The magic of Beaters' Day
On shoots up and down the country, from the smallest of scratch-about affairs to the busiest of commercial operations, Beaters' Day is one of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures on the game shooting calendar.
Legends may be forged, reputations might be left in tatters, but one thing is for sure: there will be men, ladies, boys and girls stood with a gun in their hands who have waited for the opportunity since the start of the season. They've earned it.
It's a special day's sport because it's one laced with familiarity. Everyone knows their fellow Guns, the dogs that will probably run in, the drives that are likely to produce the most testing birds, and the peg numbers that almost guarantee hot barrels and that annual, unique spike of adrenaline.
From 'cocks-only' to 'all-in', the morning briefing will vary – the excitement amongst those gathered about the keeper as palpable as it is infectious. Today's 'Guns' can hardly wait to get going. Bugger a long lunch and idle chatter between drives; they want as much time on the peg as possible, scanning the horizon from the opposite side of the line, this time.
The banter and ribbing is on tap, the keeper(s) appear slightly more relaxed, and all in all it's bloody good fun. It's a day of opportunity; opportunity to try oneself on the drives that for the remainder of the season are watched from afar. And Beaters' Day sorts the pretenders from the deadeye Dicks; it's easy to scoff at shot-to-kill ratios whilst holding a flag or a stick...
So who will drop the bird of the day, or the wildly ambitious right and left? Whose wheels will come off completely, securing themselves a year of light-hearted grief in the process? Who will shoot their first gamebird of the season? There are so many memories to be made. This is the magic of Beaters' Day...