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General > Wildfowling Diary - 2008
Wildfowling Diary - 2008
A Wildfowlers day by day record of their Wildfowling exploits.

30th September - Evening Flight

 

Having seen Pinks heading North West all week we decided to have a run up to the South Solway to see if any of them had dropped in there. I’ took Stephen along with me and collected Sam from School and headed straight on up for evening flight.

 

When we arrived at the parking spot for Newton “Big Marsh” there were already a couple of cars there and as it would take Sam a fair while to get ready and walk on I was a bit concerned he may disrupt the flight for the other lads so we decided to go round to Cardurnock. I had heard that geese had been flighting Powfoot on the Scottish side of the Solway and as this is almost opposite Cardurnock I hoped the big tides might have encouraged the Pinks to flight into the English side to feed.

 Young Wildfowler on the Solway

  

Arriving at Cardurnock we had the place to ourselves and it looked like there had been no wildfowlers there recently so that suggested there were no geese! That said at this time of year the geese are, by and large, passing through en-route elsewhere so they can be there one day and gone the next so we hoped we may be lucky.

 

We got kitted out, Sam was the only one with a problem as he’d left his jumper at home so I lent him one of mine that was lying around in the Landrover - I’m slightly bigger than Sam so it took him a while to get it all tucked into his chest waders!

 

Last season under the moon there had been a lot of Wigeon flighting this marsh so we headed out to a spot where there always was a large flash after the big tides and we planned to stick a few Duck Deecs out. Unfortunately things had changes, as they do on tidal marshes, and my chosen place no longer held water so that plan didn’t get off the ground! Instead we headed out to the point which may get us under Ducks going into the reserve and should give us a chance at the Pinks, if the came.

 30/09/08 - Wildfowling

  

Out on the point I got Stephen into a hole and Sam and I lay up behind a washed up tree, as Stephen was still a probationary member I had to keep him close so we were closer together than would be ideal. Sam had reverted back to his little 20g for tonight as he was still struggling away with his 12g Semi Auto, the little gun was not to much of a handicap as he’d shot 13 Geese with it 2 seasons ago.

 

It was a very windy night and it promised a lot especially when early on we heard Pinks heading out across the roost, they seemed to have come on from Newton or Border. Then as darkness drew in the first Ducks, Pintail, flighted in low but well wide before dropping into the reserve – looked good! We then saw some good flights of Teal heading up from the reserve and dropping into the rushy pools at the back of our marsh, unfortunately none came near us and the dark brought to an end a blank flight with no more geese seen or heard. Never mind it had been a fantastic sunset and great to be out on what was, in the 1980’s, a great goose marsh but sadly now a shadow. It brought back great memories of some great January and February moon flights under the great skeins.

 Solway Goose Roost

 

 

26th September – Evening Flight

 

Out with young Sam this evening for a Duck Flight into one of my flight ponds. Sam had left his new 3” 12g Semi Auto at home and reverted back to his little 20g as he was struggling to hit anything with the 12g. Both of us were trying some bargain priced loads we had picked up from Gamebore – Sam had Tungsten Matrix 5’s and I was trying the new TMX loads. I normally shoot steel at Ducks and Geese but when we were offered TMX and Tungsten at just a fiver per box of 25 we jumped at the chance to try them!

 

The first Mallard, a single, came in high and fast before plummeting down to the pond. I had told Sam to shoot first and he took a lovely shot on a difficult target and his duck hit the water with a big splash – Sam was back on form and very relieved.

 

The Wildfowler's Dogs

 

I followed up Sam’s shot with a nice left and right at Mallard with the new TMX loads before Sam “wiped my eye” on a nice crossing Mallard. A short, sharp and successful flight with four nice Mallard now winging their way to my frying pan…!

 

 

26th September – Morning Flight

 

Up to Lindisfarne today for a morning flight so it meant an early start! Left home at 3am to meet up with Stephen and then head up from his place, just as well we allowed plenty of time as it was thick fog all the way.

 

We arrived at Fenham le Moor just after 0530 and there was already a car there with no one in it – they must be keen! We got our gear together and slipped on Chest Waders, Jumper and MAX-4 Jacket before kitting up with gun, rucksack, dog and the all important mud patterns.

