Essential kit for the moor
What must you pack to go grouse-shooting? Our check-list embraces etiquette and expedience
Editor Jonathan Young’s guide
Many of us have odd little shooting rituals. One of mine involves driving roughly half a mile before pulling into a layby to double-check I’ve packed a particular piece of kit. It’s a habit that was reinforced following the occasion when I arrived at a charity clay shoot only to discover I’d left the gun at home. A “friendly” journalist found this awfully amusing so my lapse appeared in a newspaper’s gossip column the following day. Only last season a fellow gun spent a formal day shooting in jeans after his wife had raided his shoot luggage and removed his breeks for dry cleaning…
Such forgetfulness doesn’t usually create a crisis; normally, someone can lend you the missing gear. But grouse-shooting is different. Partly because a host is always under time pressure and cannot nanny his guests; and partly because there’s so much gear compared to covert shooting.
So what has to go in the back of the car? The following are on my check-list and have proven reliability on the moors.
For walked-up grouse, a 20-bore or a lightish 12. Anything over 7½lb will be a burden after a couple of miles.
For driven days, a pair is usually required. Some of my friends belong to the grousocracy, shooting 20- and 28-bores in August and early September, then switching to 12s when the grouse start to pack in mid September.
I only have 12-bores – Berettas, Blasers and Mirokus, all makes with a long, proven record of reliability. Exquisite engraving and highly figured walnut are wonderful on guns but no-one has time to admire that on a moor. All people ever notice is whether the grouse are killed or missed. Similarly, no-one cares if the guns are side-by-sides or over-and-unders.
On many moors the loaders’ work is eased by an Argocat, which carrys the shotguns and cartridges to the butts. Inevitably, the ground is bumpy, with the result that the guns can be given a jolt. To protect them, you need a strong, leather gunslip. One of the best is made by Albion Sporting, the leather being so thick it’s almost armour. Usefully, the slips for pairs can be unbuckled so you can carry one and not leave everything to your loader to lug up the hill. I mark mine with red ribbons so the loader can spot it easily amongst the medley.
For grouse, there is so much gear compared to covert shooting