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A Belated Start To This Years Fowling Season


marsh man
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With my pigeon ( season ) drawing to a close, it was now getting near the time when I blow the dust off the box that hold the steel cartridges and sort my trusty fowling gear out , this is about two weeks earlier than I started last year but after the recent heavy rain I knew where some shootable splashers were , even so I still had to do a certain amount of homework by checking around the edge of the water for feathers and going down the marsh the odd night at flight time without my gun to check what was moving about , I am not clued up on all the feathers from various duck and waders but I know enough to tell me some belonged to Mallard , Wigeon , a small flock of Greylag ( as I have seen them drop in ) and the noisy Egyptian Geese .

With the nights drawing in fast and getting dark just before 7 it don't now disrupt our tea as we we don't have it till around 7.30 , so last night it was time to make a start and it certainly didn't disappoint , one thing I have never done before was shooting a Drake Pintail in Winter plumage with my first shot of the season , this was quickly followed by a pair of Mallard and before the light had gone I capped the flight off with a Wigeon , as it turned out , all four were drakes , what I did notice was my eyes don't no longer pick them out before they get in range and with a back problem I can't take overhead shots either sitting down or if I stand up , still with only a few weeks before my 74th birthday I mustn't complain and I am grateful I can still get out.

Still, getting four was now enough and I still have to watch lifting anything to heavy after my Hernia op in the Summer , this could be a very good season as we have already got a few thousand geese down here and duck building up daily so I hope all the other fowlers up and down the country are filling their boots and I don't mean with salt water .   GOOD LUCK   MM

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Awesome start to the season for you. Lovely looking spot too. For some reason I am struggling to hit a duck so far.Been on pigeons all summer with some good shooting but can't hit duck to save my life. Last year I was on the money with them. I think I am just over excited :) 

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Well done. I was a little late off the mark this season. Just couldn’t get my head around it with such warm weather and pink feet arriving late. Managed a Canada on the 1 October and two pinks on the 8th. Big goose numbers then but all but disappeared this week. A number are saying worst start to the season in memory on this bit of the Solway. Out tomorrow but not optimistic.

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Excellent start well done John pleased for you. I was hoping to be shooting in your neck of the woods with Conor this season but unfortunately due to personal reasons we have had to put back our plans on hold fingers crossed next season we will be trying our luck in your area. Good luck for the rest of the season keep posting your results 

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Nice one MM I haven't been out yet, but todays weather. [gusty northerlies] and given that i seeded about 1/2 acre with oats late this year, which is laid and has plenty of greylags feeding on it, Im hoping an after dark session might see a few ducks ! 

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23 minutes ago, captainhastings said:

Awesome start to the season for you. Lovely looking spot too. For some reason I am struggling to hit a duck so far.Been on pigeons all summer with some good shooting but can't hit duck to save my life. Last year I was on the money with them. I think I am just over excited  

To be honest I can at times hit duck in poor light better than I can at pigeons , I think with me being a lifetime rough shooter , and a very rough one at that you try and connect with what few shots that come your way and with duck at last light you will be way behind if you can see them when you pull the trigger , same with most forms of shooting , the more you go , the more chances will come your way and the bag will start to get heavy , GOOD LUCK on your next flight.

 

22 minutes ago, Dave at kelton said:

Well done. I was a little late off the mark this season. Just couldn’t get my head around it with such warm weather and pink feet arriving late. Managed a Canada on the 1 October and two pinks on the 8th. Big goose numbers then but all but disappeared this week. A number are saying worst start to the season in memory on this bit of the Solway. Out tomorrow but not optimistic.

We had the Pinks come down here more or less on time , around the last week of September , now we have several thousand , they are now going furthur afield as the sugar beet campaign have only just started , some are on the grazing marshes and some are going out to sea for some reason , the numbers will go up and down ( mainly up ) till they peak around December when they could reach around 15,000. GOOD LUCK for the rest of the season.

