Friday 28 December 2007
Boxing Day squirrel shoot
After all that turkey and Christmas pudding, what's needed is a bit of fresh air and healthy outdoor exercise. Better still if you can combine it with a spot of conservation work - reducing the population of grey squirrels. OK, there's no red squirrels within miles of my parents' place on the North Downs, but the greys do plenty of damage to forestry, native birds and fruit trees, so we do our best to keep their numbers down.
There was a broad cross-section of the family out on the traditional Boxing Day 'poke'. Not to be outdone by her sister's exploits, younger daughter Vicky was out with a 12-bore pump-action Remy 870, a good choice for the squirrels.
Chief poker was my dad, ably assisted by the Australian contingent of Deon and Jacob. We worked through the woods, using the segmented poles to poke the squirrel dreys while Emma, Vicky and my brother Nigel stood ready to shoot any that appeared.
As is often the case, many of the dreys were empty. But we still managed three, one of them falling to a delighted Vicky. Plus in-between taking the photos I collected a pigeon that was foolish enough to fly within range.
All in all, a small victory for conservation, and a good day had by all.