JC & I are fortunate enough to be invited to a pheasant shoot day every year around about the 5th of december but this year it was brought forward to the 6th of November.
So on Friday, we started our day with a hearty breakfast and headed to the foot of the hills near Thirsk in North Yorkshire. Having been brought up in similar countryside to that which surrounds Thirsk, it pulls at my heart strings a little to be yomping up some huge muddy hills.
It is a completely beautiful setting and I cannot do it enough credit with photos or words.
This annual ‘shoot’ is a day that a local shooting syndicate sells. It raises money for the upkeep of the estate and the birds and allows the likes of ourselves, who are not land owners, and would normally not have any access to this beautiful part of the country, to enjoy it.
Both JC & I shoot though, like my horsemanship (see ‘pretty boys 10.10.09), my shooting isn’t endowed with much skill. Don’t get me wrong, when I am shooting well, I can hit targets and I am passionate about being close to the process of getting your food. I shoot pheasants because I want to eat them and I don’t see why someone else should do my dirty work for me. The surplus braces that we shot (and we shot 184 birds – 92 braces between 9 guns) provides food for the others & the local game dealer but I can’t claim that my shooting prowess would provide enough pheasants for more than a few pheasant casseroles.
But, it is very exhilarating and the ‘crack’ amongst the guns is terribly entertaining.
“uncle mick” who I adore, is a champion clay pigeon shooter and hardly ever misses a bird that is in sky anywhere near him, “hinge & bracket” are incredibly entertaining but nearly as committed to shooting as they are to their families, H is my “sort of step dad type person” who I also adore and is a very generous chap but is dangerous when left in charge of filling up your wine glass, Mr Audi & lovely Mrs Audi are regulars and tremendous company, N is a nice (and there are some) solicitor and there are lots of others too but in total the guns are usually about 10.
One of the other things that I love about this shoot is the ‘organisers’, ‘beaters’ and the ‘picker uppers’ are also great fun and tremendous company. There is no ‘us and them’ that sadly often keeps the shooters and the workers apart. We go to the pub together afterwards for tea and cake!
They have some beautiful dogs amongst them that work tirelessly all day for our enjoyment.
The dogs that go with the beater are different to the dog with the picker uppers. The beaters use their dogs to flush out the pheasants whereas the picker uppers dogs are used to collect the birds that have been shot by the guns.
They are highly trained but like anything that us humans think they can control, they don’t always do what they are asked and we watched a very funny exchange between a ‘picker upper’ and his dog who wouldn’t give up the pheasant he had searched for ages for!!!!
We have been so lucky with the weather too and although the ground was wet our day started out sunny and even though the sun eventually disappeared, the rain stayed away until we were travelling home in the dark.
The first year we did it, the weather was similar to yesterday and we have had glorious sunshine the next year, fog to add to the fun another year and last year the surroundings were made even more beautiful by snow. It is a wonderful place.
Because I wasn’t shooting this year, I took the ‘furry one’ to stand on the peg with JC and take some photographs while soaking up the surrounds that leave you quite speachless.
One of our pegs was next to a woodpeckers hole and although I missed photographing them, we also saw Sikka deer and a Stoat.
I do miss the hills of northern england after days like yesterday.
I had a look through some of the photos from the other shoot days like this one and found may favourite from last year when we were shooting on a bright and beautiful snowy day….