 

23 minutes ago, 6.5x55SE said:

Excellent start well done John pleased for you. I was hoping to be shooting in your neck of the woods with Conor this season but unfortunately due to personal reasons we have had to put back our plans on hold fingers crossed next season we will be trying our luck in your area. Good luck for the rest of the season keep posting your results 

THANKS Boyd .... Some of our marshes are getting better and better with English Nature and the R S P B putting in scrapes to encourage wildfowl and waders , also with the geese here in good numbers the fowlers are concentrating on them and leaving the duck marshes alone , on some of the decent marshes the livestock are still on till early November and it can become a bit scary when you come off in the dark with a herd of cattle trying to get at your dog or a pack of horses getting excited , not really for the faint hearted , GOOD LUCK in the weeks ahead .

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35 minutes ago, islandgun said:

Nice one MM I haven't been out yet, but todays weather. [gusty northerlies] and given that i seeded about 1/2 acre with oats late this year, which is laid and has plenty of greylags feeding on it, Im hoping an after dark session might see a few ducks ! 

Evening islandgun ..... Hope your keeping well , this afternoon started to turn a lot colder than of late and the type of weather to get out , not to warm and not to cold , you haven't got to worry about someone having a go while you are keeping an eye on things and neither do I up to a point , I rarely go till it is nearly dark and if anyone else is on the club marshes then I will go on my own ones which are next door , I try and leave mine alone a bit to give me somewhere to go if it get a big crowed , which isn't that often .

I tried to get a photo last night with duck coming in but my camera skills are pretty basic and the photo below was just before the duck arrived .

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1 hour ago, marsh man said:

Evening islandgun ..... Hope your keeping well , this afternoon started to turn a lot colder than of late and the type of weather to get out , not to warm and not to cold , you haven't got to worry about someone having a go while you are keeping an eye on things and neither do I up to a point , I rarely go till it is nearly dark and if anyone else is on the club marshes then I will go on my own ones which are next door , I try and leave mine alone a bit to give me somewhere to go if it get a big crowed , which isn't that often .

I tried to get a photo last night with duck coming in but my camera skills are pretty basic and the photo below was just before the duck arrived .

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We are all well cheers, Like the photo, proper bit of EA sky,  You had a bit more cloud cover than here tonight and i know i should have gone, I took the spaniel for walk this afternoon and he put a pair of Mallard up from a drain, he watched them till they were dots then looked at me..😐

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Hi marsh man that’s a good start to the season.  It reminded me of when I was at school and dad’s cousins and the older wildflowers would take me out on the marsh, it was because my young eyes could point out the duck coming . I know what it’s like now on dark. The old boys would carry a bag of feathers to the marsh and put them in the flashes they didn’t want to shoot. One day I said that the marsh was cleaned by the spring tide and there should be no feathers on the flashes, l was told don’t tell them that. It’s a nice clean marsh you have there, good luck with your season.

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Brilliant post MM With the weather starting to change here in N Ireland I usually leave my fowling trips to around the 20th-30 Oct when the migrants start arriving Unfortunately were I hunt a lot guns have been out hammering the mallards(flappers) I think I’ve hunted every species of duck successful here in NI EXCEPT a pintail so I’m delighted you got a drake Pintail your first shot Good to see you have Wildfowling Bug Still after all these years 👍👍

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2 hours ago, Gerry78 said:

Brilliant post MM With the weather starting to change here in N Ireland I usually leave my fowling trips to around the 20th-30 Oct when the migrants start arriving Unfortunately were I hunt a lot guns have been out hammering the mallards(flappers) I think I’ve hunted every species of duck successful here in NI EXCEPT a pintail so I’m delighted you got a drake Pintail your first shot Good to see you have Wildfowling Bug Still after all these years 👍👍

Evening Gerry ...... At one time the Pintail were fairly numerous down here with some going in the bag most seasons , long before I made a self imposed limit the best and biggest flight I ever had were all Pintail , also , when I had my gun punts we used to push on to a lot of Pintail and we found them one of the easiest duck to push on to with them being a lot less nervous than most of the other duck , then for some reason the numbers of Wigeon increased most years while the elegant Pintail started to decline with less than a 100 being the lowest count , now it is looking a lot better with the numbers getting into the mid to high 100s .

