Saturday, 13 October 2007
Damp start to the pheasant season
Today was my first day's pheasant shooting this season. The first drive I drew No.1, so I was right at the end of the line, which put me almost behind the beaters in the cover crop, looking down the valley where the rest of the guns were standing. Most of the birds went forward of course, so I had a splendid view of the shooting. Then a lone bird headed back, straight over my head... and I knocked it neatly out of the sky with a single shot.
It was the perfect start to the season, except for the small matter of a persistent drizzle that fogged my glasses all morning and generally dampened everything - including the keeper, Martin, who had taken one of the beaters' advice on whether or not he'd need his hat and coat. He'll be checking the forecast himself in future!
You can see me looking a bit soggy in the photo above. I actually enjoyed the day enormously, depite the rather hangdog expression!
If you look closely you'll see I was shooting with a Beretta Silver Pigeon 20-bore - the first time I've tried the gun at game. It was a real treat to use. Mike Yardley tells me he rates this gun as the best ever made for game shooting, and I'm inclined to agree. It's light, handles beautifully and the recoil is very soft (I was shooting 25g Lyalvale Express 7s from justcartridges.com). And when I hit the birds, they were killed as cleanly as with a 12, even the higher ones on The Oaks drive.
Also pictured is my new Barbour 'Linhope' jacket. I was dead chuffed when this arrived out of the blue, with a letter from Lord James Percy, no less, asking if I'd like to try it out. Well yes, I think I could manage that!
It's too early to give the jacket a proper review, but so far I am very impressed. It's a world apart from the old wax Barbours that I remember from years back. The materials are top-notch, and the quality of design and construction is just amazing. I keep finding clever little details, like the way the hood fixes into the collar with a combination of press-studs and velcro. In fact the closer you look, the more you realise has gone into this coat. Even the press studs are all arranged so the word 'Barbour' is the right way up. How many other coats offer that sort of attention to detail!
I'll give the coat a thorough try-out over this season, and report back on important stuff like, is it really waterproof, and does it really breathe (although I think I already know the answers to those two).
Here's a short video clip of a flush of birds over the guns at The Oaks. Unfortunately I missed the chance to capture the wonderful sight of a swan which flew along the line about 30ft up, turned over my head on peg No.8, then made its way back down the valley, during the previous drive. My excuse is that it was raining harder then, and I was keeping the camera safely in my pocket!