 

We walked the short distance out over the grass and rocks before stopping to put on our Patterns. I also took the opportunity to set this waypoint into the GPS, it could be useful one day if fog descends whilst we are out on the mud.

 

The walk out can be pretty tough and certainly, even with mud patterns, the first 100 yards gets you into a sweat and it’s then you wish you’d paid the extra £30 for breathable waders!! The other thing to think about is a breakage of your patterns – if one breaks on the mud you are rather stuffed so Stephen and I always carry one spare Mud Pattern each! Today the walk out was a warm one but straightforward although it was nice to reach my chosen spot and strip a few layers off whilst I stuck a few deecs out into the channel.

 

Once settled down I got my Cartridge belt out of my rucksack and placed it close by, I’d brought a mix of 3” 35g Steel 3’s for the Ducks and 3.5” Steel BB’s for the Geese. The Flambeau Cartridge Belt I use has good deep pockets and I pushed the shells right down into them so that they didn’t end up with the heads covered in sand that could then jam my crappy auto! Ah, yes there’s another story – I broke the stock on my auto last night so I had to use a Hatsan, at least it would give me chance to see if they are as bad as people tell me. I then got my calls ready – a Haydel’s MP90 and a Brass Call for the Wigeon and a Custom Tuned Haydel’s B-81 for the Pinks. Finally I put my MAX-4 Wildfowling Jacket back on and topped everything off wit my Goretex Hat and a Neck Tube that I pull right up to just under my eyes.

 Lindisfarne Castle from Holy Island Sands

 

I thought I might as well stick my location into the GPS so I could always get there in the dark and it was as I messed on marking the waypoint that I heard 2 shots from Stephen. That must mean Wigeon on the move so I looked and listened to be greeted by a rush of wings and through the half light I could see bunches of Wigeon low over the sands to my left and right. I laid as close to the mud as I could and squinted from under the peak of my cap hoping, and expecting, Wigeon close enough to give me a shot but frustratingly they stayed just wide to my left and right. In less than a minute that was morning flight at Wigeon over and the only sound to be heard were a few Brent and the bellowing of Seals.

 Mute Swans over the mud

 

Nothing was moving, it was now very quiet and the falling tide had left my deecs high and dry so I got up and chucked the deecs back out into the water, they may give me a chance of attracting a small bunch of Ducks or a single. The short walk back to my position was interrupted by a call of nature – now why is it that opening a flask or unzipping your fly nearly always starts a flight? Yes, with waders rolled down and in “mid-flow” I heard the distinctive “wink-wink” of Pinkfeet out towards the Island. A bit of a rush ensued followed by a short dash across the mud, a change to goose loads and I was ready for action – let the come!  These geese were no fools and in a short time they had put plenty of air under themselves and they passed over me well out of shot and headed safely inland to the South West. Still, it made for a great morning flight to see the first Pinks of a new season.

 

It was now full light and I was starting to think about packing up when there was a huge commotion on the sands near the Island and I could see 600 to 800 Pinks wheeling around before the ragged lines headed my way. This time prospects looked good as they headed towards me with the first skein no more than 20 yards high. The first bunch came past me low and about 45 yards out but I chose to let these go as the last lot, about 150 yards behind, would be straight over me and I fancied I’d get 2 or 3 out of them. Well, that’s what I thought but the geese thought differently and the little sods drifted right and passed me just out of shot – with hindsight I should maybe have taken the first lot past me instead of the “easy” option? Never mind, better to have not shot than wounded a goose.

 Teal, the wildfowlers dog

 

 

