Put them out on pegs, or walk one, stand one?
Walk one, stand one, says Giles Catchpole
The beaters’ day is not the same as the keeper’s day when the headkeeper gets to invite those aides and friends who have helped him over the past year. The beaters’ day is for the beaters, and that means the beaters who have turned out routinely across the season. Not just the Saturday crew but the twice-a-week-regardless-of- the-weather boys and girls who have blanked in, flagged up and soldiered on to get birds over the guns and paying guests.
It does, however, rather depend on how many beaters you have had throughout the season; how many of them have turned up to shoot on the beaters’ day; and how many of the regular syndicate guns have turned out to help with the beating. Which they should have done but which is an obligation more honoured in the breach than in the execution.
But if you have a turn out of up to 20 possible guns then walk one, stand one is the elegant solution. Eight guns on pegs for each drive with perhaps a ninth double banking. Nine beaters and a walking gun on each flank. And perhaps a back gun. Six drives with the numbered guns moving up three each time they are on a peg should give everyone a fair crack of the whip.
It is the beaters’ day and they should call the shots. But that does not extend to everyone carrying a gun all day. Beating is hard work and cannot be undertaken safely with gun in hand. And shooting cannot be undertaken accurately if you are thrashing a bramble at the same time. A separation of responsibilities is called for, and walk one, stand one works.