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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 3, September 2012


Ken Jones
Aberystwyth, Wales, UK

Broken Shotguns

Walkie-talkie crackle
the vixen and her cubs
prick up their ears

At the edge of the forest we come upon a Land Rover. Slumped inside is an old man wearing a scruffy base ball cap. On the passenger seat a single barrelled shot gun, “broken” (hinged open) for safety. He switches off the walkie-talkie. In the absence of a fox a couple of hikers are a welcome enough surprise in these lonely mid-Wales hills. The hunt area turns out to be several square miles of forestry and rough pasture, steep hills and narrow valleys. Foxes and hounds, hunters and us, we have it all to ourselves—with several hundred sheep, of course.

A strident horn
deep throated hounds
the sun strikes the covert

We come upon the hard core of the hunt, with a dozen frisky, floppy hounds. The local farmers, camouflaged in battle dress fatigues. After a bit of chat about the lie of the land, we all set off—in opposite directions. Here no galloping horses, scarlet coats and blood-thirsty hounds. But plenty of new born lambs and hungry vixen. The hounds flush out the foxes and the farmers shoot them—with luck.

Clomping along in wellies
how homely
the trill of his horn

“Alright?” He appears from nowhere. High on the moor we’re lunching on our usual matrimonial perches—here a pair of grassy tumps. A seasoned hunter, this one, clad head to foot in the muted colours of the hill. I covet his green moleskin shooting jacket. His Italian double-barrelled gun is a beauty. The lock’s a finely engraved example of the gun smith’s art. “Brescia 1955.” I squint down inside the broken open barrels.

Two long smooth tubes
filled with sunlight
and innocence

Not fired once that day, by the smell of them. After the usual exchange about yesterday’s rugby, we talk foxes. Their feral beauty. Those rare bewitching face-to-face encounters. The times he cannot squeeze the trigger. This hunter, how he loves his foxes!

Later we come upon a shooting stance.

Spent cartridges
a few fag ends
and a death foretold



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