Cooley at dawn in early December is a sight to behold. On Saturday last I was out duck hunting on the foreshore surrounded by a beautiful Winter landscape. It was 7am and 0⁰C. Out in front of me the frost covered marsh grasses glistened in the early morning light as the sun rose slowly along the Annaloughan shore. Inland the mist clung to the fields and the dark silhouette of the Cooley mountains gave an eerie backdrop to the scene.
As I sat there with my dog beside me, taking in my surroundings and waiting for the duck to flight,my mind was cleared of all its troubles. In this beautiful wilderness the trials and tribulations of day to day life had no place. Egrets flew lazily by, curlew called with their distinctive cry as they headed into pastures to feed and oystercatchers pipped alarmingly, warning all of my presence.
Sally, my dog’s tail began to beat excitedly off my rubber boots. She had seen the outline of some birds in the distance. A pair of mallard were coming in off the sea and approaching from my right.As they came within range I lifted the gun and swung it onto the birds. I fired once and shot one of the birds. Sally raced out into the water and swam to where the duck had dropped. She picked it gently in her mouth and retrieved it to me. It was a hen mallard, a fine bird. As I held it in my hand I was already planning dinner that evening. Mallard have plenty of fat on them which makes for lovely crispy skin when roasted.
I sat there for another hour. A few more duck passed over me, mallard, teal and a single wigeon, but they were all out of range so I didn’t fire any shots. It was nice to see them nevertheless.
Duck shooting on the foreshore is the most difficult, so many elements come into play, the tide, the wind, the time of day and of course the duck themselves, you are never guaranteed they will be where you expect them, they are wild after all.
It had been a wonderful morning, in a beautiful location and as a bonus I had a duck in my game bag that would provide a tasty dinner that evening. I packed up and headed back to the car with Sally. It was time to return home to my family and have breakfast before we set off on a walk up to “Maeve’s Gap”. Life in Cooley is always full of wonderful treats.
Also, see our duck recipe in the fork section 🙂