Stories From Wayne Robinson

A Day of Driven Partridge and Duck in Northern Ireland
By Wayne Robinson

On a recent trip to visit my wife’s family in Northern Ireland I had the fortune to meet and become friends with Irish gentleman named Donal McCloy who happens to own and run the largest gun dealership and country clothing store in Ireland (both North and South).

His main store in Toome, Northern Ireland is something to behold. Not only does he have a huge range of “Best Quality” guns he also has an enormous range of top quality country clothing including all the finest English brands.

When Donal found out that I enjoyed a spot of wing shooting he invited me to join his syndicate the following Saturday for a day’s driven partridge and duck shooting. It was September and too early for the pheasant season which does not commence until November.

Wayne Robinson
The Guns all met at 8am the following Saturday for breakfast at a five star hotel not far from the estate where the shoot was to be held. This was a great opportunity for me to become acquainted with the other Guns.
After a hearty breakfast it was onto the shoot only a short distance away. My excitement grew rapidly as on the long driveway of the estate there were many pheasants and ducks to be seen. I was informed that the partridge were a shyer bird and would be found in cover further afield.

At the manor house we met with Seamus the gamekeeper who explained the days’ proceedings. There was to be 4 drives of partridge in the morning, a break for lunch, then a final drive for duck.

The estate is approximately 4000 acres and consists of woodland, boggy moorland and gently undulating to hilly sown pasture. In every gully there was either a small creek or a large fast flowing stream. Seamus explained that the whole estate was set-up to cater for the shooting sportsman and this was evident by the well formed tracks between the drives.
The Guns were transported around the shoot in a convoy of late model Range Rovers whilst the Beaters and Picker Ups with their dogs travelled in two large purpose built ATVs with tracks rather than wheels. On the first drive the Guns were placed at pegs along the floor of a heather sided gully with a beautiful creek meandering down the centre. The partridge in their hundreds were driven from the hidden side of the hill across the gully. Most shots were taken at 25 to 30 metres with a few very high birds at 40 plus metres. I have been on driven days before, but nothing to compare with this – the shooting was absolutely fabulous.

The following 3 drives were at different locations all with their unique beauty and equally good shooting. At the conclusion of the second drive we enjoyed a break for eleveneness. All the Guns had plenty of shooting and the bag by the end of the fourth drive numbered 296 partridge.

We made our way back to an old stone building that was used as a barn in bygone days, but now has been refurnished with a modern kitchen, open fire and several large tables with chairs. What was very pleasing was that whilst the Guns were seated at the main table and treated to a gourmet meal of various game dishes and quality wines, the Beaters and Picker-ups were not neglected and were seated at some of the other tables and also treated to a fine lunch. All in all a very friendly and sociable event. After the meal there was adequate time to chat with the worker’s and discuss the day’s events so far.

For the last drive of the day, Donal insisted that all the Guns be limited to 50 cartridges. I thought this unusual at the time but the reason soon became apparent. The Guns were placed at the base of a hill approximately 50 metres apart. The ducks (Mallards) were to be driven from the ponds and creeks in the adjoining valley across the hill and over the guns. The drive started slowly with just the odd single or pair of ducks chancing the Guns but within minutes the sky was black with birds, literally hundreds and hundreds. The shooting lasted about 15 minutes not due to lack of birds but lack of cartridges.

Every Gun shot off their allotted 50 cartridges with the result 94 duck on the ground. The ducks just kept on coming even after the last shot was fired. I have experienced a lot of duck shooting over the years but never anything as fast and furious as this type of shooting. For shear excitement it was the ultimate, well at least standing up.

Back to the Manor House for farewell drinks, the customary tipping of the Beaters and Picker-ups and a very warm thank you to the host and gamekeeper. What a day, the shooting was fantastic, the dog work excellent, the food superb, the country side magnificent with its forty shades of green, all this in the company of a fine group of Irish gentlemen.

At a cost of £23.50 (English sterling) per bird which included cartridges, food, drink and transport the day was very affordable. I was also invited to participate in a full day on driven duck where one could expect to shoot between 600 and 800 cartridges. Unfortunately, I had a return flight booked to Oz so this experience will need to wait until next time.

Should you have the opportunity to shoot driven birds in Northern Ireland, do it, you will not be disappointed.




Big Eric - A Royal in Pyjamas
By Wayne Robinson

It was just after 6.30am and it was a dark cold and wet winter morning in the Yarra Valley foothills.

I had been out of bed 15 minutes or so and was dressed only in pyjamas, dressing gown, and slippers. I settled back to watch the early morning news with a steaming mug of coffee in hand.

Dawn was just starting to show the first hint of arousal from her nightly sleep, whilst the good wife Patricia slumbered on blissfully.

Where we live we are fortunate in having a large array of different wildlife that either live on, or visit the property. These include all the indigenous native animals, as well as some very exciting exotics, namely deer.


We have three species of deer that frequent the property, Sambar, Fallow and Red, but by far the most numerous are the Reds.

The herds can number up to twenty animals during the rut and consist mainly of hinds, yearlings, and spikies accompanied by one or two stags. The stags generally do not carry good antlers, which by and large are either spindly or malformed. To observe the antics of the wildlife on the hills at the rear of the property, we have a telescope mounted in the billiards’ room.

6.55am – You can just make out the movement of wildlife on the hills at the rear of the property. I decide to investigate more closely through the telescope. As I suspected numerous kangaroos, but also a small herd of approximately six to eight red deer hinds grazing not more than 80 metres from the house.

Suddenly, without warning a large stag appears in the telescope as if from no where. I let out the cry “Big Eric’s on the hill.”

For those who are not familiar with Big Eric, he was the legendary stag that Hector McDonald viewed through his telescope and then gave chase to in his dressing gown in the first episode of the ABC series “Monarch of the Glen.”

There may have been a uttering from the bedroom “I hope you don’t intend to shoot him” but if there was it fell on deaf ears, as the stalk had already began.

I selected the 270 Winchester from the gun room along with a handful of Federal Vital Shok 130gr ammo and proceeded out the front door of the house making sure not to disturb the dog asleep on the mat. Sneaking along the verandah and down past the shed I managed to keep the house water tanks between me, Eric and Eric’s girlfriends. The rain had intensified but it did not matter – nothing mattered except Big Eric.


Wayne in the Latest Shooting Attire

Using the water tank as a rest, I lined up on Eric’s vital area at no more than 60 metres. What an easy shot you may say, but when you have a large stag in your scope a little thing called “Buck Fever” kicks in. The shot was too high, and although hit hard, the stag jumped, then disappeared over the crest of the hill. I gave chase; not an easy thing when on the side of a hill in the wet wearing nothing but slippers.

Luckily he had gone down no more than 50 metres from where shot, but to my amazement, no less than 20 hinds had gathered around where he lay. His harem dispersed as I approached so I assumed the Monarch was dead.

Wrong!

To my surprise, when I got to within approximately 10 metres he suddenly stood, shook himself, looked at me in defiance, and then staggered off down the gully. He only travelled about 40 metres before my next shot anchored him for good. I knew “Big Eric” was a good stag, but it was not until I was standing over him soaking wet in my pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers that I realised his full splendour, for Big Eric was indeed a magnificent “Royal.”


Big Eric is presently at the taxidermist, and when the mount is completed, he will gain immortality and pride of place over our fireplace.

As a footnote I have since discovered Eric has a Big Brother, possibly an “Imperial,” but that’s a story for another day.


Big Eric

Big Eric Ready for the Taxidermist