Wednesday, 11 August 2010


Here in Lympstone in my time there was only ever one duck punt. It was maybe fourteen foot long, heavily constructed and was painted warship grey. It lay low on a mooring off the Green, squat and sinister, the more so because it was fitted to carry a heavy swivel gun. It was owned by a man whom I can only remember as someone I disliked. He is most likely dead by now. The cause of this dislike is forgotten but it was probably as much due to my prejudices, I have grown sweeter since then, as to any fault of his. It was not, however, that I was against the idea of wildfowling, which in those days was not frowned upon. Indeed the thought of lying in wait to ambush the winter geese flying into the Estuary, at dawn perhaps, fascinated me. I itched to kill my goose but never got around to it. These days of course one thinks more correctly.

The geese have started flying low over my house again. I see or hear them every now and again. They fly by the tide and not by the clock. There seem to be more of them every year. It is as though they could smell the protection that the Estuary affords. I love their crazy flight and the wild noise they make.

This menacing gun punt was regularly put to use but I never heard tell of any quantity of ducks or geese coming home. Traditionally the place to shoot wildfowl was on the Bight but to judge by the number of empty shotgun cartridges, red and green, that one found on the shingle beaches there was quite a procession of hunters trooping up and down the banks between Lympstone and Exmouth.

There are said still to be thirty acres of marshland on the Exe, I don’t know where, where the Devon Wildfowlers Association enjoy their over controlled sport. I somehow doubt that they venture out in grey punts mounted with kingsize swivel guns.

No comments:

Post a Comment