Shooting Scotland Magazine (August - September 2019)

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SHOOTING SCOTLANDmagazine Scotland’s national country sports & rural living magazine


The Gun Workshop With Peter Davie Scotland’s bounty Rewilding Effective Fieldsports Advocacy Falconry F.I.T.A.S.C. Clay Shooting Great Expectations! Discover Scotland with Ossian Wake up call for salmon? (part 2) Ladies Shooting Scottish Ladies Shooting Club Interview With young clay shooter Rhys Harrison


Classic Gun The Boss Under and Over

September 2019

Readers Competition With NomadUK Scottish Country Life With Linda Mellor Country Woman Featuring Caroline Campbell Rural Style Stewart Christie & Harris Tweed Cooking with Game Roast Mallard by Wendy Barrie Plus The Shooting Instructor s Deer Management Gundogs s The Ghillie s Rural Training Scottish Wildcat Action s BASC Scotland and all our regular columns

contents editor's bit Fight back!

Firstly, I would like to say that we had a very successful Scottish Game Fair. Everyone was so encouraging about our magazine and we expanded our subscription base considerably. We also set up a new working relationship with shooting grounds around the country to help welcome new members to the sport. So all good so far! However, there was a fair amount of concern about the ongoing media attacks from certain individuals and organisations who I presume are all vegetarians or vegans? (Not a chance). To paraphrase an old farming quote: ‘Townies who consume copious amounts of chicken should not criticise rural life on Scotland’s grouse moors and sporting estates with their mouths full’. This magazine will always stand up for Scotland’s rural way of life, and support those who work for the betterment of our country in supplying great quality and healthier locally sourced food. And that also includes the care and welfare of every animal that we rear on our estates, moors and hills. At least, they all have a free roaming life and a sporting chance….do chickens? Ignorance of the reality in the countryside is no excuse for unfounded attacks on the management of the rural food industry, and our ‘chicken devouring media loud mouths’ need to wind their necks back in. Let us instead, get more venison and game into the supermarkets with fantastic ‘free range life’ provenance. Slàinte, Athole. All Editorial & PR enquiries to EDITOR Athole Murray Fleming Tel. 01738 639747 E-mail:

ARTICLES 8 Scotland’s bounty 26 Rewilding 34 Effective Fieldsports Advocacy. The SACS View 46 Falconry 59 F.I.T.A.S.C. Clay Shooting 72 Great Expectations! 74 Discover Scotland with Ossian 75 Wake up call for salmon? (part 2) NEWS AREAS 4, 24, 42, 56, 62 & 70 80 What’s New LADIES SHOOTING 16 The Scottish Ladies Shooting Club THE INTERVIEW 20 With 15 year old clay shooter Rhys Harrison CLASSIC GUN 33 The Boss Under and Over THE GUN WORKSHOP 40 With Peter Davie FAVOURITE READS 44 ‘When I Heard the Bell’ SCOTTISH COUNTRY LIFE 53 With Linda Mellor COUNTRY WOMAN 66 Featuring Caroline Campbell READERS COMPETITION 71 With NomadUK RURAL STYLE 80 Stewart Christie & Harris Tweed COOKING WITH GAME 82 Roast Mallard dish by Wendy Barrie REGULARS 18 Deer Management 22 Habitat & Species Protection 32 BASC Scotland 39 Scottish Wildcat Action 54 The Shooting Instructor 63 Gundogs 68 Rural Training 78 The Ghillie COLUMNS 15 Viewpoint with Niall Rowantree 37 The Deerstalker 42 Gamekeepers Welfare Trust 43 Scottish Gamekeepers Association 51 Scottish Association for Country Sports 56 Airguns 67 World Pheasant Association 70 Scottish Countryside Alliance 73 Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group SUBSCRIPTIONS 58 Get your magazine delivered to you All Advertising enquiries to ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Athole Murray Fleming Tel. 01738 639747 E-mail:

september 2019





59 FRONT COVER IMAGE: The red-legged partridge

ADVERTISING MANAGER Barry Tweed Tel. 01738 550157 Email:

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PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Christina Fleming Email: COPYRIGHT This publication has been produced and published by ATHOLE DESIGN & PUBLISHING LTD who are the copyright owners. No reproduction, copying, image scanning, storing or recording of any part of this publication without the permission of ATHOLE DESIGN & PUBLISHING LTD. Contents disclaimer: SHOOTING SCOTLAND MAGAZINE is not responsible for any factual inaccuracies within press information supplied to us. Any concerns regarding such matters should be directed to the supplier of the materials. SHOOTING SCOTLAND MAGAZINE is designed, produced and published by Athole Design & Publishing Ltd., Tolastadh, 18 Corsie Drive, Kinnoull, Perth, Scotland PH2 7BU. Tel. 01738 639747

ISSN: 2399–2220


news Optimism on Scottish grouse moors as international demand remains unabated Scottish estate owners are cautiously optimistic that this year’s grouse season will show an improvement on last year’s washout, with demand from domestic and international shooters remaining strong. Around 60% of visitors come from England, 10% from within Scotland and 30% from overseas – primarily the USA, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, France and Spain. New markets are opening up in China and India. The grouse season in Scotland, which runs for 16 weeks from 12th August until 10th December, is estimated to be worth £32m to Scotland during a good season. Sporting shooting supports 11,000 full time jobs in Scotland, of which 2,640 are in the grouse sector. Robert Rattray, head of Ossian, Galbraith’s Sporting and Leisure Division, and one of the country’s leading experts on field sports, commenting at this year’s Scottish Game Fair, said: “Last year’s cancellation of grouse shooting programmes right across the country still resonates with many of us. We are hoping for a much better season this year. “Estates quite rightly have only committed to modest programmes at this stage, and we are hopeful if counts are promising, that more days will become available as the season unfolds. Grouse counts will start in earnest shortly and once these have taken place, we will have a much better idea of prospects. “The good news is that demand from shooters continues to be as high as ever. We have a full book already and still have many parties looking, including those who had their programmes cancelled last year who are doubly keen to be in Scotland this year to shoot grouse.” Tim Baynes, moorland director of Scottish Land & Estates, emphasised the season’s economic importance to Scotland: “The grouse season – while short – is a great asset to this country 4

and delivers huge benefit to the economy. “In particular, rural jobs depend on a good season. We know that the impact is much greater than the direct employment of keepers, land managers and seasonal workers. A whole range of businesses, from shops to hotels, restaurants, pubs and car hire services are boosted by grouse shooting. Millions of pounds are spent by visitors who come here for grouse.” Approximately 970,000 bednights are purchased by tourists, both domestic and international, keen to enjoy Scotland’s world class country sports. One of the many hotels hoping to bounce back from last year’s poor grouse season is the Cairn Hotel in Carrbridge, Speyside. It witnessed multiple group bookings cancelled, accounting for more than 200 bed nights and resulted in a significant loss of revenue. Gareth Paschke, owner of the Cairn Hotel, said: “We are still hearing gamekeepers in our area saying that they are being a little bit cautious and limiting some shoot days at this stage to allow for a sustainable stock of grouse. That said, we have already taken

a number of group bookings for this season – a mix of domestic and international visitors including groups from Switzerland and France who are as keen as ever to enjoy Scotland’s iconic country sports. “My gut feeling is that bookings will pick up fairly quickly towards the start of August for later in the season around the end of September and into October, when estates have finalised their programmes. We managed to re-book most of the rooms we lost out on to last year’s poor grouse season however, most of the rooms were booked for one or two nights as opposed to being part of a group booking for four nights, so it was a lot less profitable overall. “I am confident this will be a far better grouse season than last year for our hotel trade as gamekeepers, beaters and estate staff will also visit to enjoy meals and drinks at the bar. A good season also supports the wider community with sporting groups enjoying local produce and days out in the area.” Mr Baynes added that conservation by moorland

managers is increasingly being recognised: “A good season on any moor is invariably the result of years of investment by the landowner. Specialist moorland management including muirburn, predator control and measures to reduce the number of ticks, which carry disease, offers rewards in terms of a healthy and sustainable stock of grouse. It also results in the creation of favourable habitats for other moorland birds, including lapwing, curlew, golden plover, black grouse and oystercatcher, which thrive on grouse moors.” The Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG) reports that there are 270,000 visitor trips to Scotland per year for country sports, with a value of £155m to the tourist economy. Grouse shooting is a significant driver of tourism to Scotland with 20% of all country sports visitors shooting grouse and 89% of visitors shooting at live quarry. The SCSTG’s ‘Game for Growth’ strategy aims to increase the value of country sports by £30 million by 2020 – bringing the total to £185 million.