Geese we see into the really big numbers when around three years ago for the first time ever they out numbered the Wigeon so we are lucky we have enough fowl to please most if not everyone .

Yes I have still got the bug but I only now go when I feel the time is right and I fancy a few duck , I also like to have a goose over the Christmas period and my visits are in the goose areas from early December and I set myself a target to have at least one by the festive period and normally I don't let myself down , GOOD LUCK over the next few weeks and I hope a Pintail find it's way inside your game bag .

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Hi marsh man when we  shot  pintail on the Mersey we would shoot mainly drakes when they first arrived. I don’t know if they migrate first or just more drakes. When l was first taken widgeon shooting I noticed the birds shot were mainly cocks , next time they were mainly hens, when I asked why l was told that all the cocks must have been shot. I don’t think they interested , they still came in to the whistle. We had many teal on the Mersey and it was the same when they arrived mainly drakes or hens shot. 

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13 hours ago, marsh man said:

Evening Gerry ...... At one time the Pintail were fairly numerous down here with some going in the bag most seasons , long before I made a self imposed limit the best and biggest flight I ever had were all Pintail , also , when I had my gun punts we used to push on to a lot of Pintail and we found them one of the easiest duck to push on to with them being a lot less nervous than most of the other duck , then for some reason the numbers of Wigeon increased most years while the elegant Pintail started to decline with less than a 100 being the lowest count , now it is looking a lot better with the numbers getting into the mid to high 100s .

Geese we see into the really big numbers when around three years ago for the first time ever they out numbered the Wigeon so we are lucky we have enough fowl to please most if not everyone .

Yes I have still got the bug but I only now go when I feel the time is right and I fancy a few duck , I also like to have a goose over the Christmas period and my visits are in the goose areas from early December and I set myself a target to have at least one by the festive period and normally I don't let myself down , GOOD LUCK over the next few weeks and I hope a Pintail find it's way inside your game bag .

Thanks MM I Have seen pintail when I have been fowling but for some reason it’s the only species I haven’t managed to bag But to be honest I love even watching ducks in flights getting a shot is second The way things going with Brexit All of us will have to get a goose for Christmas with the apparent supposed turkey shortage 😊😊😊I’m like you’re self now I only really go out when I fancy it more for my fox red lab who’s getting on in years like us all Keep posting I was reading your post last night having a pint of Guinness Very enjoyable thanks for posting 👍👍👍Good luck for the rest of the season 

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1 hour ago, London Best said:

I did 25 years regular ‘fowling on the Wash and only ever shot one Pintail.

Yes LB It’s strange some people seem to shoot species that you don’t My fowling friend has shot quite a few pintail on the marsh we’re i also shoot On the other hand I always seem to bag teal while my friend doesn’t 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️Joys of Hunting 👍👍

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6 hours ago, London Best said:

I did 25 years regular ‘fowling on the Wash and only ever shot one Pintail.

In all the years you shot the Wash L B , did you ever shoot a White Front ? , these geese can elude the best of them with many fowlers going a lifetime without getting one.

We used to have them come down here around Christmas time when the Pinks were a rarity and like most things in fowling you had to be in the right place at the right time .

After trying for a few seasons I finally got one on the way home one night in nigh on pitch darkness , more through luck than judgement but we all need a bit of luck now and again , the goose dropped on the mud in the estuary and after I washed the mud off in the dyke I could see the thick Black bars on it's chest , to me I had hit the jackpot , as the years rolled on I shot every duck and goose on the list , I then started to tick off lefts and rights from each species , some were harder than others but over a period of time I manage a left and right at them all bar one and the only species I couldn't tick off was the White Front , the years rolled by and I accepted defeat , then about 20 years ago I gave up the block of marshes I hired through a knee injury and joined Norwich W A , they had , and still got some excellent marshes where geese are regular visitors .

