In normal times, I would doubtless be recounting my latest game shooting exploits, but due to coronavirus and the demands of my publishing schedule, I must write well ahead of potential events. And so, with an open game book beside me, let me recount an evening’s duck flighting in Norfolk in the company of my old friend, the late author and journalist, Alan Savory. Many readers may well be familiar with Alan, being a renowned Norfolk ‘fowler and all-round shooting man. Alan recounted his exploits in several well-received books, including the evocative Norfolk Fowler, copies of which can still be found.
Alan lived near the village of Brundall, just to the east of Norwich, in a house that abutted a large acreage of Fen, intersected by a few walkable tracks and numerous streams, all leading down to the river Yare, which twists and turns down through the marshes on its journey to Breydon and the North Sea. For anyone interested in bird life, it was a paradise. In summer, the place is alive with reed buntings and swallowtail butterflies. In winter, it is home to a variety of ducks, marsh harriers, the odd bittern and, sometimes, geese.
In the centre of the marsh, Alan had created a tennis court-sized flight pond that was surrounded by reeds, osiers and stunted willow trees. There were also three or four hides that had been constructed from planted willows that, when strong enough, had been woven into natural enclosures. They were ideal as they blended into the background, each coming with a seat that provided cover and the ability to rise and shoot in reasonable comfort.
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