news Wildife ‘expert’ Chris Packham is betraying conservation with grouse moor myths Wildlife commentator Chris Packham stands accused of betraying conservation with a litany of falsehoods and smears about grouse moors. Packham appeared on the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 recently to discuss the alleged disappearance of two satellitetagged golden eagles in Perthshire. During the appearance he referred to grouse moors as ‘industrialised landscapes’ where ‘there’s not much else living except grouse’ and said grouse moors were continuing to perpetrate ‘old lies’ about how moorland is managed. David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, appeared alongside Packham on the programme.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Johnstone said: “Given Chris Packham’s profile as a wildlife presenter, many people will take what he says at face value. Regrettably for someone supposedly committed to conservation he actually betrays the efforts of conservationists who take pride in the scientific rigour of their work. “To suggest that ‘not much else’ lives on grouse moors except grouse is a ridiculous accusation which he repeats ad nauseum in his pursuit of banning grouse shooting. “Well established scientific research by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust demonstrates that while managed grouse moors will have less

predatory species such as foxes, crows and stoats, this results in significantly higher numbers and diversity of rare birds such as curlew, lapwing, golden plover, ring ouzel, black grouse than on moorland where those predators are not controlled. “It is also now clear according to GWCT research that mountain hares also thrive on managed grouse moors to a far greater extent than on unmanaged moors. “Unmanaged moorland including some RSPB moorland ‘reserves’ - has comparatively poor levels of birdlife, whereas recent conservation research on estates such as Glenogil in

Perthshire has revealed more than 100 different bird and wildlife species. “Chris Packham is quick to accuse grouse moors of denying the reality of wildlife crime. This is not true. We condemn such behaviour out of hand but Scotland has made huge strides in taking instances of wildlife crime to their lowest ever levels. We should seek to build on that rather than smear and accuse people of crime. “We reiterate our appeal for information over the two missing eagles in Perthshire and urge anyone with information to contact Police Scotland immediately.”

Golf pro hopeful crowned Scotland’s top gamekeeper A youngster earmarked as a potential future golfer was named Scotland’s Young Gamekeeper of the Year 2019 yesterday at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair in Scone Parklands. Ciaran Woodman-Robinson (22) grew up in Worcestershire with no background in gamekeeping, spending hours caddying for his dad, PGA Golf Professional, Noel Woodman. However, after becoming hooked on gamekeeping after helping a club greenkeeper with squirrel and deer control, Ciaran opted to follow his new vocation. His determination and maturity was recognised as he was crowned Scotland’s best young gamekeeper, after narrowly missing out the year before. The accolade is one of the most prestigious in the 6

profession and is awarded by Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) judges, in recognition of beneficial management and ambassadorial aptitude. Ciaran was drafted in at Edradynate Estate, Perthshire, in 2017 as part of a completely new management approach and team, headed up by new Head Gamekeeper, Ian Smith. Since then the gamekeeping staff have made significant positive changes, leading to the satisfaction of sporting customers and a much improved net benefit for wildlife. “There has been a big and recognisable change at the estate,” said Ciaran, who was so determined to succeed in his new calling that he told a former Head Gamekeeper he would work for free.

news “We have been planting trees, game cover and wild bird mixes and working closely with the farming side, improving things. We have a lot of songbirds here, there are a lot more lapwing and curlew in different areas and we are starting to do a little controlled burning now on the hill as well. “With the game cover and wild bird mixes, we have much more birdlife in total. “It is lovely to see them. The land management and predator control on the shooting side of the operation helps all the other things, too.”

According to his first Head Gamekeeper, Ciaran first arrived in Scotland on a voluntary 3 week placement with ‘2 or 3 sets of clothes, a clapped-out car and a couple of Pot Noodles’. However, after proving himself, he refused to leave and has been in Scotland ever since. “I think, because I did not come from a gamekeeping background, it made me determined to prove myself and to make an impression,” said the youngster, who has been given a high level of responsibility within the new approach at Edradynate.

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Scotland’s bounty By Linda Mellor Scotland is recognised globally for its historical past, traditions, and whisky. The wild, dramatic beauty of the land has inspired many artists and writers, and it has been the backdrop and location for many globally recognised films; The 39 Steps, Whisky Galore, Outlander (TV series), Highlander, Rob Roy, Braveheart, Skyfall, Local Hero and The Wickerman to name a few. The vast areas of open countryside are pulled skywards by rugged mountains, and the dramatic glens sweep down across the heather clad hills, out and over the lochs and sparkling rivers. It is home to 8.5% of the UK’s population, and has an enviable country sports heritage.

Scotland’s worth Scotland is one of the world’s foremost country sports destinations, and is often the top choice for hunters, deer stalkers and anglers. The land area of Scotland covers 30,420 square miles and has more

than 30,000 freshwater lochs and 6,600 river systems. With such a vast natural environment and abundant habitat, country sports has a high value and is responsible for netting more than £160m annually for the Scottish economy.

Golden Eagle (Stewart Dawber of Skye High Photography)


The weather Scotland is open all year round, and each of the four seasons attract visitors. The weather may be diverse but it is not usually adverse enough to prevent or disrupt travel but we do get our share of rainfall so it is rather apt

that in 1824, the raincoat was invented in Scotland by Charles Macintosh, a Glasgow born chemist. Accessibility The infrastructure makes it relatively easy to arrive in the

Scotland’s bounty country with a choice of airports, public transport, and good road links. The industrial revolution saw the introduction of new roads and railways making trips to Scotland more accessible for visitors. Benefits A variety of seasons and range of quarry will tempt most hunters, shooters, and anglers. Many extend their trip beyond a day’s shooting or a day on the river, and in doing so, they can access an assortment of accommodation from rural B & B’s, historic hotels to ancient grand castles situated by lochs and glens. Anglers probably reap the most benefits from the Scottish scenery and wildlife, as it is often an integral part of their day’s fishing experience. Plus the sport is a much slower paced pastime and gives more opportunity to see the wildlife and to enjoy the immediate scenery. If you take part in one

Keeper and stalker Scott Mackenzie (Stewart Dawber of Skye High Photography)


Scotland’s bounty or more country sports Scotland has to offer you are guaranteed to be surrounded by genuine, time-honoured heritage, and it is unequalled anywhere else in the world. The natural environment is for all to enjoy, and embrace the challenges of catching the king of fish, shooting a stag, roe buck or a brace of grouse. Range of species Among the quarry species are rabbits, brown and mountain hare, a range of game birds: red and black grouse, ptarmigan, pheasant, grey and red-legged partridge, common snipe, woodcock, and in excess of 10 types of waterfowl (duck and goose). You can stalk red and roe

deer, sika, fallow, and Muntjac, and wild boar in a small number of locations. Fishing can be divided into three categories. Game fishing: salmon, trout and grayling. Coarse fishing: pike, roach, perch, bream and carp. Sea fishing: cod, haddock, pollack, and conger eel are some of the widely recognised species. Angling for salmon is the most popular amongst fishing tourism, followed by sea trout and brown trout. Gunmaker heritage Years ago, there were many active Scottish gunmakers, they produced sought-after guns that shot well and looked stylish, a Scottish gun often stood out

Redstag late afternoon light (Stewart Dawber of Skye High Photography)


because of the distinctive design. Possibly the most famous guns are the classic MacNaughton: a bar-in-wood side-by-side, or the Dickson round action. In the last 50 years, numbers of gunmakers have dwindled to just a handful still in business today. Scottish guns often achieve high sales values in auctions. If you would like to read more, Scottish writer Donald Dallas has produced many fine books on Scottish and British gunmakers. www. Hunting dog breeds A number of Scottish dogs were bred for hunting, the tall Scottish deerhound, and the Gordon setter. Perhaps one of the rarest

hunting dogs is the Dandie Dinmont: the breed originated from Selkirk and was used to hunt otter and badger, and is the only breed to have its own tartan, presented by a Clan Chief. Traditional sports Many shooting sports businesses were created more than 50 years ago to offer a range of shooting and stalking based pursuits. James Crockart & Son, Gun and Fishing Tackle Manufacturers in Blairgowrie was established in 1852. www. Fishing existed before rifles and guns were made, our rivers have coursed their way through the land forever, and many of

