Novice driven game shooting day near Gleneagles

Our first novice driven game shooting day of the season proves a great success despite the rain!

Novice driven game shooting day near Gleneagles

On Saturday 19th October we held our first novice day of the 2013/14 season on a beautiful estate near Gleneagles in Perthshire. Six keen clay shooters (3 men and 3 ladies) from Edinburgh had signed up for their first taste of driven game shooting. The day was hosted by Ian Hendy from Exclusively Scottish and Eddy Buchan from Buchan Field Sports Services. Guns and cartridges were supplied by Castle Gunmakers.

The idea behind these days is to give an all round experience of the game shooting world to shooters who may not have the confidence or even the budget to take on a full driven day from scratch. How many of us were thrown in at the deep end, having little idea of the realities, expectations and etiquette needed to go game shooting? Although many of us are brought up with shooting from an early age, our sport needs to attract the keen shooter who has little or no knowledge of this world. Most importantly this needs to be done in a safe, controlled, friendly environment. All too often we see guns in the line who would have benefited from a little extra guidance.

And so our day went like this; Eddy and I greeted our clients at about 10.00 am at the Bothy. The weather was not great but our host had the log burner going well and the kettle on! After all round introductions we ascertained everyone’s experience levels, finding that all had shot clays to varying levels. We quickly but thoroughly ran through basic safe gun handling, moving on to a more in depth discussion of the differences between standing in a cage and standing on a peg. Safety was obviously the main topic of conversation and the clients were given an understanding of the work and positioning of the beating team and pickers-up.

The rain eased off and we went just outside the bothy to do some gun-mounting and footwork practice. This helped Eddy and I with gun selection and gave us an insight into the real experience level of each individual. We then discussed how peg numbers are drawn and how the shooting line is set out together with all safety implications.

Back inside, our host had some warming pheasant broth ready for us. With the aid of photographs we then discussed quarry recognition and what to shoot and what not to shoot! The session was really interactive covering all aspects of what to expect on a live drive. Despite the rain we headed back out to shoot some driven clay targets. The weather made the targets quite tricky but some great coaching from Eddy meant that everyone got their eye in and confidence was high.

So then for the real thing. Peg numbers were drawn and the whole team (by now very wet!) proceeded to the first drive. Adrenaline was definitely flowing and you could sense the expectation, excitement and nervousness coming from all the guns. Despite the rain the birds flew well and safety standards were excellent. Some guns had more success than others but all were in the shooting and all were totally blown away by their first experience of driven game shooting. We then had chance to watch the dogs and pickers-up work whilst having a quick de-brief and a question and answer session.

It was then on to the second drive with guns learning to “move up 2”. Safety issues specific to the drive were discussed and the drive proceeded with most birds being cleanly killed. With the bag at 24 – exactly what we were looking for – we returned to the bothy to dry off and get a cup of tea. Guns were dried and cleaned and lots of smiling faces discussed the two drives and the events of the day.

Over then to the game larder where we gave a basic demonstration of how to hang, pluck and clean the game, together with a few recipe ideas! Making sure our host was out of the way, we then touched on the etiquette of tipping and thanking the ‘keeper.

The day rounded off at about 4.30 with a small sloe gin and a toast to our host, his team and the birds. The feedback we  received from all the guns was really positive and all felt that they now had the confidence and knowledge to begin their game shooting careers!

For more information on how to book one of these novice driven game shooting days please contact our sporting agency.

Kelso game shooting and horse racing weekend

Kelso game shooting and horse racing weekend organised by Exclusively Scottish!

The team of guns and their wives from Bristol arrived at their accommodation on Friday afternoon. We had arranged a lovely old farmhouse for them to stay in close to the shoot and only 20 minutes from Kelso. Upon arrival the Aga was turned up, the wine opened and the cheese devoured! The dogs ran around their new surroundings whilst the guests ran around trying to bag the best rooms. Once all the food and drink was unloaded from the cars, the guns got ready for the evening duck flight.

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Our shoot host took the team of five guns to two ponds splitting them 3 and 2. The weather didn’t seem too promising at first but as the dusk drew in, so did the clouds, making for a great backdrop. After a long wait the first mallard appeared dropping onto our pond and two out of the three were cleanly despatched – a good start. The night got better with birds coming in at regular intervals and with the guns on good form the bag grew steadily. At 6 birds apiece the team sportingly put away their guns and all birds were picked. We met up with the other two guns who had an equally successful evening bagging mallard and teal.

With the birds in the larder and the guns cleaned, it was straight to the local pub for some great steaks and a dram too many!

The guns met us the next morning looking remarkably fresh and still talking about the previous evening’s great sport. They were then briefed on the day’s proceedings – a full mixed species walked up day. First off they were taken to a large ‘splash’ where fieldcraft would be put to the test both with the silent approach needed and the quarry recognition – they had been told to shoot only the wild mallard, the teal and snipe. Once the birds lifted (the reared mallard first), the shooting began. The sky was full of all three species, most of which were too good for the guns and soon out of range. After picking up it was clear that only mallard had been bagged and our host assured the team that one was not wild!

Birds      Darren
Next up was a long walk over moorland of heather and grass. The team lined out with beaters in between each gun and dogs kept well in check. Several grouse got up quite early but were out of range. The guns kept up their concentration and soon a brace of grouse were added to the bag, both shot by guns who had never been on a moor before! As the heather turned to grass there was a shout of “rabbit” and this was cleanly despatched with a single shot. Further on a few partridge lifted and it wasn’t long before 4 had been added to the bag. The team now had four different species in the bag and spirits were high as they stopped on the hill for a picnic lunch.

walk      lunch
After lunch the host treated the team to a fantastic partridge drive where they were told to only shoot the very best birds – and they did, adding 20 more partridges to the bag. Next was another walk in open grassland with the birds testing everyones reactions and fieldcraft. All the guns were in the shooting and the walk added cock and hen pheasants, partridge, snipe and hare to the bag with an “easy” pigeon being missed. To finish the day, the guns requested a ‘pigeon drive’ and a small fir wood was surrounded and beaten through. The wind was now up and the birds were testing the guns to the limit and only two were shot.

Team      team2
A fantastic day of sport was at an end with eight different species in the bag. The team retired to the farmhouse where Exclusively Scottish had arranged for outside caterers to put on a fantastic 4 course meal. Stories were told, jokes made and plenty of wine consumed. The perfect end to a wonderful day’s shooting.

All the guests met us at The Cobbles in Kelso on Sunday for a cheeky aperitif before we headed off to Kelso racecourse. Exclusively Scottish had reserved a table in the hospitality suite and a good lunch set us up for the day. Lots of discussions were had as to the form of the horses but when it came down to it there was quite a lot of pot luck going on. One horse was called ‘Shooting Times’ and so of course we all backed it – unfortunately it didn’t win. There was a huge crowd and great atmosphere at this lovely racecourse and by afternoon tea, most of the guests had backed a winner or two.

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After the races it was back to the farmhouse to get rested and changed before meeting at the pub for a full Sunday roast. Some of the party were beginning to flag now but the whisky soon livened things up and the singing got going!

Guns, wives and dogs departed on Monday morning with smiles on their faces after having a fantastic weekend of sport and over-indulgence.

If you fancy a similar game shooting and horse racing weekend, or any tailor made shooting experience, then please get in touch with the sporting agency.