I grew up with my parents both shooting and I did the occasional bit of beating for the syndicate they were part of, sat with Dad while he was pigeon shooting, and very occasionally did some clay shooting, but that was about it.
A few years ago my husband got into shooting, and I followed very slowly behind. I enjoyed clay shooting, and over time became the one to instigate us going roost shooting, but I always vowed that the one thing I would never do was wildfowling.
I am not a morning person, I don’t enjoy getting cold and was certain that wildfowling would not be for me. I was also worried that being a woman in what is clearly a male-dominated area of shooting, I would not necessarily be very welcome.
The final thing that concerned me was that wildfowling is the only hobby my husband has that I am not involved in, and I didn’t want to step on his toes; but on this point I was assured that he was looking forward to sharing the experience with me, and in fact, he was actively encouraging me to get involved.
So on 1st September, I found myself on the marsh, after the alarm went off at 4 am, which was somewhat unexpected. I had given in during July and joined the local wildfowling club. After expressing my worries about being the only woman at my interview, I was reassured, that while yes, I would be currently the only lady in the club, there was no need to worry.
I was encouraged to come to the EJC clay shoot in August and was made to feel thoroughly welcome and even won the Ladies High Gun trophy! I then took part in the maintenance day before the start of the season, and again was welcomed as another pair of hands.
I was immediately hooked. The beautiful sunrise, the peace and the anticipation, all caught me. So much so that I went out again that evening, and the evening after, and again during the following week!
I have been out with my husband and friends roughly fortnightly since, despite it being too early in the season for much to be going on, and far too warm!
Over recent trips, I have been experimenting with what is best to wear, mostly by wearing fewer and thinner layers! At least I know I have more I can wear as it eventually gets colder. I must admit that I haven’t taken many shots, a mixture of there not being many ducks around and me not having much confidence in my ability of duck recognition…while the bird is in range. The second it is out of range then I am certain of what it is!
This weekend things changed and there were birds galore, but even if there weren’t I’d keep going out on the marshes to experience the tranquillity and see the change that happens to the world at sunrise, but I have to say, the duck stir-fry on Sunday night was absolutely delicious!