Scotland’s bounty the big salmon rivers have longestablished beats, pools and history, just ask the ghillie about the age of the boats in use, you will probably find some are in excess of 100 years old. Lochs such as Loch Ness were formed over 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last Great Ice Age. The loch’s alleged inhabitant has appeared throughout history, one of the earliest reports of a monster was recorded in the sixth century AD. That’s one large fish, allegedly, that’s never been caught. Traditional roles Gamekeeper, underkeeper, beatkeeper, deer stalker and ghillie and guides are traditional countryside roles. There are an estimated 4,500 people working full-time in the country sports industry; 2700 employed in shooting and stalking, and 1,800 working within the fishing sector. For more than 170 years Highland ponies have worked on estates, and have been the main

Scott Mackenzie, Skye Gamekeeper (Stewart Dawber of Skye High Photography)


Scotland’s bounty means of transporting deer and other game down from the hill, and are very popular with guests wishing to stalk deer in the timehonoured way – no machines. Is Scotland different? Yes! When people visit Scotland, they want to hear about the ancient history, traditions, folklore and how its people adapted to the land, and remained connected to it. From the challenging MacNab, distillery tours, Island trips, castle visits, to driving through the glens as the sun sets or rises, it is nigh impossible to beat. Enhancing tourist knowledge enriches experiences, and perhaps creates life-changing ones, and the documented centuries of history bring visitors to our shores with high expectations and hungry for local experiences. Scott Mackenzie, is the head gamekeeper on the Isle of Skye.

He is the only keeper left on the island. Scott works on the Fearann Eilean Iarmain estate, it covers some 23,000 acres around Sleat and Strath in the south of the Isle of Skye. The estate’s topography is a mix of high hill, moorland and native woodland where farming and crofting are the landscapes main agricultural activity. Scott said, “Fearann Eilean Iarmain (FEI) is very much a working landscape with crofting and farming being the main agricultural activities here. We are passionate supporters of these as they are what connect people to this landscape. We also passionately believe in the other traditional roles such as Gamekeepers and stalkers as these roles are very much linked to this landscape, indeed deer stalking as we know it was born in the Highlands and islands, its iconic words such as ‘Grealloch & Ghillie’ are just

Walked up Grouse with US guests on Invercauld Estate


at home in the deepest areas of southern England as there are Gaelic heartlands of Scotland. So we look at land potential as something that will keep these roles thriving and evolving into the future and more importantly keep family’s here.” The balanced approach Scott continues, “the sporting aspect at FEI is based on what can be sustainably harvested whilst trying to keep a balance between our iconic species and other land users. It’s a balance we all have a part to play in. You need to meet the needs of the other land users but also recognise that species such as deer are part of our natural heritage and must be managed as such, reducing deer populations to next to nothing is as bad as over population. A balance needs to be found between sport, farming & crofting and forestry as they are

all important to our economy, culture and maintaining a healthy environment.” Royalty Today’s royal family spend time in Scotland and partake in country sports. Originally, Victoria and Albert leased Balmoral Castle, in 1848, before purchasing it in 1852. The couple spent most of their summers in Scotland, and Victoria often accompanied Albert when he stalked deer on the estate. Victorian society were keen to follow on this trend, and made Scotland a highly desirable location for the wealthy, and dispelled the long held perception it was a hostile place inhabited by savages. The wild, untamed landscapes of Scotland offered so much more sport in comparison to the tame English shooting estates. Shooting was a very exclusive sport and Scotland was the go-to game shooting


Scotland’s bounty destination. Many upland areas were managed to produce grouse for shooting and to this day they remain an important source of income for many estates. Deer forests were created to meet the demands as deer stalking increased in popularity and became a serious sport. The deer population flourished and comfortable hunting lodges were built. Large parts of the highlands were transformed into sporting estates where the British aristocrats would spend the autumn shooting. Pathways were created for the highland ponies to bring the shot stags and hinds down from the hill.

Flavour The flavour of Scotland flows through the land from coast to coast. Each area has something different to offer the sporting tourists, from red stags in the highlands, to roe bucks in the lowlands, walked-up grouse on a heathery hill to driven pheasant on a landscaped estate in the East Neuk of Fife. It is affordable,

there are sports to fit every budget. Take a look at www. Big offering A visit to Scotland doesn’t have to be limited to shooting sports or dedicated to fishing, it has much more to offer: visit a small highland village and you are likely to find a butcher who sells game (in season), traditional craft and gift shops and other creative outlets making unique keepsakes from the land and animals; deer antler is a great example of a raw material turned into a range of gifts. You can buy reams of tartan and rolls of tweed, be fitted for a kilt or a new shooting suit (you will have to wait for the end result), enjoy a bowl of Cullen Skink, an Arbroath smokie, Forfar Bridie, nibble on shortbread, or warm homemade scones, spread

with locally produced butter and jam from handpicked local strawberries, stock up on whisky and gin, and other proudly Scottish produce, attend a game fair or highland games gathering, your choices are endless. We all have our favourite places, memories, experiences with and without a rod, rifle or gun. Did you know? Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads in the world. Around 13 per cent of the population has red hair.

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Photography by Linda Mellor unless stated

Memories People have fond recollections of Scotland and many can recall early childhood memories of their first visits; catching sight of a salmon making its way up

river, listening to stags roaring on the hill, golden eagles soaring through the air, or walking across the purple heather on a warm summer’s day, eating blaeberries, and hearing the cackle of a grouse carried on the breeze, (and being bitten by the dreaded midges!). The silence in the remote hills, the close encounters with wildlife and the big sky views, clean, fresh air and no light pollution make Scotland memorable.

West coast of Scotland


View Point By Niall Rowantree

Predators- the good the bad and the ugly These days few things have received more attention than predator control. Unfortunately, much of this attention is based on assumptions or traditional approaches to predator and prey species interaction. Even with our detailed knowledge there appears to be a desire among some to interpret the evidence in a way which falls far from the truth. The modern gamekeeper is under obligation to be guided by the law and the best available information on how to manage a resource sustainably and by far the greater majority take this responsibility seriously. Predators affect three real groups of people; wildlife managers, farmers and conservationists. Unfortunately, there always appears to be inevitable conflict amongst these groups, each one assuming that their position is paramount and only by them carrying out their chosen activity can nature be preserved. The extremes in the debate at the moment surrounding land management and predator control are biologically unsound and in many cases threaten the wellbeing of the environment and defacto the land or species being debated. Nature has a distinct dislike of any sort of extreme and this can be seen by the numerous impacts that we have on the natural world. On the West Coast this spring, it has been interesting

to watch our expanding Sea Eagle populations making their presence felt. Far from the glare of the spotlight on the grouse moors, this successful reintroduction continues to expand in both range and numbers. At least now the debate is developing a focus on how we manage agricultural activity in the presence of an entirely competent predator. With some maturity a great deal can and will be learned over the next few years, the four nests that I have be keeping an eye on had developed practices much as you would expect. One nest site seems to have no interest in lamb or sheep predation and appears to focus most of their activity along the coastline and predate on Geese, Herons and Ducks along with fish. Further inland, two Sea Eagles pairs have an entirely different approach with one pair accounting for taking 45 lambs in fairly short order. No doubt this is learned behaviour from parent birds which is further compounded by harsh winters and late springs keeping mortality fairly high on hill sheep flocks. This is where the problem really starts where one lobby hold a position that the presence of sea eagles are a huge tourism income generator and as the farmers are in the receipt of subsidy they are in no position to complain about the losses. However, this does not sit well with people trying to make a living who are both financially and emotionally deeply connected

to their stock. The challenge is where do we go from here as hefted sheep are very difficult to replace and margins are small making complex solutions costly to deliver and unlikely to be supported. Also, a lack of viability threatens the very future of crofting which in itself conflicts with the government’s desire to increase the number of small landholdings. Unfortunately, if a compromise cannot be found the ultimate loser will be the Sea Eagle itself. The present issues surrounding predator control seem to be at an impossible impasse and only by separating the fact from the fiction and developing a tolerance that some but not all losses can be tolerated will we be able to move forward. I personally believe that the demand on the environment by us as a species is so great that abdication of our role is at best fanciful and probably in a small island like Britain impossible. A recent trip to Norway north of the Arctic Circle brought this home to me in so many ways. I found myself immersed in a culture similar but in so many ways different to our own when the issue of predation came up our guide was incredibly matter of fact in how they deal with things. I was immediately aware that things like the lack of seal in the Fjords bore no resemblance to Scotland at all where an abundance of seals can be found at mouth of rivers. The seal population is part of

their Norwegian diet and when I was there, seal hunting had just ended and the few seals that were around made strenuous efforts to make themselves scarce. I think the one thing that stood out from my trip to Norway was that showed how closely woven the lives of the people were with their environment and their natural resources are a means of survival which, when harvested, was done so with respect and caution. When conflict occurs with other predators, they exercise good sense in the pragmatic way that they manage them. The problem I feel we have in Scotland is that our communities even rural do not have a survival connection to the natural environment. To watch nine and 10 year old children fillet fish with the dexterity of a practiced fishmonger, whilst regaling you with tales of the family moose hunt, demonstrates an untainted connected to the natural world which give me more room to believe that all is not lost. To a more scientific reader, the description of these processes may seem abundantly obvious but let’s all pause before skipping over it. What I am depicting here is the fundamental behaviour of all living things. Wildlife management is only one of many human activities but how we govern and manage our behaviours will be the very essence of our survival. 15

