Country mouse on seasonal sport

The house martins have left our house, the last chicks having fledged, and now they’re only distant specks high above the fields waiting for their annual migration. It’s sad to see them go, just as it’s a thrill when they return as house guests in the spring. As I muse over these happy little birds, I reflect how lucky we are in Britain to have such distinct seasons. Now it’s blackberry time and, for the fortunate, partridge shooting.

It’s always surprising to me how many people shoot poorly and then admit they’ve never had a lesson or not had a refresher in years. If you’re paying for your shooting, it’s worth remembering that a couple of partridge or three pheasants is the equivalent of a cost of a shooting lesson; if you’re a guest, it’s something of an insult to your host to shoot unprepared after all, he and his gamekeeper have spent almost a year preparing for that bird to fly over your head.

In my case, I’m off salmon fishing at the end of the month, so I trotted off to Sportfish, near Reading, to hone my Spey casting. It may not be perfect, but now the salmon had better be ready for me.