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The Hunters Chronicles - Tuesday 4th December 2012

For a town mouse, the opportunity to venture out is never as frequent as desired. My accounts, as they reportedly do for many, had the motivations of my friend Mawders enlivened. I cleared his presence with the landowner, and we were set. Keen to capitalise on his window of opportunity, he did not wish to hang about. 06:30 this morning, man and gun were chomping at the bit.
A quick coffee and chin wag and off we trotted. On the way I explained that the quarry marked for termination were the numerous, loud and mischievous magpies. My plan was to slit the squirrel caught on my previous outing (whom the freezing temperatures had kept fresh!) and place the crow decoy nearby.
As the farmyard and chicken enclosure that they raided were far from being safe to shoot in, the nearest ambush site was a small grove of tall trees they were known to haunt.

As the sun rose, we approached, but it was not magpies that were plentiful. Mawders attempted an ambitious shot on a seemingly dozy pigeon. Potentially a superb boost straight out of the blocks.

We holed up in our ambush positions and waited.

Nothing. Not even a cackle. In the distance sea gulls lazily traversed the sky. Later a large buzzard wheeled, sunlight bouncing from its majestic and impressive wingspan.
The magpies may not have been around, but we both spotted numerous pigeons landing and idly perching in a sunlit tree just a few yards down the hedgerow. In favour of a stalk, we abandoned our ambush.
Amazingly, we crept within range undetected. We each got a shot off. Though my aim seemed good and the shot sounded true, somebody neglected to inform the pigeon that this was the point he should fall to earth. Defying credibility, if not physics, He elected to continue his day.
This pattern and outcome repeated itself more times that either myself or my shooting partner dared nor cared to count.

We continued on to our favourite woodland and spied numerous birds. To add to our hopes and expectations of what still seemed a potentially very high scoring day, a large flock of pigeons swooped over our heads and amassed in a sitty tree right to our front. Certainly to my eye, once they landed, they disappeared. A wrong move and a number lifted off. Thinking they were gone, you could scare off the hidden remnants. And again! Unbelievable. Nearly all shots were fouled by twigs or branches in some manner. If not, then fate would bar the way or the pigeon would simply lift off just as a bead was being drawn.

Keen to check on the squirrel bait and decoys, I periodically left Mawders under his tree and patrolled the hedgerows. In my absences, pigeons either dodged his rounds or were impervious to them.
A text message kept me abreast of developments and his rising bewilderment, bordering on frustration. My luck was no better.
Upon one of my returns, he was clearly lining up for a shot. Not seeing a target, I crouched. I awaited his impending shot as I scanned the tree his rifle muzzle indicated.
His HW95 thudded. No bird fell nor lifted. It was at this point he gestured. 2. Ears. ahead.
Being that rabbits have yet to develop the ability to climb trees, I deduced he must have seen two squirrels. After he'd reloaded, I waited what seemed an age for him to take the shot he appeared moments away from taking.
Carefully, I crept forward to the right of the target tree. I scanned it and yet could find no evidence of any living creature. I discussed this with him. He was adamant they were there, so I resolved to flush them out.
Standing at the base, I raised my gun aimed high into the branches and fired into the wood.
It was then I saw the tail. Protruding from the bark was a wispy bit of fluff that could only be attached to a squirrel, as I took this in, its mate burst out from cover and made an all or nothing run home. I shouted to Mawders, "That one's yours!" figuring as it was running almost at him he could hit him head on. My squirrel nervously bolted a short distance, but stopped, pausing and exposing her flank. I shot her broadside factoring in the extreme angle and the higher point of impact of the pellet.
She dropped like a stone. A small wound behind her left shoulder indicated heart and lung/spine shot. Though life was clearly absent from the eyes, the expiring heart was still beating. A follow up shot was granted that passed across the brain, exiting the other side.

The Diana 280k .177 (right) and Weihrauch HW95k .22 (left)

I was extremely grateful to the squirrel. Not just for the nourishment she would provide, but also for the affirmation of mine and my rifles abilities.

Clearly, the Diana was spitting death, but what about the HW95?! Yet more opportunities came and went. The shooter was not seemingly at fault. Not the scope, nor the rifle.

I have subsequently concluded that Mawders must have been firing jelly beans.
Either that or pigeons have become immune/impervious to lead which may be the true reason shotgunners have changed to steel!

In truth, I feel that this is just how it is. Sometimes there is no physical, reasonable explanation as to why a hunt may be unproductive. I can fully appreciate how and why in the past Gods such as Diana were worshipped and revered.
Tonight, a squirrel has been left as an offering in her name to the Gods, Diana has returned and lives again in these woods and I shall see her satisfied.

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