Follow the rule of five
Shooting Times & Country|November 11, 2020
A good farm shoot encapsulates the very best of our sport and even the smallest of days can be made special
SIMON GARNHAM

The melting permafrost in Siberia is turning up some remarkable finds. The skeleton of a mammoth has recently been found studded with signs of a prolonged battle with humans. The mammoth was killed by our forebears 45,000 years ago. Tusks nearly a metre long were also found from a mammoth that lived 13,000 years ago. The tusks had been engraved with rough hunting and fighting scenes by cavemen or women of that time. I like to imagine them laughing about their hunting as they roasted the mammoth while sketching a record of their adventures using the same sharpened flints that had killed the beast.

The cunning of the hunter, the excitement of the chase, the planning and adventure that goes into pursuing quarry for food is written deep in our DNA. Resting by a fire, thinking of the mighty work of sport that has been accomplished, of the arrows that slayed the monster, of the pursuit into the pits, of the dangers the tribe overcame is a far cry from most of our lives today.

But on a typical evening, at the end of a wild day with friends and family, fighting the elements, working together, enjoying the challenge and recounting adventures, I wonder whether perhaps we are not so far divorced from those atavistic ancestors of ours. I wonder whether the joining together, the sharing of food, the co-ordinated effort, the excitement of the chase and the laughter afterwards are very similar.

I’ve been running our farm shoot since 2007 but we have gamebooks going back to the late 1800s. Since boyhood, shooting at home has been a source of great excitement and laughter in equal measure.

I would not claim that all the practice has resulted in perfection. In fact, quite the opposite. There have been times — to some extent there still are — when we count the day as successful if we return with the same number of beaters or dogs as we set out with. Today, for example, Fizz, the hyper-manic cocker, left with owner Jo but returned with fellow cocker owner Mark, having gone on a little adventure in the woods — an extended adventure that, in warfare, might have been termed ‘missing in action’ or ‘AWOL’.

Five Fs

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