I have noticed a growing trend this season for keepers giving away the ‘grace and favour’ brace of birds, ‘oven ready’. I think this is a fantastic idea and I have rarely seen a fellow Gun refuse them, as is so often the case with birds in the feather. Butchers, bound no doubt by some EEC rule, can no longer pluck and dress game birds on the premises and must send them away, which means that many refuse to take them on, or if they do, they frequently return other people’s birds and not your own. I have sometimes been given red legged partridge back when I had taken grey legs in. Or been given partridge instead of grouse!
I think the estates which are doing the oven ready birds go to a great deal of trouble and it is really appreciated by everyone.
Just spent a fantastic weekend in Spain at La Nava, at what must be the most professional and well organised partridge shoot in Spain, where we were pampered and spoiled and fed delicious tapas between drives, two secretarios each, (loaders) one to load, which they do from a little seat with integrated tray with cartridges all arranged end up for easy loading. You hand the unbroken gun down to the seated loader and quick as lightening he hands you the other. Meanwhile another man stands behind with a clicker, and counts each and every bird, shouting a loud BRAVO for every decent shot you take! A great time, two days shooting and a fun team of guns, some Austrian, some English.
It was all the stuff of dreams and we were very lucky to be guests of a very good Austrian friend of mine whom I met while at Cambridge and we have always stayed in touch, he loves the grouse! And we love the Perdices!
I was invited to speak at the Annual Game Dinner of the Rifles Regiment London Club on 19th October 2011. A black tie evening, with delicious food and a gorgeous setting with a long polished table heaving with regimental silver. All very friendly and I spoke for about 10 minutes after our first course (to get it over with!) and it went quite well, considering I’d never done anything like this before!! I then signed and dedicated a few books and we ran out which was a shame so I suggested they pop to Hatchards in Piccadilly as they always stock them, as do Daunt books on the Fulham Road.
We have just come back from 3 days shooting, 2 on the grouse at Reeth and one in Shropshire, Pheasants. All great fun and wonderful balmy weather, we had a fantastic time with good friends and the grouse were like missiles.
Our attempt at rearing a few pheasants went badly wrong when a loose labrador pegged about 60 poults two weeks ago. The few survivors had abandoned the area and we barely have a bird left on the place…
Well, Tatler’s first ever Hunting Shooting Fishing Guide came out this week and of course living as we do in the sticks, meant that I hadn’t seen it by the time about 4 people called me to say they’d seen it (I’m not a subscriber!) I went twice to WH Smith in Frome but they still hadn’t got it.. Anyway, big excitement, my etiquette piece spans two pages and was printed on the plastic wallet which the magazine comes in! Louise and I appear under their ‘top shots’ which is nice, a bit of a double whammy this month as we also appear in The Field too. Lots of pressure to preserve my reputation then! Must go clay busting soon as its been ages since I pulled the trigger….
Must get practising for the grouse, haven’t fired a shot since January.