Ladies Shooting Going From Strength to Strength It is great to report that the Scottish Ladies Shooting Club is going from strength to strength. From our bimonthly events in summer when the club first started, we now have a full calendar of monthly tutored clay shoots, our annual Scottish Ladies Day, three simulated game days, an annual game shooting day (about to be increased to two) and a Birthday party night. Is it great to see member numbers increasing year on year and just how far some of ladies will travel to attend our events. At our last club event we had ladies travelling from Aberdeen, Annan, the Borders and Hexham. The Scottish Ladies Shooting Club was started with a main aim of providing ladies with an opportunity to try out shooting in a friendly, relaxed and safe environment. All you need is outdoor clothing and a willingness to try something new, as the shooting school provides the gun, cartridges and full tuition. Our monthly events, which are generally on the first Sunday of every month, rotates around a number of central Scotland shooting grounds including Auchterhouse near Dundee, Cluny Clays at Kirkcaldy, Gleneagles


near Auchterarder and the National Shooting Centre near Falkirk. The club caters for complete beginners, novice, improver, intermediate and experienced ladies. Another aim of the club is to keep our shooting as cost effective as possible, so we have negotiated some great prices from the shooting grounds. The club is non-profit making and our annual membership is £30. The membership comes with a few benefits including bulk buying cartridges at discount prices, discounted clay rates at the shooting grounds and discounts on block bookings of lessons. Our meets aren’t just about shooting though – socializing and having fun is a big part of the club. At our monthly event we get together for a light lunch beforehand with tea, coffee and cake afterwards so the ladies attending have an opportunity to get to know more people; not just those they were tutored with. Fun is definitely the name of the game with some friendly rivalry thrown in as everyone improves and moves up the various levels of experience. It is great to hear we are a very friendly and welcoming group of ladies. Many of our ladies have made good friends through the club.

The social highlight of the year is our annual birthday shoot party night, which is held either in late November or early December. This event attracts a lot of our ladies as it is a great warm up to the Christmas party season. During the day we have prizes for the best Christmas outfit and Christmas jumper and festive hat. The party night gives us the chance to get glammed up and let our hair down.

This year we will be celebrating our sixth birthday at the National Shooting Centre near Falkirk and Airth Castle Hotel near Kincardine Bridge. We try to keep the social element to the fore at several specific events such as team fancy dress to support the Auchterhouse Charity Ladies Day in June, a BBQ at our end of June shoot, and a longer afternoon tea with cakes galore at our September shoot to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support (£127.05 raised). We also like to help others whilst enjoying our shooting. Many of us have had loved ones affected by cancer. The club’s chosen charity is Maggie’s Cancer Centre in Dundee. Our Scottish Ladies Days and raffle at the shoot dinner have raised £4387.13 for Maggie’s to date. Our Scottish Ladies Day in May was well attended with Iain MacGregor, one of Scotland’s top coaches, giving us an after lunch talk on gun fit, buying a gun, eye dominance and shooting gun down. As the confidence of our ladies has grown, many of our ladies now take part or enter teams

to support charity events such as the Saints and Sinner’s Charity Fund, the Army Benevolent Fund, the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust and the Amulree and Trochry Community Fund. Charity shoots are a great day out and fun way to help raising money for a good cause. It has been great to see ladies come along to the club, improve their shooting and get their own gun. Over 80% of the ladies attending our events now have their own gun. It is also a pleasure to see ladies progress and start to shoot competitively. Two of our ladies have gone on to be selected for the Scottish team: Gail Barclay for Down The Line (DTL) and Caroline Madden for Sporting. Both ladies have won several trophies and medals, so we are very proud of their achievements. A few of our other ladies to watch are Jennifer O’Neill, Sophie Banks and Judith Hogg as they are proving to be great shots and more than ready to take on the competition scene. The Club had several members compete in the clay shooting at Scone Game Fair. Well done to first timers Megan, Rachel, Natalie, Camilla and Marie. Special thanks to the GCWT Scottish Game Fair for putting on a Ladies Day package

to encourage more ladies to come along and shoot. By the time this goes to print, we will have held our summer Simulated Game Day at Glamis Castle. There are some very excited ladies looking forward to shooting on the estate and enjoying our refreshments in the Castle. Our simulated days are certainly one of the shooting highlights of our calendar due in part to being able to poach clays from each other and hearing the whoops of delight as lots of clays are smashed. The Scottish Ladies Shooting Club is ideal if you want to try shooting for the first time, meet other ladies who love to shoot or want to take your shooting to the next level. We are a very friendly and welcoming club that is open to all abilities – complete beginner to experienced. Please have a look at our upcoming events below and get in touch. We love helping get more women into the sport of shooting. To find out more :• Website : www. • Facebook group scottishladiesshooting. • Email : info@

• Telephone Lesley on 07971 547 826 • Upcoming Scottish Ladies Shooting Club events : • Sunday 4th August 2019 – National Shooting Centre, near Falkirk 11:30 Registration with tea/coffee - 12:00 light lunch - 13:00 shooting - £55 for 50 clays inc instruction (less clays / more tuition for beginners/novices). Tea/coffee, cake and chat afterwards. • Sunday 1st September 2019 – SLSC / BASC Ladies Improver Day - Cluny Clays, Kirkcaldy - 11:30 Registration - 12:00 light lunch - 13:00 shooting - £60 for 50 clays tutored (less clays / more tuition for beginners/novices) and team flush finale. Tea/coffee, cake and chat afterwards. • Autumn Simulated Game Day – Sunday 15th September 2019 – Clay Pigeon Shooting Scotland, nr Stirling - Tea/ coffee and hot roll breakfast, shoot four drives of simulated game and a BBQ lunch. Full guns at £174 or half guns at £102 available (supply own cartridges). • Sunday 6th October 2019 Gleneagles Shooting School, Nr Auchterarder - 11:30 Registration - 12:00 light lunch – 13:00 shooting - £75 for 50 clays inc instruction (less clays / more tuition for beginners/

novices). Tea/coffee, cake and chat afterwards. Tuesday 22nd October 2019 - SLSC Ladies Game Day - Glenericht Estate, Bridge of Cally - 100 bird driven day of pheasant and partridge with the chance of duck. 10 guns at £320 per gun. Minder/loader and dogs welcome. Sunday 3rd November 2019 - Cluny Clays, Nr Kirkcaldy – 11:00 Registration – 11:30 light lunch – 12:30 shooting £55 for 50 clays inc instruction (less clays / more tuition for beginners/novices). Tea/coffee, cake and chat afterwards. Saturday 30th November 2019 – SLSC Sixth Birthday – National Shooting Centre nr Falkirk and Airth Castle Hotel – Registration 11:00 - 11:30 light lunch – 12:30 shooting - £55 for 50 clays inc instruction (less clays and more tuition for beginners / novices). Prize for the best Christmas outfit and/or jumper/ hat. Party night with 3 course menu with 1/2 bottle of wine and coffee - Live entertainment and DJ. Party night, overnight accommodation and full Scottish breakfast package is £74.50. Sunday 8th December 2019 – Our December event has been brought forward to the Saturday 30th November so we can support the BASC Game Day on Saturday 7th December. 17

deer management

ADMG survey of sporting rents shows steady increase since 2011 By Dick Playfair

Ponies are still very much part of the stalking experience. The ‘blue riband’ event for working Highland Ponies if the Fred Taylor Memorial Trophy held each year at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair and won this year by Balmoral Estate.

