Alan Paine Blog

  • Winter Has Arrived by JPR.esq

     

    Winter Has Arrived

    Well winter has certainly arrived! As I sit to write this from my collated notes over the last few weeks, the snow is tumbling out of the sky. A cancelled road trip and the news is full of traffic chaos. A thirty-minute drive to my family home resulted in a three-hour test of my own and my Land Rover Discovery's ability. Despite my best efforts, it wasn’t to be. The roads were completely snarled up with traffic going nowhere, so I was eventually forced to concede and head home for an afternoon of photo editing, hot chocolate and mince pies.

    kexby1 Crop 2With the British tradition of talking about the weather now done, what else have I been up to? Well of course with the game season in full swing I've had more driven shoot days, but more excitedly a couple of days pigeon shooting over winter rape and quite a few rough shooting afternoons spent alone in the countryside.

    The pigeons are now moving out of the woods to find food on the many acres of winter rape we have. I try not to be excited by huge flocks lifting as I walk them off. Many times, I have been tricked into thinking a good day's sport will follow, but more often than not they simply head to a neighbouring farm and fail to return, resulting in a cold few hours and very few shots to show for my endurance. So, I now prefer to observe what fields they are on, try to see where they are going, where they have come from and which route they prefer. Then I can position myself under a flight line, and this can provide much more prolonged and interesting shooting. Early mornings are proving the best for me with several bags of 30 plus birds before lunch. By then I'm getting cold, so a quick pack up and a spot of lunch, then it's time to go wandering the hedgerows and headlands, with the extra exertion warming me up nicely. There is always a possibility of a pheasant or partridge to add to the bag. Seeing a fine pheasant getting up in front and quickly gaining height and speed is delightful, or the partridge covey powering away low and fast really does get the heart racing, and the instinctive shooting needed is a great test for any gun. I do however need my own dog. I tend to use the shoot owner's lab when I need to, but I have now added my name to a couple of dog rehoming sites so fingers crossed I can give a needy dog a terrific home (although cockers and working cockers seem to be homed very quickly and I keep missing them!!).

    lrrutApart from the shooting I was also (surprisingly) asked if I would like to pop along to the Alan Paine annual photoshoot. Being new to photography I jumped at the chance of being able to see a pro photographer at work, and get the chance to finally meet some of the Alan Paine team. So, one very cold Thursday morning saw me excitedly heading out into the wilderness of Norfolk to a beautiful country farm house. What a fantastic day it turned out to be. The team behind the brand are such a lovely bunch of people and I felt most welcome. I was fortunate to browse the 2018 range and I must say there is more than a few things I have my eyes on! The quality, style and attention to detail is fantastic. The team are clearly very passionate about getting things right and it shows. Astonishingly just after lunch I was handed a few items and asked to get changed and head to the walled garden with the models. More than a little nervous I did what I was told, and low and behold there I was on the other side of the lens. This theme continued for the next couple of hours and it was a lot of fun. I just hope I haven't ruined too many photos!!

    As usual I have run out of space, so I will quickly wish everyone a very merry Christmas, and I do hope you all get out during the festive break to enjoy the best of winter field sports.

    Until next time

    JPR Esq

     

    Don't forget to follow JPE.esq on Instagram for more amazing photography.

  • Getting ready for my first Game Day by Lucy Sillars

     

    Getting ready for my first Game Day

    Gosh time flies when you are ….

    Blog Image 1

    So, it’s been a while since my last post and I would love to tell you I’ve been off doing lots of beating and shooting, but the boring daily life stuff has been getting in the way. However, it is now less than 2 weeks to my first game day. Between now and then, I must make some time to squeeze in at least one more session at my local clay ground. If only to get more practise in shooting “gun down”.

    I confess I didn’t know what that meant until recently – so if you are similarly unaware, it means instead of having the gun mounted into your shoulder, you hold the gun with the barrels up and only mount when you see the clay/bird. If I stand with my gun mounted in my shoulder waiting for a pheasant to appear, I’ll very likely have jelly arms in no time. Consistent and quick gun mounting is something which will take time and practise (and I know I’ve not yet put enough in).

