The Trouble with Technology

by Dick Nutt

The following true story concerns two good friends of mine who are both members of the New Forest Lurcher, Terrier and Ferret Club, and very experienced ferreters as well. As the credit titles to a film often say, “Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent”, or, in this case, the bewildered!

Mr. A and Mr. B had been blessed with a pretty good day’s sport so far, although the weather had looked quite threatening at times. The rabbits were bolting well, the ferrets' behaviour had been exemplary, and, with none of them appearing to have “killed down” there had been no need for digging. This was a real bonus as the wet, slippery chalk down was well laced with roots and brambles and wasn’t going to be the easiest of places to take a spade to.

By mid afternoon the occasional mild drizzle had changed to a steady downpour of the very unpleasant variety, and it was decided to pack up before the light started to go.

Two of the three collared jills they had been working were boxed as they emerged from holes, nets were recovered and the lot was carried the hundred or so yards to where the Land Rover was parked. When Mr. B got back from doing this he was informed that the third jill had not yet come up, and as she was one of his wife’s regular show winners they needed to start locating and digging pretty damn quick!

The steady rain now became more of a monsoon driven by a very cold wind, you know, the sort of weather that textbooks on ferreting don’t tell you about but that so often occurs!

The locator receiver was switched on and to their joy and relief a signal was obtained, coming from a point only about three feet from where they were standing. The depth reading wasn’t very clear but our two heroes were too wet and cold to worry about that and commenced digging in the very wet, sticky chalk marl.

They soon found that, in addition to plenty of roots, there were lumps of flint the size of babies heads in the way of the spade and when, after about twenty minutes of sheer, soaking, sweating, slippery hell they hadn’t broken through, Mr. B moved a few yards away and got a good signal from the receiver. Tired, soaked, and now in a less than good humour, they weren’t thinking too clearly either, as they assumed the jill had moved on a bit. Another excavation was started and after about ten minutes an exhausted Mr. A passed the spade to Mr. B, stood up and looked about him.

Suddenly he froze, then gripped Mr. B’s arm very tightly and, with a shaking hand pointed to his left. They both stared in amazement as the missing jill looked toward them from a burrow entrance some twenty yards away, as if to say, “What’s happening then, guv’nor?”

Still without saying a word Mr. A went and picked her up, came back, and stared at Mr. B very hard indeed. Had it been drawn as a comic strip then a light bulb would have flashed on over Mr. B’s head as realisation dawned. He reached into the map pocket in the left leg of his combat trousers and drew forth, with trembling hand, the spare locator collar - WITH BATTERY FITTED!!

Curiously enough, they are still great pals.

(First published in the October, 1998 NFWS News)

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