Early Partridge Day, Suffolk
My initial dealings with the shoot put my mind at rest somewhat as my enquiry was handled in a very professional manor and I was invited to visit Box Tree Farm to meet the team and have a look at some of the drives. I accepted the offer and was greeted by Jane who is clearly one of key people of the operation. I was then introduced to Charlie who was very helpful whilst taking me around a number of the drives and telling me a little of what to expect on the day.
When booking this particular day for the GSS (Generally Saturday Syndicate) last spring time I had a couple of reservations. Firstly, the shoot was not known to me. When I book a day on an untried shoot, I’m always a little apprehensive. Let’s face it, if it all goes wrong on the day it comes back at me. I will always get the blame if the shoot doesn’t measure up to what’s expected. My get out of jail card here was that one of the GSS group had attended a day at Box Tree Farm last season and it was his suggestion to try it this year.
OK, so if it all goes pear shaped it’s his fault. If it goes well I’ll take the credit for booking the day. Sounds good to me.
"Now you wouldn’t want those things thinking you were taking a shot at them just in case they fired back"
The other thing that concerned me a little was that I had been told that the shoot was close to a Royal Air Force base and that we may see low flying Apache Attack Helicopters. Now you wouldn’t want those things thinking you were taking a shot at them just in case they fired back. These things were playing on my mind but the shoot was offering a fantastic deal on early Partridge Days. So fantastic that we just had to book a day.
My initial dealings with the shoot put my mind at rest somewhat as my inquiry was handled in a very professional manor and I was invited to visit Box Tree Farm to meet the team and have a look at some of the drives. I accepted the offer and was greeted by Jane who is clearly the brains of the operation. I was then introduced to Charlie who was very helpful whilst taking me around a number of the drives and telling me a little of what to expect on the day.
Our 200 bird, fully catered day was booked for Saturday 15th September 2012. The team of guns arrived on the day, mostly on time and were greeted with tea or coffee followed by a safety briefing and draw for pegs. We then climbed aboard the waiting Ambulance, yes you did read that correctly, which is the shoot gun bus, complete with stretcher, a health & safety officers dream. I’m sure this mode of transport has been the topic of humorous conversation many times at Box Tree Farm.
The weather forecasters had got their prediction pretty much spot on for once and the day was warm with a blue sky. Around mid morning even the breeze lifted for us to help lift the early partridge a little higher over the guns. It always feels a little strange to be game shooting in shirt-sleeves but who’s going to complain about a warm sunny day after the summer we’ve had to endure.
For those of you who have had the pleasure of shooting at this Suffolk shoot before, you’ll know what I mean when I say the terrain is not at all what you would expect for East Anglia. The ground rolls beautifully with low hills and shallow valley’s and the shoot takes full advantage of this topography with game cover placed strategically on the high ground and guns placed on low ground to achieve maximum height as the birds pass over the waiting guns.
"None of them took offence at the barrage of shots fired at the large numbers of birds that raced over the team of nine guns"
Our first drive was “Bildeston Road” and although we saw a couple of helicopters, none of them took offence at the barrage of shots fired at the large numbers of birds that raced over the team of nine guns. The first drive under our belt and the GSS are settling in with the usual witty banter in full flow.
We’re of to “Rosie’s Wood” for the second drive and although we see massive numbers of birds we have to pick and choose our targets as many of them are skimming low between the guns.
Not the best drive of the day but a great place to stop for a glass or two, or three of sloe-gin. Back in the Ambulance and off to “Box Iron” for drive number three.
By now the breeze was lifting and so were the partridges. This was much better and the bag is up over 100 so we break for a wonderful lunch of smoked pork with fresh vegetables followed by a delicious desert, then cheese board & crackers all served with red and white wine.
The team are feeling very satisfied, tummies are full and the witticisms abound. Back on the shoot bus and off to “Judgements” for drive number four.
With our back to a small lake that was full of mallard (not for us) we faced a very large maize strip on the high ground above us. When the beating team got going through the covers enormous numbers of birds were flushing high and fast over the guns. By now the team had got their eye in and birds were bouncing on the ground all around.
The best shot of the day was had here with a wood pigeon that was all of 60 yards above the guns crumpling dead in the air.
One more good drive would get us on the bag and “Buckles Middle Strip” proved to be good enough. The birds were presented high and fast above the waiting guns and by the time the final whistle blew to end the drive we had 205 partridge and 3 woodpigeon in the bag.
Back to the very comfortable dining room for a very tasty tea served with coffee or tea.
A very nice end to a wonderful day at Box Tree Farm Shoot.