It is a very novel feeling to be at the Shooting School during August and into September! Usually, we would have both travelled the A1, the M6 and even the A9 in pursuit of Grouse but alas, this year, the estates we deal with have cancelled or significantly reduced their shooting calendars. It has not been a good year for Grouse….a combination of late frosts during the hatching period and poor heather condition carried over from 2020, meant the breeding stock were in generally worse condition and as a result had significantly less success.
However, it has been encouraging to hear that a few ‘pockets’ of estates have found some grouse; there have been particularly encouraging reports from the Southern Pennines and the Peak District where a number of estates have performed well. Likewise, on the North York Moors, particularly towards the East Coast, a handful of estates have enjoyed some successful days, which means a lucky few have been able to get their ‘grouse-fix’ for this year.
After a slow start to the season, we welcomed the 1st of September with open arms, as the exciting and reliable Partridges come into play along with the associated waterfowl. The early partridge days have benefited from low pressure, the right cloud cover and some good winds all of which really add some ‘zip’ to these sporting little birds.
This season we are hosting several roving days on some great estates. In response to the demand we have opened up a couple more dates so have some limited availability for single guns and whole teams (link). A couple of really ‘hot’ pegs to make note of are the 2 Guns available on the Benham Estate on Friday 1st and Wednesday 13th October, if you want to shoot ‘properly’ presented traditional partridges, over immaculately kept, tall beech-hedges then this is the shoot for you. The estate, which previously won a Purdey Award, lies nestled in the stunning Kennet Valley and is a real hidden gem which we are very lucky to work alongside.
Elsewhere, reports from low ground ‘keepers are good, with their early days going ahead without a hitch. The cover crops are in very good order (tall and strong) and for most estates, harvest has come just in time. However, there are still a few estates, desperately trying to clear the later fields. This creates the September stubbles which are a welcome sign for keepers. It stops birds wandering into standing crops never to be seen again and allows them to get out and on top of Mr. Fox. Interestingly, many keepers are moving away from traditional ‘lamping’ and have adopted thermal imaging and night vision technology. Alastair in the Gun Room carries a great stock of both imagers and rifle ‘scopes which can be demonstrated at the Shooting School and are well worth a look.
A constant topic of discussion is “Non-toxic shot”. This is a subject which we are continually asked about and are learning about. Matt in the Sporting Agency has tested a few products extensively over the summer, shooting pigeons with great results as he says: “We can have full confidence in using this ammunition on driven-game as and when required to do so. As we gather more information our knowledge inevitably improves and I think it will not be long until the cartridge technology has caught up sufficiently to provide the performance, we, as game shooters, expect from our ammunition. For anyone unsure about using non-toxic ammo or the suitability of their guns, please visit Alastair in the Gun Room – he can check over your gun(s) for their suitability and recommend ammunition to suit. Now is the time to become familiar with these cartridges and how they work, in preparation for the inevitable change away from lead.
We certainly look forward to a couple of busy months and also to seeing you all enjoying yourselves in the field.