Walked up grouse shooting in Scotland to wild pheasants in California

Last season I had the pleasure of arranging a day of walked up grouse shooting for an American client who had found the Exclusively Scottish website through a random internet search. Sean was over from the US for a conference in Glasgow and prompted by his father, he was keen to experience walked up grouse shooting in Scotland. Finding shooting for a single gun is never easy but I managed to team Sean up with a couple of guns from the South of England who were also looking for their first grouse shooting experience. And this really is the key to what Exclusively Scottish strive to offer – an unforgettable experience in the Scottish Borders – in the company of like-minded sportsmen and friendly, professional gamekeepers and beaters, all out to provide the best possible day.


Walked up grouse shooting in Scotland

Just being out on a grouse moor early season is something special – the heather, the views, the ambience – especially when combined with the knowledge that good land management benefits all wildlife and habitats. This of course applies to all types of ground, lowland or upland, and even if you don’t agree with game shooting, the countryside we see and cherish today is a direct result of this positive management.

Sean experiencing his first walked up grouse shooting
Many clients from the United States are used to walked up shooting, both pheasant and quail, but few are prepared for the challenge of their first grouse and Sean had borrowed a nice little side by side 20 bore non-ejector from me – a perfect gun for this type of day. We started to walk out and straight away a brace of grouse got up in front and Sean got a single shot off but to no avail. Soon after this a covey got up and again a single shot was fired unsuccessfully. In the way only a gamekeeper can admonish a client, there came a shout of “it’s got two bloody triggers don’t you know!”. We walked on a bit further and another small covey got up – “Bang!, Bang!”, two shots fired and Sean had two birds down – a great way to silence the keeper. The weather was glorious and a great day was had by all.

Fast forward nearly 12 months and I was looking after some clients on a mixed species shooting day that was to include a walk on the grouse moor. The team was varied to say the least, coming from Cyprus, Ireland and London (surely a country all in itself!) and all were “grouse virgins” after that special experience. Bad luck would have it that the day was shrouded in thick fog making it too dangerous to walk up a line of guns on the moor. We persevered with some lowland drives bagging teal, mallard, snipe, pheasant and partridge and ending up with a decent mixed bag. The next day my own syndicate were out for a similar day and the weather couldn’t have been worse – no chance of grouse and an early finish!

Catch from our lowland shooting drives  A decent mixed bag of teal, mallard, snipe, pheasant and partridge

Walked up grouse shooting versus wild pheasant hunting

The British are obsessed with the weather and probably rightly so as we never know what we’re going to get. However these two days show that you have to work with the weather and go with what nature throws at you. Put the right clothes on and get on with it! And then I got home to these pictures from Sean!

An American catch of pheasants  Hunting wild pheasants south of Mexicali   Sean and his friends after a days shooting  
A small sustainable bag all destined to be cooked and eaten

Sean and his team had been hunting wild pheasants south of Mexicali, Baja California Norte, Mexico with Miguel Rivera, Hunting Outfitter. In comparison to our walked up grouse shooting day there’s a marked difference in the weather and dress code, but an obvious similarity in camaraderie and a shared experience with friends and family. And like most of our days, a small sustainable bag all destined to be cooked and eaten. So not that different after all.

 

Anglo-American driven pheasant shooting in Scotland

Many tales, stories and jokes begin “There was an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman………..” Well this was certainly true of the team that met late in October at Glen Ample Estate on the south shores of Loch Earn in Perthshire. In fact there were three Americans, a Scotsman (who lives in Ireland), a Welshman, two Englishmen and an English Lady! And what a mixed bunch we were, coming from all walks of life; Paul is a celebrated artist and Tom an award winning chef. The rest of us mere mortals.

Team Glen Ample

We had all been invited for a day’s driven pheasant shooting by our generous host Bob, a successful American businessman who has fallen in love with Scotland, its history and its unique sporting opportunities. I stayed overnight with my good friends Kevin and Linda in Killin and the journey from there down to Lochearnhead through Glen Ogle was as spectacular as ever, the autumn colours magnificent at this time of year. We meandered our way up the south side of Loch Earn before heading up the glen. On arriving at the shoot bothy it was great to see an impressive display of Land Rover Defenders instead of the usual Far East offerings – especially as our host is the main Land Rover/Range Rover dealer in San Diego. Tom from Monachyle Mhor even had his Defender still sign written from a recent culinary promotion.

Introductions were made and there was a great deal of expectation in the air. The team was of mixed experience with this being Helen’s first taste of driven game shooting. Whilst the team got to know each other, Mike (the gamekeeper) had a quick look to see if he had any pheasants around!

mike     tom     11s     kevin

Peg numbers were drawn and we proceeded to the first drive where we all soon remembered how hard this sport is! Two more drives followed and the team began to get their eye in with some more successful than others! ‘Elevenses’ followed the third drive and there was a great atmosphere amongst the team. It was the on to ‘The Rocks’ where the birds were amazingly high and mostly too good for us! After another great drive, we returned to the bothy for lunch, just as it started to rain.

lunch1     lunch2

After lunch we headed back out into the now torrential rain and donned our waterproofs for one final drive. Despite the rain the birds still flew very well and everyone was in the shooting. Back at the game larder the bag came in at 80 pheasants, a terrific day’s sport, enjoyed in great company.

With guns dried and cleaned, we headed to Bob’s stunning shooting lodge on the shores of Loch Lubnaig for a lovely dinner prepared by Tom from Monachyle. A perfect end to a perfect day.

For more information on driven pheasant shooting in Scotland please contact us.