The field consists of approximately eight acres on a hill. Now one must remember that this is Norfolk and anywhere else in the UK the slight incline in topography would go unnoticed but here in Norfolk this field almost compares with the likes of Ben Nevis.
One of the small syndicate shoots that I have been involved with for the past eight years here in Norfolk is unnamed but is known by the syndicate members as Gary’s shoot. It’s called Gary’s shoot because Gary collects the subs and does most of the game keeping.
I guess if someone called Fred took on that role, it would be known as Fred’s shoot.
During the game season we do around 8 to 9 Saturdays on this shoot. The shoot has traditionally covered three local farms which amount to approximately 800 acres. We have some game cover of bird mix, kale and a couple of maize strips, some wooded areas and a duck pond.
A typical bag for this shoot is between 20 to 30 head and will be made up of pheasant, partridge and duck along with several "various" which may include a hare, sometimes a rabbit and perhaps a jay or wood pigeon.
"The bag is always divided up between the guns and beaters and it’s a safe bet that nothing goes to waste and all game will be eaten"
What ever the final bag count may be, it is always unanimously agreed that the standard of shooting was rubbish and the final count could and should have been double. I guess that would apply to most small Saturday shoots.
The bag is always divided up between the guns and beaters and it’s a safe bet that nothing goes to waste and all game will be eaten.
The shoot is a very informal and friendly affair and is attended by one or two local farmers along with several paying members, Gary (of course) and myself when not working.
We have a team of devoted beaters, mainly youngsters who show their enthusiasm for what they are doing by making the most horrendous noise as they whoop and howl their way through woodland and game cover, scaring the living daylights out of every creature seeking refuge there.
The duck pond known as Bob’s pond (Bob has the shooting permission) may produce one or two duck, but on a good day the small smelly pit can produce as many as twenty duck, mainly mallard and teal.
It is generally the first drive of the day and can either set us up for a great day or a small bag depending on how many duck are in residence and how quietly the guns go to their pegs.
"How that man survived the day without being shot (accidentally of course) will remain a mystery"
On one Saturday morning last season as everyone walked stealthily to their pegs, one twit fired his gun at a wayward partridge, missing it by a country mile and scaring around 20 mallard from the pond before anyone got to their pegs. How that man survived the day without being shot (accidentally of course) will remain a mystery.
Although we can comfortably make ten or more drives from the land that we shoot, invariably the best drive is one of Bob’s bits.
The field consists of approximately eight acres on a hill. Now one must remember that this is Norfolk and anywhere else in the UK the slight incline in topography would go unnoticed, but here in Norfolk we view this field almost as the highlands of Norfolk, a mountain to compare with the likes of Ben Nevis or Snowdon.
At the bottom of the field is a small wood where we hold & then release a small number of pheasant. The farmer conveniently grows maize for cattle feed on this and the other surrounding fields, so with a little negotiation and arm-twisting he always agrees to leave some crop standing for game cover. This helps hold the 20 or so pheasants that will be released for this drive.
You may be asking yourself how this field produces the best drive of the shoot when only 20 birds are released here. The truth is it’s a bit of a mystery to me too. I do the keepering on these fields and have never intentionally fed birds in from other shoots. I think this is very bad practice and not something I would deliberately do.
However, when we drive the field, the wood and the maize and consistently push 30 or more head of pheasant and partridge over the guns, you know they must be someone else’s birds but for the life of me I don’t know who’s. This field is not on another shoots boundary so wherever they are coming from they have a bit of a walk.
"I suspect we have in the region of a 400% success rate of birds shot against birds released"
I have never actually counted the number of birds shot through the season from this one drive but I suspect we have in the region of a 400% success rate of birds shot against birds released.
I can only assume that it’s the fabulous views from the top of the field that attracts the birds or maybe my superior keeping skills that makes them want to travel so far, but what ever the reason, they are most welcome and long may it continue.