Too much gun?

“Do you fancy coming on a small vermin day tomorrow?”

So read the message on my phone yesterday morning, sent from the Under-Keeper on the grand Estate I beat on.

I immediately send back a confirmation and beg my wife to make up a refs. box for an unexpected day out. I lay out my kit and select the .308 and the thermal clothing I will need for sitting up in a box or high seat.

It is a very civilized 1000 hours start, and I have the truck loaded by 0830 hours. A very pleasant drive across to the Estate and I am the first to arrive. I am always the first to arrive. Always.

I pile on the layers, put the binocular over my head, the Vorn over my shoulders and wait. I look every bit the great Stalker that I am.

The Keeper arrives. We have not seen each other for a while and it is a pleasure – for me at least.

“Hi, S62. Where is your shotgun?”


“Yeah. Shotgun.”

“I have not brought a shotgun, why would I need a shotgun?”

“Well it’s a small vermin day”.

“Yes. I got the message. So I brought my .308 – to sit up and shoot vermin”.

“No. Small vermin day means walk and shoot with shotgun. That's what it means in Norfolk".

"But we are not it Norfolk..."

It is a conversation I am never going to win.

The Under-Keeper arrives, with the Keeper’s Father and two other guests making a C19 friendly maximum of 6.

The Under-Keeper looks me up and down.

“Where is your shotgun?”

It is as if I am caught in a loop of embarrassment and shame that I cannot escape from.

They all find it funny. I want the earth to open and swallow me. The Keeper pops into his cottage and produces a spare shotgun and two boxes of cartridges. He is laughing, they are all laughing – I am crying on the inside.

As discretely as I can, I slip off the Vorn holding the .308 and the binocular and stow them safely out of the way.

The brief is simply to walk and stand through all of the woods, the target species are fox, jay, pigeon and squirrel. None of which is suitable for .308.

Any hoo.

Despite demonstrating to the assembled masses that I cannot even be trusted to dress myself for the day – I was given the keys to the ATV. Odd is it not. A grown man who has driven professionally and I still get excited when given the keys to what is effectively a “Bumper Car”.

Off we set. The countryside is looking stunning. The woods are heavy with Bluebells and it is a real treat to be out in them. The first “drive” has me as a walking gun. I am dressed in thermals and layers ready for sitting in a high seat. I am not dressed for yomping through the woods.

In no time at all, I am sweating like a fat lass in a Greggs. It is an act of mercy, that I then stand for the next three “drives”. I think we do six in total.

On the first drive one of the guests shoots his first fox. Obviously the Keepers and he are delighted. I mange a single shot and am fortunate to tumble a Jay to earth. Perhaps one of the most beautiful of the UK birds.

The final bag is not massive. One Fox, two Jays and three Pigeons.

It has been a privilege to walk the UK woods with a shotgun, and a joy to be out in the company of old friends.

Just remember to read the invite properly.


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Well-Known Member
I have just checked the back of my truck -therein are the Keeper's Jacket and his jumper.

I suspect that my discarded "layers" are still in the back of his truck. I have obviously walked off with the wrong kit. So the adventure starts and ends with a fcuk up.

Wonder if I will get a second invite? :-|
In a previous life, that would be a visit to Greggs. And some fresh cream ones, no less.


Well-Known Member
In a previous life, that would be a visit to Greggs. And some fresh cream ones, no less.
I know of that tradition very well.

Point of fact.

It was that tradition which caused me to become an official "Dinosaur".

If you were late on parade, it was doughnuts. A fairly junior is service, officer was late on parade. The sergeant suggested the local bakery and a tray full of doughnuts.

The officer decline to go to the bakery and so the Sergeant "stuck him on" (reported him) for his lateness.

At the discipline hearing, the little shite young officer, ran the defence, that he was not being "stuck on" for his lateness but rather his refusal to buy doughnuts.

He won. The Sergeant lost. The Service lost. Society as a whole lost and I became a "Dinosaur".

I have no doubt, that that officer, is now in charge of some nothing department is the arse end of nowhere. At least I hope he is.


Well-Known Member
I have this morning returned the Keeper's clobber.

He has (to be fair) returned mine.

At least that is what we said to the community Bobby who saw us swapping clothes in the middle of a forest.

Come on. You have all been there.

I should also like to reassure readers that the Jays were shot under the G.L. and were therefore legal.

This particular Estate has a Lapwing protection programme in place. As such, you are permitted to shoot Jays in order to protect a Red List species.

Just wanted to ensure there was no confusion on that point.

Uncle f

Well-Known Member
So unless it’s for protection of red and amber listed bird species and can be proven Jays are protected and not to be taken. This changed in January this year.


Well-Known Member
Lovely, not seen the pattern before - what’s the name?
Colonel Downham's Fancy. The only fly I can remember that uses jay although of course any others do also use blue in them such as the Blue Zulu. Here's a thread to a discussion about it.


Farmer Geddon

Well-Known Member
Jays are an interesting bird, in all the years of using a larsen trap, I have never caught a jay in one. They have a good side too, it is reckoned that the reason we used to have so many ancient oak forests in the Uk was down to Jays stashing acorns in the autumn & they're not very good at remembering where. After harvest in the middle of stubble fields I see many small oak seedlings popping up. If we ever get deer numbers down to sensible levels the jay would definitely help with reseeding woodland.
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