Now it was time to take a few pictures of the, the dog and a few passing Swans for the website, finish of programming the GPS and…..hang on more geese! A skein came out of the back of the Island and then dropped in to the main channel just south of the causeway. At this distance it was hard to confirm they were Pinks, I couldn’t hear them call and the bunched up flight suggested they may be Barnacles. We soon found out they were Pinks when after a short wash and brush up they lifted and headed straight down the channel towards me. If they headed to the same feeding grounds as the rest of the geese this lot should come straight over me so the old pulse started to rise, yet again. They passed my companion, Stephen, a little bit wide but a decent shot brought one down and the skein split in two and started to tower. I was about 250 yards from Stephen and though half the geese were still heading towards me it looked like they would be too high. Fortunately for me they stopped climbing and though they were on the high side they were shootable for me so I rose to my knees, my first round of Steel BB’s went into thin air but the second saw my goose stagger, tower and then plummet into the main channel with a huge splash. Teal, a proper wildfowling dog, had been racing across the top of the mud to “pinch” Stephen’s goose saw my bird down turned round to make a spectacular “dash and splash” retrieve. Great – I was well please, a good flight, a good shot and an excellent retrieve. It’s a long time since I’ve shot a September Pinkfoot, the last time must have been back in the 90’s when I was still a member of the Scottish Solway Wildfowlers Association and I regularly shot Priestside.

 Teal brings back a Pinkfoot 

 

Flight over I pulled in my Duck Deecs and packed my rucksack, this time I also put my jacket and jumper inside so that the return journey would be a little cooler. Mud Patterns strapped on the return journey was still tough going but without drama. Back at the motor and after a quick chat with the warden, a couple of other wildfowlers and a coffee it was the long journey home with a Pink apiece and happy!

 Wildfowler in mud patterns

 

 

18th September – Morning Flight

 

This morning Sam and I were back to the spot that had seen us bag a few Geese during the first week of the season and full of hope. Prospects looked good when we stopped on the side of the road level with the roost and in the half light we could see 600 to 800 Greys. Things got even better as we turned into the Car Park and found we had the place to ourselves!

 

We’d done our homework the previous day and we reckoned we knew where the geese where feeding and it was just a 5 minute walk to get ourselves into a place that should get us under the flight line. Well that was what we thought! As things turned out the Geese lifted smack bang on time but unfortunately they flighted in about 200 yards to the west of our position. It was an excellent flight with around 800 feral Greys heading in to feed and had we been able to get under them they would have only been 25 to 30 yards high but such is life!

 

 

6th September – Evening Flight

 

This time it’s a leisurely trip out to my inland Flight Ponds with friends, pretty easy going after the early morning goose chases and the long haul over the marsh weighted down with all the gear a coastal gunner takes.

 

Frankly prospects looked poor, we had fed the ponds for about 6 weeks and a good flight had started to build up in late August but heavy rain over the last week meant the valley below my shoot was heavily flooded. The ducks that come into my ponds normally roost down on the River Tees and then flight up to my ponds at night. As things are at the moment it looks like they will be flooded off the river and they’ll probably just sit on the flood water 24/7, time will tell?

 

I’d planned to get away with Sam in good time but as I went out of the door the builder who should have come back 4 weeks ago was stood there holding a drain pipe! I pointed him in the right direction and went to get my gun only to find I’d not cleaned it after my trip to the Solway and, as it was full of sand, it would likely jam! A quick strip down, clean and re-build soon had the semi-auto sorted and working just fine. Now running late I loaded up the gear, dogs and Sam only to find that half my clothing was till wet from my last night out, as is the norm’ my wife had taken my clothes off the radiators and replaced it with her bits! A quick dash upstairs found a dry top and finally I was on the road to our meeting place.

 

At my shoot I met up with Melvin, Norm’ and Steve – there would be 4 ponds to shoot, one each for Steve, Norman and Melvin with Sam & I sharing a pond. I do have another 2 ponds but 250 Mallard I released earlier in the year flight between these and I didn’t want them disturbing just yet. After a quick chat & with darkness falling we split up and went our separate ways to see what the night had to offer us.

 Sam, the Young Wildfowler

  

Sam and I settled in the rushes behind the dam wall and both loaded up with 35g Victory Steel 3” 3’s, a viscous Duck Load! I brought both Teal and Woody with me and they both sat in anticipation. Well, what can I say? I could tell you how pack after pack of Mallard and Teal flirted with us but that would be a lie. Instead we saw three Mallard and Sam had one shot but failed to connect. The interesting thing we did see were dozens of Woodcock flighting around us – singles, pairs and more! If they’d been in season I could have had my first left & right, if I’d hit them? I’ve never seen so many Woodcock this early in the season and it was great to see. Presumably these were resident birds that have bred very well and we could see a bumper year when the migratory birds arrive from Eastern Europe under the October or November Full Moon?

