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Jim Neal

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Everything posted by Jim Neal

  1. It's much more fiddly to get them down again! Also, shooting amongst pines it's sometimes a job to remember where you put them if you use quite a few 🤣 I use sections of two different fishing poles which cobble together and give me about 12m. I've got a plastic 1 gallon chemical container taped to the end, upside down with the bottom of the container cut off so it's like a funnel. That makes it a bit more difficult to put the decoys up but much easier to get them down again. Failing light and the fact I should probably go and get glasses means I sometimes have a bit of a struggle scooping them off the branches again. I think the worst part of lofting is on a windy day, struggling to control the pole, you eventually get the lofter hooked over the branch you want.... or so you think.... then it comes crashing down to the floor and you have to start all over again 😕
  2. He's very often villified due to a deliberately misquoted sentence, falsely portraying him instructing unemployed people to "get on your bike" and look for work - an injustice he's never been able to shake off. The actual sentence was as follows:
  3. I'd like to bet that's a propaganda play....The USA has 1.3 million armed services personnel. I'm pretty sure more than 8 thousand of them would be ready to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in at a moment's notice.... a LOT more
  4. Wow. "Crawling" with them, literally. I'm presuming this is a barn on a farm that's just used as a rubbish dump? Just goes to show how it provides such good habitat for old ratty! Interesting to note the differing shooting styles. Your mate seems to want to be very precise at lining up on the eyes, which slows his shooting down somewhat, whereas you tend to be a bit less picky about the exact point of aim but take the shots really quickly after lining up. Both seem to be extremely effective though! I'm trying to imagine how many 3 gallon buckets you would have filled if you'd have picked every single rat shot. Mind blowing! Thanks for posting, great work as always!
  5. That's 240 cups of tea, or a Sunday morning in my house 😅
  6. I'd have preferred 6 rows of 8, or 8 rows of 6. Sort it out for next time yeah? Good report and glad to see you taking some good bags recently 👍
  7. Wow, go you! Mind you don't bash your halo whilst you climb up into your ivory tower 😁
  8. Then can you say in all honesty that you've never been guilty of double standards? Don't get me wrong I am not impressed at all by the Downing Street party thing. I just think we've got different things to worry about now.
  9. Yep, I hear you. I think millions of people feel the same, having spent weeks virtually under house arrest whilst watching others seemingly carry on their lives as normal. Takes the mickey but we just have to stick to our guns and do what we feel is right for us, in our own situations. Are you a parent?
  10. I've got a few pictures of my 4 year old son shaving my hair if that's any good? 😀 Let me be clear, I'm not trying to be abrasive or shout you down at all. I'm simply trying to point out that you have made a few sweeping statements - from your own point of view and experiences - which just cannot be representative of the entire populace. I witnessed with my own eyes, or was told from very reliable sources, or read news articles of many, many instances of people flouting the lockdown laws during March - June 2020. Although it certainly was not limited to the 15-25 age bracket they certainly did feature prominently. I'm talking about them being out around town, hanging about in groups, going back to each others' houses, having parties etc etc. I'm sorry you feel insulted because you're in that age bracket - obviously you've been sensible and selfless enough to abide by the spirit of the lockdown laws, but it's a very plain fact that many others in your peer group didn't.
  11. Sorry my friend but that's a very blinkered view, from your perspective only 🤔 There were many, many people who didn't take a blind bit of notice of the "rules" and carried on regardless. Most of them were in the 15-25 age bracket I'd say. Who can blame them really? A 20 year old me would have stuck it to the man and flouted every covid law they made! However I know a fair few pension-aged people who simply denounced the lockdown laws and took the attitude that it wasn't going to change their lives. As always, the crime is getting caught. Storm in a teacup, let's get on with life.......
  12. Not sure what angle you're coming from here. Do you want the sheep to sod off so you don't have them near you? Or do you want the sheep to stay close so you can shoot the crows amongst them? Does the farmer want them thinning out before lambing to reduce the threat? Or does he want you to catch them in the act, so to speak? With a shotgun you won't keep them close once a shot is fired. They will gallop off to the far end of the field. However if you're taking them sniper style with a moderated rifle the sheep usually won't bolt and you can be very accurate about picking them off between the livestock.... and you'll probably have more success. Check out some of the videos on here from @simon6ppc if you want to see some clinical corvid control!
  13. You've found your Valhalla, hats of to you. Hold on to your personnel for dear life, they really are an anomaly. I'm stuck with normal people who can't even open a feed bag properly. They will not be motivated to get more involved. The more success I've had the less people feel inclined to participate because they think it's all taken care of without the need for their input! Likewise, we don't use all of our acreage, we stick to the blocks of woodland and immediate surroundings plus a few other bits & bobs we keep for boundary days etc.