    I did manage to get a bit of practise in over the weekend at the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club Christmas Shoot at Park Lodge. My performance over the 50-clay set up wasn’t that great. Yes, the clays were tough, but I’ve not been out practising enough. I also let myself get a bit overawed by the other ladies shooting with me. That’s something I think I’ll always have to work on. Following the individual round was a team flurry, where I got to practise gun-down-mount-shoot-reload in quick succession. I have no idea if the clays I shot at were being hit by me, but I think I got some! It was good to meet up with familiar faces as well as meet some new ones who I hope to see more of in 2018.

    Blog Image 2Apologies for the pictures – I had a hat and a headband, couldn’t decide which to wear at the boot of the car so put both on without looking in a mirror. Thankfully my game day outfit is already sorted. I will be wearing the Alan Paine Berwick shooting jacket and matching Berwick breeks. Both are fully waterproof and I would say true to size. I am “blessed” with a generous bottom and thighs but a small waist and usually have to take in most of my trousers. With the Berwick breeks, I sized up and had the waist taken in by a local tailor (I didn’t want to make a hash of the lining or grippy waistband strip)

    So, I’m suited and booted and I’m going to try to get a bit more practise in over the next few days. I also have my husband booked in to stand with me. That last bit does sound a bit “weak woman” doesn’t it but he is an experienced game shot and for my safety and (more importantly) those around me, I need to be accompanied on my first few days.

    I’ll be back to report how I get on in the new year. If you’ve made it this far, I wish you a very Happy Christmas and all the best for 2018.

    Lucy x

  • Mild Autumn & Our Third Shoot Day Of The Season by JPR.esq

     

    Mild Autumn & Our Third Shoot Day Of The Season

    I had hoped to bring you a tale or two from the wild, wind-swept, black water estuary. A pre-dawn yomp through deep mud, a biting easterly wind to test my endurance to its limit, and all in search of a shot or two at some teal or wigeon. However, without such perishing conditions my kind invitation is on hold. Quite why I need to experience my first true wildfowling trip in such arduous weather conditions I do not know, but I would assume he wants to show me 'how it really is' ...oh joy!

    Screenshot_20171115-161603 Talking of our weather, it's now mid-November, and I'm still shooting predominantly in just a shirt and gilet. The nettles are still growing back on our drives and the trees are still half in leaf. The pheasants are forever taking a stroll out in the countryside, simply because they do not need the protection of our woods while it is still so mild. No real frosts yet either which hasn’t helped. I have been calling on a lot of friends lately to help with dogging in on an almost daily basis, so I am very grateful to them. Is it just me that seems to think the seasons now just sort of blend into each other? I'm now ready for winter please...

     

    At least the pigeons sense the seasonal change, and the roost shooting is now getting to be great sport. One of the small woodlands I have access to is a firm favourite for me and the pigeons roar overhead. I simply look for the freshest droppings on the ground, assess the wind and position myself slightly down wind and wait. Action might only last for an hour or so before dusk, so I try to get there a little earlier and wait for them. It’s a marvellous way to end the day.

     

    AP BLOG3 PIC1We have just had our third shoot day of the season, and the number of birds at the end of the day are spot on for our small shoot. The guns are in good spirits and the birds have been quite a challenge for some this year, which from my point of view is a rewarding feeling. The cover is still well established so although it's tough for the beaters and the dogs, many birds will lift early and get some good speed and height before they reach the line of guns. There is still lots of improvement needed though with flushing points requiring some changes to reduce the runners. I shall work on that.

     

    I keep meaning to talk about my introduction to deer stalking but I always run out of space. I have been out three times now, but what I will say is that I'm learning so much from my mentor and really enjoying it. I am certainly putting the super Alan Paine Kexby smock through its paces too, and it's proving to be an excellent bit of kit.

     

    I hope everyone is finding time to get outside to enjoy the autumn colours and enjoy the sport our countryside has to offer.

    Until next time...

     

    Don't forget to follow JPE.esq on Instagram for more amazing photography.

