Monday, 7 February 2011

Walked-up or 'rough' shooting

This can be great fun and is often to be enjoyed on one’s own land or on that of friends. It just means going out with gun dogs (probably spaniels or pointers), spreading out in a line to walk the game up and picking off whatever seasonable game, rabbits or pigeons (these last two not actually game) that you walk-up. Airborne snipe come in groups, called ‘walks’ or ‘wisps’ and woodcock come in ‘falls’. These are not strictly game either (at least not defined as such by statute). Bags of shot snipe or woodcock are counted in ‘couples’. Woodcock, rising up, suddenly and vertically, with great speed, are amongst the most challenging birds to shoot. There is even an exclusive (but meritocratic) club, called The Shooting Times’ Woodcock Club, for guns who have been witnessed shooting a couple of woodcock with ‘a right and a left’, without lowering the gun.

This kind of shooting is a relaxed and relaxing way to enjoy some sport, as well as the least expensive shooting to be had and often results in something for everyone’s pot. Just remember to bear in mind how many men and dogs are in your party and be aware of where they are at all times so that you do not shoot over them. Also take care to ensure that you do not shoot over or near any highway or footpath and remember that, even where there are no footpaths, there might be trespassers or adventurous children; therefore, again do not shoot into any area that you cannot clearly see is free of humans, dogs, farm animals and other wildlife and walk with your gun (preferably broken), pointing at the ground. Moreover, if you are on someone else’s land and there are crops under foot, be sure that you do not trample them; close gates that are supposed to be closed; if you are forced to climb a gate, put your gun on the ground and climb over the hinge side of the gate (if you climb the latch side, the leverage will weaken the hinges). Do not (especially with a gun), scramble through prickly coverts and over hedges. Douglas Sutherland in his amusing book, The English Gentleman, mentions a nice little rhyme in relation to gun safety:

Never, never let your gun
Pointed be at anyone…
All the pheasants ever bred
Will not make up for one man dead.

As with wildfowling, when shooting walked-up game, quarry identification is important as it is both illegal and thoroughly irresponsible to shoot protected species or game out of season.

1 comment:

  1. Also remember to keep a game book. Said book by Douglas Sutherland recalls the gentleman who wrote his own name in his game book before shooting in his head. What an original way to leave this world.