  14. Our syndicate is, I suppose, another typical example of the few doing the work for the many to enjoy. I look after a big chunk of it, with two pens making two woodland drives for later on and 4 drives of assorted covers/plantations to get stuck in to for the early part of the season. We stock 50% of our birds on my patch. The shoot captain does one other pen with a cover attached, another guy does similar elsewhere and then there's one other wood that doesn't have a cover which is looked after by one further member, but we only chuck a couple of hundred in there now. Our woods are dotted around a total of roughly 2,000 acres of mixed arable and grazing land, rather than being all in one lump. I try not to add up all the hours I spend on the shoot because if I thought about it too much I'd most certainly jack it in as being untenable 😦 However, I love doing what I do and it gives a great sense of satisfaction watching it all come together on shoot days. It all falls apart on occasion too, but you have to be philosophical and learn from your mistakes. My first few seasons were a massive learning curve and a lot of hard work, but now I'm 8 seasons in and I'm starting to feel like I'm more in control of what happens, rather than feeling like a passenger! It's just a simple law of life - most people can't be bothered to push themselves into making extra effort, so those who can do. I don't pay the same subscriptions as other members and as long as I don't take the mickey I've pretty much got free reign to go out by myself and shoot vermin or have my own walkabouts towards the end of the season, which isn't on offer to any other syndicate members. I've had many enjoyable outings shooting on my own over the years, which contributes as compensation for the graft put in. We've tried having a system of fines for non-attendance of work days, but it wasn't very well enforced. We tried making the subscriptions higher but then not taking wheat money on shoot days from those who'd attended work days, but there was again an inconsistency and a lot of moaning at the original outlay of money. Whatever you try to do when running a DIY shoot it always boils down to the few doing the work for the many, so the few just have to take their perks and get on with what they enjoy. It will always be so!
  15. The last time I wore gloves to shoot was the last time I had an accidental discharge, getting on 10 years ago. Due to good safety protocol the gun was pointing in a safe direction but it put the willies up me to the extent I've never held a gun wearing gloves since. I've always thought fingerless gloves are as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike, because it's the bits that they don't cover which get cold! I'm not sure that artificially warming the hands is a good idea? Because at some point you've got to take your hands out of your electrically warmed pockets and expose them to the cold once more, so then the temperature difference is much greater and you will feel it more? On cold days on my own, standing whilst roost shooting or duck flighting, I'll quite often swap hands leaving one at a time in my pocket with the other holding the gun. What about going old-school and smearing your fingers with goose fat?
  16. Did you spice up the day by letting off some random clays amongst the real pigeons?! Or did Jacko get a bit of footage mixed up? 🤣 Great footage, and I agree Jacko really has been honing his skills under your mentorship. Good job all round 👍
  17. I hear you. Trouble is I'm not the shoot captain - I have a fair bit of sway as I'm probably de-facto 2nd in command but ultimately I don't get to make the decisions. It's an uphill battle but I will never give up
  18. If you've ever tried to lead a horse somewhere it doesn't want to go, you know where I am at the moment!
  19. I don't consider it sustainable either! I have been tearing my hair out the last 3 seasons. The pen is being moved this year after several years of my campaigning! It certainly isn't the best solution to re-stock into a diseased pen but they went in with a dose of antibiotics, had a ton of pellet thrown at them and then the wire lifted all within about a fortnight. I literally moved all feed from the pen out to the drives to avoid holding any in the diseased area, which was a big gamble but it paid off: the pre-existing birds were already going up to the covers so I just hoped the new ones would latch on to them and be led to the food. It worked, thankfully.
  20. We managed a 35% return the year we had the extra ones late on. Most other recent years it's around the 25% mark, give or take. I think most people would agree that's pretty respectable for ex-layers, when your shoot covers over 2,000 acres with smallish woods dotted all over, and you haven't got any other shoots directly bordering you. I've heard of consistently worse returns from poults. The worst birds for wandering we ever had was a batch of 350 melanistics which we put in one pen. I think they were caught-up. We managed about 18% on that pen for the season!
