HIGH­LAND DI­ARY

Robin meets a mas­ter sad­dler from the vil­lage whose work­shop, packed with old deer sad­dles in var­i­ous states of dis­re­pair, takes him back to his days on the hill

Sporting Shooter - - Contents -

Well, af­ter the de­lights of my re­newed FAC and doc­tor’s fee, I re­ally must get out and have a spy for an old buck. They are mov­ing out to the fields de­spite it be­ing a tad chilly. The Ben still has a fair old smat­ter­ing of snow in the higher cor­ries as I pen this, with April a cou­ple of weeks old. Not­with­stand­ing, it of­fers shel­ter and dis­guise to early nest­ing ptarmi­gan.

Our vil­lage, like so many oth­ers, has its share of the horsey folk. How­ever, the other day I came across a most in­ter­est­ing chap. Late of the Blues and Roy­als and a mounted mu­si­cian of the House­hold Cavalry (though not a shoot­ing man as yet), he is a mas­ter sad­dler of high renown and is in­un­dated with leather­work from all over the UK with much call from shoot­ers. Glanc­ing around his work­shop I was drawn to the num­ber of tra­di­tional deer sad­dles he had in for re­pair.

As a mas­ter sad­dler, a po­si­tion that takes some seven years to ob­tain, he is re­ally a tra­di­tion­al­ist. All his work is done by hand. Most of the deer sad­dles that ar­rive in his work­shop are about a hun­dred years old and in var­i­ous states of dis­re­pair af­ter a hard sea­son on the hill. My days on the hill are over, but Ke­iron’s work­shop cer­tainly brought back some sounds and smells of prime leather.

How­ever, it is not all gen­teel equine jobs he gets, for he showed me many sam­ples of his re-en­act­ment kit. He is cur­rently mak­ing a WW1 ri­fle bucket along with many other items. I was re­ally smit­ten by a su­perb car­tridge bag he had just fin­ished for a reg­i­men­tal farewell to a mem­ber of the Blues and Roy­als, his old reg­i­ment.

I’ve never seen so many old ears lit­ter­ing the newly sown barely field; them, and hun­dreds – if not thou­sands – of pink-footed geese. Prior to their long flight to the north­lands they are re­ally tank­ing up, much to the lo­cal arable farm­ers’ cha­grin. Nev­er­the­less, I find much amuse­ment watch­ing them march­ing in ser­ried ranks of newly sown bar­ley. I have no­ticed that they ac­tu­ally pre­fer the bar­ley to spring wheat. How­ever, I reckon they need a good feed prior to the thou­sand miles or so of flight ahead of them.

It will be a while yet be­fore the show sea­son kicks off, nev­er­the­less I am de­lighted to hear on the grapevine that this ex­alted mag­a­zine will be tak­ing a stand at the GWCT’s Scot­tish Game Fair at Scone Palace, just out­side Perth. This event has been go­ing for many years now and is a se­ri­ous event on the coun­try­man’s cal­en­dar, so I hope to meet you there... as long as my new knee is work­ing prop­erly!

To find out more about the Scot­tish Game Fair, where Sport­ing Shooter will have a stand, visit www.scot­tish­fair. com

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