The shooting season for pheasant and partridge ends today, and sportsmen up and down the country, from the Yorkshire Dales to the combes of Devon, will be packing away their shotguns and reflecting on their own personal experiences.
After each day, when I lie in the bath with a gin and tonic-the post-shoot ablution, properly done, is surely one of the most enjoyable rituals available to man I like to remember the shots that came off and studiously ignore the many more that ended in failure.
But when looking back at the season, the joys of each shooting day are fused into one: I love visiting every corner of the country. The remote charms of Weardale, its moorland and unpredictable birds, are as enticing as mature Hampshire hedgerows where good keepers perform miracles with bursts of partridge.
The shooting weekend rivals Rome’s baths and Venice’s frescoes as England’s contribution to civilisation: friends new and old, delicious food and the friendly banter of a day in the open. For the really keen shot, the season can continue with pigeon, and I found it easy to accept my friend Totor’s invitation to shoot boar in Spain this weekend. Tapas may prove to be the ideal shoot lunch.