The latest survey of sporting rents by ADMG, sponsored by Knight Frank and just published, is a repeat of the 2011 survey, its aim to establish current charges and trends and how these vary by stalking experience. 59 estates took part in the 2018/19 survey, covering a total area of 498,000 hectares (1,231,000 acres), compared to 76 estates with 550,000 hectares (1,360,000 acres) in 2011. The reported prices of both stag and hind stalking have increased from 2011 to 2018. 18

The average charge for a day’s stag stalking with stalker and ghillie has increased by 38% to just over £670. The average charge for a day’s hind stalking with stalker only has increased by 81% to £326, and for stalker and ghillie has increased by 32% to £269. For stags, the provenance of guests has changed since 2011. The 2018 survey found that Europe is the most important source of guests, followed by ‘Rest of UK’ and then Scotland. The 2011 results showed ‘Rest

of UK’ as most important, then Scotland, then Europe. For hinds, Europe has also become the most important source of guests in 2018, with Scotland and ‘Rest of Europe’ equal second. In 2011, ‘Rest of UK’ was most important, closely followed by Scotland, with Europe a distant third. For both stags and hinds, the number of estates using repeat business and word of mouth for marketing has fallen between 2011 and 2018. Use of advertising, agents, and the

Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group has risen. Ran Morgan, Knight Frank, sponsor of the report says: “It is acknowledged that what Scotland can offer in this area is up there with the best in the world, if not the best. But we know that providers have often let for less than the market is prepared to pay. It is therefore interesting to see that the general movement recorded through this survey is an upward one, in terms of price, for stags and hinds. “We have unmatched expertise among our stalkers and

deer management ghillies; let stalking is a longacknowledged and essential aspect of deer management, steeped in tradition and fieldcraft; and we have spectacular scenery for its pursuit. I think all of us in the sector now recognise that there should be a premium for this. “Undoubtedly the hard work of an under-resourced Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group, and a number of estates, deer forests and agents that have taken the initiative in terms of marketing, have helped to move this forward, and encourage greater interest from Europe and other non-UK markets. At last, I think, we have recognised the quality of our resource, and are not afraid to market it at a price it merits.� The 2018 survey of stalking rents was undertaken by Helen McIntyre on behalf of ADMG. The full report is available online at www.deer-management.

Deer stalking


THE INTERVIEW up close & personal

When did you first start shotgun shooting? I started shooting at the age of seven. What or who encouraged you take up shotgun shooting? My dad encouraged me to take up shooting local farm land shooting pigeon and game.

Clay Shooter Rhys Harrison, 15 years old, from Tayside

Who would you credit as helping you on your shooting journey? My parents for all their support and encouragement, the Christie family at Auchterhouse Country Sports, Drew Christie my coach, also Gary Meikle and Robert Purvis for the guidance they have given me.

How do you juggle your job and school? I train after school and over the weekend my school have been great they have encouraged and supported me if I’ve needed time off during school term to compete.

What shooting challenges do you face/have you faced and how do you resolve them? Shooting challenges that I have faced are coming from a game shooting back ground to clay 20

Do you have any sponsorship? Yes, Auchterhouse country sports and Mactrax. Are you looking for sponsorship? Yes I am looking for further sponsorship to help me continue with this journey in the clay pigeon shooting.

How often do you compete and, to date, what’s your biggest moment in a competition environment? I compete once a week my biggest moment was winning the Scottish school championship in October 2018, also more recently, I won the overall high gun at Highland shooting centre with an aggregate score 177/200.

What do you enjoy when you are shooting and what disciplines? I enjoy the competition side of shooting and shooting different targets at the moment I enjoy FITASC sporting and skeet. To be honest, I enjoy all disciplines.

over and under, I use Fiocchi cartridges and RC, and my preferred chokes are 3/8 and 5/8.

What has shooting done for you? It has made me more confident within myself and allowed me to develop great new friendships.

shooting this was difficult at the start because I had to learn were and went to shoot the target I have resolve this by having been coached by my dad initially.

Do you have preferred shooting grounds? Yes Auchterhouse country sports great atmosphere around the grounds and great targets.

How often do you shoot? As often as I can but most weeks a shoot about three times a week.

What shotgun, cartridges and chokes do you use? Miroku MK38 Sporter, 12 bore

What do you have in mind for your shooting over the next year or two? I would love to shoot for my country in the near future and to continue to develop my shooting skills to allow me to compete in competitions further afield. What good advice would you like to share? To keep focused stay relaxed calm but most of all enjoy it ... see the doo, shoot the doo.

habitat and species protection One small step for farmers, one giant leap towards sustainable farming The loss of biodiversity on farmland has been well documented since the first concerns were raised in the 1960s. This was a time of huge technological advances with the first steps taken by mankind on the moon and, perhaps more mundanely but still of great significance, many new developments in agricultural practices such as the widespread adoption of chemical pesticides. These changes on farmland accelerated through the 1970s and 1980s and have had several unintended consequences. Research


shows the link between changing practices and the dwindling abundance of plants, insects, birds and mammals on farmland across most regions of the developed world. Depressing stuff perhaps, but not all is lost. Producers, and importantly the retailers and policy makers who have driven the direction of modern agriculture for decades, realise that change is needed to keep producing food for our ever-growing population whilst maintaining a healthy environment with clean water supplies and other ecosystem services. This is

Photo, David Parish

Dr Dave Parish, Head of Lowland Research, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Scotland

Cover crop, Whitburgh

the definition of sustainability – harvesting what we need without breaking the system. There are many proposals at present of how to improve things, of varying degrees of complexity and radicalism, but one simple measure is the humble cover crop or flower block. This was developed as a game-management tool providing food and shelter for gamebirds, especially through the winter. One of the latest versions of this is being demonstrated in the PARTRIDGE project, supported by the EU’s North Sea Region Interreg fund. Ten farms in Scotland, England, The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium are growing new cover crops which provide crucial resources for Grey Partridge and other wildlife through the year, alongside food production. A simple mix of around a dozen plants are sown in a large block or wide strip. Once established, half is cut to provide short, open cover for foraging chicks whilst

Photo, Scottish Agronomy

habitat and species protection

Farmer visit to Balgonie

the uncut half is ideal nesting and escape cover. The following year the opposite half of the cover crop is cut, and so on. The cut section may require some additional resowing to maintain the desired vegetation type and structure, and weed burdens need to be monitored, but that is as onerous as it gets. This kind of habitat will support a wide array of wildlife

and can help in managing runoff and soil erosion from fields if sited appropriately. If 5% to 10% of the land is planted in this way – the amount thought necessary to have measurable benefits – it will make a huge contribution to improving the health of our countryside. Recent studies even suggest this kind of semi-natural habitat can increase crop-yields in nearby fields. Initial responses of

farmers to this measure have been positive but obviously they will need support in implementing this which is why the PARTRIDGE partners are lobbying European governments to try and secure inclusion of this mix in agrienvironment schemes, but equally the powerful retailers could help by giving better prices to farmers who incorporate such measures on their land.


news Holland & Holland are delighted to announce the joint winners of their first Bursary Scheme Sam Kilduff, 18, an Underkeeper from Edinglassie Estate and Iona Macpherson, 20, a recent agricultural student at SRUC, Aberdeen, have both received funding to complete projects related to sustainable natural resource management. Sam will be travelling to New Zealand for two weeks to learn about the protection of indigenous wildlife through innovative predator control whilst Iona will be carrying out a 12-week trial to investigate the effect of tick control for sheep on the welfare of ground nesting birds. Both projects will enable the winners to develop their understanding of conservation and contribute to the wider rural community in Britain. Holland & Holland will remain in touch with

both winners to support them as they complete their projects. Hugh Van Cutsem, one of the bursary panel members, commented: ‘I am delighted to be involved in this innovative bursary scheme. It’s hugely reassuring to see one of the oldest and most well-known names in the industry doing their bit’. Liam Bell, chairman of the National Gamekeepers Organisation, commented: ‘Once in a generation, someone comes up with an idea that turns conventional thinking on its head. The Holland & Holland Bursary may well be the vehicle for supporting, encouraging, and ultimately unlocking real talent’. The bursary panel were greatly impressed with all shortlisted applications. Albert Barber, a beat

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keeper in Yorkshire, was shortlisted for his project of a reintroduction scheme for wild English partridge. Henry Love-Jones, a shepherd from Aberdeenshire, proposed he visited Norway to study how

sheep farmers mitigate the risks of lynx, wolves, and golden eagles. George Wissett-Warner’s application involved plans to supply sustainable local venison to South West England.


