This week saw our last Roving Syndicate shoot-day of the season. A team of enthusiastic guns and loaders met up for a filling breakfast on Tuesday morning at Hartpury College, just outside of Gloucester. A large crowd turned out – with some guns sharing pegs or bringing loaders or pickers-up – which made for a particularly sociable day to round off our season.
The team brought together a good range of shooters. On the one hand we had Ellie Kay, the Royal Agricultural College’s Shooting Club Chairman – an excellent clay basher, but a first-time game shot. On the other hand, we also welcomed Andrew Davies, the Secretary of the Standing Conference on Countryside Sports. We were also delighted to be joined by Chris Horne from Guns on Pegs alongside a number of other keen shots anticipating a sociable day of sport.
Following our substantial cooked breakfast, during which I discussed our exciting plans for a gamekeeping apprenticeship with Chris, the team filtered through to the car-park to jump into the gun-bus and pick-ups which would ferry us around the shooting area. First up was a short journey towards Maisemore for a pair of partridge drives. The first of these was a little disappointing – plenty of birds streamed passed the guns, but very few were high enough to make for safe and sporting shooting. Despite the beaters’ best efforts, they could not be lifted!
The second drive was more successful, with the majority of the day’s 25 partridge coming from that 20 minute spell. The birds seemed a bit happier to get airborne, and the guns stood just down a slight slope to the left-hand end of the line got some much more sporting birds.
A leisurely drinks break was enjoyed by all, as a glass of sloe gin accompanied excited talk of the next drive – which would see pheasants pushed across a steep, wooded valley. Gaps in the trees gave an opportunity for the guns to enjoy some snap shooting, adding some nice variety to the day. A jay was particularly unlucky to happen across a team of guns who were in a clinical mood, adding a little fun to proceedings as a couple of guns debated who had brought it down… Ellie Kay, the RAC’s Shooting Club Chairman, was finally blooded at the end of the drive, having had some torrid luck on the first two, having not fired a shot… A healthy return of four pheasants more than made up for it.
Following the blooding, the team made their way back through the wood and across a field to the waiting transport and we made our way back to the Main House at Hartpury College where lunch was taken. A selection of sandwiches and a delicious and hearty soup warmed everyone on a cold day as conversation turned to the afternoon’s pheasant drives.
The first drive after lunch provided a few thick flurries of pheasants from a large area of cover crop. Adding some interest to proceedings, a few sheep were merrily leaping through the line at times.
The last two drives soon followed as we tried to get as much shooting in before the darkness descended. The first of these saw a good few bigger birds pulled down before the team moved onto the final drive. The whole team lined up along a ride in a small wood – the student beaters then moved through to flush all the birds which had been blanked in before the guns arrived. A series of prolonged flushes of tree-top high birds provided plenty of excellent sport to round off an enjoyable day and bring the bag up to 90 on the day.
All the guns retired to the Main House once more for a tasty four course meal and an analysis of the day’s proceedings. Having all shot fantastically there was little for any of the guns to be disheartened about as they recounted their shooting. A bit of a breeze on the first drive, just to lift the surface skimming partridge we encountered would probably have seen the bag surpass the 100 bird mark, but that was the only thing we were wanting for all day.
For a full gallery of photos from the day, please click here.
If you’re interested in booking a peg on one of our roving syndicate days next season, then take a look at our website (click here) and get in touch.