The current shooting season is entering its final chapter, and mainly consists of beaters’ days, when all those men, women, boys and girls who have spent the past few months driving game towards guns get their own, richly deserved, turn to shoot. It’s been a good season with plenty of wild game, vicious frosts and often driving snow. A proper winter.
I missed my first grouse in September and the final pheasant over a vineyard last week. I have stood beside a actor from EastEnders, a duke, who didn’t miss, numerous estate agents, a picker-up, whose spaniels had earlier in the year been searching for bodies in Haiti, and, best of all, my own son when he shot a left and right of Wiltshire partridges. I have been served both Krug and Bovril between drives. Every shoot is different, and 1,000 times better for being so.
Characters abound everywhere and a particular favourite was Pete the poacher who didn’t miss his birds or mine. I eventually forgave him for improving my shooting, forcing me to take anything coming towards me earlier than I was accustomed to. When I told him, he was delighted to take the credit.