 

We all met up on the way out of the wood and the total bag between us from four ponds was 1 mallard and 7 seen. A week ago before the local flooding all of our ponds had great flights of Mallard and Teal coming in but they’ll be there for another day. Time to go to the pub, or so I thought, but would you believe that between the five us we only had £7 and I owed my wife £6.50 of that – time to go home!

 

5th September – Evening Flight

 

What a flaming days! Well actually that’s not strictly true, after a dismal summer today brings yet another deluge with a months rain forecast today. As I looked out of the window and planned this wildfowling trip the rain was coming straight down as hard as I've seen for a long time. We'd planned to travel up to the South Solway after lunch and arrive in time to take in the tide flight before dropping back onto one of the splashes for evening flight. In the end we decided that we did'nt much fancy 7 hours out in this weather so we scrapped the tide flight and just went for the night flight.

 

Wildfowling - South Solway

 

Young Sam should have been coming with me but he was full of cold and looked dreadful so, as he has a football match at the weekend, he reluctantly agreed to pass up this opportunity. That meant I’d just go up with Teal and a friend, Stephen. Stephen has shot for many years up at Lindisfarne and he's an excellent wildfowler. Stephen joined South Solway Wildfowlers last season and is still on probation so I need to accompany him and supervise him until the end of this season.

 

Stephen arrived at my spot at about 3pm and we loaded up my Landrover with Decoys, Waders, Guns, Clothing, Dogs and all those little extra’s you need for a session on the marsh. The drive up to the Solway was very slow with the heavy rain and spray reducing visibility, this was made worse when one of the windscreen wipers decided to drop off & reminded us that Landrovers are the pinnace of British Car Building!

 

We arrived at Newton Marsh in good time so we had a drive a bit further round the coast and had a spy through the glasses to see if we could spot anything interesting and maybe improve our chances. Having drawn a blank we headed back to Newton and parked up, surprisingly there did not appear to be many vehicle tracks at the parking spot so hopefully the area had not been shot to heavily in this first week of the season?

 

The rain was still coming down has hard as ever as I readied myself  at the back of the Landie’, on went my MAX-4 Fleece Roll Neck top, my waterproof wading Fleece, Chest Waders, MAX-4 Wading Jacket and my MAX-4 Gore-Tex Cap – I was ready for the worst it could do! I checked my Rucksack – Decoys, hide net, short hide poles, flask, spare 3” Steel Duck Loads and food all present and correct. Check my Jacket Pockets – Goose Loads, Duck Loads, Duck Calls, Goose Calls, Gloves, Map, Membership Card, Compass, Handheld GPS (yes I’m a big “wus”), camera, phone and, dog lead – I was ready to do battle. Well almost ready until I realised my Landrover keys were still in my trouser pocket meaning I had to take off my jacket and roll down my chest waders to get them and then lock up.

 

Off we headed, Me, Teal and Stephen for a short walk down the lane and then out across the marsh. When I reached the marsh I logged the entry/exit gate into my handheld GPS so that it would be easy to locate at the end of the flight. I’ve not shot this marsh for about 8 years and last time I was on there it took me bloody ages to find the way off and I was not having that happen again! The brisk walk was pretty straightforward although the heavy rain combined with warm September weather meant we either had to sweat with all our gear on or take some of it off and get wet – whatever way we could not win.

 Wildfowling - 5th September

 

As we arrived at the splash we intended shooting 3 Teal Jumped off so that got the old pulse going a wee bit and gave us some encouragement. We had a look around to see if “our” spot had been shot this week but we could not see any signs so we offloaded our gear. Stephen emptied his decoy bag and put out half a dozen duck deecs and 3 huge Flambeau Grey Goose Floaters, I put out a further 8 duck deecs. Now, when I chucked my deecs out things got interesting as young Teal decided he’d help out by retrieving them, hmm! This saga went on for some time until I waded out and placed each one in its chosen spot, this was when I found my waders had perished and were leaking like a sieve – a great start!

