Wildfowling is just that , wild. It is unpredictable, muddy, early mornings and late nights. You could spend the entire day out and come home with no birds or you could spend just two hours and come home with enough to last a week. There are so many different elements that can affect how good or bad a day you have and that I think is what makes it so exciting.
I was lucky enough to be invited out for an entire day Wildfowling last week with the chairman of the Bridgewater Wildfowling Club. And I mean a whole day! We started at 6am and were out until 6pm.
We started with a morning flight on a reserve. There were two other members with us so the four of us lined up and waited for the birds to come in. When we arrived it was pitch black, but luckily our guide knew where to go and pointed out where the deep water or bogs were to ensure no one fell in. Although that would have been a funny sight I’m sure.
We got a good few shots in but unfortunately didn’t manage to bag any duck. Not 100 yards to my right was another member who managed to get six but that’s Wildfowling for you. This was a phrase I heard a lot throughout the day. If you start to walk back to your car after seeing no birds all morning and then a group of Widgeon fly over; well that’s Wildfowling for you. When the high winds die down just as the birds fly over; well that’s Wildfowling for you. And me getting no birds whilst my neighbour got six was just another ‘well that’s Wildfowling for you’ moment.
After four hours we left the reserve to hunt some Teal. We walked up some Rivers and Splash areas but to no avail. The birds were nowhere to be seen all day. If you’re the type of person to be disappointed by this then my advice to you is that Wildfowling is probably not your sport. I, however, wasn’t bothered in the slightest and just enjoyed being out in the fresh air with friends.
Being a new Wildfowler I enjoy going out and getting some practise in on quarry identification. Hardcore Wildfowlers can identify birds from just the sound of their wings beating in the dark; I though am not that good and if I am not 100% sure on what species a bird is I will let it go. My strongest piece of advice to you is to only ever shoot if you are absolutely certain it is a species that is allowed; you do not want to be the person who shoots a Green Plover because you have mistaken it for a Golden Plover.
The day ended with an evening flight on a large area of Splash that we had found earlier on. We had heard from other Wildfowlers that there were apparently Geese on the Splash first thing so we were hoping they would come back. This time we decided to set up some decoy ducks in the Splash. I had never used decoys when Wildfowling so this was good to see. Once set up we settled in and waited for the birds to come in. Although we saw and heard the Geese they were unfortunately too high to shoot, and flew over us and into the distance. Again we didn’t see much on this flight but the sunset was just beautiful and I did manage to pick up the calls of many duck species in the darkness so it was all great experience.
We packed up and traipsed back to the car with our gear and not a bird to show for it but that’s Wildfowling for you and I truly love it!