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The Hunters Chronicles - Saturday 27th October 2012

As anticipated, the grey wet that has lingered over the valley and been woven among the trees, passed. With it went the warm it trapped.
In spite of the chill, the sunshine that was cast was most welcome indeed. The light lifts the mood and aids my motivation, though any plans I had made for the day evaporated with the clouds.

Around 10:37 I received a call. It was the owner of my permission and neighbour. Exasperated by the thievery of magpies, she put out a contract. I accepted it with enthusiasm. My efforts of late have reaped little reward, so the offer appeared akin to shooting fish in a barrel. A sup of coffee, and I was eagerly marching to the location.
Though the camera fails to do them justice, the contrasting mix of colours in the ferns is most pleasing to the eye.
As I neared the house, three of the miscreants were seen fleeing the scene of the crime. I circled the house after identifying the bird table that had been robbed of its offerings. The landowner was not home, so I carried on with my assessment, reconnoitre and setting up.
The bird table was in a poor position for safe shooting. Its proximity to the house narrowed options down considerably, to shoot from the direction of the house made unsafe by the farmyard and stables below and beyond it with no safe backstops.
But, there was a much much much better spot for my 'pest control'.
The raised platform proffered many safer alternatives as well as concealment. I considered siting my position below the platform, behind the tree with the rifle rested in the vee of the two trunks.
Whilst the wall would trap any over-penetrating pellets, and the platform above conceal my presence from the air.
Still scouting and weighing up the pro's and cons, I climbed up to have a quick look.
After slotting myself snugly into the corner, I was joined by my favourite of the avian species.
 As promising as the omen was, I will spare the reader the many and foul obscenities that gushed through my mind. My rifle was still in its bag. Below me.
Of course, I attempted an agonizing super slow motion crawl to try and get behind the cover of the tree trunk, but it was inevitable that I was spotted and my sharp sighted acquaintance hurriedly took his leave. Ahh well.
Very much encouraged, I set out my crow decoy along with the two wood pigeons.
The Crow decoy was later relocated onto the wall.
This time, I had brought the two wooden eggs we use to tempt the hens to go broody, and once the landowner was back, I procured a reject egg that I split and lay at the crows feet.
The railings, I knew would be attractive to any magpie curious to wish to survey the scene.

I settled down to begin the wait. The wind was very unpredictable and icy cold. Thankfully it came from the one direction, directly behind me, though in gusts of varying (and sometimes worrying) force. I was  soon grateful for my numerous layers! The hours soon merge and the concept of time fades, but it did not seem too long before the first 'Curious George' was smacked off the railings with a fatal and precise heart and lung shot.

His addition to the pattern was most welcome, and I had only just started shivering when a second was spied hopping from branch to branch then alighted onto the rail.

In the periods of inactivity I pondered the term 'pest control' with mild amusement. What constitutes a 'Pest' is completely subjective. Any annoyance is within us and therefore not based in fact. We have numerous grounds for justification of course, but nothing is truly, fundamentally, a pest.
'Control' is a myth and completely inaccurate. By shooting and killing I am not controlling numbers, I am reducing them. My activity isn't even an effective, lasting deterent. In conclusion, this was contract killing plain and simple. A more accurate term for it may be 'Bird/Animal Reduction and Depopulation'. So why, I asked myself, was I doing it?
Brownie points. Here was someone who has something I want, land to shoot over. This person wanted me to shoot on it, not only that, but trusted me and my skill enough to allow me into the curtilage of her dwelling. This was a high honour indeed, not to be dismissed out of hand, certainly not when I wish to visit this land for as long as I am welcome. It still chaffed on the morals though that I was killing a being I could not eat.
But, Gods bless him, a pigeon came to assuage and alleviate my conflicting emotions somewhat and perched barely 15 yards away with his back to me.
I gave him a swift, clean, instant dispatch in thanks.
My third 'pest' hove into view and repeated the behaviour of his fellows. Bowled off the railing, he joined my latest victim.

By now I feared for my extremities. I had been here from 11:00 and the Sun was sloping to the horizon, 15:30. The odd crow had passed, but with activity having slackened I packed up. I knew that if I hung on I could potentially bag some more, but in honesty I had done, and had had, enough by now.
A bag that impressed the owner, with supper thanks to the woodpigeon, thrown in as payment.

The walk home got the jellified blood moving again and warmed the limbs I had feared the wind had cooled to beef chunks. Still, a day spent doing what I love, though bear it in mind chaps, you want permission? Sometimes you need to put yourself out to earn it. Oh, and dress warmly eh!

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