 Wildfowling - Decoying a splash

 

With deecs in situ we dropped back into a small gutter just down wind of the decoy pattern, this meant the ducks should come in just across our front and offer a nice simple shot. It was still very light and a while before we expected evening flight so Stephen and I sat at opposite sides of the gutter so that we could spy around 360 degrees just in case of an early duck or a lonely bunch of geese. The rain was still coming down hard and a strong wind from the South East drove it into every exposed area, especially down my collar – how I wished I brought one of those really odd looking Gamehide Wildfowlers Hats, I might have looked a pratt but I’d have been a dry one! Unlike me poor Stephen hadn’t brought a flask of hot Drinking Chocolate or very tasty Flapjack, how my heart bled for him as I enjoyed a cup or two of my steaming hot chocolate and that lovely flapjack! Not to worry, Stephen’s only complaint was about the Gamehide Wildfowling Jacket I’d sold him, no don’t get me wrong he was still dry and he was still warm, he just didn’t like the colour! He reckoned it was too bright, but as I explained when the grass dies back or he is in a sandy creek it will be spot on, moreover the MAX-4 camo breaks up the human form. Time would tell if I was right and after all I’ve used mine for 3 seasons and it has worked well.

 Teal, Wildfowlers Dog - 5th September

 

Heavy rain and cloud meant darkness started to roll in just after 8pm and right on time the first Ducks started to move. First off Stephen called to tell me a Teal was whipping round behind us and as I swung round it dropped at the far side of our splash without a shot fired. Next up another Teal and this dropped just behind us on the grass, Stephen poked his head over the top of the gutter and it headed straight into the darkest part of the sky without a shot fired, we needed to get on the alert!

 

The action kept coming quickly and, this early in the season, I was very surprised and pleased to see a pack of about 20 Wigeon cross in front of us about 150 yards out. I tried to call them through my teeth and with my Haydel’s MP90, I’d like to say they turned and bombed into our deecs but I won’t lie. Another lot headed across the same direction and these dropped straight into a splash 100 yards in front of us, this could cause problems for us as a pack of wild ducks should have better pulling power than our plastic friends? I didn’t need to worry though as a single Wigeon gave our deecs a fly past and a quick call on my Haydel’s MP90 brought him back round, he dropped his feet, rocked from side to side and slanted down into the decoy pattern. As he momentarily hovered over the decoys I shouldered my old Baikal 3.5” Semi Auto and sent 35 Grams of Steel 3’s to greet him. He folded instantly and dropped on the edge of the decoy pattern, Teal darted out picked him and was back in a flash. That was our first Wigeon of the new season in the bag and a real bonus, I‘d not expected to see any Wigeon for at least another couple of weeks.

 Cock Wigeon

 

I told Stephen that when the next lot came (if they came) he should shoot first and I’d clean up after him if, or when, he missed. We didn’t have to long to wait as another pack of about 20 Wigeon came fairly close by, I gave them a call and they turned and circled us a couple of times. As they circled a pair came straight in from behind and I shouted to Stephen to “Take’em”. As they came straight overhead he lifted his Winchester Super X3 and some how missed a “sitter” with the first shot but managed to bag one with the second. Teal came back quickly with Stephen’s bird which turned out to be another Cock Wigeon in excellent condition. I pointed out to Stephen that his new Gamehide Jacket far from looking bright and frightening birds was in fact a “Duck Magnet” and worth every penny!

 

We waited on for another 15 minutes until we could barely see the deecs but we didn’t see or hear anything so, happy with a Wigeon each, we hauled in the deecs, packed them away, slipped our guns and headed back. By now it was pitch black and, though we knew our way off the marsh, we thought this would be a good test for the GPS. I brought up the waypoint for the gate at the back of the marsh and we set off, the walk was about 20 minutes and in the dark over a rain soaked marsh we had to go round a few obstacles but a quick look at the GPS kept us on our true course. A couple of times we doubted it’s bearing as it was not as we would have thought but when we arrived smack bang at the kissing gate we were very pleased with our “test”, this could be a very useful bit of kit.

 

A short walk from the marsh gate to the Landrover was interrupted only by a phone call from Sam to check I was OK and find out what I’d seen, he was as chuffed as I was when he heard I’d got an early season Wigeon.

 

 

4th September – Morning Flight

 

Sam and I had taken a day off wildfowling on the 3rd September as Sam had a Pre-season football match for Barnard Castle FC that night and we needed him fit not tired. 

