The Loneliness of the Long Distance Larsen

The car is parked below the horizon in the middle distance, just down the line of the forest and to the left.

Now’s the time of year to be getting stuck into the vermin, and yet again I’m reminded of how difficult life on the Chayne is without proper roads, tracks or access of any sort. Two weeks ago, I carried a multi larsen trap on my back two miles across the hill and left it in what I imagined was a decent spot. A small stand of larch trees nearby gave crows a great lookout point, and open country all around was not only good for their security but also represented a two thousand acre dinner plate, full of eggs and chicks.

Ideally, I’d be able to run a trap out there all season, but I’m restricted to weekends when I have the time to make the lengthy trip over the moss on foot every day – a four mile round trip in addition to my usual two or three miles. I find myself scanning the hills ahead for a distant speck of silver against the hill which indicates that the outward journey is about two thirds done, then squint at the black call bird to see if I can make out a second or third black blob fluttering around in the cage. All the while, I just keep putting one foot infront of the other and try to pass the time (45 minutes each way) by thinking about other things.

All this work is extremely productive, since the crows I catch out in that corner of the farm are not only gullible and easy to trap, but they are also huge and extremely vicious looking. It’s not hard to imagine the damage those brutes would do to a brood of young chicks, particularly since the cock I caught this morning made the call bird look like a jackdaw. I described them to a friend who asked if they could be ravens, but there’s no doubting the shape of the head or the call. It just seems like something about life in the hills makes these corbies bigger than their low ground counterparts. I’ve never seen a raven from that area up close, but using the same logic, it’d be the size of a helicopter.

It’s not much fun, and I’m looking forward to Sunday night when I’ll bring the call bird back in for another week. As I walk, I try and stop myself wondering what the hell I’m doing, when everyone else in the world is relaxing at the weekend, but I console myself with the thought that whatever is bad for crows is good for grouse, and since that spot is so remote and so bloody awkward to get to, nobody else will do it if I don’t.

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