Back In The Woods
with The Ole Hedge Creeper
Mum passed away at the end of June 2020 and we held her funeral in mid July, My Brother and I were at her side when she peacefully slipped away, she had not woken for a day or two, but as her breathing shallowed in the last moment as my Brother and I held her hand and stroked her head, she opened her eyes, smiled a beautiful smile, looked right as us both, said our names, then closed her eyes took a last breath and went off to collect here angels wings, all I can say here as it would take too long to write, is she was a great mother who defended her cubs (my Brother & I) to the last, a hard working woman who kept a great house, an even better table and gave my Brother and I the most awesome childhood, that set us up in good stead for adult life, as I said at her bedside and at her funeral, rest easy now Mum Your Boys have got this.
I am going to start this part of with a bit of a rant, firstly I teach best practice to all my young sports and each novice I coach, I always remember my Pappy (grandfathers) advice here, when in nature you leave it better than you find it and leave nothing but footprints behind, one of my biggest bug bears is the Dirty Pigeon Shooter or indeed anyone involved in country sports who do not respect The Country Code.
Just recently I get called to a series of farms with frantic calls come as fast as you can, my crops are blue with pigeons, they are ignoring the gas gun and scare crows completely, we all know this is only a temporary measure as the birds soon become used to these measures, but to comply with the GL licence such measures have to be taken, this sort of call always happens at certain times of the year for me, I am a professional pest and crop protection operative not an armature, so often get called in after the Free Pest Controllers have had a go, now far be it from me to stop a man’s sport and I give full blessing to those who do a good job, but then we have the Dirty Pigeon Shooter, shooting over standing crop with no competent dog to be able to retrieve the shot birds, leaving the dead birds in the crop, or doing more damage to the crop trying to find shot birds with no dog, then leaving all their spent cartridge cases on the floor, I tell you that really gets my goat, I have found its normally these people with the bottomless wallet brigade with cash on tap who are the worst for it, I tell you now if I catch you then the sharp side of my young you will get, leaving the dead birds in the crop with the its OK the foxes will clear them up is no defense, firstly its totally remiss of you to treat one of gods creatures in such a way each bird should be treated with the utmost respect and used, always have a home for your shot birds, also the foxes will not clear them up and you will end up putting disease into the bales that the farmer used for animal bedding or food, cross that with when you burn his barn down with a decaying pigeon in the middle of the bale and it smoulders and catches the bale on fire, don't give me the cobblers it wont happen it will, it has and its not fun when I end up helping a farmer drag burning bales out of a barn trying to save his livestock, also the old nonsense oh its OK the combine will miss them they cut over it, dream on for you live in the twilight zone, I do not appreciate having to clear up behind YOU DIRTY PIGEON SHOOTERS, DON'T, shoot over standing crop without a competent dog, DON'T leave your spent cartridge cases behind, leave nothing but foot prints, be respectful to the general public another issue I have had to smooth out just recently with shooters upsetting a delicate balance of an area, remember you are all an AMBASSADOR for Country Sports.
Rant over I will tell you of a couple of pigeon shooting trips out just recently, I had been up on The Young Sports Ambassador's game shoot with Dave from South Somerset Country Supplies, they are one of the sponsors who are helping with the shoot, we had been making up pheasant feed from Collins Nets that Mags our Pass It On Young Sports national secretary had sponsored for the shoot, Dave had a new young pup called Wren, he wanted to see how she reacted around gun shots so I said join me and ole Tess the springer spaniel in the pigeon hide this afternoon, as it was I had to get some pigeons off a small crop of wheat nr Taunton Somerset, I only stayed 2 hours but put up the Jack Pyke decoying and hide system, the pigeons dropped in like bees round a honey pot, I cant remember the exact bag but we did quite well, we also discussed hide etiquette, field craft, and how a good Clean Pigeon Shooter should behave, Dave left with a boot full of fresh shot pigeons and I am told he made 72 fresh Wood Pigeon Burgers from them, nothing went to waste as he froze most of the carcasses for ferret food and put some straight into the ferrets, another bug bear of mine are those DIRTY PIGEON SHOOTERS who shoot big bags and throw the pigeons into the hedge, don't shoot more than you have a home for, or better still stay on the clay shooting grounds and leave real pigeon shooting to those who know how to do it properly with correct ethics for the job in hand.