     

  • Our first pheasant shoot of the season (part 2) by JPR.esq

     

    Our first pheasant shoot of the season (part 2)

    And finally, the first day had arrived. I got up and dressed in the dark, and the nerves started to kick in. Making the speech, worrying if the birds would fly, would everyone be there on time, and would the guns be happy with the small changes I had made... it was all playing on my mind. I got there early, far too early really, so I took some time to compose myself and quietly walked down to the first drive. The first sigh of relief came as I heard the pheasants crowing from all around me whilst dawn broke. Thank god for that I thought as I made my way back to my Discovery for some much-needed coffee. I noticed the breeze was picking up, bringing with it a hint of drizzle and things were starting to look good. The pheasants would definitely use the wind to lift themselves clear of the guns and the drizzle would hopefully stop them wandering off before we got going.

    pp It wasn’t long before the first of the keen guns started to arrive. The usual conversations and banter started, and I confirmed that fines for no ties was not just a flippant remark! Over the next hour or so everyone had arrived in good time, the fizz and snacks were bountiful, and the special pork pie I had collected from my great friends at Lavenham Butchers was quickly devoured. Everyone was in good spirits and raring to go. At 9.45 I was prodded, "Jay let's get started". I was aware of the time of course, but was just grabbing those last few seconds to compose myself before delivering my well-planned briefing. The only problem was that I'd actually left my notes on my desk at home! Oh well, I muddled through and managed to remember enough of it... I think!

     

    With the last of my real fears addressed it was a simple task of setting off the beaters one way under command of the keeper/owner, while I marched the guns off to the first drive. I was now feeling excited and confident that the first day would all go to plan. Soon enough everyone was in position and the faint sounds of dogs and sticks were starting to fill the air. Before long the first shots were being fired and the sense of relief was immense. I smiled to myself, a little self-congratulation perhaps, and as I did so a beautifully driven cock bird rose above the trees right in front of me. With a beaming smile, I had just enough time to savour the moment before I lifted my gun to my shoulder and fired my first shot of the season...

    pigeon6

    Due to a heavy work load during the preceding week I only managed a couple of hours up at the shoot before work on the Wednesday. While checking the feeders and water were all fine I noticed a fair few ducks were flying over towards the neighbouring fields, not being able to resist a potential shot or two I headed to higher ground a few fields from the shoot boundary. With half an hour to go before paid work required me, I managed to bag myself a fine brace, my first of the duck season.

     

    Being so busy with work and the shoot meant I haven't done a lot of pigeon decoying for several months and with the temperature set to rise over the weekend I decided it would be an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The pigeons haven't really been around in too many numbers lately but I was convinced there was enough to give me some sport. I was wrong! At first it looked promising, there was a definite flight line between two blocks of woodland and provided I was set up under this I could guarantee a few shots, even if the decoys failed to produce.  I was rather excited as I love pigeon decoying and it's what got me shooting as a young lad, it’s a great way to hone your skills. Within moments I had my first shot, a high, straight pigeon folded with my first barrel. Great I thought, here we go. Well that was pretty much it!! A couple of crossers and misses (worrying) and a good hour later it was blatantly clear I was far too late in the day and the flight line quickly eroded to nothing. Lesson learnt, reconnaissance always pays off and I should have made the effort the day before to see what times were best. Oh well there is always next time.

     

    What does the next month have instore for me? Well my first ever trip wildfowling down in Essex, another trip out with my deer stalking mentor and of course a few more days on pheasant, driven and rough so plenty to look forward to. I do hope everyone is enjoying the game season and the birds are falling for you.

    Until next month...

    JPR

     

    Don't forget to follow JPE.esq on Instagram for more amazing photography.

  • Our first pheasant shoot of the season (part 1) by JPR.esq

     

    Our first pheasant shoot of the season (part 1)

    The dictionary defines nervousness as "anxious, edgy, tense and excitable". Well that’s exactly how I have felt leading up to our first pheasant shoot of the season. Months of planning, discussing drives and rides, and seeking the advice of those that have been running shoots a lot longer than me on just about every decision that had to be made.

    game6 This year I have had to step up and take on the role of shoot captain, organiser and worrier. Easy I thought, as I eagerly accepted the responsibility, without maybe considering how many different things needed to be done... How many birds can we manage? How much feed will they need? Can we afford the pen repairs? And who is going to fix the tractor for a bit of cash in hand?

