It does seem unnecessarily brutal to declare open season on grouse and pheasants on the Glorious 12th or whatever it is. Because these birds are already heading towards extinction without dying of natural causes. I mean what could be more natural than being chased across a wild moor by blokes with sticks, desperately lumbering into the air to escape and then being blown into a thousand pieces by an aristocratic inbred called Toby with a thousand acres and a shotgun?
No, these birds are going the same way as the Dodo with their slavish adherence to a road crossing style that lacks a certain survivability. They stand there safe on the side of the road, cocking their heads and looking stupid and static until the EXACT MOMENT you are beyond any safe braking zone. Then “ belying an acceleration not obviously anatomically possible with those chicken legs “ they take a bead on the centre of your bonnet and make a spirited beaklong plunge under the wheels.
The first time this happened was back in my student days when we lacked both money and any common sense. So before you could say botulism alertï¿½?, we backed over it to make sure, chucked it in the boot and took it home with us. After plucking it using all the fastidious preparation techniques one can apply with a fireaxe, we hung it in the garage and waited for the smell to subside.
Disappointingly, the final carve up merited only a buffet pork pie’s worth of meat and a slimy, gamey taste that lingered for days afterwards. So when it happened again more recently, I just sighed, got out and beat it to death with a tyre iron. It’s the way it would have wanted to go I think.
On Sunday, a third bird made swift passage under the nearside wheel and a glance in the mirror revealed it had not been a killing blow. Now my car “ racily awarded Towing car of the year” by What Caravan “ does not have a tyre iron or a jack or anything else traditionally useful for braining stupid animals. Well it may do, but they’ll be hidden away under flaps, widgets and flanges and I felt putting the poor thing out of its’ misery was of a higher priority than reading than ringing the garage, and asking where the sharp things were kept. Clearly not in the drivers seat.
All that came to hand was a rolled up copy of the Times. This seemed a little cruel to admonish the pheasant for its’ stupidity by applying said newspaper across the nose in the manner of puppy punishment. It might have killed it but only through boredom and anyway I hadn’t even started the crossword.
It’s mad eye rotated frantically, but that was the only thing that was moving unless you count some unpleasant twitching. I couldn’t leave it there in pain so “ sighing again “ off came the shoe and the poor sod was dispatched. The single killing blow I was aiming for was compromised because half of my body “ the bit with the eyes in it “ was turning the other way. So only when the tarmac had been given a good kicking did my random flailings finally deliver the coup de grace.
I’m not sure kicking it into a ditch and throwing some soil over it constitutes a decent burial but the whole episode hardly rang out with dignity.
If I’m reincarnated, I have a nasty feeling that there may be squawking and shotguns in my next life.