As many of you know I went along to a Wildfowling Introduction day last week hosted by BASC (British Association of Shooting and Conservation) South West. I am ashamed to admit that out of all of the game days I have booked onto this year for my first season, this was one the day I was least looking forward to. I really did judge a book by it’s cover and boy did I get it so wrong!
I prepped my gear the night before. Gone were the posh tweeds and Fedora hats and in came the Realtree camouflage leggings, Sealskinz gloves and buffs. Wildfowling is definitely more hands on and outdoors than a standard driven day, so not only do you need to blend in but you want to be warm. And at this time of year it is cold out there I can tell you!
The day started at the aptly named pub The Duck; where we all got together to learn about the regulations of the sport, the breeds we can and more importantly CAN’T shoot, and also to run through the huge amount of conservation work that the Wildfowling clubs do. I honestly didn’t realise just how much these clubs do and I can honestly say hand on heart I do not believe our countryside would look the same without the hard work they put in.
The Bridgewater Wildfowling Club came along to support the day and take us beginners out. A group of men (bar one lady) all in their camo gear with camo semi auto guns (I am from a world of over and under game guns so these were certainly interesting to see) I can definitely see how as a woman you may find them intimidating. I know I did at first! But these guys were the most friendly and welcoming bunch and they couldn’t wait to show us the ropes and all the amazing gear you can buy. If you are a shopaholic like me then Wildfowling is definitely the sport for you – it requires a whole new wardrobe and certainly a new semi-auto camouflage gun. I am just trying to persuade my other half that I need one!
After a quick lunch break we all prepared for our days walked up shooting and then the evening duck flight. For us women that meant a final toilet break before being out on the somerset levels for 8 hours; where there is very little tree/hedge cover if you get my drift. The views were just astounding and luckily we had some brilliant weather, although I later learned the sunshine and stillness wasn’t really ideal for Wildfowling as the ducks can see your shadows over the water before you can stalk up to them. But nonetheless we managed to bag ourselves a beautiful mallard on our first section of river.
The hunting and stalking of the ducks whilst on the walked up shoot was just incredible. It felt so natural as you had to use your own skills, knowledge and experience to find and shoot these wild duck. It meant that unlike on a driven day where you would see hundreds of birds driven over your head you may not see anything at all or just a couple of birds in a day. This means that every shot had to count and when you did finally get the bird it was just incredible.
As the evening began to draw in we headed for the pond to get ourselves set up in our hides ready for the ducks to come back in off the splash (the wet grounds). We all sat quietly and patiently listening to every sound and watching the sky for movement. It was relaxing and exhilarating all at the same time. Unfortunately we didn’t get any ducks on the evening flight as we chose the wrong pond that evening, but that’s the luck of the draw. You win some you lose some and that is all part of Wildfowling.
With numb fingers and cold toes we drove back to the pub for our evening meal. Although we had been walking and out in the cold all day the last thing on our minds was the hot food as we were all too excited to show off our birds and share tales of our day.
I cannot believe just how wrong I was about this sport. I absolutely loved the day and can say I have enjoyed it more than either of my other driven pheasant days this year and I am so glad I went along and tried it. I loved the day that much that I am even looking to join the Bridgewater Wildfowling Club so I can get out more often.
Oh and I have a newfound love for Realtree camo!
What did I wear?
Realtree Huntress Leggings from Sarah Ann Outdoors
Le Chamaeu Wellies
Waterproof Jacket from Musto
Gloves from Sealskinz
Guineau Fowl Buff from Sportarm
However I have decided I don’t own enough camo gear so my Christmas list is full of it!