These good ethics I teach to my Young Sports, each and everyone of them are taught correctly to best practices and the reasons there for, they are taught ethical Country Sports with Conservation at their core, some of these Young Sports got to shoot with me just recently, I had been called in on a failed crop, when I say failed that's not quite right, the winter wheat had got flooded in the winter so only half the field took, so farmer went straight in and drilled some spring barley with the wheat to get the best he can from it, its for cattle feed so this will work, then as the wheat started to ripen the pigeons hit it hard, come now come yesterday was the call, I had so much paper work on with mums funeral stuff, pest control reports and a mountain of emails to do, I could not do both paperwork and shoot, so I made a few phone calls and called in my Young Sports and their Parents, I had all the equipment they just needed their guns and cartridges, I met 3 families at the field, set up 3 hides and taught them tradition field craft as we went, I left the parents to it with their respective Young Sports to supervise, I went and sat on the back of my truck with a good vantage point to watch them all whilst I got on with my paper work and emails etc, the pigeons dropped into each decoy pattern like bees round a honey pot, I don't think the shot count was so good for birds down, but that mattered not they were keeping the birds off the crop, I decided I would have a little go myself for 2 hours, I had an old broken jack pyke hide, my Primos trigger sticks as hide poles, a broken floater that was the only decoy I had and a cammo fishing umbrella, my retriever and I sat on the back of the truck shooting over some litter ally just cut haylage under a flight line next to an old ash tree, I had a good vantage point of the other 3 hides and only shot if they did not have birds decoying to them, for 41 cartridges, that I picked up I might add, I had 30 pigeons, I missed a few but hey that's pigeon shooting for you, by the time the Young Sports and their parents came back to the truck they could not believe their eyes, they all wanted to know hoe I got so many pigeons, I laughed and said the Old Master has more than one trick up his sleeve, as The Young Sports said you really are The Ole Hedge Creeper ain't you.
I created this idea after speaking to some lecturers from some of the game keeping colleges and other colleges I have lectured at, the concern was a lot of the kids coming into the industry, come in with rose tinted glasses on, they think becoming a game keeper or habitat manager is all about the shooting and they get to shoot all day, so when they go to college and find the harsh reality of it all they drop out after 3 moths and the courses start to fail or have lack of attendance etc, so I thought bugger it why not start of a Young Ambassadors Game Shoot, this is only open to those young sports who work had for 1 year to get on my programme, they then have to work hard to stay on it and be a shining light for their fellow young sports, this will also give these Pass It On Young Sports some actual hands on experience of what's expected both in college and in the work place, even if they don't go into this industry it will give them the start of a good work ethic, I call them my junior game keepers, they have to put in the hard work when school etc allows them, I have one main rule, you work hard you get to shoot, don't put the effort in you don't get to shoot, neither money or influence will change my mind on this, I have also said each and everyone of them boy or girl dresses for the occasion on a shoot day, I want to see them all in a shirt and tie and that includes the parents too, lead by example, for I will be suited and booted in my best Jack Pyke Countryman shooting suit on every shoot day, I expect the same from everyone there too, I believe this will show our Young Sports not only a pride in their appearance but also stand them in good stead for job interviews etc, it will also give them pride that their shoot is something to look up to, they will be split into two teams each shoot day, with a new shoot captain chosen each time for each team, beat one shoot one and the young sports have to organise this too including the whole shoot day, obviously I and the parents will be there to supervise, but make or break its their baby weather a shoot day works or not.
So far all the Young Sports have worked hard and cleared one of my woods, cut rides, built shelters and feeders, released their birds and fed watered and dogged in, they have done really well on their work parties with so many more to come before the first shoot day this season, take a look at the slide show or the you tube video at the bottom of this article.
I was asked could I join a professional panel of experts to do some live filming a Q&A session both in the work shop and out in the field over a recent weekend, well of course I would as my good chums Rob Elton owner of Katch It Traps was going to be there, in fact Rob hosted the event on his 2000 acre estate, also there was my Ole mucker Brendan Anderson from The Grey Area UK and Ireland Squirrel Group, we were there to discuss ethical trapping and shooting of the Grey Squirrel invader and the protection of our native Red Squirrel, watch the videos at the bottom of this article, get in touch if you have any questions, Rob was the most gracious of hosts and fed us like Country Kings, I also got to deal with a problem fox for him too, but read all about that in my series
Out Foxing Charlie episode 16 coming very soon.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it, and remember these words YOU DIRTY PIGEON SHOOTERS, take your bloody rubbish home and ethically treat the birds and the crops, or you will get the sharp side of my tongue if I catch you.
By The Ole Hedge Creeper
P.S if you want real giggle watch the last you tube video at the bottom, I am goofing about as always the comedian.