     

    Our shoot is a walk one, stand one syndicate. The owner happily gives us the land to use as long as we keep him busy through the summer doing a lot of the game keeping type duties. Traditionally the land has always been a shoot of some description, and the owner is keen to keep things going. Which is handy, because so am I! So, the fee that we charge the guns merely reflects the actual cost of keeping things going from year to year, with a little surplus for when things don’t quite go to plan.

     

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    One thing I possibly should have addressed a bit earlier in the year were the actual guns and beaters. I took for granted that everyone would be re-joining as I hadn't heard anything different, that is until I actually needed their money! With a month to go I urgently needed to fill three places and the panic started to set in. Two places were filled with two quick phone calls to beaters from the previous season who had wanted a place anyway, and so they gratefully accepted. The third was not so easy, and infact it wasn’t until the day before our first day that I got the excited text that a friend from Facebook would take the place. It was always my plan to bring in a couple more beaters, as usually we just rely on the 5 guns that are beating that drive to flush the birds, but I felt they perhaps needed a little help this year. I quickly took a couple of pictures of the shoot and placed an advert on a popular Facebook page, and the response was immediate. Within a couple of hours, I had enough beaters offering themselves and their dogs to beat the entire county! I whittled it down to the ones who I felt would enjoy our small woodland shoot the most and offered them some dates. Another day was devoted to making some kind of rota, maps and a general information letter, which I then emailed off - another thing was crossed of the list!

     

     

     

    So, the birds were looking good, and I had the guns and the beaters. All the drives, paths and rides had been cut, dogging in had been going well, so was it finally time to be excited? Not quite yet. I still had the briefing to give on the actual day. I absolutely hate standing up and talking, and I was really not looking forward to it. I made some notes as a reminder; safety, quarry and a joke or two were included - it looked good on paper at least! To be continued…….

     

    Don't forget to follow JPE.esq on Instagram for more amazing photography.

  • The “Bun-club” Conference by Lucy Sillars

     

    The “Bun-club” Conference

    “What are you doing this weekend?”… “Oh, going to a ladies shooting conference” …”???”

    IMG_3868 2 I did get a couple of askance looks when I mentioned my weekend plans, especially as it involved an early morning start and 3-hour drive.

    But yes, I did set off at 5am to get to the 4th Shotgun & Chelsea Bun club conference. The day coincided with the club’s 6th anniversary so much celebrating was in order for the day and evening.

    After a welcome from S&CBC founder, Victoria Knowles-Lacks, we had a packed day of speakers, shopping & networking but to tell you about everything in detail would probably just read like a shopping list.

    Therefore, I’ll keep it to the key points I took away:

    1. Gun fit is important, but only once you’ve got your mount right.

    The day was kicked off by Tom Payne, a gun fitter, prominent pigeon shooter, author & shooting coach. A colourful character with the key advice that gun fit must come after you are mounting the gun to your shoulder consistently.

    Then once you have had your gun properly fitted, changes to your stance, weight gain, weight loss etc will all have an impact on your gun fit.

    If you have seen my Instagram account, you will know my gun has a comb raiser haphazardly taped to the stock. It’s not pretty but it’s working and while I’m still getting to grips with shooting gun down, it will be a while now before I consider getting anything more permanent done.

    1. Even the top shots get nervous.

    Multiple world champion clay shooter, Cheryl Hall spoke about shooting confidence and how important it is to zone everything & everyone around you out for that brief moment when you step up to take your shots. As she moved from the prepared section of her talk to answering audience questions, you could see her visibly relax into her subject. It made me realise that everyone has nerves, even an amazingly accomplished shot such as Cheryl, but it’s how you learn a strategy to overcome them that is important.

