Put them out on pegs, or walk one, stand one?
Put them out on pegs, says Ben Samuelson
Beaters’ day shooting is an absolutely sacred part of the shooting season, and is one of its great joys. Roles are reversed and one half of the shooting community gets a well-deserved treat at the end of the season. Patience is rewarded, getting the rougher half of the deal is dealt with, and justice finally has its day.
For it is on beaters’ day that the guns finally get to see how well the keepers, pickers-up and beaters can actually shoot. Months of knowing looks, bored-looking dogs and even the occasional ironic cheer have been tallied up and can be repaid with interest when the gun is on the other shoulder. Or at least they could be, if it weren’t for the fact that the teams on every beaters’ day I’ve ever been on have normally shot considerably better than the pegs’ normal occupants. But don’t for pity’s sake tell them that.
And I do think that a pegged day is better. For a start, it more closely resembles the normal day’s shooting that those being rewarded enable to happen. As I’ve written here before, I love driven shooting and so we should return the compliment in kind. It also means that the chaps who’ve been patiently wondering what’s so tricky about adding two to your last peg number can have the perplexing experience of having to ask everyone else what number you’re now on, seeing as you were four last time.
As January approaches, thoughts of keepers, beaters and pickers-up are turning to the end-of- season cock’s or beaters’ days. Originally…
With the reversal of roles, it’s also handy for each side to see from the other’s perspective in order to learn how to make the day better. It may be that a gun realises how much appreciated a little nod of “I know you’re there and won’t shoot you, even if we’re trying to slot every cock in this wood” is from the armed cove a few yards in front of you. On the other hand, a flag man who has spent all season flapping an orange feed sack right in front of peg No.6 on Church Wood realises that it’s a little off-putting.
But most importantly, a lack of constant swapping around enables guns to see which beaters are missing absolute doozies, which are bringing down skyscrapers with ice on their wings, and which have a habit of creating large clouds of feathers that float like an accusing finger for the rest of the drive. Without being able to clearly identify who’s who in the line, the laying in of a full season of retorts isn’t possible. And that would never do…