I've been shooting my Fox most of the season and decided to give my Westley Richards droplock a day's use. It is a lovely gun, an engineer's delight, and I shoot it pretty well. I started the morning hunting for dove, and though the shooting was slow, I had a handful of birds by 7.30.
I decided to try another spot and on the way noticed a lot of dove working around the intersection of four fields. The birds were feeding in three newly-planted fields of row crops but the fourth field was alfalfa and unposted. I concealed myself in a drainage canal and killed a couple more dove in just a few minutes. Then I noticed that some hunters were driving the alfalfa for pheasant and managed to put up a few birds. They had not hunted my edge of the field so perhaps a few of the roosters had moved into that area? I got Rosie and Silk out of their crates, loaded the gun with heavier loads of #6, and gave it a try.
We worked the area for 20 minutes or so without moving a bird and then I noticed a couple of dove land on the other side of a drainage ditch 200 yards away. Since the pheasant were not cooperating I dropped dove loads into the gun (I shoot very light dove loads with very small shot) and walked in their direction.
Of course I had not gone 30 yards when a big cock popped up right in front of me. I probably should have just waved at him, but instead I took a close shot with those dove loads, and hit him hard enough to kill him - but not until he had flown 400 yars, collapsing dead in mid air, in the middle of another field that was (a) posted, and (b) being actively worked by a couple of guys on fast tractors with hay rollers. I walked over to the edge and looked for an obviously-dead bird without luck. The drivers would have been very annoyed if I started combing their field with my setters so I cursed my choice of guns (most of my doubles have two triggers, but W-R was very proud of their single trigger and apparently only sold droplocks that way) and headed for other spots.
Next I was in an area with a deep irrigation channel bordered by heavy, waist-high chaparral. I've killed pheasant there before so I loaded with #6 and even managed to kill a dove with that load. Then I ran into a covey of Gambels quail and proceeded to miss 4 in a row over some decent dog work. That was quite annoying. I'm convinced that those little demons flew right through the sparse loads of #6 (I shot 4 for 4 on quail that weekend when shooting #8, so I should have killed at least a couple of them).
Now I'm feeling pretty bummed. I have a nice collection of dove, but no pheasant and no quail, and some pretty sorry stories to tell about it all. Then, redemption: a cock pheasant flushed out of canal and back over my head. Since it was first sold in 1901 the W-R has probably killed 5,000 pheasant on shots just like this and the #6's did their work. The bird was dead in the air and hit the ground in an open spot.
Now I could relax, give up on pheasant, and just shoot quail and dove. We got into more quail and I killed a couple, and then I found a spot for dove that had about 150 birds working the area. Killed a few more there, including a couple a long-range passing shots (60 paces to one of the dead birds) that left me feeling pretty good about the day.
So, the lesson: shoot a gun with two triggers when hoping for a mixed bag! I have a nice thumblever Purdey that would have been a great choice. But the day came out well. Mike, wish you had been there to point out my folly.