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So after two aborted attempts on the last two Saturdays, I finally managed to get down the wood, where I was assured by the keeper that the grey hordes were massing. The adjacent rape, looking exceptionally poor had been attracting reasonable numbers, bolstered by the ivy laden trees in the woods edge. All the ingredients were there then, so how did it pan out? 

Arranging to rendezvous at the wood with pops to abide by the current rules and regs, I arrived on time to find no-one waiting for me. I unpacked dog and gun in a leisurely fashion and took a quick walk about. Lots of small flocks about on the surrounding fields and a smattering in the woods, things looked promising. Checking my phone, there was a message from pops, delayed due to flat battery. He would catch me up if he could, and I was to press on without him. 

Into the wood then, to a scene of devastation. My wonderful ambush point about thirty yards in from the eastern end of the dog leg had been completely ruined. The majestic poplars that stood sentry and provided perching places for the pigeons were strewn around, upended by the relentless wind and rain of the last few months leaving gaping holes in the canopy. This was a development I hadn't expected. The forestry men had been busy tidying up, but they couldn't replace those trees and I had a sinking feeling that this was not a change for the better. I pressed on regardless, and with the dog in position I dug in for the afternoon and began my wait.

Now, *disclaimer alert*. Today was the first time I've picked up a gun since 1/2/2020. I've been a full calender year without pulling the trigger, and I haven't even opened my gun cabinet to gaze wistfully at the gleaming arms within. It wasnt for want of trying, but we all had our own unique situations last year, and the opportunity just never arose. Rusty? At least my gun wasn't. It didn't take long for me to find out. 

The birds were flighting in from all directions. The shape of the wood and the view of the tree canopy was radically different from their perspective, and they weren't behaving as I would expect. With 15-20mph south easterly winds, most of the action would normally have been in front of me as I faced the southern side of the wood, but I found that any pigeons that approached the wood skirted around to the west, over the thicker, more sheltered end of the dogleg. There were odds and ends coming into the ivy trees nearby, so I decided to stay put for now, and the first couple of shots confirmed my lack of practice. I eventually got off the mark with a stroke of luck as an unwary woodie came into rest right above my head, and it fell to earth with a satisfying thud, barely troubling the ring rusty hound. Ones and twos were coming in fairly regularly, but right at the limit of my prowess, so the next half dozen shots were fruitless. I glanced at the quivering dog behind me, perhaps she would provide me with some inspiration. But no, she just fixed me with a withering look and coughed up a hairball. 

Pops had finally arrived and I could hear him blazing away at the other end of the wood. He seemed to be in the thick of it for the moment. I uttered a small prayer to the shooting gods, and they duly provided me with another easy shot as a laden woodie flopped in around twenty yards away. Another in the bag, and finally a chance for the dog to earn her dinner. I knocked a screamer down with my next shot, high and wide quartering in to my left. It landed in a thick ivy clad pine, and there it remains alive or dead I cannot say. The dog was most vexed by this, and took it upon herself to fully investigate the area around the base of the tree to no avail, and apparently this is my fault. 

The wind must have shifted slightly as the flow of birds dried up, so I turned 180° and considered a change in position. I still had a good forty five minutes of daylight left, and the constant banging eminating from the erstwhile pops was intreaguing. As I was lost in reverie, a couple of high fast birds wizzed by, I lifted my gun in salute and managed to connect with one by sheer luck. It dropped a long way out into the meadow, but was well marked by the canny hound, who didn't wait for the nod before bounding off. To get to it, she had to traverse the foulest ditch in existence. Six foot wide, and rumoured to be bottomless, it was the stuff of legend, and the local old boys spoke of it in hushed and reverent tones. This didn't bother the dog however, who belly flopped straight into the middle, sinking with a little plop, only to emerge in a furious scramble at the far bank. The stench that wafted my way cannot be described by mortal men, so I shall not try. Brave hound, she carried on undaunted, disappearing into the meadow rushes. I watched her for a moment as she zigzagged around, evidently seeking but not finding the downed pigeon, so I engaged my safety, and made my way to join her search. 

It took a while as I had to backtrack to the single sleeper that served as a bridge. When I arrived at the scene, a clump of feathers indicated the impact site, and a curious trail of fluffy grey down lead off towards the river. The dog was there hunting up and down the bank. Swimming in the current like a little duck, the pigeon had taken to the water and was drifting down stream at a rate of knots. The dog couldn't see her, so I directed her in and she finally located the target. Another bird in the bag. 

I returned to the wood, but didn't have much more luck. I fired a handful of cartridges for no return, so I packed up and made my way back to the car. I waited 10 or so minutes for pops to arrive, and we swapped socially distanced stories before making our way home. The old wood ain't the same. I think I'll be switching to one of my alternative ambush points in the wood in future. At least I haven't forgotten how to shoot. 

 

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I like to see a bit of creativity and effort in a shooting report :D

I'd not give up on that wood.  If it's a favourite roost, I'm sure they'll keep coming to it regardless of the changes... you might just notice a few differences that you need to re-tune to?  Just takes a bit of observation I'd guess.

Keep it up mate :)

 

P.S. You don't mention numbers so I'm guessing the old man showed you up 😂

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17 hours ago, Jim Neal said:

I like to see a bit of creativity and effort in a shooting report :D

I'd not give up on that wood.  If it's a favourite roost, I'm sure they'll keep coming to it regardless of the changes... you might just notice a few differences that you need to re-tune to?  Just takes a bit of observation I'd guess.

Keep it up mate :)

 

P.S. You don't mention numbers so I'm guessing the old man showed you up 😂

Let's just say that he's been doing it a lot longer than me and leave it at that.... 

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Really good write up. Nice description of the setting, interesting and humorous. Well done and keep the stories coming.

I write a journal, not everyday and not always about shooting but try to make it a factual but interesting read for whoever wants to read it. One entry, I posted on here. My Dad did the same (his was beautifully hand written) and captured mostly shooting trips since 1963 to 2010 along with photos. He gave it to my wife, who treasures it and often talks to him about it.

As mentioned keep writing, you have a natural talent.

👍

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