Five of us had a wonderful day on Saturday, shooting grouse and ptarmigan in the hills above Loch Einich in the Cairngorms. This was the eighth year we have visited and each year has been great in its different way. We have had every type of weather imaginable but yesterday was almost perfect; dry, a good breeze (well, ok, a howling gale) and great visibility.
Shooting ptarmigan is a long way from armchair shooting. First you have to get to the birds. They don’t live below 3,000 feet and enjoy being in large boulder fields which are hard work for man and dog. Then you have to shoot them. They are wily birds well used to hiding from predators. And they fly fast and wild and take maximum advantage of the near-permanent wind on the tops of high hills. So the advantage is largely with the birds and the bag is always going to be modest.
With the wet spring we were uncertain how many birds we were going to find but in fact they have bred well and we saw as many birds – both grouse and ptarmigan – as we have seen any year we have visited. Our final bag, five brace of grouse and three of ptarmigan, was very satisfactory and they will be much enjoyed at the table.
Yesterday was a day of firsts. For Clive it was the chance to shoot his first ptarmigan. And for Ray it was the first chance to work his young pointer over grouse and to see him both point and retrieve successfully. His smile of accomplishment was alone worth the price of admission!
For a few more pictures, see below.