As it gets on into autumn in Ireland, the blackthorn is laced with ice, the hazel coverts where the woodcock lie, brown as old leaves, glow purple, you hear the wild, edgy cry of snipe and you know the shooting will be fine. There are no bag limits, the seasons are long and in some counties you can get your snipe, 'cock, mallard, widgeon, teal, geese and plover all in a single day. But the greatest joy of shooting in Ireland is the freedom with which one can move around. Very little land is posted and you can hunt almost anywhere—and for nothing—although it is polite to ask permission of a farmer (right, in Tralee) and be careful to close his gates and not knock his field walls down. It is this feeling of liberty, putting up a woodcock here and a wisp of snipe there, that attracts the foreign sportsman.
A gillie, his shooters and a Labrador stop for lunch at Waterville in Kerry.
Leaving prints in the frosted leas (left), hunters seek snipe at Westport in Mayo.
A woodcock flies from Carrig mountain over the far, patterned fields of Kerry.