What a fantastic way to start the 2012 pheasant season with some fantastic pheasant shooting in the very picturesque Dorset countryside reports Chris Horne.
Derek Woods runs the Crichel shoot very impressively and I was lucky enough to join a charming team of guns on the 1st October for an enjoyable day out shooting pheasants and partridges.
Although the weather was determined to let us know that winter was on its way, it didn’t faze the birds one bit. It was very wet during the first drive although this was never going to stop us enjoying the day and it dried out soon after, even allowing us to have a light lunch in the field as we were shooting through.
About Crichel Shoot
Derek and his keeper, Gary Walker, have recently taken the decision to put down Kansas pheasants on the estate which are slightly smaller than the common strain of pheasant but at Crichel, this is a masterstroke. The pheasants get up on their tails instantly and power for their home which makes for great shooting. They are very well suited to the undulating terrain that Crichel has and having put the birds down in the middle of June, every bird was fully grown with lovely tails on them. You honestly wouldn’t have known that it was the 1st October, they looked and flew like it was the end of November!
The argument over putting your birds down earlier in the season is an interesting one. In the case of Crichel, it works very well for them as it allows for an extended season and more equally spaced days, meaning that they are able to lay on enough days to make the books balance. The downside is that with the young birds being on the ground for a month or so longer than normal, predation control has to be excellent, or your returns will suffer greatly. Personally, I would suggest this strategy for any shoot with a good keeper and wishing to do more days.
The Shoot Day
The team of guns on the day were nearly all regular syndicate members at Crichel, including a couple of guests which turned out to be one of the strongest lines I have ever stood in! George McDonaugh was on my left all day and continually brought down the highest of Crichel’s pheasants, which was most impressive to watch.
The conditions after the first drive turned out to be almost perfect for a day at Crichel, with a light wind and overcast. Having shot at Crichel a couple of times before, Derek is very experienced in adjusting a drive and the line of guns to suit the elements, meaning that guns are safe in the knowledge that they will be looked after all day.
The birds flew very well on every drive with a lovely mix of fast partridges in amongst some cracking pheasants. As it was the shoot’s first day, choosing your shot was the most difficult part. There were large numbers about and you had to be committed on each shot as it was easy to swing onto another and end up missing!
We shot through on the day and stopped for a bite to eat in the field at lunch, followed by another 2 drives and back to the very impressive cart lodge buildings of Crichel estate for a fantastic lunch in the shoot room.
I would certainly recommend Crichel to a team of guns looking for a lovely day’s shooting in Dorset. It is very well managed by Derek and Gary and shows some great birds. Below is a video filmed by GunsOnPegsTV where you can see the shoot for yourself!
Monday 1st October 2012