When most 21 year old girls say they have a fantastic weekend planned it will normally include cocktails, shopping, men and a few more cocktails, but for a small and hopefully growing group of us that isnâ€™t the case.
I have been lucky enough with working for a Land and Sporting Agency to be able to spend a few weekends escaping from the office to head up to a gorgeous Grouse Moor in Northumberland.
From a young age, I have been involved in many pheasant and partridge shoots around the Buckinghamshire area, but nothing quite compares to spending a few days on a Grouse Moor whether it be shooting, loading, flanking, picking up or beating.
When I went away last weekend I was put in the flanking team while my boss was shooting. This for me happened to be a first and I was thankful as beating on any Grouse Moor is extremely hard work especially if you have spent the closed season in the local pub as opposed to the local gym.
For those of you who have never been flanking it basically involves standing in line at either end of the gun line (in butts) or waiting for the beaters to push the grouse forward. Our job as flankers is to stop the grouse breaking out and to instead divert them to the butts.
A day on the Grouse Moor includes a quality that other forms of shooting donâ€™t â€“ that being the inconsistency of their numbers. The Red Grouse that I am lucky enough to encounter on the Northumbrian Moors are 100% wild. Itâ€™s down to the standard of keepering and care for the moor that account for variability in their numbers. So unlike in the pheasant and partridge world where the numbers are guaranteed before the season, the unpredictable number of grouse means that when an opportunity arises or an invitation is given, its pretty similar to being given a free shopping trip at Jimmy Choo (not something you want to miss out on).
The majority of Grouse days are driven shoots. This means a large team of beaters walk a sizeable part of the moor and push the birds towards the line of guns. The guns stand in grouse butts which are roughly 25 yards apart and sunk into the moorland so as to keep them hidden from sight until the last moment. What makes Grouse Shooting such a fantastic sport is that the birds can be so unpredictable; some grouse being very high and others flying at head height and turning at the last moment. They normally appear in coveys of up to 15, but later in the season the conveys can merge into packs of up to several hundred.
One of the most important things I would say to remember when out on a grouse moor for the day is to dress sensibly! Until you get up on the fell, you have no idea how cold and windy it can get but likewise as you are walking miles of moorland it can feel incredibly warm, I would suggest a water proof technical jacket as opposed to a tweed shooting jacket as once they get wet they get heavy. Walking boots are ideal for a day on the moor as the uneven ground and heather are harder to walk on than you may imagine. But a number one for me is never forget the carmex, the wind can get very strong and no one wants chapped lips when enjoying after shoot drinks.
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This article originally appeared on ladies-shooting.com Tuesday, September 20, 2011