In the midst of what appears to be financial Armageddon, one’s mind inevitably turns to fiscal restraint – or belt tightening as it might reasonably be translated.
Shooting is expensive and there’s not much in the wallet these days. What is a chap to do? Use his imagination is the answer.
1. Pigeon shooting
It doesn’t have to be all grouse and pheasants in flotillas and partridges by the boatload. Let us consider the humble pigeon. It’s a pest. It’s delicious. It’s undoubtedly one of the most sporting quarry species in the business. And it is equally unquestionably inexpensive.
Time was when you could get pigeon shooting for free. Time was when you could make a living out of pigeon shooting. You could be paid to shoot. Still, times change, and we must change with them. I dare say that you can still shoot pigeons for very little. You need to do some research though.
Find out who owns the land in your particular area. Meet and greet. Loiter about in country pubs and ask discreet questions. Who is the keeper on this place? Who manages that woodland? And having found out the lie of the land you are in a position to go and ask someone if you could pot the odd pigeon.
Now, if the person you are asking is a farmer, what you are offering is a pest control service and that means that you must be businesslike about it. It’s no good saying that you will turn up as and when; you’ll have to be on the case. Routine and regular. And available if there is a specific problem, such as a raid on the rape or an assault on the barley by the ravening grey hordes.
If you do not have the time to commit to a full-time occupation as a pest controller. Because you still have a job, for example (well done, by the way) – then why not buy the occasional day at the woodies? There are pigeon shooters up and down the country who will take you out and plonk you in a hide with a whirlygig and some decoys in front of it. And I can guarantee that you will have a bunch of fun for a fraction of the cost of a day at the pheasants.
2. Go wildfowling
Wildfowling has always been the preserve of the solitary shooter plodding out onto a marsh in the gloom with his dog at his heels. Wildfowling clubs generally control access to the foreshore, and there is probably one in your area.
There again, mingling and merging is the key. Some of them are more exclusive than Boodles or Bucks but others welcome responsible new members with open arms.
I stress responsible, though. Membership of BASC or the Alliance is de rigeur and you may need a proposer and seconder to boot. So that’s more networking and more beer. There again, you can often pluck a flight from the small ads. It won’t break the bank. Although banks seem to be a deal more fragile than once they were not so long ago – but it still shouldn’t.
A flight is, after all, no more than a couple of hours. But what a couple of hours you can have. If you catch it right a teal pond in full flight is as exciting a way to spend a couple of hours as it is possible to have without taking off your wellies.