Week one (week commencing the 25th August 2014
Monday 25th August
Bank Holiday not shooting, drove north in the afternoon.
Tuesday 26th August
Shooting in Derbyshire…
We were shooting for the second week on this Moor after a very good first week. The weather forecast had been poor for the week, however come the day, it couldn’t have been better. There was kind breeze that was in favour of most of the drives and good cloud cover which kept the temperature down.
We shot a piece of ground that provides a full day’s driven Grouse shooting which has not changed for about 100 years! The day consist of only three drives. The second drive is a return of the first. The third drive is a repeat of the first and then the fourth drive is a repeat of the second. The fifth drive is a completely separate piece of ground that pushes the birds around a hill corner with 6 forward and 3 behind butts set back over 200 yards.
The line of butts for the first four drives are situated along a gully; one line is set on a bank. The other line of butts are along an old broken down wall with sod tops.
Driving the Grouse and then returning them make Grouse very quick and on edge producing very challenging and wild shooting. Repeating this process for a second time makes them even more challenging! You will need to be very still in the butts and wear the appropriate attire as the slightly movement or the flash of brightly coloured clothing will spook the Grouse and they will turn and fly back and not come anywhere near the Guns. This is where knowledge and understanding of Grouse shooting is key to success.
The birds, as expected, proved challenging and produced some truly awesome shooting. The return drive where the Grouse butts were set lower down in the gully created some unusually high Grouse for butts 0 – 4, which closely resembled very very fast partridges.
The weather stayed fine for the entire day which was a great help. The final bag was 101 ½ brace, which was a good bag given the quality of the birds that were shown.
Wednesday 27th August
Again shooting in Derbyshire…
We were shooting the second day on a completely different (and not adjoining) part of the Moor and would be best described as an island of heather surrounded by hill farms that have been overgrazed leaving bare grass hills surrounding the heather Moorland which has been kept for Grouse shooting and having low grazing pressure.
This Moor has no internal roads so the day consisted of a lot of walking. This was how Grouse Shooting used to be and in my view how it should be. Not sure that any day Tenants would agree!
The first drive was a long walk out from where we parked the cars and would be returned later in the day. It is a long drive that drives Grouse off some heather flats across a gully and up a steep face. Set back from the summit of this face are the butts. The Grouse having not been driven before, were less wild than those that had already been driven previously but the Easterly wind was not kind as most Moors are set up to shoot in West or South West winds. Nevertheless the Grouse came through the line, albeit only the top half of the line. The bottom of the line was more open and the Grouse seeing the butts on approach, coupled with the headwind, swung around and flew back. We saw a lot of birds come through the top of the line which was pleasing to see, showing that the counts had been accurate.
The next drive was a return drive to a different line of butts that were set in a gully and were at a slight angle which allowed the Grouse to swing around the face and fly with the wind. Visibility was very limited and made for a snap shooting. As a result, the birds were challenging and provided great sport for all the Guns. We saw a lot of Grouse come back through the line, perhaps not in the quantity that they came in the first drive, suggesting that the Grouse had either settled in or had flown further on.
Elevenses followed this drive, before walking to the third drive. This line of butts follows the ridge of a hill below a large knoll which acts as a natural flank to funnel the Grouse into the butts. This drive was similar to the previous in that visibility was limited but completely different in how the Grouse came as they were much quicker and slid across the line with the wind. We were at the top of the ridge under the knoll in butt nine and we saw a few coveys drift above us out of shot. The Guns lower down the line had some shooting and a good number of Grouse were picked before heading to the lunch hut for lunch.
After lunch we did a repeat of the first drive. We didn’t see as many Grouse come through; this could have been due to a number of reasons which would include the Grouse being tired as they had been driven twice already, or that the sun had come out and raised the ambient temperature making the Grouse “sticky”. Never the less a decent number of Grouse came through the line and offered some good shooting.
The fifth and final drive was a smaller drive and is close to the low ground so was never expected to be big. It is a nice small piece of ground to drive and a great one to finish on as you walk past it on the way down to the cars. The Grouse that came off were good birds and flew high off the bank to cross the gully behind the butts. Nearly all the butts got some shooting. We finished the day on a bag of 85 brace and a very happy team of Guns.
Thursday 28th August
We Shot on a Moor above the Woodhead Pass in Derbyshire, in a team of 8 Guns; most shooting single guns.
The day was a clear day with a light wind and little cloud cover, providing a very pleasant start to the day.
The first drive was on a relatively open hill and the butts followed the hill dropping down towards a flat at the bottom. This drive was quiet for us being in number 7 butt, however we did shoot a brace and saw some nice coveys fly through the line lower down.
The second drive was bigger. All the butts were situated in a gully providing some cover and with a clear foreground to the horizon. Lots of Grouse came through the top of the line – we were in No.9. Some were sliding along the line, while others were crossing and some were coming head on, providing great sport. We finished on 8 brace and managed to pick all the birds, even one that and carried way behind before dropping.
Lunch followed and was had in the gulley bottom out of the wind which had picked up by this point and had brought some rain with it.
The third drive was on some ground that was a vast peat hag. We were now in butt two called The Pulpit. This was set in the middle of a steep gully on a rock plinth. Visibility was poor in front and the birds were not visible until they were practically on top of us, which required some quick snap shooting. We had several coveys fly over and some proved very challenging. It would be fair to say that we struggled!
