Es­sen­tial kit for the moor

What must you pack to go grouse-shoot­ing? Our check-list em­braces eti­quette and ex­pe­di­ence

The Field - - CONTENT - WRIT­TEN BY JONATHAN YOUNG www.al­bion­sport­ing.co.uk

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.

GUNS

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.

GUNSLIPS

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

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