 

This morning we arrived at the Car Park just after another wildfowler who we had a quick chat with before all walking on together, the other guy dropped off first and Sam and I went a few hundred yards further.

 

It was coming light and today was noticeably colder than of late and very still, Sam was glad to be wearing his new Gamehide MAX-4 “Second Layer” Hoodie for that extra bit of warmth without bulk. A spectacular red sky showed to the East and made for a great photo of Sam. Wildfowling - Sunrise 040908

 

Compared to a couple of days ago there was very little goose noise out on the roost and I could also hear Canada’s out on the fields behind us, had the geese moved their roost orhad they already flighted? A few small bunches of Greys could be seen flighting about ¼ mile further down the marsh and they went inland without a shot fired. Small groups continued along the same line but these amounted to no more than a 100 or so in total and nothing like the 800 we had seen a couple of mornings earlier.

 

Half an hour after the last geese moved I left my place and walked the 20 yards over to Sam to have a chat with him and immediately three Greys came off and headed to the place I'd left so I had to run back over there and dive back into the gutter. I gave them a quick call with my Haydel’s H-81 and they passed just to my left, I lifted the old Baikal Semi Auto and downed the nearest two birds with 3.5” Steel BB Gamebore Mammoths, excellent loads that have bagged me loads of Geese. Teal had marked down the first goose and made a great retrieve, the second proved a bit more difficult as he had not seen it come down but we got there eventually, both were young birds that would cook very well. I walked over to Sam and we gave it another half hour but nothing moved, we glassed the roost all we could see were a couple of Swans and a few Mallard so it was time to unload and go home.

 Wildfowling - 2 Geese 040908

 

2nd September – Evening Flight

 

It had been a busy afternoon plucking and filleting geese for the kitchen and freezer, I had bought a couple of Wildfowl Cook Books from the USA earlier in the year and was looking forward to trying out some new Goose recipes. Tonight we were back to the same spot that had reaped us rewards on the 1st day of the season and full of confidence. Sam and I needed the full protection of our new Gamehide clothing this evening as there was a torrential downpour to contend with, the rain was almost vertical as we left the Landrover at the roadside.

 

Sam and I could clearly hear geese feeding on the fields a few hundred yards away and a short walk and a quick scan through the binoculars revealed about 300 Greylags on a Barley Stubble. Taking their present location into account and knowing where they had flown out to roost the previous night Sam and I placed ourselves under the anticipated flight line and waited for the action to start. Young Wildfowler waiting for Geese

 

We probably waited less that 10 minutes before a couple of skeins lifted from the fields but they took a totally different line to the previous night and missed us by a good couple of hundred yards. A third and then a fourth small bunch lifted and followed the same line so, as no one else was out, we moved to where we reckoned the geese were crossing. We had only been in our new position for a couple of minutes when a bunch of 4 Greys came off but they turned and went over the spot we had just come from. However, they crossed close enough to me for a shot which I cleanly missed. At the sound of the shot the remaining geese, about 200, lifted and flighted our way protesting noisily. I was very surprised that they made no attempt to gain any height and as they came into range the skeins that spanned Sam and myself were no more than 10 yards high – what a chance! Sam and I fired at the same time, three shots from me and two from Sam there should have been 5 geese down but…………..we did not touch a feather! How did we miss such an easy chance? I hung my head in shame! That was to be the last chance we had that evening and that was probably just as well, we headed home for our tea, “Goose in Red Wine”.

 

2nd September – Morning Flight

 

At the start of the wildfowling season morning flight means a very early start if you are to be in position for first light and today was no exception! I had put my wildfowling gear ready the previous night – Gore-Tex Hat, Max-4 Jacket, 3.5” Steel BB Cartridges, Goose Calls, Camera, etc..so it just took me a moment to get ready and grab my semi-auto and Sam’s from the gunroom. I had a quick coffee and a slice of toast and then woke Sam, whilst he had breakfast and dressed I had a quick look on the internet at the orders from our website www.paddlesdown.co.uk, looking at the sales of wildfowling clothing it looks like everyone is getting ready for the season! This morning I would have to take my young dog, Teal, with me as I concerned about Woodey after he had collapsed the previous night. Teal has never seen never mind retrieved a goose so this morning would be a crash course in wildfowling for him!

