Maureen Virtue accompanies a team of guns with sporting agent husband David in pursuit of wild duck on a fed flight pond in the Scottish Borders
Shooting wild duck in Scotland is unlike any other sporting quarry as the group up shooting with David Virtue was about to find out – it was going to be fast and furious, brilliant sporting fun.
I was lucky enough to be going along to watch the flight; it was just an hour before darkness and Jonny, Jason, Laurie, Stuart and John, up from Cambridgeshire for a few days’ shooting in the Scottish Borders, were preparing for their duck flight.
“As we begin our descent, we disturb the marshy peace and about 30 mallard and 70 teal fly up off the boggy surface of the pond”
Pulling up about half-a-mile from our destination and climbing out of the vehicle with the two labradors, we assemble our gear together and head in the pond’s direction.
“Right”, David explains, “this pond is quite large, about an acre, mostly quite marshy, it’s a great bit for teal but the current spell of really wet weather means there is a lot of flood water lying about so the duck are scattered; saying that it’s a pond that does well and it’s fed with potatoes and barley on a weekly basis so we could still be lucky”.
Heading over the rough, wet field down to the pond we walk quickly, wanting to be set up in time before the light starts to fade. “Watch out!” David calls, “the ground’s really boggy there”.
Too late – Laurie tips into a soft bit of ground almost up to his middle, the rest laughing with not one bit of sympathy. “I did warn you”, calls David, walking on. Laurie pulls himself out and squelches up to the group. “Great start,” laughs Jonny, but before any retaliations can be meted out, we arrive at the top of the small knoll on the field and as we begin our descent, we disturb the marshy peace and about 30 mallard and 70 teal fly up off the boggy surface of the pond.
“Hopefully they’ll return”, David says calmly, unperturbed. “Choose a hide each and get settled before the duck come back”. The hides run along the north and west sides of the large area of boggy marshland, it’s quite open here with a few trees and plenty of rushes and, as they move towards their hides and settle themselves in, David explains to each of them about their arc of fire, before heading to the side with the labs preparing to wait.
Watching on over the marshy ground, the light is just beginning to fade; we only wait a few minutes before the first two unmistakable shapes of duck fly into sight, heading for Stuart. I watch on, waiting for them to come into range and his patience is rewarded when he shoots a right and a left.
“Off to a good start”, calls David and sends out the two labradors to retrieve fallen duck from the pond.