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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.