    1. IMG_3869 2Eat more Game!

    There are many arguments to eat more game, it’s delicious and good for you, and at this time of the year it’s also plentiful.  It’s also the main justification for game shooting; if we shoot it, we should eat it. This was a key point made in the talks from both Peter Glenser and Bill Harriman from BASC, and Liam Stokes of the Countryside Alliance.

    We already eat a lot of game in the Sillars household but it’s sparked my interest to look for more ideas (already seen a recipe for pheasant sausage rolls posted by a fellow bun-clubber, Gine)

    1. 6% and rising!

    6% of all UK Shotgun licenses are owned by women (34,188 as at 31 March 2017). It’s still a small number but it’s rising as are the opportunities for ladies in all areas of shooting.

    To be with so many other like-minded women was truly inspiring. The day also included other speakers, shopping opportunities and the 2017 annual S&CBC awards in the evening. Plenty of opportunity therefore to build networks and grow friendships. Already looking forward to next year!

     

    If you would like to read more from Lucy you can find her blog page here

  • Partridge Beating by Lucy Sillars

     

    Partridge Beating

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    My beating experience up to now has just been out on the moors with grouse. Other than a slightly smaller note in the brown envelope at lunchtime, I didn’t know how a partridge shoot would differ.

    IMG_3598 1A google search came up with articles on partridge drives coming low over hedgerow’s and copses. This didn’t tally with the beaters wagon chat of lots of sharp climbs. Suffice to say, it seems to depend on the topography of the land how a partridge is presented to the guns. In this part of North Yorkshire, we have moors & valleys; lovely steep sided valleys which I found myself walking up several times on this shoot day.

    For all four of the morning drives, the guns stood lined along the bottom of a ravine while we drove the birds down the flanks and across them. This involved walking up the side of each valley and then along into position. A lot of waiting, and then a steady stop/start drive down the hills to push the birds over the guns in steady bursts of coveys and individual birds. Partridge don’t seem to need as much noise to push them out as grouse do but, just as for grouse, it was important to keep in the line and do as I was told!

    I hate to sound stereotypically female, but I always struggle with what to wear. Beating is no different. Even if you are told that it’s “not a fashion show”, it is still important to be wearing the right kit. This September day was a typical “four seasons” one, bright sun one moment, followed by cloud and then right before lunchtime, a downpour and hail. I was a lady of layers and of quick changes, stripping to a shirt to walk up the hills in glorious sunshine (“glowing” all the way).

    IMG_3526 1But then waiting for the drive to start, the clouds came over and coat & gilet plus gloves and hat were back on. I almost left my jacket in the wagon at the halfway point and as the sun shone on the third drive, I mentally kicked myself for not doing so. However, come the end of the fourth drive, black cloud rolled in and we suffered a deluge. There were more than a few soggy beaters getting back in the wagon to go for lunch. A waterproof coat like the Berwick Shooting jacket, which you can tie round your waist as needed, is perfect for this type of day. Later this year, I’ll be zipping in a fleece but for now, my gilet on its own was enough.

    The afternoon drives were a similar format with the guns stood at the bottom of the drive. It was here, I found my next clothing issue. I’ve worn basic walking trousers to beat in up to now. They have dried quickly and been fine for going over the moors. With partridge (and shortly pheasants), I will need to also be scaling my fair share of barbed wire fences and getting through some brambles and undergrowth without whinging. I almost managed to get through unscathed on this day, but right at the last hurdle I got caught and trousers were ripped. Clearly a sign to upgrade to something a little sturdier!

    I’m off to the S&CBC Annual Conference this weekend. I am still a novice in so much of the world of shooting so can’t wait to hear what the line-up of experts has to say. I’ll be back with what I found out soon!

     

    If you would like to read more from Lucy you can find her blog page here

  • First day on the Grouse by Lucy Sillars

     

    First day on the Grouse.

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    With the boys settled back to school & preschool, I signed myself up to do two days of beating this week.