Take me to my solitude and let me wonder free! With all the discussion on rewilding it is worth pausing for a moment and posing the question ‘What is it?’ By Jamie Stewart Like so many contrived human initiatives, it means different things to different people, not least as it can refer to landscapes, animals and to humans. For some it’s a progressive approach to conservation. It’s about letting nature take care of itself, enabling natural processes to shape land and sea, repair damaged ecosystems and restoring

Beaver dam on forest river


degraded landscapes. Others long for endless plains with associated herds of herbivores like that of the Serengeti or the return of the seemingly vast Caledonian temperate rain forests. Meanwhile, Packham and Monbiot et al focus the conversation around the reinstatement of the more impressive creatures such as bears, wolves and the lynx.

Confused? I know I am… The word rewilding was coined by self-confessed eco warrior Dave Foreman, one of the founders of the group Earth First! The term first occurred in print in 1990 and was later refined by conservation biologists in a paper published in 1998; qualifying rewilding as a conservation method based on “cores, corridors, and carnivores.

More recently, anthropologists Layla Abdel Rahim offered a new definition of rewilding: “Wilderness is ... a cumulative topos (place) of diversity, movement, and chaos, while wildness is a characteristic that refers to socio-environmental relationships”. According to her, because civilisation is a constantly growing enterprise,

Rewilding it has completely colonised the earth and imperiled life on the planet. Therefore, rewilding can start only with a revolution in the anthropology that constructs the human as predator. Confused? I know I am‌ Meanwhile, back on plant earth... The plight of a rather friendlier wolf raised significant concern across Europe, enough to see a drive for the protection of habitat link to specific species, the Kornwolf or European Hamster to you and me! Threats of localised extinction of species lead to the adoption in 1992 of the Habitats Directive (more formally known as Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora) aimed to promote the maintenance of biodiversity, while taking account of economic, social, cultural and regional requirements. It formed the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation

Rare orchid

policy with the Birds Directive and establishes the EU wide Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas, safeguarded

against potentially damaging developments. Now here’s something that I can understand!

My own journey, and that of many I am certain reading this article, reflects on the work of one Stanley Duncan and the formation



Could the lynx return to Scotland?

of WAGBI (the Wildfowlers Association of Great Britain and Ireland). Formed in 1907 or 08 (depending who you talk


with) Stanley Duncan was wise enough to work out that without wetland habitat we would likely see a decrease in the presence

of waterfowl and albeit with a distinct bias towards shooting, a conservation organisation was born.

His skills as a wily hunter were stuff of legends. His ability to mimic the calls of birds was so good that once when hailing a taxi

Rewilding near St James’s Park in London by emitting a loud whistle, and caused a flock of wigeon to rise from the park’s lake and circle over him. Having said that, Stanley Duncan’s legacy doesn’t lie in his abilities to harvest wildfowl, it’s the fact that his foresight in protecting vulnerable habitat means we still can today. So, protect and enhance a land form, take a sustainable harvest from species thereon and all’s well. If only it were that simple. Throughout the early part of the 20th Century, others, less friendly towards shooting, had developed their own take on how to protect habitat and species. By 1949 the Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) series had developed as the suite of sites providing statutory protection for the best examples of the UK’s flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical features. In other words, someone went around identifying what they thought were prime examples of specific habitat and stamped them as such,

never to be changed. Silly old me, I thought that nature went through a natural cycle of change. I need to be careful here, I am in danger of setting out a good argument for rewilding… Despite the fact that most SSSI and other designations in the UK are found on privately owned land, we were now in a position of being dictated to by scientists and politicians who knew best. Keeping the habitat in what was termed “favourable condition” was surely the way to go. Don’t lose it now, won’t have to re-wild it later. I kind of get that! We now have more than enough conservation acronyms to sink the proverbial…SPA’s, SAC’s, SSSI’s, MCA, Natura 2000 etc etc but why hasn’t it satisfied the eco activists? Here’s my thoughts. We live on an Island with finite land resources. In Britain, modern agriculture is largely a consequence of the 1947 Agriculture Act, which sought to attain post war self sufficiency in

food production, a trend which accelerated with the country’s accession to the European Union (EU) in 1973. Somebody had to mention Brexit… Within this new regime, concerns for wildlife are ongoing and largely addressed by the afore mentioned designations, with farmers and landowners financially rewarded for specific habitat types to support species communities, spaces that improve the functional connectivity between areas, enabling species to move between them to feed, disperse, migrate and reproduce. Remember Dave Foreman’s “cores, corridors, and carnivores. But this isn’t enough for Foreman, Monbiot and Packham et al. Like mad dogs howling at the moon as they demand new world order and changes at landscape scale, with all that entails. Its hard to believe it I know but George Monbiot and Chris Packham are wrong!

There’s nothing ignoble about Monbiot’s vision, gosh the title of the piece should confirm my own thoughts. But he goes about it in the wrong way. Monbiot et al have their eyes firmly fixed on the open range landscapes of Northern England and Scotland. However, rather than engage in a constructive manner, he calls out our landowners and farmers as subsidy junkies, lording over a monoculture dessert devoid of wildlife. No wonder he feels alienated. Helpfully, Monbiots rewilding vison has partially been created in the Oostvaarderplassen reserve, referred to as the “Dutch Serengeti”. ‘Hey kids, let’s go and see the animals at the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve’, is not something any Dutch parent is likely to say to their children, these days. If they had, they might have seen park rangers shooting thousands of skeletal animals,



Wolves were native to Scotland up until the 18th century, but in the 21st century, would their re-introduction be wise?

rotting animal carcasses, and a barren landscape dotted with dead trees. Rather than a place of natural harmony, the reserve now resembles the nightmarish visions of Hieronymus Bosch. A new report by Amsterdam’s provincial government has called for fundamental changes. A petition for the reserve’s closure has been signed by over 125,000 people.


Here in the UK another “quote unquote”” Animal Welfare organisation, the League Against Cruel Sports have been criticised for their nonintervention management as red deer on their Baronsdown reserve in Somerset are dying from starvation and disease. It seems that there are many different thoughts on how Scotland’s uplands should look and

what they should deliver. Clearly I don’t agree with certain proposals on how to get there. We can all agree that we want to see the measurable and sustainable delivery of environmental benefits for the “common weal” but that should not come at the price of landowners personal aspirations for their land, or worse, the exclusion of people in preference for a wilderness zoo.

As the idealistic dreamers like Monbiot willing risk everything— no matter what the cost or consequences—mourn the loss of the improbable bestiary that lies under our feet and with it a world that was once rugged and wild and big; and as anthropologist Layla Abdel Rahim hopes of a world without human predators. The rest of us will just have to get on with it!

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Adaptive management – how much do we shoot? Dr Colin Shedden is BASC’s Director in Scotland and Chair of Lowland Deer Network Scotland It is always a challenge to think of new display material for game fairs but often the simplest ideas are the best. At this year’s Royal Highland Show the BASC Scotland stand had a deer theme and alongside the Lowland Deer Network Scotland display we also asked people to record where they regularly saw (or stalked) our four resident species. Recording was easily


done by placing a coloured dot sticker on the map. We initially thought that this would be popular with the many young people who attend the show, as well as those who are either proud of “their” deer in urban and periurban areas or annoyed about the damage that they do in their gardens. We certainly got more comments about deer damage,

from Ullapool to Edinburgh, than we did about them being an attractive asset but we also got a lot of interest from keen stalkers. Many of them seemed determined to put blue “roe” stickers all over their stalking areas and there was also a fair bit of interest in plotting the expansion of sika in the borders and fallow around Dunkeld. We extended the life of the map by using it at the Scottish Game Fair and, again, it proved popular. This is citizen science at its simplest and while the results were informative they will not be a substitute for coordinated distribution surveys of the type organised by BDS and others. However, it showed me how keen people in and around the shooting world can be to share data and their own experiences, as well as finding out how to get rid of deer. Data is really important and one of the key recommendations from the recently published Lowland Deer Panel Review was to encourage SNH to “where possible fill gaps on culls, as well as collect stalker effort, through collaboration with hunting bodies”. It also recommended support for processing facilities in the lowlands and suggested that this could “act as a lever for better reporting of cull returns by groups or individuals”. We will soon see the publication of more research on lowland deer management, this being the final bit of work in the study area north of Glasgow up to Loch Lomond and across to

Stirling. I had a chance to speak to the researcher at the Game Fair and he was pleased with the support that he had received from many members of “hunting bodies” such as BASC, as well as supporting organisations such as BDS. Part of this work was to determine the numbers of deer culled in this predominantly lowland area and the results will be fascinating, probably being the only new assessment of roe deer culling in Scotland since I published some work 25 years ago. Both studies relied on cull information from stalkers. I am sure that many if not all stalkers, game shooters and pest controllers keep some sort of bag record. Hopefully we are now seeing a new enthusiasm to share our data, in particular our own personal hunting records. We should recognise that for all of our management effort to be recognised as being for the public good then this bag data will need to be shared. This has already been recommended with respect to lowland deer cull data and it could well be a consideration in the forthcoming consultation on General Licences. Adaptive management are the new buzz-words when it comes to the required culling of wildlife, whether that is roe deer in the lowlands, mountain hares in the uplands or native greylag geese on Orkney. To be genuinely adaptive we do need to know both population trends and harvest data. Only then can we defend our shooting as being sustainable.

