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General > Wildfowling Diary - September 2010
Wildfowling Diary - September 2010
The Direct Shooting Supplies 2010 Wildfowling Diary - Updated 27/09/2010



It’s been a strange build up to the new wildfowling season with several days of strong gales that blew out to leave us with a calm and sunny day that lead us to have a BBQ on the eve of the season. Sitting outside in shorts drinking a beer in the setting sun and giving the semi auto it’s traditional pre-season strip and clean didn’t suggest the start of a hard winter. Under a calm red sky I rounded off the evening by loading up coats, bags, cartridges, hats, gloves, calls, cameras and all the paraphernalia I’d need for morning flight.


Next morning when Sam and I arrived at the car park conditions were just as I’d left them when I’d retired to bed – flat calm, not that it would matter a great deal on the first day of the season. We kitted up and walked just a short distance to our chosen place, Sam set up about 40 yards from me and we both loaded up. Sam had checked his diary the previous night and his records had suggested that the first geese had flighted at 0550 the last time we’d shot this spot on opening morning (2008) and amazingly they came off at the same time today! The first bunch, about 10 Greylags, headed low to Sam and I rushed to get out the video camera – my job this season was to try and get some good wildfowling footage for our YouTube clips!! Alas I was to slow which was just as well as Sam missed a real sitter. The poor lad must have been gutted as he’d looked forward to this morning for weeks and weeks and he’s been shooting very well all summer.


The main flight started at about 0600 with the geese coming off low about 300 yards to our South before turning in 90 degrees, coming round behind us and then dropping onto a stubble ½ mile behind us. A another small bunch of Greys came off low towards us and again I chewed on with the video camera trying to get some footage and this time a single Greylag, the first of the new season, was put in the bag……….but I didn’t get it on video! Sam had just landed back with the goose when a single Canada came fairly high to my right and a good shot with 3.5” Steel BB’s dropped it stone dead. I hear some silly reports about the eating quality of Can’s but I’ve never had a bad one – just cook them all day in the slow cooker and they are really super eating. This one was a real bonus as it was a small youngster, maybe even a second hatch so it will eat very well.


Wildfowling - 01/09/2010
Sam with two Greylags.
Unfortunately what happened next brought a premature end to the flight and this was disappointing. A volley of 9 shots erupted right next to the goose roost where about 1000 Greylags were still sitting. The sky filled with ducks, waders, Lapwings…and then geese. All the geese were up in the sky, they turned a large circle and then headed our way, on mass – what a sight! As they headed towards us I grabbed the video camera and focussed in on them as they closed in. About 70 yards out I lost my nerve, dropped the video camera and grabbed my gun for a different kind of shooting. A thousand geese heading towards Sam and myself and somehow, just out of range, they managed to split and form two huge skeins which went either side of me. Unfortunately for one goose he didn’t manage to get out o range before 42g of Steel BB’s struck home and the bird towered and dropped in about 70 yards behind Sam.


Glassing up the roost all the geese had gone and 3 sport spoilers were making a hasty retreat empty handed. Just after 0600 on opening morning the flight had been brought to an early conclusion but we were still heading home with 3 geese in hand. A good bag but slightly disappointed that we’d been deprived of the real morning flight.




We were back to the same place as we’d shot on the opening morning and having glassed around 1500 Geese on the roost we were full of anticipation as Sam and I set up about 60 yards apart.


Just as on opening morning the first geese lifted at about 0550. When the large skeins started to lift the swung round and flighted over a small hamlet and then down the side of the main road before gaining height as they turning in towards the feeding grounds – one day into the season and they’d worked out how to keep out of danger!


The few Canada’s on the roost where not as cute their Grey cousins and fairly soon a small skein followed by a pair flighted either side of Sam. They were not over high but fairly wide so it was a well placed load of 3” Hevi Shot that knocked a Canada down stone dead with a single shot and that was Sam off the mark for the new season. Sam ran out and picked his goose and as he headed back a skein of Grey’s came his way and he had two shots that didn’t appear to hit home but Sam shouted “it’s down”. I was videoing and followed his goose which flew on with the skein for about 200 yards before losing height and then crashing down. Sam marked it down well and sent me towards a distant fence post where I picked up a nice Greylag, stone dead.


