The aim of this code of practice is to give clear guidelines as to what is acceptable conduct, both for the newcomer to the sport and experienced wildfowlers.
What do I need?
Because of the time wildfowling is undertaken, the type of terrain and the fact it is usually a solitary activity safety equipment is vital as well as the following:-
- Always carry a waterproof wristwatch; it is essential for timing the predicted state of the tide. Don’t always rely on your mobile phone which can easily get wet and become useless.
- A wading stick is vital for walking on the marsh. It is used to test soft mud or quicksand, or the water depth of creeks, gutters and crossing places.
- If you are out all day, carry some food and a thermos containing a hot drink.
- Wear comfortable, inconspicuous, warm and waterproof clothing.
- Thigh or chest waders are normally recommended.
- A large bag or rucksack is useful to carry equipment and to sit on.
- It is good practice to have an up-to-date copy of your shotgun certificate with you, along with any local permits and your club membership card.
- Binoculars will enhance the day and are useful for bird identification as well as marking shot quarry.
- Don’t forget to take supplies for your dog, especially if you are out for extended periods of time. Neoprene coats are useful for both keeping your dog warm and helping it dry out after swimming, as well as assisting with camouflage.
In an emergency, a mobile phone will enable you to summon assistance by dialling 999/112, or 101 in Scotland, and asking for the coastguard. However, do make sure there is a signal for reception out on the marsh – many rural locations have poor or no mobile phone reception. Ensure that the battery is fully charged and the phone is stored in a waterproof case before taking it on to the marsh.
The what3words mobile app can help the emergency services pinpoint your location should you need emergency assistance.
A compass is an essential piece of equipment to carry – it could, for example, be the only reliable way of making it off the marsh in fog. Make sure that you are familiar with how to use it before venturing out on the marsh.
A pocket GPS receiver is an effective, modern equivalent to a compass, but make sure that you understand how to use it too. Waypoints can be plotted on the way out and used to show the return route. Not only is this a useful safety feature but also helps negotiate creeks and gutters at their easiest crossing points. These are especially useful in the dark.
Flashing a torch nine times – three short flashes, then three long flashes, then three more short flashes – is the SOS morse code signal. Distress flares might also be used for attracting attention.
Always carry a jointed cleaning rod, hide pole or slim bamboo cane as it is all too easy to get mud or snow in the muzzle of your gun. Never fire a shot to try and clear an obstruction in the barrels.