Wednesday 13 March 2013

With Punt and Gun

One of the crew of the gig I was supposed to be joining while I was chatting to the wildfowlers on the slipway the other week later produced this richly entertaining book dating from 1958. It is the story of how two shooters built themselves a gun punt.
The pair were journalists on Lilliput and Picture Post, but also shooting and fishing addicts. One had access to an area of mud'n'water in the Fens known as the Ouse Washes. Shooting there was made extremely difficult by the need to get out in the dark through mud-filled channels called gutters before the birds flew at dawn, and then get out again before the tide rose and cut them off. 
They came to the conclusion that a punt would be just the ticket, and this is the story of how they researched the design, sourced the guns, and worked out how to operate the thing. It is fascinating.
But one of the most fascinating things is that the hacks were none other than Colin Willock, the man who was the brains behind Survival, TV's premier wildlife programme for decades, and Jack Hargreaves, who just about monopolised TV programmes on the countryside for the same time.
Hargreaves built the punt and Willock got the gun, a search that involved meeting some interesting eccentrics.
I am told that the book is full of duff information, but that is hardly surprising considering they were starting out from scratch in a sport that had already pretty much died out even back in the '50s.
The Duck Punt Adventure is available from Tideline Books.

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