Young Shot with 2 Geese
Goose Shooting - Sam with a Canada and a Grey, bith very nice shots.
As I arrived back with Sam’s goose the bulk of the geese, about a thousand lifted and came our way. Sam was unfortunate to miss with his first shot and then have his semi-auto jam but I managed to get two Greylags which therefore filled out “limit” and has us heading home and back to bed before 0630.




Over at my Game shoot I’ve dug out half a dozen duck ponds of which we use 3 for reared mallard and then use the other three for wild duck flighting. We’d not stopped feeding the ponds since last season and had good numbers of wild ducks in the area including Mallard, Wigeon, Teal and Pintail. The main problem was that the wild ducks seemed to be mainly using the ponds that held the reared mallard and we couldn’t disturb those areas, if last season was anything to go by we could have up to a couple of hundred wild ducks on each pond holding reared ducks.


Four is us were shooting – me, Sam, John and Simon (also known as Wallace from the Wallace and Gromit series – you will hear about Gromit later!) and we split up over 3 ponds. John and myself shot the Fell Wall pond, Sam shot the tiny Fire pond and Simon shot the Gate Pond, I reckoned John and I had the best prospect as we were right on the main flight line and Simon should be in luck as a few Teal were working his pond.


As it happened all did not go to plan and myself and John saw just four ducks coming to our pond and we bagged one each. Simon on the larger Gate Pond had just one Mallard although he did see a few coming in whilst he was away picking his duck that had dropped a long distance off. The real surprise was Sam on the tiny Firepond, he had 4 mallard in hand and claimed he had another 2 to pick which Teal found after a lengthy search in very thick cover. Strange – the Firepond is no bigger than the average living room but Sam reported a big flight with packs of up to 15 Mallard bombing in with many coming whilst he was picking up and not shooting. A good night!



6th September – Morning Flight 

Sam and I had hoped to get out on the Westmorland Wildfowlers marshes this morning but a tightening of the purse strings kept us close to home and having to put up with another inland flight, a poor second to the foreshore but better than nothing.


As we did last week we landed up at about 0545 and, yet again, the first geese lifted at 0550 – very considerate and prompt these geese. I was spending my time videoing this morning but Sam and I had a slight difference of opinion as to where the geese would cross our land so we ended up as far apart as we could whilst maintaining communications (as a young shot Sam has to remain under my “supervision”, so he needs to be able to hear when I shout!). As tends to happen when you split up the geese fly right through the gap between you and today was no exception so I still have visions of Sam moving from place to place only to have the next lot of geese flight right over the place he’d just left! Filming was drawing a bit of a blank and Sam was shooting like…….well shooting badly so let’s leave it at that. I decided to stick three shells up the spout and as luck would have it the next couple of skeins came over me and I had two Greylags in the bag. A third soon followed so I decided to pack in shooting and concentrate on the video camera.


Two in the bag for Sam
Goose Shooting - two in the bag for Sam
It was still pretty dark and not much after 0600 and there was one hell of a flight this morning, far more geese than on our previous visits. Sam had now got his eye in and I managed to get a distant video clip of him dropping a Greylag which he quickly had to hand and despatched. I went round to sit with Sam and there was still a hell of a flight in progress which had a supporting cast of ducks going in the opposite direction. Sam was showing great restraint, probably because he didn’t want to be videoed missing a goose and it was therefore no coincidence that the minute I put the camera away he knocked down a nice long Greylag. That was a good end to the flight which had seen him start off with some pretty poor shooting and then ending with two good geese for two shots. We both agreed that with 5 geese in the bag we’d head away home……coincidently I’m now sitting here typing this update with the smell of slow cooked Greylag coming over my right shoulder from the kitchen!! 