CLASSIC GUN The Boss Under and Over By Gavin Gardner

The Boss Under and Over is a modern classic, though it is perhaps not as modern as you might expect. London’s finest and most exclusive gunmaker, Boss & Co. introduced their revolutionary over and under shotgun 110 years ago in 1909 and at the time it was a completely revolutionary design, a gun ahead of its time. Strong, lightweight, elegant and attractive, the Boss is simply the finest and a design that has never been bettered. This particular example is a 12-bore single trigger sidelock ejector that was built in 1995, and is one of the first of the guns built in the modern era, after original production had ceased in the 1960’s, bizarrely because of lack of demand. Today it is one of the most sought after guns in the world, and Boss make less than 10 a year. The design is a timeless classic and every modern over and under built today borrows many elements of its design Today we take the over and under shotgun for granted, but without the classic Boss, it might all have been very different.

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Fieldsports Advocacy

Effective Fieldsports Advocacy: The SACS View Julia Stoddart MRICS Who speaks up for you, and are they doing a good job? Although it occupies my every waking hour, defining effective fieldsports advocacy is not a straightforward task. The core of SACS advocacy work is facilitating human dialogue in parallel with writing technical documents; to explain this seemingly alchemistic mix of the intuitive and the studied, we must start at the beginning. What makes an effective fieldsports advocate? Simple dictionary definitions of advocacy refer to public support for a particular cause.

Wider descriptions place this definition in the context of seeking to influence government decisions and the views of individuals, groups and organisations. This influence might be achieved through direct lobbying of politicians, social media posts, competent consultation responses or public speaking, but the ultimate aims are to bring about change, safeguard or expand rights, and ensure that communities have influence over decisions that affect them. In fieldsports, advocates are kept at full capacity seeking

Archery is another popular field sports in Scotland


to prevent further legislative restrictions, usually reacting to impending threats. We also seek to further positive narratives about our community’s strengths: conservation, community spirit and the provision of high quality, ethical meat. Advocacy must be performed well if it is to be effective. Advocates are burdened with a vast quantity of work that is not matched by available resources, so a strategic approach is fundamental: the problem must be identified, measured and targeted. Also essential is a comprehensive

understanding of the system in which advocates are compelled to operate, as well as possessing the personal characteristics of patience and tenacity. Advocacy is a continuous and evolving process, so advocates need to be adaptive while maintaining authority, acting always from an evidence-based position. The ability to be readily adaptive does not come easily to everyone, partly because control is comforting and change feels unpleasant. But a loud-mouthed advocate will not be successful in the modern theatre of war,

Fieldsports Advocacy

Clay shooting

which spans the highest halls of power and the worst depths of the internet. Our method of operating in this theatre is ‘mindful advocacy’, which requires a good understanding of the human mind; advocacy is about people, and in order to influence someone’s views or behaviour advocates must understand how these are formed and held. It is also essential to be able to empathise not only with the community you represent, but with your opponents; by examining our cause from the opposite perspective, we can identify how best to effectively communicate our message. A fatal flaw in fieldsports advocacy is to assume that everyone understands our language and ethics, as this is patently not the case. Advocacy that makes such assumptions falls at the first hurdle, because so many anti-fieldsports individuals misunderstand basic terminology within our culture. Imagine you need to communicate life-saving information to the person standing

next to you; this person speaks only Spanish, but you speak only English. In this scenario, it is obvious that loudly repeating our vital information in English will be unsuccessful, likely irritating the Spanish-speaker and causing them to disengage; however, if we learn the necessary Spanish words and articulation, our message will be understood. In the process, we will have opened a new, positive channel of communication. So it is with fieldsports and those people and groups we wish to influence. There is so much power in language, and as a community whose survival depends on being heard, we need to ensure that we can be heard. So why ‘mindful’ advocacy; what is wrong with just broadcasting that our community is legitimate and worthy of protection and promotion? Society is already many decades down the path of disconnection from the old ways: from hunting your own supper, protecting vulnerable creatures from the plentiful and aggressive, from

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Fieldsports Advocacy being a participant in nature rather than a condescending spectator. Many people have already formed an opinion on fieldsports that is far from positive; in their view, it would be a good thing for the world if we lost our way of life and were made to conform to urban, supermarket life. Once people have made up their minds, contrary information is actively avoided. Research indicates that when people are shown evidence that contradicts their personal view, the brain activates a selfprotection mechanism that shields them from facing the facts; forcing the point causes people to become resistant, defensive and entrenched. Fieldsports advocates must navigate these intricacies of human nature. The advocate occupies a dichotomous position, being both a leader for the cause as well as conduit for our community’s views. Both roles require authenticity and integrity. There is a strong element of altruism here; to succeed, we must be genuine, credible and committed. It is a

difficult path to walk, especially when fractious behaviour within our community diverts precious resources. Treading the fine line between objectivity and passion needs constant self-awareness, but personal involvement is crucial when asking legislators to listen and care. Stories, and storytelling, are an essential part of the mindful advocacy method. As neuroscientist Dr Tali Sharot says, “We assume people pay attention to important information, but they pay attention to entertainment.” Storytelling creates connections, because for many people a human story is more readily processed than a scientific fact. Stories about real people are authentic, helping to create trust in our wider message. As the policy director at SACS, effective advocacy is my job. But if you don’t work for an organisation and want to advocate for your way of life? Politicians usually want to keep their jobs, which is why they appear to prefer winning votes over making a publicly-unpopular but

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Keeper always at hand

Fieldsports Advocacy correct decision; communicating effectively with your MSP/MP, in writing or in person, helps politicians to understand that we are a large minority rather than a handful of individuals who can be easily dismissed. What to avoid? Internet arguments. Years ahead of the proliferation of virtual communication, Churchill had a fortuitous lesson for future keyboard warriors: “You will never reach your destination if you stop to throw stones at every dog that barks.” Online reactivity causes our opponents to smell blood: they seek to manipulate us into a fight on ground not of our choosing. There is a defeatist element within the fieldsports world, which seems to believe that there is no point in advocacy because higher powers have already determined our demise. This resignation is the attitude our opponents want us to adopt; it does their job for them. This mindset is dangerous: a University of Florida study identified that negative behaviour is contagious, particularly in the online environment. According to psychologist Adam Grant, once negative thinking is embedded in someone’s personality, their default reaction becomes complaining rather than taking positive action. But without action, you have little chance of success. In-fighting is a further serious threat to effective advocacy. Grant identified a problem termed ‘horizontal hostility’, where members of the same minority community attack each other more than they fight genuine enemies. The prevalence of this within the fieldsports world is extraordinary, and is especially visible on social media. So much time and effort are wasted in this way; if all that energy was directed towards helpful work instead of tacitly destroying our community from within, a sea-change would occur. It is a truth universally acknowledged that members of the fieldsports community are generally difficult to engage in complementing the work of professional advocates. When organisations ask for their community’s help, it is usually to respond to a Government consultation or call for evidence to defend against proposed

restrictions to our activities. The very nature of these calls is threatbased: if you don’t respond, the hostile party could take away our rights. But due to the operation of the human brain, fear causes it to shut down; the result is that people don’t engage and don’t respond, leaving the professional advocates to fight alone. In contrast, calls to action that are reward-based and positive cause the brain to become responsive. The challenge, then, is to help our community step away from the negative mindset, to take ownership, and to frame the fight as something that will result in a benefit: keeping our culture where it belongs, deeply embedded in rural life. Finally, there is one outstanding combination of threat and opportunity in fieldsports advocacy. We are all familiar with the cult of celebrity, where famous people or those seeking fame use their platform to broadcast opinions. This is now common in the fieldsports world. Sponsorship deals and a carefully curated public image create thousands of social media followers, which in turn leads to more lucrative commercial opportunities for fieldsports celebrities. They have an opportunity to use their influence wisely, engaging with professional advocates to ensure their social media posts and public commentary are well-informed with current knowledge from within the world of legislative change; sadly, this is not always seen. Misinformation about everything from deer numbers and rewilding to firearms law has been propagated around the internet, adding to the mass of problematic narratives that advocacy bodies already have to deal with. A fundamental responsibility of advocacy is to ensure that what you say is factual and credible. As correct information is only obtained from work at the coalface, celebrities would benefit from seeking meaningful relationships with professionals, making altruism the priority. Ultimately, we cannot control the decisions of our opponents or those who are neutral, but we can control how we present ourselves to the outside world and how we communicate; by doing

