Oh! The "Glorious Twelfth" awaits
We’re going back here about 15 years ago, using my notes created several years after the fact in my iPhone game book, and relying on my game card* and visual memory images. I recall seeing where several pellets struck the victim’s right facial area about the cheek bone and below. He was probably also struck in his right shoulder area, protected by his clothing; this was early December at Arbigland, an estate in Kirkcudbrightshire, Dumfries and Galloway, SW Scotland, not too far from John Paul Jones’ birthplace on the Solway Firth, across from Northumbria, England.
Guns are typically pegged 25-40 yards apart. The shooter and victim could have been either on adjacent pegs or with a peg separating them. I didn’t see the shooting; but knew of it immediately afterwards.
The shooter had been warned on an earlier drive to stop shooting at low birds; the rule he broke was “Don’t shoot at birds unless you have blue sky under your targeted quarry.
After this warning, on a subsequent drive, he apparently turned to shoot at a low bird going through the line - a double no-no - since it endangers not only others in the line but also pickers-up behind the line.
As s result of this, we told the shoot captain we would not shoot with either of these two Minnesotans in the future.
I apologize for the long response, but wanted to set the scene properly. The memories resurfaced about a month ago when I was sent the obituary of the estate manager, a former British army captain, a true crusty character.
*Printed game cards, containing the names of the Guns and the day’s killed bag of the species shot, are typically given to each Gun at the end of the day. Each is unique in design to the particular shoot.
Shuck, I do not wish to miss lead. My trip for this year has been delayed, the estate contacted me a couple weeks ago saying that they wanted to delay the opening of this year‘s season until September, because the hatch was late, and the birds were immature.
This is not uncommon in driven red grouse shooting, because it’s a wild bird, very weather sensitive, and estates need to serve their owners first, then those who let days.
If you’re following the British press currently, you’ll see that the hatch this year was spotty all across the UK, and is only marginally better than last year, the worst in generations. So, most estates are taking a very conservative approach to this year’s shooting, and by and large, delays and cancellations are this year’s norm.
So, I delayed my flights, will be heading over in September. But because I shot a great number of pictures and video last year and I haven’t taken the time to post many of the images here, I decided to post a bunch of represemtative pictures, to keep the thread alive until I have some fresh content to put into it. I have a few hundred pictures and probably 30 little videos. I had hoped to sit down in front of a computer and produce a YouTube style video for sharing on the website, just to put some fresh content up here for people.
I have video that can put the gun right inside the drive, and the excitement is palpable.
For anyone that is curious, the fluted drop points are the way that Miroku finishes the drop points on their shotguns.
That particular pair, is a Miroku “ High Pheasant”.
It’s a model only available in Europe, it’s stocked for high pheasants, fixed choke barrels, elaborate thistle engraving, grade 6 American black walnut, that particular pair is choked quarter and three-quarter.
Not ideal for driven grouse.
Great for traveling.
"Chemists make good solutions" 🙂
Driven grouse shooting -
I’m away from home so have to rely on my iPhone game-book notes and photos rather than actual shoot files and game cards.
I’ve specifically booked driven red grouse about 5/6 times, since ‘03. That’s shoots, not days of shooting, that could total maybe 15 days. One shoot was completely cancelled; another, one day cancelled due to fog on the moot; another, the property, Abbeystead, had been heavily shot for a week by the younger royals and friends, leaving birds so thin on the ground that I walked away after lunch on the second day not having had a single bird within range - we later got a partial refund,
Only one N Yorkshire shoot could have been termed, on birds presented, as completely successful. Insurance or a negotiated cancellation refund is important.
All this is related to the fact that red grouse are totally wild, can only be protected to a limited extent, and while vermin control, heather (the primary food source for growing and mature birds), and protecting against sickness can be managed to some extent, the weather, completely unmanageable, is a huge factor in each year’s crop. And, it and its impact vary widely geographically.
I’ve given up on red grouse. If I spent August through October in the UK, totally free time-wise, I have enough contacts, friends and professionals, that I could probably get some reasonable shooting.
The per bird price, demanded and paid, for grouse is roughly twice that of raised partridges and pheasants - £85-90 per bird vs. £40-50. Daily sold bags for from 8-10 Guns range from 100 brace (grouse are priced at a “ per brace” (2 birds) basis - 100 brace = 200 birds), whilst partridges and pheasants are priced per bird.
My last effort produced 39 brace (78 birds) on what was supposed to have been a 100 brace day. “We had birds up until two weeks ago, but they have mostly gone.” We saw enough birds, but our neophyte line hit only 78 birds for 493 shots - a 6.32 ratio. Across the UK, shooters average maybe 4.5-1, I’ve read.