From the first year I started to get the odd goose which were Pinks , then one night I shot one out a skein and that turned out to be a Whitefront , then on another rough night I shot a left and right , my dog at the time crossed a wide dyke and when he brought that one back that also turned into a Whitefront , He then went after the other one and had I finally achieved my dream of a L and R at the holy grail of wildfowl ? , when he crossed the dyke it looked the same but sadly no , it was a Pink Foot , either it was a odd Pink , or the W F was a odd one , so the wait continued .

Time moved on a few years then one night I was flighting a large splash on the marsh and all I expected were duck , as it got dark from out of nowhere a small skein crossed the river wall and headed to my patch of water , from the time I saw them they never made a sound and I wasn't sure what geese they were , then when they were nearly in range one of them made a low honking noise , that was all I wanted to hear and it was game on , as I had duck shells up the spout I let them get as close as possible , my first shot dropped one and when they banked my second shot brought another one down , my dog was back in a flash with a perfect Whitefront , have I finally done this time ? I sent him again and at long last I had done it , another W F without the bars on it's chest but the White blob near the base of it's beak .

That was about 15 years ago , so it was nigh on 40 years from shooting my first single W F to getting a left and right , and like waiting a while for a No 6 bus you get two come together and this was the same with the geese , a few years later I done it again on strangely enough the same block of marshes.

So to those who are still waiting you should never give up because you could get it the next time you go , or in 30 / 40 years time , but rest assured , you will get one . GOOD LUCK  

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Great report of your first day John and pleased that you did well.

Bobbie looks a though he`s spotted another duck coming over.

I think that we need to hear more of your punt gunning adventures as I`m sure they would make interesting reading.

OB

 

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No, Marshman, I never shot a Whitefront on the Wash but I do remember a mate getting one there and another friend shooting one on the river Severn in Shropshire. Actually, I have never shot a Whitefront at all but have shot Canada, Greylag, Pinkfooted, Spur-Wing, and Egyptian.

edit: about 1969/70 my pal shot a Bean goose on the Wash one evening.

Edited by London Best
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9 hours ago, Old Boggy said:

Great report of your first day John and pleased that you did well.

Bobbie looks a though he`s spotted another duck coming over.

I think that we need to hear more of your punt gunning adventures as I`m sure they would make interesting reading.

OB

 

Evening Chris .... Sadly the estuary was made into a reserve in 1968 and punt gunning was abolished , it was agreed on that nothing bigger than a 8 bore could be used and we lost a day as well , so you couldn't shoot on a Sunday ( never could in Norfolk ) and they added Monday on as well .

I can well remember the heated arguments at the clubs meeting , the last punt gunner was totally deaf and I used to write down what they were proposing and he would object to everything that was going to affect his passion with punt guns , the meetings would go on well into the night and we often had two beer breaks and you could smoke then and the room was thick with pipe , roll ups and the odd cigar , when someone said open the windows I recon from outside it must have looked like the room was on fire.

Giving in to the various demands to end punt gunning and losing a day wasn't taken lightly by the local gunners and the old boys fought hammer and tong before the fight was over , it was either giving in to the proposals or losing wildfowling all together , wildfowling still continue on the estuary but only at a very small percentage that it once was , at least you can still shoot a small part of the estuary if you don't mind the public walking backwards and forwards along the top of the wall with powerful binoculars , something I couldn't cope with , for how much longer will fowling continue on their  ? , who knows , only time will tell.  

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On 17/10/2021 at 19:14, marsh man said:

Evening Chris .... Sadly the estuary was made into a reserve in 1968 and punt gunning was abolished , it was agreed on that nothing bigger than a 8 bore could be used and we lost a day as well , so you couldn't shoot on a Sunday ( never could in Norfolk ) and they added Monday on as well .

