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THE WILDFOWLERS OBLIGATIONS
Always remember that your main quarry, wild geese, ducks and waders are largely migratory and we have a special responsibility to safeguard them and their environment.
Consideration for your Quarry
Always condemn unsporting shooting; ie at poor fliers or out of range birds.
Remember a marsh can be spoilt by continual human disturbance - and you need not be shooting to cause a disturbance.
Always mark wounded quarry and ensure that it is picked up and humanely dispatched as soon as possible. A sharp knock on the head with a suitable heavy stick or priest is most effective.
Always remember that a dog is essential for tide shooting and picking up after dark - keep it under control at all times.
Guns and Cartridges
A double barrelled 12-bore is a suitable all round shotgun.Traditionally, wildfowlers prefer a 76mm (3") chambered gun, which enables them to shoot heavier shot more effectively. Big bore guns, 10, 8 and 4-bores, although capable of handling big shot very effectively, can be cumbersome and a burden. Choke only marginally increases your range and is no excuse for attempting out of range shots.
The use of any gun or rifle firing a single bullet, for the purpose of killing wildfowl, is prohibited to BASC members. It is illegal to use a semi-automatic shotgun in the pursuit of wildfowl or game unless it is fitted with a device to prevent the firing of more than 3 cartridges in succession without reloading.
For much wildfowling a 12-bore gun with 32 to 36g cartridges, will normally be appropriate. For large ducks (Mallard) pellet size No.4/5 is widely used, for small ducks (Teal) No.6 and for geese No.3 or No.1 when using high density shot like bismuth or tungsten. When using low density types like tin or steel, increasing the pellet size by at least two will be effective.
Always carry a waterproof watch, it is essential for judging the predicted state of the tide. Remember, if British Summer Time (BST) is in force, to make the necessary correction to your tide tables.
Wear comfortable, inconspicuous, warm, waterproof clothing.
Waders are normally recommended.
Always carry a waterproof torch but remember torch flashing is ONLY justified in an EMERGENCY.
A pair of binoculars will enhance the day and be useful for identification purposes.
A wading pole will greatly assist walking on the marsh and can be used to sound gutters and crossing places.
Always carry a pocket compass (learn how to use it), go straight to your chosen point and note the compass bearing for a safe return route.
Always carry a "pull through", it is all too easy to get mud or snow into the muzzle of your gun.
When you go onto the foreshore for the first time, go in daylight, ideally with someone who knows the area and can point out marsh boundaries and inherent dangers that occur.
When wildfowling away from home, it is courteous to make contact with the Secretaries of local wildfowling clubs, to ensure you do not inadvertently encroach on private ground.
Always tell someone where you have gone wildfowling and do not forget to tell them you have returned safely.
Make sure you know of local rules and restrictions, particularly those that may be operating in a Nature Reserve Shooting Area.
Always consult tide tables before going onto the marsh and remember that prevailing weather conditions will alter the figures stated. Avoid the more distant parts of the marsh when a big tide is expected.
If you are out all day carry some food and a thermos containing a hot drink.
Always take a large canvas bag - it is often useful to sit on.
Make sure your equipment is sensibly distributed about you and leaves you freedom of movement.
Make sure you carry your shotgun certificate with you. A game licence is needed for snipe and woodcock.
On the Marsh
Do not disturb the locality or other sportsmen by making a noise, banging car doors when arriving early in the morning or leaving late at night.
Never arrive late, or depart early, and so disturb the shooting of those who have taken the trouble to get into position in good time.
Do not shoot in the immediate vicinity of houses adjoining the shore.
Make sure you are well hidden; camouflage yourself to suit your surroundings.
Try to make your dog comfortable - if you sit on your game bag make sure he has a dry seat.
Look through your gun barrels to make sure they are clear whenever an obstruction may have entered.
Range judging when wildfowling is particulary difficult - as the flight develops don't spoil it by shooting too early at out of range birds.
Send your dog to retrieve birds as they are shot. Dogging the tideline will often recover lost birds.
Take care to recognise legal quarry; if in doubt, don't shoot.
Never leave cartridge cases or unsightly pit holes on the marsh.
Never try to be clever waiting for the last moment to leave the marsh when the incoming tide is approaching. Channels fill quickly and in a very short time they become a torrent.
On leaving the marsh your dog will be cold and wet - consider his needs before your own.
Take care of your quarry - don't waste it.
Pay special attention to cleaning your gun - sand and saltwater will quickly corrode it. Check it for faults that may need rectifying.