Wildfowling is one of the most demanding forms of shooting but for it’s followers also the most satisfying. This short video provides a flavour of the sport and starts to explains why being out on the marshes it is so appealing
Introducing the Wildfowler
Wildfowling is the hunting of geese and ducks below the high tide line on estuaries and coastal marshes. It takes place in winter at dawn or dusk when there is very little human activity around. The senses are tuned to the sounds of the marsh, the wind, the rain, the gurgling tide and the calls and wingbeats of the birds. Mostly the wildfowler sets off by himself or with a friend. There will be a definite surge of anticipation as the sea wall is crossed and the wildfowler walks onto the marsh, maybe with just a dog for company.
There will be gutters or creeks to ford, sticky mud to cross or skirt around and patches of Spartina or sea purslane to give cover. Maybe a skimpy hide will be erected or maybe the wildfowler will crouch against the gutter wall or bank of mud or marsh grass. Feet will be in mud or water which restrict the legs and make movement tricky.
All may seem still until the sun starts to rise or set, or the wind picks up or the tide starts to ebb or flow. The weather, the tide, the moon and the sun all play a part how the wildfowl will move or where they will be. A deep depression and strong wind from the west will make the tide flow quicker and earlier and higher and the wildfowler must be aware of this and position themselves with a clear exit from the marsh.
The wildfowl may well be heard before they are seen. Identification by sound and silhouette and by the jizz (the general impression, size and shape) of the bird) must be sound before a shot is taken. Most wildfowlers will have many blank flights which only serve to make the red letter days all the more memorable. The modest size of the bag is compensated by being out in a truly remarkable environment. The senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and even taste are all heightened and at their maximum.