The annual Christmas trip back to the UK would not be complete without a day out with dad beating and attempting to shoot. I love spending time in the countryside and this is the perfect way to do it. Donning the flat cap and pulling on the green wellies always gives me a bit of a thrill and this year more so than normal. Three weeks ago I didn’t think I’d be well enough to go this year. This will be my first major exercise since the accident.
Setting off, the morning was crisp and dry with no evidence of the fog that’s been plaguing us all week. Driving out through Weobley a beautiful fox came bounding out of the hedgerow and ran in front of the car for about 20m before jumping back into the hedge and disappearing off-it feltlike an omen that today was going to be a good day.
Arriving at the shoot is always fun. Being one of the very few ladies who goes it always causes a stir. On the one hand the guys treat like one of the boys, butvon the other they are trying really hard to kind their p’s and q’s-not very successfully I have to say!
After the usually cup of coffee and a chat the day starts with choosing your cup, drinking your port and then seeing what number is stamped on the bottom. This tells you where you stand for each shoot. I managed to get number 4, a good placing right in the centre. Out onto the wagon and off to the first shoot, everyone is standing this one as they’re going to put up the duck pond. I’m quite excited, as I’ve never seen ducks go up. I shouldn’t have worried. It was all a bit of an anticlimax as we stood there for nearly 30 minutes waiting and then when they started to flush them over only one came, and flew too low to be shot at.
Next for us was beating. We were taken up on top of Garnston Hill and were to sweep down to the guns at the bottom. Bloody hell the brambles were so thick at one point I thought I’d never fight my way out! Then a cry went out “deer” I looked up and this gorgeous black deer came bouncing towards me, just like Bambi. I was fumbling to get my camera out but just couldn’t in time.
Finally our time to take the stand. The guys before had loads of birds come out and had managed to get 33 pheasants and a wood cock. They all said they were flying low so I was bound to get one this year. I wasn’t so sure.
As it turned out we hardly had any birds. I had one shot at one and caught its tail feathers and then another came at me. Dad was shouting at me ‘it’s yours it’s yours.’ So I took aim and fired, MISS. I heard dad shout ‘again’ so I followed through and shot again. I got her! I was so excited that I forgot to reload and look for more. My whooping and shouting amused all the other guys who regularly shoot ten or more birds each week. But they were all very lovely and congratulated me on my first ever bird! In proper shooting fashion I will clean her up and have her for my dinner tomorrow. It’s only taken me 5 years to managed to shot something but I’m quite proud of myself. If Armageddon does come I might still be able to survive, haha.