 

We had a good drive down to our chosen spot, when we arrived there was already one person there at his vehicle, we had a quick chat and then headed our separate ways. As we walked on about an hour before sunrise the first goose, a single grey, came off and crossed about 100 yards to our left so Sam and I speeded up and plonked ourselves under its flight path hoping the rest would follow. Sam loaded his new Webley semi-auto with a diet of 3" Magnum Steel 1's and I slipped three fearsome 3.5" Steel BB's into my semi.

 Young Wildfowler Loading Up

 

 

We only had a short wait and geese started to flight but these crossed very low about 200 yards in front of us and then turned in without a shot fired. Three of four skeins of Greys had flighted way out in front before a small skein passed within about 20 yards and with a single shot I dropped one. Then a small lot of Canada’s came off to my left and with another single shot I brought down a big Canada that dropped a 100 or so yards behind me. I sent Teal straight in to retrieve his first ever goose and this may not have been the best idea as when he got to it turned on him and gave him a thump with its wing. I ran across and the bloody thing whacked me right across my knuckles so I can imagine what a shock it must have given Teal. With goose in hand and dog at heal I got back to my position just as the main lot of Greylag’s lifted and what an impressive flight with about 600 geese flighting in ragged lines about 35 yards high and heading straight for Sam and I. They came straight over us and I watched to see if Sam got one before I shot, Sam rattled one and as it curled out and towards me I gave it a single shot to make sure it would be in the bag. This one dropped in the same place as the Canada but it was dead so I sent Teal in the hope of building his confidence, he picked it up and threw his head up in the air before running back to me like a veteran wildfowling dog, a great retrieve for the youngster and a satisfying end to a good flight.

 A good Goose Flight

 

 

1st September – Evening Flight

 

Last night (31st August) we arrived back from exhibiting at Chatsworth Country Fair and as we did not get unloaded until the early hours of the morning we decided to skip morning flight on the 1st.

 

I had hoped to go over to the Westmorland marshes around mid-morning to set out the goose deecs in the hope that we could pick up one of the feral Greylag or Canada’s that frequent the place. They would probably have had a bit of a pasting at morning flight and would likely be subject to disturbance inland that would split them up and thus give us a chance of a few small lots or singles looking to settle in back on the marsh. However, even the best laid plans don’t always work out and a massive number of internet orders from our website www.paddlesdown.co.uk meant I would be office bound all day – thank you customers!

 

Sam and I managed to escape for evening flight and we travelled to a spot where we knew that about 800 Greylags and a 100 or so Canada’s had been flighting. We actually got there a wee bit late and as we pulled at 8pm there were already a few small skeins in the air and heading out to roost. Sam and I quickly pulled on our gear, slipped a lanyard of goose calls over our necks, grabbed our guns and a few shells and then half ran down the fence line to get ourselves where we thought the main flight would pass. Just as we got settled in a couple of skeins of Grey’s came in at one hell of a height and whiffled down on the roost, I was very surprised that they had resorted to flighting at stratospheric heights on the opening day of the season!

 

The light faded quickly, until you get out there at last light you forget how quickly summer fades into Autumn and Winter. As the light started to go the main flight started to come and luckily we were right under the geese and they came in at a very nice height unlike those early birds. I quickly had a couple of Greys down and picked up by Woodey but Sam was still struggling away with his new 12 bore semi auto and never touched anything, he would have done better with his little 20 bore which has bagged him plenty of geese in his first two wildfowling seasons. The Canada’s then started flighting, the first skein of about 50 was out to my left but I managed to move 40 yards and this combined with some good calling on my Haydel’s H-81 Canada Goose Call brought the last couple of small skeins in range and I bagged two nice Canada’s to round off the flight. With 4 early season geese I was happy to pack up and go sit with Sam for a while to see if I could help him get a goose but unfortunately as I packed up Woodey collapsed and had a fit, the second time this has happened to him. I sat with Woodey and kept him quiet for 15 minutes or so then when he had recovered picked up Sam and headed back to the Landrover. By the time we arrived back home Woodey was fully recovered although I now have to question whether he should be retired from shooting?

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