Worth a very quick mention in brief that I had an excellent day’s shooting at Wet Sleddale moor near Shap on Wednesday as a guest of Newtonrigg College. It turned out to be an excellent sunlit autumn day, with clear views right over to the Pennines and grouse making the best of a difficult North wind.
The day was run by the Northern School of Game and Wildlife, and almost seventy students turned out to beat. In fact, there were so many beaters that when they came in over the last few hundred yards of heather, it was widely compared to the massed Zulu impis at Rorke’s Drift. Many of these students had just started their first year on the gamekeeping course just a few days ago, and for some it was their first day on a grouse moor. Expertly marshalled and herded to and fro across the heather, it’s unlikely they could have had a better introduction to the sport.
Even if I say so myself, I shot beautifully for the first drive and then became over-confident and scarcely touched a bird for the rest of the day, but the pleasure of sport like this is often to be had from watching others, and as the dark coveys came roaring over the butts, I couldn’t help looking down the line and seeing the guns trying their luck.
It was telling that the majority of birds in the bag were from last year, and the youngsters of 2015 were few and far between – yet more evidence of a poor summer.