Wednesday, 19 December 2007
I recently met with my new friend James Marchington editor of Sporting Shooter magazine.
If I had tried to imagine a quintessential English journalist afield, it would be James. Tweed jacket, spectacles and an encyclopedic knowledge of everything to do with guns and field sports. Sitting in his office surrounded by shotgun cartridges, rare books about deer stalking, ferreting and wildfowling he beguiled me with tales of life afield, cleared up numerous questions I had about firearms, their legislation, and the UK shooting fraternity. I had ‘popped in’ to see him for ‘half an hour’ and two and a half hours later I had to excuse myself so as to put in a token appearance at my own office. Wish I were still there.
James has kindly offered to induct me into the wiles and ways of the shooting gent, starting with an invitation to go ferreting for rabbits. With the proviso that I wouldn’t have to put any ferrets down my trousers, I enthusiastically accepted.
Ferrets? Rabbits? Trousers? What?
One very effective way of hunting rabbits is to flush them out of their holes by sending a ‘business’ of ferrets down there (great collective noun isn’t it).
You simply net off all the exits you can find and send a hob (male) and a jill (female) down the hole. When the rabbits come charging out into the net you kill them and eat them.
I’m from the south and you hear a lot of tall tales about the northerners and their strange rituals and antics. There has long been a folk legend about gentlemen of the northern persuasion using that that was intended for legs, as a storage place for these most able of helpers. Now it turns out that it’s true!! There really is a ‘sport’ called ‘ferret legging’ where you trouser ferrets and the last one to tear their own pants off in sheer terror is the winner. Probably more fun to watch than take part.
“Basically, the contest involves the tying of a competitor's trousers at the ankles and the subsequent insertion into those trousers of a couple of peculiarly vicious fur-coated, foot long carnivores called ferrets. The brave contestant's belt is then pulled tight, and he proceeds to stand there in front of the judges as long as he can, while animals with claws like hypodermic needles and teeth like number 16 carpet tacks try their damnedest to get out.”
The rules:"no jockstraps allowed. No underpants-nothin' whatever. And it's no good with tight trousers, mind ye. Little bah-stards have to be able to move around inside there from ankle to ankle."
For those of you without the inclination to read the full text here’s the punch line
The current record stands at an awesome 5 hours and 26 minutes!
Thanks for reading
PS One ferret, Freddie, is registered as an electrician's assistant with the New Zealand Electrical Workers Union.