I lived in a small village in Yorkshire with the odd people, surrounded by rolling hills. The farming was predominantly cattle and sheep. In between the fields and in the small valley, there was woodland. I used to walk all over the land as a kid. Free to be. But there was a small problem. Whenever the animals saw me they would run. I soon learned a few things: to camouflage myself and to stay still. I knew a few deer runs, badger sets and where foxes were. So I would take a thick plastic bag and fill it with leaves and twigs. I looked like the worst bush in the hills. Too much camo. Still, I got better.
One day I was in a small wood far away from home with no one around… This was the place where they roused pheasants. There was a tree that had a natural hollow between two roots. I set up here and got comfy. I waited and waited and waited. I waited some more. Th trick is to zone out. Let the things that creep and crawl, creep and crawl in and on you (get a head net). In time, your eyes see movement really well. I saw a twitch that was different to a leaf. Then I saw her. It was a hen pheasant and she was sat on the ground looking away from me. I sat for a while just watching her and I realized that I’d like to look under her as she was sitting on a nest. So, very – and I mean VERY – slowly I got up. Since she didn’t move, I got more confident. I guess from memory there was about twenty feet from me to the hen. Time was distorted as I became so focused on the job.
Looking back, I reckon it took me about twenty minutes to cover the distance. Just as a thing, try it and see for yourself how slow I must have been going. As I got closer I sank down on my legs, so that I was squatting over her when I reached her nest. My arms were outstretched and I gently closed them under her and lifted her up. Her heart rate didn’t change. More confidence. I found a dozen eggs under her. I transferred her weight to my left hand and removed five of the eggs then put her back. I moved my right hand to the eggs, picked them up and backed myself away. I didn’t go back to the tree. When I got home I told my parents what I’d done. My dad got some bread out and toasted two slices. He fired some bacon and then the eggs. I had them for my tea. My dad nicked one of the eggs and ate it all in one go. They are not as big as chicken’s eggs and he popped the whole lot into his mouth. I was too small to do this but I ate the rest of mine. What a great day.