Shooting done

The shooting season is now getting into full swing, although it feels strange not to be out on our shoot I really don't miss the stress, organisation and the other problems you can have on shoot days.

The only birds I'm looking after these days are a trio of English game bantam chickens, the geese and the rather noisy guinea fowl.

I suppose when I have reared probably over a hundred thousand birds over the years its difficult to come to a full stop but there are so many other things to do!

A "W" Christmas!!

It's "W" Christmas alright "W" for wet that is.Its been one weather front after another passing through us at the moment, rain and gale force winds at times - knowing much of the country is suffering the same is no consolation!
My partridge had a premature release when one night their pen was smashed up like balsa wood, but they are doing fine and enjoying their freedom.
We are now well on with the shooting season, so far we have been lucky apart from one day with the rain and winds. Both aspects of the recent weather have a dramatic effect on shoot days, the birds get soaked and don't want to fly and strong winds make them fly down low.
In between shoot days I have been in the mill putting up Christmas trees and decorations ready for the guests.

Christmas and new year are most usually booked well ahead - the peace and solitude away from the mayhem is a great attraction and I know I live here but I totally agree with our guests!

A happy Christmas and a good New Year to you all !

first shoot and new chicks

First Shoot

With the first shoot of the season at the very beginning of next month, this month is all about organising.
Beaters, shooters, vehicles, dogs and food:- everything has to be ready to go when that first day comes.

Believe you me there is an awful lot to organise if shoot days are to run smooth, I hope I've got all my preparation done.

The water is still low but the forecast indicates we may get rain and with it a rise of water to hopefully see some fish being caught at last.

I've hatched some Guinea fowl chicks from eggs off the current flock of birds that roam around the estate, 28 chicks in total so my rearing season will be extended by the looks of it.

Late bookings in the mill have seen a last minute flourish so that has been really great , good weather always seems to make people find a few extra days for a break so let's hope it continues.

Dont you just hate it when you're right

Unfortunately for me the shortage of birds I predicted did come home to roost, ( no pun intended )
Yes it was a very hard shooting season at the back end of January, pheasants were in short supply although the ones that were there flew fantastically the season was cut short I'm afraid.
As many of the beaters said to me, "it's the first poor year you've had in ten Carl" and yes they were correct but when you have guided and keeper’d for as many different people as I've done over the years you do develop a sense of pride in what you do and you want to do all in your power to make sure your guests have a great day. My shooting clients are always complimentary but I hope I'm honest enough to hold my hands up and say it didn't go as good as it could have.

Let's hope the weather is kinder to us in 2013!

Fishing season is almost here, the Whiteadder is part of the famous river Tweed system and as such is open from the 1st of February to the 30th of November - a long season.
If the weather is not too cold and the water is at a good level we may well see our first fish of the season in February.

Well I'm not going to dwell too much on last year and I'm already making plans for this one!

Record catch of Salmon

I've just returned our annual salmon catches to the Tweed Commissioners and we have had a record catch of salmon for the season:- 81 fish in total.

High rainfall, plenty of water and more rod hours were the factors which caused this to happen.
Its been good to see the syndicate fishing the water on a more regular basis, all the years I've salmon fished I've realised one thing:-

You have to be a very lucky fisherman or a very wealthy fisherman if you are going to catch more fish than the fisherman that puts time in and keeps his fly on the water.

On the shoot my fears about not having cover crops planted to hold my pheasants are coming home to roost, ( rather more than some of the birds!). Numbers on our last shoot were down.
As a keeper it's always a concern about you're pheasants wandering but when the weather has almost continually been wet it's a battle any keeper finds hard to win.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we may see dry cool temperatures before our next shoot day so these birds have to come back for food, here's hoping.

Lots of Shots

Well the first three shooting days have now passed and yes we've fired lots of shots! A ratio of 9 to 1 at this moment in time.
Now those of you that shoot may be thinking that's a lot of shots; but any of you that have shot here will know that's about average, the birds have been very high, very fast and very,very testing.

The guns all tell me they have enjoyed their day and at times have been humbled by the quality of the birds put over them.
My only concern is the lack of game cover at the top of the banks; no crops were planted because the ground was so wet, this may prove to be a real problem as the natural cover dies back - but nothing we can do now.

On the estate we have been busy clearing trees, with soft ground and steep banks the trees struggle to hold on so more planting in the spring methinks.
Trees are a constant up keep, I have now planted upwards of 4000 trees since coming to work at Hutton Mill and the work to improve the tree development on the estate will continue.

Bang we are Off!

Yes bang we are off, start of the shooting season is here. It seems two minutes since I was erecting the rearing field now we are only a couple of weeks away from the first party of guns arriving at Hutton Mill.
My first party of guns shoot here at Hutton three times a season so I can only assume we are doing something right on the shoot, as for all our other guns this season all except one party are returning once again to shoot with us.

We are still experiencing heavy days of rain which makes getting about with feed slippery and difficult - certainly doesn't help the sore back I'm suffering from at the moment, I know very few keepers that don't suffer with their back at this time of year.
This rain has kept the fish coming up the river and the anglers that have ventured out are seeing good sport. Sink tips and small long tailed tubes seem to be working well.

Well I'm away to put more feed out ! I think I will wear my football boots see if I can get some grip, it's about the only use they will get these days, (although I’m not officially retired from the game).