WALKED-UP: A day spent with the Rough Rovers proves why rough shoot­ing can be so ac­ces­si­ble

A good day’s walked-up shoot­ing can be hard to beat. Re­becca Green joins the Rough Rovers to dis­cover what makes this syn­di­cate so suc­cess­ful

Sporting Shooter - - Contents -

It goes with­out say­ing that most game shoot­ers want to en­joy their sport, but the def­i­ni­tion of what con­sti­tutes a good day can vary greatly. At one end of the spec­trum you have those who want a lav­ish day with hun­dreds of birds, lunch in a cas­tle and ‘all the trim­mings’; at the other, you get the man and his dog who sim­ply wish to am­ble along a hedgerow, shoot­ing ‘for the pot’. Some­where be­tween the two you get the Rough Rovers – a syn­di­cate of­fer­ing ex­cit­ing but sen­si­bly priced walked-up and ‘mini driven’ shoot­ing. I joined a small team of Guns in War­wick­shire to find out more about this very ac­ces­si­ble form of game shoot­ing.

It is mid Oc­to­ber. The venue for the day is the Comp­ton Scor­pion shoot on the War­wick­shire/Glouces­ter­shire bor­der. The tra­di­tional rolling ground of the 2,000-acre es­tate of­fers some ex­cit­ing par­tridge shoot­ing, while its steep, scrubby banks present some high-qual­ity pheas­ants. It’s an im­pres­sive venue, and not what I would have ex­pected for a walked-up day with an ex­pected bag of around 40 birds. As the team gath­ers in the yard for sausage baps and cof­fee, Rough Rovers’ founder Phil Moor­som ex­plains the ethos of the syn­di­cate and how it all started.

“About four years ago I went on a walked-up day over point­ers, near Marl­bor­ough. I ab­so­lutely loved it and was keen to do some­thing sim­i­lar back home, but had real trou­ble find­ing any­thing like it, so I de­cided to

have a go my­self. I set up the syn­di­cate with just a few other like-minded peo­ple, with the aim of find­ing some of the best, well-priced walked-up shoot­ing in the area, and things have just grown from there.”

Phil was for­tu­nate to have a few good contacts to be­gin with and over the years the syn­di­cate has earned it­self a good rep­u­ta­tion, al­low­ing Phil to build up trust with shoot own­ers and keep­ers all over the South West, the Mid­lands and Wales and thus gain ac­cess to the sorts of high-qual­ity es­tates a lot of shoot­ers would only ever dream of.

“It takes time to build up trust like that,” says Phil, “and it wouldn’t work if the syn­di­cate mem­bers didn’t com­pletely buy into the con­cept of work­ing as a team, so we all help to en­sure new or in­ex­pe­ri­enced mem­bers are safe, aren’t greedy and gen­er­ally en­ter into the spirit of things. I make sure that every­body knows the form and has the right ex­pec­ta­tions. Over­all, our fo­cus is very much on the en­joy­ment of the day for the whole team, in­clud­ing those beat­ing and pick­ing-up, and peo­ple that come along seem to en­joy our days.”

To­day the team of six Guns, who have been in­volved pretty much from the start, are on a ‘mini driven’/walked-up day. The first mini drive of the day sees four Guns stand­ing while a small team of beat­ers, laid on by the es­tate, pushes through a wood on the bound­ary of the es­tate. Part of the ap­peal of these days is that they give those who want to work their dogs a chance to do so in a gen­uinely stress-free en­vi­ron­ment. Mem­bers are wel­come to work their dogs and beat, rather than shoot, and dog train­ing days, where Guns can shoot over their own dogs with some ex­pert in­struc­tion, are also avail­able. So, on this drive the two other Guns, Mark (Robbo) and an­other Mark work their dogs up a hedgerow. This gives Robbo his first bird of the sea­son – taken with his first shot – which is re­trieved by his Lab, Ma­jor. You can’t ask for more than that!

There fol­lows an­other mini drive, then a walk-up around a lake and through a wood – again, all on the bound­aries of the es­tate. It is a plea­sure to watch the dogs work­ing so well and I’m cer­tain the re­laxed at­mos­phere ben­e­fits them, too – there is a dis­tinct lack of the usual shout­ing and fu­ri­ous whis­tle-blow­ing that ac­com­pa­nies so many shoot days.

Elevenses, pro­vided by the es­tate and the syn­di­cate, is far more elab­o­rate than I had ex­pected. Yes, it’s taken out­side, but that

Robbo and Ma­jor tak­ing up a hedgerow Walked-up days of­ten of­fer a mix­ture of ter­rains

The day is as much about the dogs as the Guns

Walked-up days ben­e­fit the es­tate too, says head­keeper Dan (sec­ond from left)

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