  21. I won't be crass and quote everyone's comments above, but I'm glad I made sense to a few people @Weihrauch17 I personally feel that seasons like this really show up any weaknesses in a shoot. That could be general policy or just something one-off that's happened during the particular year. Being really brutal, it's quite common that the one bloke in charge thinks he's always right and won't accept any change suggested by anyone else. Put up and shut up, else #### off are often the only options. With us, it's because we have had a policy of being a very affordable "working man's" shoot since the inception of the syndicate some 12 years ago. This has meant we haven't had the money to build new pens, we stock ex-layers, we don't use pellet for long enough after release, never have cracked maize to help hold them... the list goes on... In total between 2 pens I lost 25% of my birds to disease this year. I look after 50% of the shoot's birds, so that's a big hit. Embarrassing and frustrating for me, disappointing for the guns. We're pretty much shot out now, having scraped together a bag of 37 on Thursday with two more official days plus beaters' day still to go! My advice is if you go for ex-layers again next year hit 'em hard early on, take no prisoners. Try to get them as late as you can as well, although very often that is non-negotiable with the game farmer unfortunately. One other thing I meant to say before is that there are two types of ex-layer. Caught-up birds that have lived wild are notorious for doing the off as soon as they hit the ground in your pen. You could have been sold some several-year old birds that might even have been sold once or twice before as ex-layers! Roadrunner has trouble keeping up with them. Over-wintered birds that a game farm has kept back for laying stock are a completely different animal. They are tame, stupid, and haven't had their "wild" instincts activated yet, so if you can keep them rooted to a pen for a month or so they will come back to it as "home" the same way poults do if the wood is decent enough roosting. The only really big flaw with these type of layers is they've been kept in a constant state of a sanitised environment and continuous antibiotics pumped into them to combat diseases that go round like wildfire in a game farm. They've got no natural resistance, so as soon as you chuck them out in a wood they get sick. You need to medicate them straight away, and probably again a month or so later. Otherwise you get the problems we've had, every year the disease level in the ground gets higher and you lose more and more birds. Best of luck with it 👍
  22. Forget about foxes, magpies, dog walkers, loch ness monsters, bigfoots or whatever anyone else wants to blame. It's all irrelevant. None of the above will have a significant impact upon your returns. When the weather is as mild as it has been this past autumn/winter, the birds don't have to rely on the food you put out. Simple as that. You can't dictate to them where they should be, therefore you just won't see as many come out of your drives. They have simply gone meandering about, browsing for what they can find naturally, and have no urgent need to be near your feeders and pens. However, further to that I feel that your stocking density related to the number of shoots is way out of balance. Firstly, stocking density has a massive influence on pheasants' behaviour. You don't release anywhere near a high enough number of birds to make them rely on your feed. I had my eyes opened to this a couple of years ago. I had losses to disease of over 200 out of a pen of 650 which served three drives outside the wood. At the end of August we were offered 900 birds at an almost give-away price, so in they went. At season's end it was the best return on a pen I've ever had by a long, long way. You couldn't get rid of the birds. Even the morning after a shoot they were climbing over each other to get back into the covers and feed. That's all down to competition for the food, so if you don't put enough birds down you won't get them "hooked" on your food supply. Secondly, shooting pressure. Going after them 10 times per season is never going to work with that few birds. As you thin them out it becomes a game of diminishing returns. Less birds going to your drives, less will follow, the more they just split up and go their own way. You'd get better returns shooting them 5 times a season rather than 10. To enjoy more success on the keeping side and better shooting throughout the season, whoever is in charge needs to get the paying guns to swallow a dose of reality and up their fees so you can put more birds down and cover the cost of feeding them. Keep them on pellet for a bit longer and have a couple of tons of cracked maize to mix with your hand-fed wheat in order to hold them better. And if someone could convince my shoot captain of the things I've just advised, I'd be really appreciative as I struggle to get a roll of fence wire out of him most years!!!
  23. Did you just side-step another ban? 🤣🤣 Blair is evil personified, I'm absolutely gobsmacked. Let's hope Lizzie slips with that sword....
  24. Jim Neal


    My OH's cousin runs a coach firm based in Middlesex. Transport firms whose vehicles have to go in to the city are currently circumventing the system using the "number plate game" as it is described to me. Every month they re-register their vehicles with a different number plate, at a cost of just over £100, which apparently means the DVLA system doesn't catch up with them. The fine for entering the ULEZ with a non-compliant vehicle is almost as much as the cost of changing number plates so they are dodging a lot of bullets for the cost of the re-registering, considering they may travel in to the city multiple times a week. DVLA are obviously going to get wind of it and close the loophole soon but at the moment it's saving a lot of transport firms from going bust having to invest in compliant vehicles. The mad thing is the emissions laws don't apply to marine craft... think of all the diesel fumes being splurged out on the Thames.
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