Monday 20 November 2017


In my recent article regarding beating and Autumn etc. I expressed the wish that our first day’s beating would be a fine one. Well, the Gods were not with us and it poured down. Matters were made even worse by the fact that the rain came at the start of the day which meant the first drive was very wet and we all got a serious soaking. To me this is the most undesirable of circumstances as the rest of the day then has to be endured wearing wet clothing, the ground is wet and everything around is also wet. Moving through woods and along hangers is much more of a challenge and all of the surrounding trees and bushes liberally deposit the water from their leaves upon the beaters below. What I think is called a double whammy. 

Unlike the beating days of many years ago,when I was a child in Kingsley, most beaters these days have decent clothing and one could be forgiven for assuming they would, therefore, remain dry. The beaters of yesteryear very often relied upon all sorts of strange cladding to attempt to stay dry. I suppose, by far the favourite, was the hessian sack. These sacks were used for many purposes and were quite thick. They held crops such as potatoes and grain and were widely used for animal feeds. The animal feed one's were generally not favoured as the dust from the feeds, which had been contained within the sacks, got down the neck and into the hair of the wearer, not nice. But needs must and the sacks were draped around shoulders over whatever garment the wearer had on. The sacks were also folded widthways with one corner being pushed up into the other, on the closed end of the sack, to form a hood and a sort of cape. The head of the wearer went into the corner and the rest of the sack hung down the back. A bit like a Red Riding Hood cape. However, the overwhelming problem with this getup was the fact that, a) the sacks were not water proof, and b) they became very heavy as the sacking absorbed the water. Once the sack was saturated the water came through and the wearer got wet and ultimately, cold. 

Although far superior to sacks modern wet weather gear is not all it is cracked up to be. Undoubtedly there are garments available which are waterproof, there are garments which are windproof and there are garments which prevent internal condensation but, as yet, I have been unable to find one which effectively does all three. The completely waterproof type of coat or cape is usually made of a plastic material through which water cannot penetrate nor, for that matter, can the wind. The big trouble is the huge amount of condensation which is created within the garment. Apart from soaking the clothing the condensation will lead to chilling and cold which in extreme cases can be quite dangerous for the person clad in such a garment. Not the sort of clothing for serious walkers and really wild places. On the plus side, these garments are not pricey. There are many dozens of intermediate garments which claim to tackle the problems outlined above but all that I have tried fall down in one area or another. Windproof does definitely not mean water proof. The many claims of being "breathable", and therefore preventing condensation, I have also found to be well, suspect shall we say! These garments can range in price from under a hundred pounds to well over that figure. 

There are many garments advertised in the sporting press which claim to have almost super qualities in terms of style, design, and serviceability and to be the last word in comfort. Unfortunately, the price tag which comes with such garments, hundreds of pounds, is not within my budget. I am, therefore, unable to comment upon the claims made of such products. No doubt the producers of such excellence will be delighted to learn, in the unlikely event that any of them should read this article, I am happy to test their products for them during the rest of the beating season. 

Well, there it is, we beaters continue to endure winter after winter and put up with varying degrees of wet, cold and wind. There are those, one not a million miles from where I write, who think we are quite bonkers. 


  1. What is beating?
    And did you do it in Kingsley or the West Country please?


  2. beating is, as far as my article is concerned, associated with shooting. To be precise, game shooting, which is pheasant, partridge and grouse. Known as formal shooting, as opposed to rough shooting. In formal shooting the guns are placed in an area, by the game keeper, on a numbered peg which is located at a spot where the keeper expects the flying birds to provide testing and sporting targets. In order to get the birds to the point where they fly over the guns, known as the flushing point, a team of beaters is used. These are people who drive the pheasants towards the flushing point. They used dogs and sticks to achieve their objective. The term beating comes, no doubt, from the fact that the beaters use their sticks to "beat", more accurately, to tap the bushes, scrub, long grass etc in order to entice the hiding birds to move forward in the required direction. Beaters are paid for their efforts, but it doesn't amount to a lot of money if one considers the hourly rate, today's norm is about thirty pounds per day. However,I think most beaters do the job because a) they like the social side of the day which often leads to invitations to shoot, ferret or fish with other members of the group; b) they can work their dogs and c) they get to visit woods and parts of the countryside which otherwise would not be open to them; d) It provides healthy exercise in the open air, and e) some would say they are a little bit mad. At present I go beating here in the West Country simply because it is where I now live. When, as a child, I grew up in Kingsley I went beating in the local area. There were shoots in Wick and Oakhanger, to mention a couple, in operation then.