Shooting Gazette - - The great de­bate - By Ben Sa­muel­son

I’ve been lucky enough to have one of the best in the coun­try load­ing for me on the grouse a cou­ple of times. Mick Dick­in­son has loaded for aris­toc­racy, roy­alty, and in my case a bit of a duf­fer. He was very quick, ex­cel­lent com­pany, ea­gle-eyed and added con­sid­er­ably to my day’s en­ter­tain­ment. But I couldn’t do what he did for all the tips in the world.

You see, even though he is a steely-eyed killer, as deadly with a 12 bore as he is with his bare hands, Mick was end­lessly pa­tient. He was pa­tient when I missed, when I didn’t shoot at birds I should have, when I swore and when I for­got he was load­ing for me and broke my gun. He was even pa­tient when, to cut through the em­bar­rass­ment of his ob­vi­ously Jeeves-to-my-bertie lev­els of ba­sic hu­man com­pe­tence, I started telling TVR anec­dotes. If I had been Mick, who is a rather se­ri­ous mar­tial arts in­struc­tor in his spare time, there is ab­so­lutely no way I could have got through the first drive with­out us­ing my Vul­can death grip to re­lieve me of my guns - and my power of speech.

The al­ter­na­tive, for the pur­poses of this ar­gu­ment, is beat­ing, which many will tell you is very hard work. But for those who, like me, are ap­palled at the prospect of be­ing thought a ram­bler, it’s a very good way of walk­ing around the most beau­ti­ful parts of our coun­try. With­out hav­ing to wear day-glo man made fi­bres, grow a beard and de­velop strange ideas about roam­ing on other peo­ple’s prop­erty. It means you can spend a bit, but not the whole, of your day in other folks’ com­pany. You get paid, as does your dog, and you get a slap up meal at the end of it. Sorry Giles, no con­test …

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