9th September – Morning Flight 

This morning had the feel of autumn as the sun broke through a cold mist and left heavy dew on the ground. Sam and I had glassed the goose roost and there were still plenty of Greys and Canada’s in the area so we returned to our usual early season haunt with confidence.


The sun had been slow in appearing today as we moved to winter and the first geese moved 45 minutes later than the previous week. Sam had the first chance at a skein of Greys but to his disgust he missed with two shots. I showed Sam the skein as they flew on behind him and got him to mentally measure the height off the ground, though they were in range and killable for him they were probably higher than he regularly shoots Pigeons so he needed to think about a bit more lead!

Two Canada's
Two high Canada's fell to 42g Steel BB's


We then had a lull before most of the geese on the roost lifted in a huge commotion, wheeling around in the sky, organising the squadrons and then heading our way. I reckon that a good 800-1000 headed our way but the majority had wised up and managed to get sufficient height for safety leaving Sam with no chance. I was a bit more fortunate and, smack bang in the middle of the geese, I had a huge group of Canada’s right overhead on the limit of range and I was chuffed to kill two stone dead with two shots. Who says Steel fails to kill cleanly – those 2 loads of 42g Steel BB’s struck those giant Canada’s as if they’d flown in to a brick wall and they were poll-axed! With two geese to hand and a need to get Sam home for the school bus we agreed to get away early and let the rest of the geese come off without disturbance.  



10th to 21st September

As usual we are lagging behind with our diary so let's have a quick look over recent flights.


On Friday the 10th September Sam and I had a look out for evening flight, prospects at home were good with a strong wind but come flight time on our chosen pond it was flat calm. Sam chucked a few deecs out in a little splash over which he'd previously made a good bag. This time very little showed and just one Mallard came in right over Sam's shoulder and a lovely snap shot from Sam caught it fair and square leaving it crashing into the surrounding rushes. I shot, 1 Mallard.


Saturday the 11th September

The Stotty
A rare picture of the "Stotty". As usual he's "blowing his own"!

Sam and I headed over to the west coast where we met up with "Stotty" for morning flight on the shore. After days of wind it fell flat calm and that combined with a big tide that had pushed the geese to the far side of the estuary left us with a pretty slim chance of a shot. That said we were treat to a glorious morning and a very nice flight of geese. I was sat in a gutter just back from the front and had a limited view but Sam was tucked into the grass just under a bank at the front and he gave me a running commentary "They're coming Dad, they're low Dad, no they're climbing Dad, they're out of range Dad!" Sam had the Binoculars with him and as well as the geese he saw a good flight of Ducks up the main channel and these including a nice few Pintail - a good sign. After morning flight we headed of with "Stotty" to recce a bit of marsh and to put together a few more callings videos. In the process we came across nice little spot with good duck sign and the prospect of a decent morning flight back into the main channel. The day drew to a close with a "blank".


Friday 17th September. I didn't shoot this evening but Sam did and over a small pond he managed to get himself a nice Teal early on before loosing form at dusk a fluffing two more chances at Teal. Bag for Sam, 1 Teal.


Monday 20th September. Sam and I met up with our goose shooting buddy, Melvin for a morning flight at the geese. Plenty of geese around but all flighted 1/4 mile from us and out to the East. A blank and home by 0745.


Tuesday 21st September. Again Sam and I met up with Melvin but this morning we were right where the geese had crossed the previous morning - I bet they were not expecting that!! It was a grand little spot as we were in a small hill and actually looked down on the goose roost 1/4 mile away, as the geese lifted we could see them all the way and the early bunches headed in over our parked cars. A fair heap of geese were coming off over our side and, having not been shot from this area, they were well shootable although to wide for a shot. However it wasn't long before I had a skein right over my head and for the first time in a long time I knocked out three geese for three shots, usually I stick with two and keep the third shell in case I have a pricked bird to finish off. Sam had a single shot at the end of "my" skein but failed to connect. Next up the big lot lifted, about 700-800 geese and they swarmed over Sam and Melvin, Sam managed a good double and Melvin took the same. Seven Grey's in the bag between us and we called it a day, we headed home with hundreds of geese still flighting in un-shot. Bag, Robert 3 Greys,Sam 2 Greys, Mel 2 Greys.


