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Game Shooting - What makes a good sporting bird ? - Peter Harris



With the game season now well and truly at an end, now may be the time to take stock and evaluate how we did .
 

Sadly this season has disappointed me watching numerous guns displaying an awful amount of ignorance to what and what is not a 'sporting' bird.

With the game season now well and truly at an end, now may be the time to take stock and evaluate how we did .
Sadly this season has disappointed me watching numerous guns displaying an awful amount of ignorance to what and what is not a 'sporting' bird. From dreadful displays of low partridge shooting, with scant regard for the advancing beating line, to outrageous displays of either shooting awfully low Pheasants to attempting to shoot stratospheric Pheasants with totally inadequate shot loads and choke combinations. 
Are you guilty of any of these? Of course you are not , but I will bet you know someone who was.

What is a Sporting bird? Well if we consider that the 'effective' range of a shotgun is up to 40 yards and we often see a partridge or pheasant trying to break ranks at 25 yards and exit the drive sharp left or right , I would say that if the background is safe and clear ( read fresh air) we should address those birds.

What about tall Devon or Mid Wales Pheasants ? Are they tall ? Remember over the tops of Electricity Pylon wires is normally 52 yards high and I see Pheasants regularly clear those wires with ease. Do you honestly believe that you can achieve a high rate of mortality at those birds with cylinder choke and 30 grams of 6's ? Yes you will kill, but convincingly and regularly? The reverse scenario, is your full & 3/4 O/U suitable for Fenland Pheasants or Anglian hedge hopping partridge?
So stop and take stock and if you are guilty of making errors of judgement, make a resolution not to do it again.
Errors of judgement ! We had a Gentleman buy a day with us, he arrived promptly and dressed very smartly in fawn Farahs, black patent slip on shoes and a smart Golf sweater." Right Lads get togged up and we will make a start." Everyone put on their Wellingtons and leggings to tackle the first drive a field of beat . Everyone except the new Gun who complete with cartridges and gun was content to tackle the beat field. " Don't you have any Wellingtons?" " No I didn't think ! "
Obviously not.
Finally a little safety anecdote.
My Father was a very enthusiastic Gameshot (and a stickler for correctness).
When I was nine years old he announced " Right young man you can come shooting today, you can go in the beating line."
Arriving at the shoot I was introduced to one of the Senior Beaters, a Pensioner named Austin ( his brother was Morris, his father worked at the car plant at Cowley).
"Right my boy , you do exactly as Austin does and wo betide you if I hear or see you doing wrong. " said Father.
First drive through some bracken and gorse pushing pheasants slowly and steadily towards the guns doing exactly as Austin on my right did , even making a silly noise which I believe made the pheasants run ahead, up this gradient and at the top the birds flushed towards the waiting Guns who opened fire suddenly I heard and felt pellets wizzing over head. One of the Guns an Indian Doctor who I later learned was known as Dr. Duckdown Singh was enjoying himself enthusiastically.
To my right a voice bellowed " Pick those barrels up or I'll stuff them where the Sun doesn't shine ."
Then I heard a nine year old yell " Pick those barrels up or I'll stuff them where the Sun doesn't shine."
No one has ever explained what that really meant, but if Austin said it, it must be right.
That's all for now, see you at a Gamefair or on a simulated day ( you can never get enough practice.)

Keep it safe please

"Keep it safe please"


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