Shooting Wild Duck at Teddesley

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Hatherton Journal, 26th and 27th October, 1847

Alfred Paget came to breakfast. We afterwards shot partridges at Teddesley. He endeavoured to persuade me to give him a meeting at Sherbrook Valley tomorrow morning at 5 o'clock to kill wild duck. And when in the course of the evening he saw between two and three hundred visiting the Keepers' Pools at Teddesley he would take no refusal. He was so excited that I verily believe he would have had me out of bed had I been bishop of the diocese. I, therefore, compromised with him, by proposing to him to come to Teddesley instead, which he engaged to do, though for this purpose he would have to cross the Chase in the dark. At 6pm he took leave, promising to return by 5 tomorrow morning. I went to bed, ordering fires and coffee to be ready at half past four and myself to be called at four.

At 4 I was called and to my great joy the servant announced that it had rained all night and was raining still. I desired him to let me know in half an hour if it continued to rain and then composed myself to sleep. In 5 minutes another rap at the door announced Lord Alfred's arrival.

I arose quickly and found him in the servants' hall with his two keepers and dogs, he with an oilskin sailor's hat on, fisherman's leather boots up to the hips and a dirty mackintosh coat. If he had been got up for a smuggler or a robber scene in a play he could not have been better dressed.

It was still dark, but dry, when we took our respective positions, each with four guns. At about half past five some teal began to arrive in 2s and 3s and to settle down on the water just before me. At the same moment Lord Alfred's shot rattled through the branches all about me. I tried at my bird sitting on the water and missed for it was still so dark that I could not see the muzzle of the gun.

As it grew lighter I was able to take flying shots. It seems at about this hour the wild fowl which have quit their asylum during the night and fly abroad in every direction to distant rivers and streams return home in small peletons ot 2s and 3s and 5s and 6s, especially if they are fed at any spot regularly. We continued shooting until 7 when we commenced a careful research with the dogs for the killed and picked up 13 wild ducks and 9 teal.

I never liked my sport with my gun so much. And yet I cannot divest my mind of the feeling that all sport with the gun is unnecessarily cruel and that the taking of wildfowl and birds of any kind by nets and snares and contrivances of art would not only be more humane but more exciting.