Well I simply just don’t know where to start with this annual newsletter. Its been such a brilliant year for Woodspring so I suppose I should start at the beginning the year, picking up from where the last newsletter finished off. This year we have gained many new sporting rights for different shoots and venues so keeping on top of those as well as the rest of the 22,000 acres we look after has been to say the least a full time job. But as always our club men and women and especially our young sports have done the jobs asked of them in fine style, showing we are a leading field sports club in this area and dare I say it, the country.
In fact one well known field sports celebrity (god rest his soul) said this of our little club: “Woodspring Pigeon Shooting & Wildfowling Club are a gem in the sea of the rough with all its members that are true ambassadors, proving that Field Sports & Conservation walk hand in hand”. As a shooting club we not only fully support Pass It On Young Sports but also the whole club volunteers manpower for them and for us as a club associated with them let’s just say I am a very proud Chairman of you all right now.
All our conservation projects have paid off in a big way this year. But alas one of our fields has been sold and taking with it one of our ponds, Such a shame 10 years of hard work gone and all the conservation work gone with it, Now it looks just like any other field with all the wild flowers etc gone, But that's farming for you if it does not make money it costs money alas the farms have no choice but to get the best from their lands or face going under and what would be the alternative a new housing estate built on what once would of been lush pastures, Well we started again and this time we have built six ponds and different habitats with each, A local senior school did a biology study on some of our wildfowling lands and they found it to be 18 times better for wildlife fauna and insects than anything else in the local area. So I say that’s a massive triumph showing yet again field sports and conservation truly do walk hand in hand and thus proving we live and breathe our shooting clubs motto “FINDING THE BALANCE”. We have always punched way above and beyond our weight in this little club and I say long may we continue to do just that.
Crop & Livestock Protection
Our duties this year have been at an all-time high with an up surge in the mink population of late as well as foxes calls come in almost daily about fox attacks on live stock and the nice man in a white van dropping off town caught foxes next to free range chicken farms and lambing fields. We have had a massive success both day and night and I think this is another reason why we are gaining some very high profile sporting rights for the club
Keeping the pigeons off the crops kept us very busy and we have had some fantastic bags this year both over the decoys and roosting in our woods. I will say our Young Sports shot magnificently and on one day Young Sport Jake and Tyler had a red letter day with a massive joint effort with a 140 mixed pigeons and corvids day shot over decoys and supervised by yours truly, Surprisingly the air rifle section in the shooting club have had some fantastic results with the pigeons and corvids on crops where a shotgun was unable to be used and had some very impressive bags of wood pigeon and corvids too. Keeping the rabbits under control as been at an all-time high especially on the many sports grounds the club looks after and again the air rifle section have done an amazing job.
Now with the colder weather we start with the ferreting and traditional rabbit control duties. I must admit this is my favourite type of hunting, so bring on the frosts and the colder weather as running dog, terrier and ferret come out to play. I will say the young sports have loved the ferreting and I must admit so have I also using the harris hawks were we can too has made a great impact on these rabbit populations.
Wildfowling we are having a simply brilliant wild fowling season and those Lads that make it out in the harshest of weathers have been rewarded with magical flights of duck and geese. With stunning sunrises and sunsets I think this is on par to be the best season yet and with our new ponds and access to the fore shore this truly is a season to remember, I will say again our Young sports are having a blinder with many of them taking their first wildfowl and are now hooked for life.
Well what can I add about the pheasant shoot but the birds are flying strong and are in good condition. The same can be said for the Partridge the wild Duck who are using all the ponds. And well the woodcock oh boy I do love to see those go up and the young sports trying to bag those, I personaly have had a couple of right and lefts so far this season and a few singletons.
The snipe bogs are litteraly teaming with them and as always prove to be a little too fast for some of the club boys and the Woodcock, man they are coming out of our woods like driven pheasant. The Mallard, Teal and Widgeon are all making up good numbers and some magnificent flights.
And what can I say about the famous Woodspring Pigeon Shooting & Wildfowling Club Christmas Dinner. We had guests from all over from as far afield as Buckinghamshire as well as local farmers, clubmen with their families and young sports a plenty.
The meal and venue was put on by one of our local fine food establishments was second to none this year. The food was out of this world to say the least and not a plate went back with food on it and as I looked around all I could see was all the member's guests and young sports laughing and chatting and waiting for the speeches and sporting raffle to start .
After the three course meal we had the trophy presentation and everyone from the old guns to the young sports were eager to see if they had won a trophy. The results for this year were as follows;
· Top Clay Shot - Bob (The Vice Chairman)
· Top Marksman – Chris
· Best Pigeon Shot – Bob (The Vice Chairman)
· Top Gun Trophy for Most Birds Bagged – Jake (young sport)
· Sportsman Trophy – Rob H
· Clubman Trophy - Chris
· Highest Attendance – Jake (young sport)
· Most Improved Shot – David (young sport)
· Marc Ray Memorial Trophy - Jake (young sport)
· Wood Spoon for Least Amount Shot - Connor (young sport)
· Bigs Girls Blouse – Rob H
· Clangers – Jake (young sport)
· Young Clangers – Tyler (young sport)
· High Bird Trophy – Dan
By far the stars of the evening were the young shots I have already mentioned Alfie, the others were as follows;
· Young Clubman Trophy – Tyler
· Young Sportsman Trophy – Connor
· Young Shot Award – David
Young sport David who scooped up the coveted and sought after Young Shots award as all the boys cheered him on with a hooray and clapping he was also presented with the most improved shot award too. I think his beaming smile and sheer look of shock on his face said it all along with a rousing cheer from the entire room as the other young sports lined out clapping as he came to the front to be presented with his trophy.
The Marc Ray memorial award was awarded to Young sport Jake this year who has showed what it takes to be a Woodspring clubman and leading by example the woodspring way, I must admit I did have a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye presenting this one as it’s the first time in the clubs history a young sport had won an adult trophy and in fine Woodspring style too.
Both David and Connor were also congratulated for passing their marksmanship course at a recent Pass It On Young Sports marksmanship event
As you can tell I love teaching the young sports and the evening was not over yet.
A further award was presented to young sports Connor/David/Tyler & Jake for their outstanding roll in representing the shooting club and volunteering all year helping at The Pass It On Young Sports taster days and events. Yet again a mighty cheer went up from the entire room for these inspirational Woodspring Young shots.
We then held a sporting raffle with some top prizes being donated by Air Arms/Jack Pyke/Armex/NGO/Pass It On Young Sports and The Ole Hedge Creeper himself and many many more great fieldsports companies and organisations far too many to name.
For the calendar are the usual boxing day meet young sports clay shoot and the New Year’s Day clay shoot of Farmers V Shooting Club. These are always well-attended events with hot soup, bacon rolls, steaming coffee and lots of friendly banter. As always we will be having our simulated pheasant shoot which has now become quite a tradition for the farmers and shooting club and young sports of course and it is fast approaching our 10th year Anniversary of doing it. I think we may have to make next year a big one and I will put my thinking cap on to see if we can make this an even bigger special occasion than normal. Maybe a wild boar hog roast or something similar.
Well I suppose all that’s left to say is “May I wish you all a very merry Christmas and an even better, healthier and prosperous New Year”.
Rob Collins (Chairman)
Woodspring Pigeon Shooting & Wildfowling Club
Never forget our Moto it’s all about FINDING THE BALANCE
Regards Rob Collins (chairman)