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