Winter Has Arrived
Well winter has certainly arrived! As I sit to write this from my collated notes over the last few weeks, the snow is tumbling out of the sky. A cancelled road trip and the news is full of traffic chaos. A thirty-minute drive to my family home resulted in a three-hour test of my own and my Land Rover Discovery's ability. Despite my best efforts, it wasn’t to be. The roads were completely snarled up with traffic going nowhere, so I was eventually forced to concede and head home for an afternoon of photo editing, hot chocolate and mince pies.
With the British tradition of talking about the weather now done, what else have I been up to? Well of course with the game season in full swing I've had more driven shoot days, but more excitedly a couple of days pigeon shooting over winter rape and quite a few rough shooting afternoons spent alone in the countryside.
The pigeons are now moving out of the woods to find food on the many acres of winter rape we have. I try not to be excited by huge flocks lifting as I walk them off. Many times, I have been tricked into thinking a good day's sport will follow, but more often than not they simply head to a neighbouring farm and fail to return, resulting in a cold few hours and very few shots to show for my endurance. So, I now prefer to observe what fields they are on, try to see where they are going, where they have come from and which route they prefer. Then I can position myself under a flight line, and this can provide much more prolonged and interesting shooting. Early mornings are proving the best for me with several bags of 30 plus birds before lunch. By then I'm getting cold, so a quick pack up and a spot of lunch, then it's time to go wandering the hedgerows and headlands, with the extra exertion warming me up nicely. There is always a possibility of a pheasant or partridge to add to the bag. Seeing a fine pheasant getting up in front and quickly gaining height and speed is delightful, or the partridge covey powering away low and fast really does get the heart racing, and the instinctive shooting needed is a great test for any gun. I do however need my own dog. I tend to use the shoot owner's lab when I need to, but I have now added my name to a couple of dog rehoming sites so fingers crossed I can give a needy dog a terrific home (although cockers and working cockers seem to be homed very quickly and I keep missing them!!).
Apart from the shooting I was also (surprisingly) asked if I would like to pop along to the Alan Paine annual photoshoot. Being new to photography I jumped at the chance of being able to see a pro photographer at work, and get the chance to finally meet some of the Alan Paine team. So, one very cold Thursday morning saw me excitedly heading out into the wilderness of Norfolk to a beautiful country farm house. What a fantastic day it turned out to be. The team behind the brand are such a lovely bunch of people and I felt most welcome. I was fortunate to browse the 2018 range and I must say there is more than a few things I have my eyes on! The quality, style and attention to detail is fantastic. The team are clearly very passionate about getting things right and it shows. Astonishingly just after lunch I was handed a few items and asked to get changed and head to the walled garden with the models. More than a little nervous I did what I was told, and low and behold there I was on the other side of the lens. This theme continued for the next couple of hours and it was a lot of fun. I just hope I haven't ruined too many photos!!
As usual I have run out of space, so I will quickly wish everyone a very merry Christmas, and I do hope you all get out during the festive break to enjoy the best of winter field sports.
Until next time
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