Whenever I show signs of getting queasy about the cost of shooting, a friend of mine breezily dismisses such grubby considerations with the claim that “money is a renewable resource.” Well, it might be for him, but those of us earthlings who inhabit the real world of mortgages and the like have no option but to ration our precious dosh.
I don’t know what you reckon is the best value shooting, but my own shortlist would include bolting rabbits, decoying woodies (or, better still, roost-flighting them on a windy winter’s evening) and hind stalking on the open hill.
Some of the best shooting is the sort that you undertake with friends, and this includes deerstalking. By sharing a rifle on the hill, you get twice the stalking, even if only half the shots. And you get the companionship as well — and all this for not much more than half the cost.
Going on a shooting trip with a few friends may be a recipe for fun, but actually organising such an event is not. This may seem a rather churlish statement, but anybody who has been in the position of corralling a bunch of friends for a trip knows that it is about as easy as herding cats.
For years, I used to run an annual goose shooting foray to Scotland. Each season, as the geese came south from their sub-arctic breeding grounds, I would start to plan for my own migration in the opposite direction to meet them. I normally tried to book the party for three or four days in the fortnight before Christmas. There is something rather satisfying about bagging a goose or three for the festive time of year.
More onerous than expected
All shooting trips involve three different opportunities for enjoyment: it may be great fun looking forward to the event; the trip itself is almost bound to be fun; and then, of course, you have the retelling of deeds and the memory for evermore.
However, the brutal truth is that actually organising such a trip is never as much fun as it should have been. For a start, the task is always more onerous than you might have expected. Trying to co-ordinate dates alone is fraught with problems and last-minute changes. This is especially so if you are trying to co-ordinate with moon phases in the hope of some moon-flighting.
But the real bugbear, believe it or not, is the matter of trying to persuade people to enjoy themselves. By that, I mean getting them actually to come along in the first place. Oh yes, they are all for it when the subject is broached over a pint, some months before the event. They swear blind that, come the day, they will be there. But when you eventually contact them to say these are the dates and we need to confirm the booking… well, it’s very different then. All sorts of excuses and prevarications emerge. You, the organiser, who is trying to do them a favour, end up having to sell the trip to them in the manner of a timeshare salesman trying to get a signature out of a reluctant victim.
Why is this? It’s not necessarily the fact that a certain amount of money is involved (though this is a factor). It seems to be more to do with the fact that some people just don’t want to commit themselves if they can possibly avoid doing so. The result, all too often, is that the trip organiser ends up with frayed nerves — not to mention a plundered bank account. This last is an unfortunate but apparently inevitable consequence of having to pay for at least part of the trip at the time of booking, and then trying to recover the shared costs from the participants.
Frankly, the whole thing is a nightmare, and I stopped doing the actual organising of such trips many years ago. Nowadays, I generally rely on kind friends to do most of the organising for me. Naturally, I am truly grateful.
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