The fourth and final drive saw us move across the gully in to butt 4, in the middle of the line. We had a long and clear view in front, although the dark peat hags made it hard to spot approaching Grouse and then keep track of them. We did have a lot of Grouse come through the line and in nice coveys, providing the whole line with some good shooting. We had a really good drive and managed to shoot 4 ½ brace, which was a fantastic end to the day.
The final bag of 66 brace did not reflect the day; our thoughts were that the bag might be in the high 80’s or 90’s as we had seen a good number of Grouse throughout the day. However, some were in big packs which will immediately reduce the bag as shooting lots of Grouse out of one big pack is near impossible. The day was fantastically run and provided all Guns with some fantastic sport and great fun was had by all.
Friday 29th August
Meetings all day in Yorkshire.
Saturday 30th August
Home (not shooting)
Sunday 31st August
Home in the morning, drive North in the afternoon to the Moors – another week starts!
Week two (week commencing 1st September 2014)
Monday 1st September
This was a Children’s shoot day in Derbyshire, with the aim of allowing six youngsters the chance to shoot their first Grouse, all were accompanied by an experienced shot that would look after them and guide them through the day, giving tuition where they could. The guns ranged from 12–17 years old but all were keen shots and excited to get on to the Moor. The weather was grey and overcast with a breeze, but the rain managed to hold off for the day of which we were very grateful for.
The day consisted of one mini duck drive to start followed by seven mini Grouse drives.
The bag did not reflect the day with over 100 shots being fired and everyone seeing Grouse and having some shooting, however Grouse are one of the most challenging game birds you could ever shoot and proved very tricky for the young Guns, especially when shooting with 28 bores!
Everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable day and the keepering team pulled out all the stops to give the Guns as many opportunities as they could to shoot a Grouse.
Tuesday 2nd September
Shooting in Derbyshire…
The day was hot from the outset with the sun burning through the cloud from early on, this coupled with lots of walking made for a rather warm day. We were shooting on a piece of ground that had not been driven so far this season, so there was excitement to see how it faired.
The Grouse proved tricky in the heat and were being very sticky, fortunately for us the beating line had a good number of dogs in it which is invaluable on a day like this as the Grouse will keep their heads down and not get up to a flag, whereas a dog roaming around will lift the Grouse.
Our peg was out of the shooting for most of the day but was fantastically placed to view some textbook shooting from our neighbouring Guns. The highlight for me was watching our neighbouring gun that was not shooting double guns as he normally does, fire two shots in front at a single Grouse, missing with both shots then breaking the gun and putting a single cartridge in the right hand barrel as he turned around to shoot the Grouse behind at around 40-50 yards out. He made it look smooth and effortless!
Despite being slightly out of the shooting we certainly made the most of the birds that we did see and managed to shoot some cracking birds making for a rewarding day.
Wednesday 3rd September
Shooting in Derbyshire…
The day was overcast from the start and there was a chill on the wind making for a very neutral start to the day. We revisited a piece of ground that had proved to have a good stock of Grouse. However, the first time we shot, the wind was all wrong and the drive didn’t go entirely as it should have. The second time in the wind was better and the Grouse were flying well offering some challenging fast Grouse.
This was much the same throughout the day were the wind suited the drives and the cool weather conditions were keeping the Grouse on their toes and they were lifting at the crack of a flag.
It was evident that the weather had changed due to the low overnight temperatures leaving a chill in the air come the morning. The Grouse were showing this too in the way they reacted, by becoming more bunched up and flying in packs of around 100 birds, whereas earlier in the season this would have been ten coveys of ten.
At this point in the season, it is safe to say that generally the slower weaker Grouse have generally already been picked off by guns on previous shoot days, leaving only the stronger Grouse. Not only are they stronger and flying faster there are on the whole less Grouse around as a quantity have already been shot on previous shoot days. This coupled with what Grouse are left flying in larger coveys or packs makes shooting bigger bags harder to achieve.
However the shooting there is, is far more challenging and sporting then the shooting earlier in the season and is greatly appreciated by Guns who prefer quality over quantity (real Grouse shots).
Thursday 4th September
Meetings all day in Yorkshire before traveling to Scotland in the late afternoon.
Friday 5th September
Shooting at Glenogil in Scotland (Angus Glens) with a team of seven Guns, I stayed for the first two drives before having to head south.
The butts on the first drive were on a steep face so the lower butts were filled. The day stared off fine and clear but you could see some mist in the distance. A pair of black Grouse flew over before the drive had started, which was nice to see. As soon as the flankers were lined out and the Guns in their butts, the mist and drizzle started to roll in. The drive lasted about 20 minutes and we saw a good number of Grouse, most coming through towards the end. By the time the Guns were walking back to the cars, you could hardly see two butts along due to the mist. This caused a delay before the second drive and a change of plan to move on to some lower ground.
Drive two was on some lower ground to avoid the mist; although it was still present it was not sufficient enough to make proceeding dangerous. We saw a good number of Grouse come through the line and across the lower flats towards the butt line. We saw a lot more Grouse in this drive and there were good sized coveys flying through the line throughout the drive. A few were lost out the flank due to the wind but the drive increased the bag count a great deal. Throughout the drive, the mist had been clearing and by half way through the drive there was no longer any.
At this point I had to leave to travel south, but the day proceeded well and the final bag was 140 brace, even though the day was a short one, finishing in time for several Guns to catch flights at 3pm.
Saturday 6th September
Follow our other Sporting Agents throughout the season via William Powell Sporting and William Powell Country as we head into the Pheasant and Partridge season…