    First up was a day on the grouse moors. While it wasn’t my first outing, I am still very much a newbie to the beating world and I must straight away confess that I didn’t actually join the “beating line”, instead I was assigned to the flankers (apparently this is the easy job). Flankers, as the name suggests, bring in the sides (flanks) of the patch of moor being covered on each drive and try to stop the birds bailing out to the sides of the line of guns.

    IMG_3229 2So, this is how I find myself standing on the top of the North Yorkshire moors on a sunny Tuesday morning with one of the finest views around. My day started getting a lift to the meeting point in the back of an old army troop carrier, now repurposed to a beaters wagon. After initial sorting into the various groups of beaters, flankers and pickers up, we headed out. For each drive, the team of gamekeepers work together to ensure all parts of the group move at the right time to ensure the best results. I had a previous life in project management, but this still looks to be a very difficult and precise process. The weather and wind conditions need to be considered, as well as ensuring the guns get to their positions on time without being rushed or conversely waiting about too long. I tried not to think about the logistics too much and just made sure to listen up and then keep up!

    For each of the drives (three before lunch and two after) we went out into our flanking line positions spread out apart across a wide area. When instructed, we had to move forward keeping formation in a flat line as much as possible. Sounds quite easy on normal ground, but the North Yorkshire moors are a mix of heather, bracken, peat bogs and reed filled marshes. The heather itself varies stretch by stretch into short and recently burnt or bushy and thick (and difficult to negotiate). Then there are the hills and the streams to also contend with. On top of that, you need to keep cracking and waving your flag.

    All in all, a lot to think about – look left, look right, keep up but don’t go too far forward. Keep my spacing left and right. Flag up! Don’t fall in a hole! Phew! With all that going on, you’d think it was stressful but conversely, I find it one of the most stress-relieving activities I’ve ever done. You just don’t have the opportunity to worry about anything else but what you are doing right there. I also worked out I’d walked over 10 miles, so pretty good exercise too. The small brown envelope at the end of the day is just the cherry on the top.

    And then there are the other people who form the line with you. Camaraderie and banter keep your spirits up, even when the heavens open and do their worst! This came in buckets on the Thursday when Partridge was the order of the day. But that is for next time.

     

    If you would like to read more from Lucy you can find her blog page here

  • Getting ready for the season by JPR.esq

     

    Getting ready for the season

    Alan Paine Tweed & Browning Gun

    Another evening of dashing up the shoot, straight from my full-time job, and I suddenly notice the nights are starting to draw in much earlier. The pheasants are going to roost and the increasingly brave resident muntjac are barking to signal my arrival, yet I still have my rounds to do. The water needs checking, the feeders need topping up and the pen will have to be checked. I can't help but notice more things are needing to be addressed before our first shoot day in October. I slip into my boots at the back of my Landover, rummaging under empty cartridge cases, cam nets and various tools that I leave  for those 'just in case' moments or jobs I haven't quite finished, whilst looking for various coats and that woolly jumper I thought I had but lost! The evenings are cooler now, and it feels slightly more comfortable when venturing into the acres of cover provided by the ancient woodland we shoot through. Although, it's not cool enough yet to deter the thousands of winged biting bugs from feasting on me!!

     

    Preparing For The ShootThis month we are slowly making our way through the summer growth, creating rides and clearing paths for the beaters, moving downed branches and hacking back the merciless exceedingly sharp brambles. I find it quite amazing that in just a few months of warmth and sunshine nature always manages to undo all the hard work from our previous seasons efforts. Perhaps we should keep on top of it more through the year? I will add it to my note book!

     

    Our birds this year are looking impressive, and they seem to be much further on now than in previous years. Big bold cock birds standing proud with a few eager hens loitering around as we trim, cut and strim our way into the season. I'm always stunned at how many tracks we uncover and, whether they're from deer, badgers or rabbits, there is an undeniable sense that the wildlife always has somewhere they need to go.

     

    I notice the number of small bags of corn are rapidly declining, so with haste I phone our closest farm to enquire about purchasing three more tons. Luckily the harvest is complete and there is ample stock, so a price is agreed and yet another job is added to my little book.

