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General > Wildfowlers Luck!
Wildfowlers Luck!
by "Stotty", DSS Pro-Staff

Wildfowlers Luck!

 

14th September 2009. Throughout the day low cloud cover had produced intermittent light showers and the evening was rapidly turning into one of those grey windless dusks as I crossed over the seawall with the spaniel enthusiastically leading the way. The estuary looked devoid of life with the exception of the gulls wheeling and swirling over the main river channel as they headed out to roost. Another fowler was out on this small strip of marsh tonight and so, after asking him where he was going, I chose an alternative position and settled down for the evening flight. (Tip 1: Wildfowlers etiquette: if someone is there first always ask them where they intend to go and then do not block off the flight line to them). My position for the evening wouldn’t have been my first choice I must admit, but next best had to do. I took up rather an uncomfortable position on an outcrop of rock that juts out into a small branch of the river channel. I had two options here:- either intercepting mallard coming into the inland flood behind the seawall or a possible chance of duck coming up the river channel if they cross cut the sands banks in front of the rocks (something they rarely do though). The wildfowler has to be an eternal optimist! I’ve always believed that a good dollop of luck can sometimes make the difference between a blank flight and a successful one when out wildfowling. And so it happened this evening when ‘Lady Luck’ was certainly with me.

 

As the light started to fade, I realised that to my left a pack of eight fast flying birds were rapidly closing in on me from down the main channel. At 300 yards and fast approaching they were literally at eye level so getting an early clue as to their ID was not easy today, especially in the poor of light of dusk. “They’re mallard”, I thought…No they’re mergansers? I couldn’t see the head or neck in silhouette otherwise their identification would have been made much quicker and easier! They had all the traits of mergansers i.e. direct flight, rapid wing beats and hugging the channel, but I couldn’t see any white wing bars. Nor could I hear any sound from coming them. I held my fire and watched as they got closer and closer. Still the gun still stayed down. (Tip 2: If in doubt of your Quarrys ID, then do not fire!). Whoosh…right over my head they came at 15 yards up in a flurry of pinions...holy crap, their silhouette immediately gave them away….as mallard! A quick spin round from the sitting position and stern chaser of a shot at the outer bird, which was now 30+ yard away, somehow connected and it skidded headlong into the far sand bank. The dog was off in seconds for the retrieve. (He’s a good wildfowling dog but has never been a sit quietly at your peg dog). The noise of the shot had hardly subsided when suddenly I was aware of the presence of a large silhouette of a bird 25 yard up and right over my head. Hell its a lone greylag breaking out from the inland floodwater!! Luckily I hadn’t emptied the magazine on the mallard so two more 3 inch Gamebore No 3 steels were still in the auto. It

Wildfowling - A duck and a Goose
Wildfowlers Luck - A Goose & a Duck
was a double snap shot that brought the goose crashing down into channel behind me. Too my surprise its head went up and it started to swim away from me. Where’s the dog??! The dog was otherwise engaged swimming toward me mid-channel with a mouthful of mallard! For fear of losing the goose I scrambled another shell into the breech and carefully crossed the channel in pursuit, initially making sure that the mud would hold my weight. The tide was long gone so the water wasn’t deep and the mud was firm enough under foot.  I quickly got to within 30 yards of the goose to give it a ‘killing shot’. (Tip 3: If you have a crippled bird on the water within range and within safe limits, then do not be afraid to shoot it on the water to administer the ‘coup de grace’). It is our duty as sportsmen to ensure that we do not leave injured quarry. Well, what a crazy few minutes that was! The dog nudged the mallard into my hand and was then quickly sent off to bring back the young Greylag. A blank evening flight had turned into a successful flight in the space of just a few precious minutes.

 

Luck??? Well, as I set off back to the car, I’d reckoned that I’d had more than a good dollop of it tonight! Thoughts rattled around my head… “Now if the other wildfowler hadn’t have been there I’d have been in completely the wrong spot…if I’d have identified the birds as mallard earlier I’d have had an empty gun when the goose came over……such are the delights of wildfowling….each flight tells a different story.

 

Stotty DSS ProStaff.

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