The first of September, much more eagerly awaited by most of us as marking the opening of the rough shooter’s game season than the Twelfth, has come and gone, and for the majority it has been the ‘first’ in name only. The new season fell on a Monday this year and even the young Shot home for the holidays has had to wait impatiently until today to join his elders in their opening day at partridges.
My game book reminds me that over the past two seasons we did not shoot at a partridge until well into September, due to the number of ‘cheepers’ — young birds that were not forward enough to offer sporting shooting. The disadvantage, of course, is that the longer the birds are left, the wilder they become, and walking-up, which is essentially early-season tactics, becomes correspondingly less effective.
Walking-up provides the young Shot with an excellent introduction to the game, for you will have more time to concentrate and thoroughly to learn the elementary lessons before you have to face the more hectic flurry of driven birds. The shooting, too, is easier. It will be a long time before you get over that ‘keyed-up’ feeling as you walk, never knowing when a covey will suddenly flush, and can calmly take a right-and-left at birds that explode from under your feet. The ability to keep calm at such a time is the secret of success. You must know instinctively what you are going to do.
The first rule of walking-up was laid down by Colonel Peter Hawker, who warned against starting before the dew was offthe grass. Offyou go then, somewhere about 9am; perhaps four or five Guns with a beater or two to strengthen the line and carry the game. You will hope for a warm day, but not too hot, for there will be much walking to be done and as a younger member of the party you will have to do the lion’s share of it.
Your position for most of the day will be on a flank, another good reason for thankfulness that the line is not a long one.
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September 09, 2020