     

     

    Gamekeeper ClothesAlthough playing a part in running a shoot is jolly hard work and very stressful at times, I do enjoy it immensely. The song birds always lift my spirits with their delightful melodies, and the great old oak tree always gets a second glance. I often pause to imagine a time long passed; who may have stopped under its massive branches for a catch of breath, a romantic liaison or a poacher plotting his escape!!

     

    But of course, all work and no play are not good for a passionate country man. So with a quick change of clothes, a pocket full of cartridges and grabbing my near 100-year-old side by side, I will often take myself off into the quieter parts of the woodland in search of some dinner or some pest control.  I always hope for a nice flight line of pigeons heading back to roost, as I find this is fantastic sport and a great way to keep sharp ready for the season ahead. In my opinion the pigeon is one of the most sporting birds we have. They can fly as fast as grouse, as high as any pheasant and their turn of speed and agility can test even the finest gun. Although a common agricultural pest, they really do make fantastic eating and I urge you try it if you haven't already done so.

     

     

     

    Well I think I have exceeded my allotted space with still plenty to say, but I shall save it for next time..

    JPR.esq

     

    Introducing JPR.esq

    Born in a small rural village on the Suffolk/Essex border, my childhood was spent roaming the fields and woodlands with my friends.  Watching nature, the changing seasons and slowly learning about the countryside was to be inevitable.

    Moving forward, I enjoy and greatly respect the environment around me and what it has to offer. Nowadays my interests have expanded to learning old techniques and crafts; there’s something rather romantic about the old days and the old ways.  Although I have a 9-5 job I still have plenty of time left to help to run a small shoot.  I also have over 2500 acres of farm land that I am able to shoot over, so the sport can be varied and interesting.

    You can follow Jay on Facebook here & Instagram here

  • Time to get “Beating Fit”! by Lucy Sillars

     

    Time to get “Beating Fit”!

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    It seems no time at all since the National Ladies Shooting Day back in June. Since then, I’ve carried on shooting with my local clay league, finding that progress comes in fits and starts. My biggest learning so far is that my shooting is as much affected by my mood as my skill level. A bad or stressed out day equates to a lot of wasted clays and cartridges!

    IMG_2689 (2)However, living on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors means stress relief is not hard to find outside my back door. This is my favourite time of the year when the moors are showing off their glorious riot of purples & greens. All over social media are pictures of fantastic views and gorgeous hues of heathers and tweeds, which I consume with a just a little envy! I’ll not be out on a grouse moor with a gun in my hand for quite some time (but never say never!). But I will be out on the grouse moors soon with something else in my hand soon, a noisy beaters flag!

    I’m signed up to beat again this year on the Snilesworth Estate in North Yorkshire. This year they start their grouse days in mid-August, with partridge from September and pheasant from October onwards through to the end of January. There are 66 days this season, but to balance work, my pre-schooler and my fitness levels I’m sticking to just one to two days a week maximum. Beating days are hard-work, even for the spring chickens (teenagers)

    In case you are unfamiliar, beaters are a vital part of a successful shoot. Under the supervision of the Gamekeeper, the beaters flush out the birds towards the shooting line. This must be done in a well-coordinated manner – with all the beaters moving in sync. You cover quite a bit of ground on each drive and are expected to keep in line with your fellows despite whatever obstacles are in front of you (waist high heather or peaty bogs spring to mind from my exploits last year).

    Therefore, while I’m not able to get out there during the school holidays, I am doing my best to get “beating fit” by getting out walking with the boys on their bikes. I also need to check my beating kit is in order. I know I need a new pair of boots after getting soggy feet more than once last year. The moors are very uneven and boggy so short walking boots, wellies or country boots really aren’t safe. I’ll be investing in some high ankle waterproof boots come pay day and then getting out with the boys on to the moorland tracks to break them in. The views are fantastic, but with two noisy children and the dog (always on the lead on the moors), chances of spotting many grouse are slim (but they are there).

    I’ll be back soon with an update of how my first day went. The early money is on my falling over at least twice, just as long as I don’t need pulling out of a bog I’ll be ok!

     

    If you would like to read more from Lucy you can find her blog page here

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