It was shorts and T-shirt weather for the opening day of our little shooting syndicate, but as most of the guns were in traditional tweed breeches, there were some pretty red faces by the end of the day. The combination of Colin the gamekeeper’s wise decision to take things gently and some rusty shooting-particularly by me and, more unusually Pete the Poacher-meant the bag was small. No matter, it was a beautiful day to feel part of the countryside, which can rarely have looked lusher in mid September.

Shooting is a sport that belies the effort put into it. Watching another red-legged partridge flick over a hedge and pass unscathed as I failed, once again, to swing the gun in the prescribed arc, it could have been easy, in my frustration, to forget the effort that had gone into putting it over my head in the first place.

That partridge had been helped by man throughout its life, from the moment its mother laid her egg. On top of raising the birds, Colin has planted cover crops, cut rides through woods and organised beaters and pickers-up as well as a host of other tasks. A year’s work had gone into the partridge I missed. I need to do better.

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