Wednesday 22nd September - morning. Back to the same place as yesterday and full of confidence having seen a good flight the previous day. Looking down onto the goose roost there was a good number of geese using the place so prospects were looking good. Now, this morning showed one thing, geese are very, very clever! When the geese started to flight the early skeins went in over the spot we more regularly shoot but at a very unshootable height. Once geese started to head our way they turned in front of us and flew up the middle of the main road before turning in 150 yards to our left - shot at once this year from this spot and they had learnt how to avoid us! Well not totally true, one skein did make a slight error of judegment and that gave Sam and myself a Greylag each. I should have had two but my sling came up over the top of my gun and obscured my vision! Geese had flighted late today and consequently we had a real rush to get Sam back for the school bus! Bag, 1 Greylag each for me and Sam.


Friday 24th September Out again for morning flight and what a suprise we had in store. As the light lifted Sam glassed up the roost and it was pretty clear there was a serious number of geese and it appeared that number had increased. It was blowing a hooley right into the face of the geese and we reckoned they may slide away to our left having lost a few of their number at this spot on Tuesday and Wednesday so, with no one to disturb and good cover, we had a contingency plan that may see us moving a 200 yard's to our side. As it happened the first skein came just to my right and straight over Sam but on the high side for him so he let them go and I was chuffed to bring one crashing down with a single shot of Steel BB's. Just remember Sam was shooting a slightly lighter load than me in steel 1's and he had to penetrate the breast and breast bone for a clean kill where as my 3.5" load of steel BB's may be travelling further but the side on shot went in straight under the wing with just a bit of flesh and the ribs to protect the vital organs so I actually had the better oppurtunity of a clean kill. Several skeins then came off very low way down to Sam's right with others heading in about 1/2 mile away at the place we had shot on Monday.  A nice skein then crossed over Melvin and 2 shots each from Melvin and I left 4 Greylag's stone dead on the field behind us, Teal was then unleased and made 4 lovely retreives starting with the furthest and then working to the closer ones without any guidance. Sam then rattled a long crosser that I killed for him and I made it a double with a tale ender from the same skein. 5 Geese in the bag for me and I unloaded and went to look for a goose Sam thought he'd killed but it had just "vanished", it was quickly located just a few feet from him in the ditch bottom. The geese now started to come off in serious numbers, it was clear that the numbers had increased and Melvin and I sat back to watch an amazing flight and to see if Sam could get another couple and he did better than that by taking three in quick succession from the same skein. Whilst we packed away and moved off somewhere in the region of a thousand geese came over us, the majority well within shot. Our guess was that we'd had about 2000 over us which was a substantial increase on previous days. A good start to the day!


Saturday 26th September. Having just had a couple of great flights and with a pile of geese in the area I'd invited "Stotty" across for morning flight at our local Greylags and Canada's. First thing we noticed when we glassed up the roost was the fact that 800 or so geese that had arrived yesterday and increased numbers to about 2000 had left! That said we still had a reasonable number so there was still every reason to look forward to a good flight. Unfortunatley the geese had other plans and this moring they had no intention of losing any of their number so they very wisely chose to flight off right over the now vacant  place we had started the week at! Not a shot fired..... A quick drive round after the flight revealed the stubble they geese had used for the bulk of this week had just been ploughed in and the geese had now moved 3/4 mile to the West, hence a new flightline. Lesson learnt - we should have checked the area the previous afternoon to ensure our geese had not moved feeding area and flightline!! Sam headed off Pigeon shooting after lunch and somehow managed to come back with a Mallard so it least he didn't blank today!! 



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