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Wildfowling with "Stotty" - A memorable Morning
By "Stotty", Direct Shooting Supplies Pro-Staff

A Memorable Morning!   

 

September 12th 2009. Having witnessed the amazing sunset last night it was no revelation that the morning greeted us with a cloudless star-studded sky, a bright crescent of a half moon and the first chill of Autumn in the air. To our surprise the car park was empty which meant that no other club members were out on this stretch of foreshore today.

 

As we stepped onto the marsh at 5am expectations lifted as we heard the sporadic gabble of Greylags out on the mudflats. And what was that unmistakable sound? An early migrant pink was amongst them! They sounded hellish close, in the still morning air, but we estimated they were on the far side of the river channel and on a pretty wide front. We’d now have a fairly long wait before they decided to flight inland. It could be anywhere between 6.30am and 8.00am and over a mile of the old seawall to choose

Stotty - Waiting Wildfowler
"Stotty", as usual, hiding in a gutter!
Picture: by Mark Eaton
from. Why is this game of ‘cat and mouse’ somehow so addictive? I loaded up the auto with three 3.5inch 42g steel 3’s and I settled down to wait in the turf edge that lined the deep drainage gutter that cuts this particular marsh.

 

It didn’t take long for the sky to transform itself into the washed out blue and orange tinge that heralds sunrise on the eastern horizon. Frustratingly, a cold mist started to creep onto the estuary which put an end to any ideas of the geese lifting early. Fortunately, within half an hour the warmth of the early morning sun had pushed the mist off the sandbanks and with an almighty clamour and rush of wings the first wave of geese were airborne. An immediate sinking feeling raced through me as the whole pack seemed to slant off sideways looking as though they would cross a 100 yard to our left. However good fortune sometimes prevails and they turned. Perhaps the ‘wingmen’ would give my fellow goose chasing friend, who I’ve shared many September successes and failures with, over the last eight years, a good chance? The anticipation mounted as they approached. Within a moment the very right hand edge of big skein was above him and a carefully placed shot resulted in one of the large grey birds plummeting into the drainage gutter in a great plume of water. The skein hardly broke formation before it crossed the new sea wall well behind us, and noisily wiffled down into a standing cereal crop that had served as their morning breakfast table for the last two weeks. There were still over a hundred and fifty geese on the sandbanks. More now lifted, but these were fully aware of the ‘old enemy’ lurking behind the broken seawall and they swung out even wider than the first bunch and rose higher as they crossed 100 yards to one side of us. Who said geese are stupid? I think not. This was evidently going to be their new flight line, especially as those still on the sands had witnessed a large bunch of their comrades cross this area unmolested. It was with some urgency that we made a slippery scramble along the gutter slopes in a last attempt to get under the stragglers before they lifted. What a relief to finally make it to the new location. Peering through the grass tussocks I could see that fifty or so geese were still sat out there all with heads up and wings intermittently outstretching. Within minutes they were up in a flurry of thrashing wings…..and oh hell…..heading straight for me! The emotions that go through you during these moments can not be described easily to those who have not experienced it. ‘Goose Fever’ they call it. The stomach somersaults with nervous anticipation, the body tenses, an electricity runs deep through your bones. Your mind begins to think of the imminent first shot; when

DSS Pro-wildfowler Stotty after the flight
"Stotty" after the flight with two splendid Greys in the bag.
Photo: by Mark Eaton
and where to take it. As the rising crescendo of noise approached, my eyes automatically focussed on the bird of choice above the muzzle of the auto. The moment of truth was upon me; the target goose was almost overhead. The brain somehow goes into autopilot. In one movement I was rising from the gutter and mounting the gun with gusto. “Get well in front of its head Stotty”, was the only thought I had. “They’ll be well up by the time they cross”. The skein ‘jumped’ at the report. I saw the target greylags head flung back immediately; it was the perfect killing shot. Within a split second, a quickly rising 40 yard crosser was selected. Arrrgggh a  miss!! Get well in front! In front! Bloody concentrate! The goose folded at the shot and was instantaneously plummeting in a lifeless parabolic descent onto the saltings. The spaniel was sent twice across the gutter to make two perfect retrieves. His excited eyes reflected mine. What a magical moment! What an unforgettable morning! The 2009 season was now well and truly underway!  

 

Stotty ‘DSS Wildfowling Pro-Staff'

 

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