrels. It then swung so it was going behind the line. Remounted I swung through and folded her first barrel at 40 yards. Sadly the retrieve wasn't completed as my lurcher shot off like a rocket to collect it.
The next drive was spectacular with those who had been in the shooting pushing out a small plantation and shooting was provided all down the line. The GSP who was now temporarily on peg completed her first retrieve of a runner so Lisa was over the moon. The next was the lake drive and this produced pheasant partridge including several English( off the menu and on a fine) as well as duck and woodcock.
Everyone had shooting again and the bag doubled I added a nice hen bird with a tricky quartering shot at full tilt. The final two manoeuvres showed birds but all English partridges (17 seen in total) bar a solitary hen pheasant. The bag stood at 15 and 6 species as we retired for some grub, a fantastic chilli and rice followed up by an awesome cheesecake. With the sun about to set a duck flight was announced and we headed off. The light was pretty much gone when a crow lofted over me and became species 7 of the day. The lads on the lake added another duck and species 8 was up. It was as the last light faded that a solitary teal dropped in from behind my right shoulder sensing danger it launched up like a jet rocket with after burners on. Both barrels missed and with that the chance to equal the species bag passed. But it really didn't matter.
We all headed back for a final brew and natter. An excellent day and proof that a days shooting with a handful of cartridges can be equally if not more rewarding than a 100+ bird day. Thanks to the guys for organising it was spot on