Thursday, 30 May 2013
A couple of weeks ago a fella, R. called me (young and enthusiastic, so young and enthusiastic he sounds about 12 to me) and asked if I'd take him out shooting, he wanted to shoot some video for a vignette about alternatives to rising food costs, and wondered I would show him some subsistance hunting.
At the time subsistance was very much on my mind, I was twiddling my thumbs; diving my time between frantically searching for loose change down the back of the sofa, and writing talismans in my own blood hoping some atavistic god of the hunt would take pity on me and send some gainful employment my way.
So guessing that he's never been hunting before, and fancying a day in the woods, I tell him
"I'll take you, but you're going to have to be a sport about this, all I can promise you is a stunning location. This is hunting not shopping. "
Early one morning I meet R and his friend R in the street. They are both so young and cute I feel about 100 years old. We set off for the country, being journalists by disposition they politely listen to an interminable stream of anecdotes I've brought along to pass the time. Being journalists they have a most excellent line in gossip and salacious rumour, themselves. They are very good company.
Regular readers will remember that I have long and inglorious history of not being able to find 'the permission' when I get there, I've never arrived at the same time or in the climatic conditions twice, I know a few local landmarks so I can get near to near-ish to the place but usually spend a while scratching my head before the penny drops. This time was no exception.
As expected we've left the tarmaced road and are driving down a bridle-way, I'm just thinking 'That's not the house we're looking for' when the front wheels sink into a pool of mud and the Golf goes no further. Bugger.
Sunk it has, the driver side front wheel not only has no traction, but isn't even in contact with terra firma, the car is resting on its floorpan. In a cloud of clutch-smoke. Bugger.
There are sign's of life at the last house we passed, sign's of life like a 4x4 with a tow-bar parked outside, so I send the guys back to the house to ask for help. Where they receive the sour-faced "well you shouldn't have driven down there then should you" of rural scum. Bugger again.
Being a protected English countryside habitat there is agricultural crap lying around all over the place; so we drag a sheet of corrugated iron out of a hedge, dig away some of the mud, and use the sheet as a base for the jack, which lifts the car enough to put some rocks under the wheel. Traction restored we reverse out of the hole, and straight into the next one. About an hour later as we free ourselves from the third hole we end up turning the car around outside casa sourface, it's occupants staring gormlessly at us from the windows. Rural scum.
As we climb the stile the wood is at it's most photogenic, the bluebells are in full bloom, the whole place looks like it was laid out especially for filming. If you wanted to show someone english woodland stalking in the springtime, you'd show them the purple might of the Bluebell woods. Its the woods as we know them: Hornbeam, Yew, Oak, Brich, Beech, Hazel. Just with a carpet hovering 12 inches off the ground made of glowing purple flowers.
Every stalker has their own version of this, but I always remember it the way HunterX says it. "Close the bolt and close the gate" - as soon as you are on the land you have permission to shoot, be ready to take that shot. Your arrival might spook something and that might be your only chance at a shot. The guys are heaving a mini film crew's worth of stuff with them, I do the next best thing and leave them setting up at the hut to take an 'armed ramble'.
There are slots but no Deer, the warren is unoccupied and there's no sign of any Squirrels for the pot, its just as well the guys had bought themselves a Rabbit over the internet. This time is was shopping and not hunting, but the location was stunning.