It certainly wasn’t glorious weather wise where we were, which was on a Moor above the Spey Valley in the Highlands of Scotland.
It started raining by about 7am and kept it up in style for the next five hours. Musto had very kindly given us a couple of their brand new Musto Storm Coats to try out and it was an excellent trial of their waterproof-ness. They passed with flying colours and the high collar (reminiscent of the old Musto Highlander jacket which was always reckoned to be THE most waterproof jacket in its day), was brilliant at keeping the rain from going down my neck. For some reason this seems to be the first time that Musto have used their Ocean Racing technology to make waterproof Shooting coats, but it definitely seems to have worked with a relatively lightweight jacket which is cut to shoot in and properly keeps driving rain out.
Back to the shooting; we had a strong westerly breeze and rain making it difficult for the Guns to see, however, we were very pleased with a good show of birds on the first small drive and a really strong showing on the second. Both taken down wind. Covey size was good with lots of 7s, 8s, and 9s, which is good for the Highlands. One return followed and we had 84 brace at lunch.
After lunch the rain eased and we had an excellent downwind drive and an amazing return; these Grouse were definitely not what you would expect from early season birds, coming through in big and determined lots of up to 100 or so.
The bag at the end of the day was 178 brace; a record for the Moor and with the likelihood of a very good season to follow.
In Northumberland, Will had 109 brace for his team of Guns, but again saw a good lot of Grouse. In Yorkshire, Paul ended up with 156 brace in 4 main drives, so The North Yorks Moors or at least that part, is looking good too.
Overall we are hearing some excellent bags from the opening day from up and down the Country, despite pretty inclement weather. The heather is all in purple bloom, but there was no sun and it definitely wasn’t a case of shooting in shirtsleeves!