I can well remember the heated arguments at the clubs meeting , the last punt gunner was totally deaf and I used to write down what they were proposing and he would object to everything that was going to affect his passion with punt guns , the meetings would go on well into the night and we often had two beer breaks and you could smoke then and the room was thick with pipe , roll ups and the odd cigar , when someone said open the windows I recon from outside it must have looked like the room was on fire.

Giving in to the various demands to end punt gunning and losing a day wasn't taken lightly by the local gunners and the old boys fought hammer and tong before the fight was over , it was either giving in to the proposals or losing wildfowling all together , wildfowling still continue on the estuary but only at a very small percentage that it once was , at least you can still shoot a small part of the estuary if you don't mind the public walking backwards and forwards along the top of the wall with powerful binoculars , something I couldn't cope with , for how much longer will fowling continue on their  ? , who knows , only time will tell.  

Another fantastic response  post MM Regarding public walking I’d was shooting a piece of shore years ago Tidal and once it was breaking light Joe public was walking past on the sea wall standing watching I stuck it a season and left the club that had the shoreline no privacy at all which 1st attracted me to Wildfowling I had to chuckle Your recollections of your club meetings from years back 👍

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45 minutes ago, Gerry78 said:

Another fantastic response  post MM Regarding public walking I’d was shooting a piece of shore years ago Tidal and once it was breaking light Joe public was walking past on the sea wall standing watching I stuck it a season and left the club that had the shoreline no privacy at all which 1st attracted me to Wildfowling I had to chuckle Your recollections of your club meetings from years back 👍

The meetings were often the highlights of the season , the club was formed in the mid fifties and I joined in 1964 , my first sub was ten shillings ( 50p ) of todays money , then the following year it I was no longer a junior and it jumped up to over a £1 , we had no marshes then in the club but most of us had friends who did have some and we always had somewhere to shoot , the meetings were held in the pub in the village where I lived and many a time my mate would come in the snug bar from coming back from flight while the meeting was in full swing , he would prop his gun up against the wall and chuck his game bag on the floor and some of the necks would be straining to see if he had anything in it , someone who couldn't see would ask someone sitting nearer to the bag if they could see anything , then another would raise his voice a bit louder to find out  and this carried on till the chairman called out , order , order and everyone started to laugh while my mate was ordering his pint with a smile on his face.

I have still got my first membership cards ( below ) and I am still a paid up member , mind you the subs have gone up a bit :lol:

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13 hours ago, marsh man said:

The meetings were often the highlights of the season , the club was formed in the mid fifties and I joined in 1964 , my first sub was ten shillings ( 50p ) of todays money , then the following year it I was no longer a junior and it jumped up to over a £1 , we had no marshes then in the club but most of us had friends who did have some and we always had somewhere to shoot , the meetings were held in the pub in the village where I lived and many a time my mate would come in the snug bar from coming back from flight while the meeting was in full swing , he would prop his gun up against the wall and chuck his game bag on the floor and some of the necks would be straining to see if he had anything in it , someone who couldn't see would ask someone sitting nearer to the bag if they could see anything , then another would raise his voice a bit louder to find out  and this carried on till the chairman called out , order , order and everyone started to laugh while my mate was ordering his pint with a smile on his face.

I have still got my first membership cards ( below ) and I am still a paid up member , mind you the subs have gone up a bit 

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Fantastic MM great you kept your original membership cards and the badges look great I’m sure all your seasons Wildfowling you could tell many a great story of your Wildfowling pursuits The romance of Wildfowling I love A old Fowler I used to hunt with told me even thou Wildfowling a mainly solitary sport when Fowler’s meet up its like a brotherhood which is right I’m sure back then life and hunting was much more simpler Thanks for posting photos 👍👍👍

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