Dear Un­cle Giles...

Putting your mind at rest con­cern­ing is­sues in the field and be­yond.

Shooting Gazette - - Elevenses -

Dear Un­cle Giles,

Is it ever ac­cept­able to give your loader their day’s tip af­ter the last drive while we are still within the grouse butt, or should I wait un­til guns are away, all the birds are col­lected, beat­ers are ac­counted for and we’re back at the lodge? HPF, by email

Un­cle Giles writes

I won­der, if I am hon­est, whether what we give our load­ers on such a day can still be char­ac­terised as a tip? When I am is­sued with a loader these days I am never left in any doubt by my host as to what is ex­pected from me come the end of the day. I think there­fore I am in­clined to see the loader’s re­mu­ner­a­tion less as a tip and more as a per diem fee for the job.

that be­ing the case I don’t think there is a right time or a wrong time par­tic­u­larly when the trans­ac­tion should take place, although I fancy that wait­ing un­til af­ter you have had your bath, a round of bil­liards and a cou­ple of pre-din­ner snifters back at the lodge be­fore saun­ter­ing across to the gun­room with your hand in your pocket might not go down all that well. Although if your loader that day was, say, a beat­keeper on the same es­tate who was join­ing the rest of the staff for high tea in said gun­room then I ven­ture that even that might not be taken amiss.

I con­sider the fee for the job should be ex­changed af­ter the job has been done; which im­plies af­ter the con­clu­sion of the last drive of the day. If your loader of­fers to clean and pack your guns for you, I would wait un­til he re­ports that he has done so be­fore pay­ing him.

I might also con­sider, at that junc­ture, whether a tip – over and above the fee – might be ap­pro­pri­ate de­pend­ing on the level of ef­fi­ciency and, in­deed, af­fa­bil­ity dis­played dur­ing the day.

I am re­minded of a tale re­counted by the late, great Dou­glas suther­land of a day’s grouse shoot­ing on a very senior scot­tish es­tate where he was paired with one of the laird’s sons as his loader.

Af­ter dis­charg­ing his first gun at an early covey he turned to reach for his sec­ond to find the boy star­ing va­cantly at the dis­tant hori­zon. “How did we do?”, he asked, keen, none­the­less, to un­der­line the team as­pect of the whole un­der­tak­ing. “I don’t know about you,” came the re­ply, “But I got one and missed one.”

No men­tion is made of the size of the tip.

There's noth­ing wrong with giv­ing your loader their tip while in the field, though it's prob­a­bly best left un­til af­ter the end of the last drive.

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