It is probably fair to say, is it not, that if driven grouse shooting is the pinnacle of our sport then beating on a grouse moor must equally be seen as a peak experience; with quite a strong emphasis on the peak. It may be described as a stroll through the heather in the broad, sunlit uplands of this sceptred isle but the reality is a lungbusting, thigh stretching, multi-mile yomp through waist deep bush and claggy pet hags. And it might rain at any time. Hard.
It is also the case though that loading on a driven grouse shoot is also a top drawer undertaking. And this too might be harder than you thought.
I don’t imagine there are too many grouse shooters using double guns who are complete novices, but there has to be a first time for all of us. And single guns or doubles it is the loader’s job not solely to keep his client armed but to ensure he or she does not get over-excited and swing dangerously.
In the case of the inexperienced shooter, it is also the loader’s role to get them, as far as possible, in among the birds so they will have something to show for the simply eye-watering amounts of money they have parted with for the experience.
However, when the driven grouse novice begins to get his eye-in and starts to topple birds routinely into the heather in front – with your help and guidance and encouragement – that is a bond that will never be broken.
And if you can keep a top grouse killer armed and ready throughout a busy day on a well-stocked moor in late October so that he never sees a bird go by un-addressed and never reaches for a gun that isn’t there, believe you me, you’ll have a friend for life.
Everything about shooting grouse is rare and special but the friendships that may be forged behind a modest wall of peat and stone are second to none, I reckon.