Over the weekend, I was thrilled to be invited on my first ever pheasant shoot at a farm in rural Oxfordshire. It was a dismal rainy morning, but we pulled on layers of wooly socks and our wellies and trudged out into the fields.
This is British pheasant shooting explained simply: Beaters go through the woods with sticks making noises to scare out the pheasants. The guns line up on their pegs in front of the woods, ready to shoot down any birds that fly out at a decent height. If the birds fly too low, they can’t be safely shot. And if they fly too high or far away, they are safe from the shotgun’s spray.
The first few drives were good despite the relentless drizzle; the boys shot a few plump pheasants. The dogs raced through the muddy fields to retrieve all of the downed birds.
After an initial three drives in different locations around the farm, we paused for “elevenses” in the barn. Elevenses is the British term for a snack between breakfast and lunch. In this case, we warmed ourselves over thermoses of leek and potato soup, sausage rolls, and sips of fragrant sloe gin.
Our fingers and toes warmed, we kitted back up and prepared to head out again for the final drives of the afternoon.
These cows thought we were downright crazy to want to go out in such lousy weather!
The rest of the drives for the afternoon flew by – and by lunchtime the weather had improved.