I love driven grouse shooting. If it was not so very expensive (£150 a brace or more) I would try and do much more.
I realise it is fashionable to say that there is nothing more enjoyable than taking a brace or two over your own dog, and to look down on driven shooting. Well, I do love taking a brace over my dog, but there is nothing to match the pulse racing excitement of seeing coveys of grouse swooping towards your butt, and having a few seconds to try and connect with one before they have swept past and into the distance. I didn’t always feel like that. The first few times I tried it I just felt frustrated at my inability to get close to the birds. But with a good loader helping to spot birds early and keeping me on my toes it is most enjoyable.
All of which is to say that last week we drove to Yorkshire for a day’s driven shooting on a well-managed and highly productive grouse moor. The weather as we drove south was wonderful, the first sunshine we had seen for weeks and I had foolish hopes of a shirt-sleeved day on the moor.
The next morning we woke to found low cloud had enveloped the moor, and no shooting was going to be possible until it had cleared. By eleven it was as heavy as ever and the discussion had moved to the practicalities of claiming on our insurance policy. But it started to clear soon after that and though still misty the first shot was fired at 12.30. It stayed misty for most of the afternoon, and cleared only to be replaced by the heaviest and wettest rain I have seen for a while.
Still we managed four drives and the productivity of the moor meant that there was no shortage of birds. Indeed, we ended the day with just over 100 brace; one of the most concentrated periods of exciting shooting I can ever remember.
I did not have my camera with me, and would have had no time to use it. But fortunately we were joined by photographer Tom Hartley (www.tomhartleyphotographer.com) who took some great pictures which he has allowed me to use here. Many thanks Tom.