The Deerstalker By Megan Rowland, Land Manager and Deer Stalker Summer means show season.

With that in mind, in a few

I’ve already caught up with

weeks it’s back to the hill as

many of you at Scone Game

the first clients start to arrive

Fair and the Royal Highland

for the stag season. This year

Show, and I look forward to

would struggle to be more of

seeing as many of you as

a contrast to 2018. When I

possible at Moy Estate for the

think back to the droughts,

highlight of the countryside


calendar here in the north - the

crops, the stress for livestock

Highland Field Sports Fair on


the 2nd and 3rd of August.

compare with the lush hay

As some of you know, I work part time with Scottish







fields, pastures and hills this year, it’s quite a relief!

Land and Estates, this year at

The cooler weather and

Moy we’ll be sharing our stand

good grazing should see

with the Association of Deer

us with a rut that resembles


something closer to normal.



the deer management review





publication dates just around the

should have put back on the

corner, please do come along

condition and weight lost

and talk things through. These

in the winter of 2017 – and

reviews – one into the deer

that they failed to regain in

management group structure,

summer last year. This year’s

and one into the efficiency of

calves will have had a great

deer management as a whole –

start too, with good weather,

potentially impact on all upland

milky hinds, and few flies.

deer managers, and I would

So while it’s not been

advise everyone give them a

a warm summer for us, it’s

look when they come out.

been perfect for deer!


Fieldsports Advocacy so, we exert strong influence wherever there is need. Having the capability to do this is the core of effective fieldsports advocacy work, which you may now understand to be more complex than is generally assumed. Advocates are the frontline of our community; whether professional or lay, our responsibility is to work together competently to ensure a sustainable future for our way of life.

Subscribe to SHOOTING SCOTLAND MAGAZINE and FARMING SCOTLAND MAGAZINE see page 58 Salmon fishing on the River Tweed


Wildcats and grouse moors Photograph by Pete Cairns

By Kerry Kilshaw - Wildlife Conservation Research Unit

When I first began working to conserve wildcats, game keepers always told me that wildcats have in the past been common on open moorland in the summer months. Early radio tracking studies indicated that wildcats would come down from the open hills in winter to take cover in woodland and farmlands lower down. So we have long suspected that this behaviour would be occurring in some areas. Recently, working with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit ( and Forestry and Land Scotland,

wildcats have been collared with GPS units and the results have been eye-opening: it is apparent that wildcats behave very differently depending on where they live. In areas with a lot of rabbits or farmland with good hedgerow, scrub and forest patches, wildcats will occupy the same home range all year round. However, all three of the cats we have collared in the Angus Glens show a pattern of using cover during the winter months and moving onto the open hillside over the summer, where they can hunt for prey such as young leverets, rodents and ground

nesting birds. Some of the keepers we have worked with have noted that predation by wildcats on pheasants and grouse is extremely low where rabbit populations are high. Rabbits and rodents are the preferred prey of wildcats, whereas predation rates on ground nesting birds are relatively low. How can you help? It is illegal to capture, kill, harass or injure a wildcat or disturb the resting site of a wildcat and affect its ability to rear young (see http://, so if you have wildcats on your land, then care needs to be taken when carrying

out predator control activities. We have developed a protocol to aid you in your work ( wildcatLM) which recommends using cage traps instead of lamp or thermal scope assisted shooting. If in doubt let it go. Other steps you could take include retaining some rabbits and consider providing alternative prey habitat such as scrub, mixed woodland and grassy areas. Our GPS data shows wildcat territories can be 1,000 to 7,000 acres in area, so conservation measures need to be done in the context of the wider landscape.

Visit to get in touch. Over the next few issues we will share insights and news on the wildcat and show how you can help conserve them. 39

The Gun Workshop by Peter Davie

What happens to guns when they enter a Gunsmith’s Workshop. Welcome back to our series of articles intended to illustrate and de-mystify what happens to guns when they enter a Gunsmith’s Workshop. Before we dive in to this issue’s main subject; a thank you is in order to Athole Publishing and to everyone who took the trouble to get in touch after reading the first article in this series with their comments, questions and suggestions. One common question that was asked in several different ways was “why would you seek to dispel the mystery of what you do? Isn’t that a little self-defeating for your business?” My answer (and incidentally one of my main reasons for writing this series) is that I believe well-informed customers are better able to contribute to the success of the work we do and therefore enhance both their appreciation of a job well done and the Gunsmiths’ reputation, this can only be a good thing all-round – so hopefully, everybody wins. The right (machine) tool for the job Tools are fundamental to a Gunsmith’s work and as such, a huge variety of general purpose, specialised and one-off custom tools will be found in the workshop. Many of these oddlooking and complex sounding tools seem to add to the “blackart” image of Gunsmithing, on

which this series seeks to throw a little illumination. Figure 1 shows a custom made Action Wrench for a Sako 85 Action; this tool, made on machines in our workshop, allows the fitting of actions onto barrels, whilst minimising the danger of distorting the action body. Machine tools are the mainstay of metal-cutting

Figure 1 - A Sako 85 action, bolt and custom action wrench


jobs in the workshop. Stable, precise, heavy machines made from good quality cast-iron seem to give the best results. Our five primary machine tools weigh 7 or 8 tons between them and were made in the nineteen fifties and sixties – modern lightweight machinery does have its place, but it is our experience that older, solidlybuilt machines are hard to beat in terms of the surface finish,

accuracy and repeatability they can achieve. Machine tools fall into several broad categories defined by the jobs they do; turning, milling and grinding for example, although there is always a large degree of overlap in capabilities between machines. The following machines are often found in the gunsmith’s workshop and all enhance the range of work the Gunsmith can take-on:

Figure 2 - The Cazeneuve 575 lathe being used to inspect the flatness and perpendicularity of a bolt face to a resolution of 0.0001 inches

The Gun Workshop The Lathe Lathes come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes and conventionally cut on the outside, inside and ends of spinning workpieces. This is most commonly accomplished by rotating the workpiece against a fixed cutting tool, therefore lathes tend to deal primarily with circular section parts such as barrels, actions, bolts, pins, screws, bushes, and the like which can easily be held and rotated safely. Cutting tools for lathes are often simple, single point tools made from high-speed steel or sintered tungsten carbide but also include drills, reamers and form tools etc. The lathe is also the go-to tool for precision thread-cutting duties such as barrel fitting, muzzle-threading and making custom fasteners. Additionally, a stable and precise lathe makes a useful inspection platform for measuring wear on firearm components or for assessing new parts for accuracy and compliance with manufacturer’s tolerances. For all these uses and many more, a good solid lathe of the appropriate size and specification is a cornerstone of the Gunsmith’s workshop and will be in use almost every day. A decent quality, well set-up lathe used properly should be able to easily machine parts to within +/- 0.001” or better, both on diameter and length. Far finer resolution measurements can

often be made during inspection work as illustrated in Figure 2. The Milling Machine Basic milling machines are most often used to make broadly orthogonal or box-like components as these machines generally cut in the X (left / right), Y (forward / backward) and Z (up / down) directions using parallel, rotating cutters. Slots, steps, pockets, islands and flat surfaces can be machined in almost any size and shaped parts; angled cuts can also be made by holding the workpiece out-of-square with the machine axes and complex shaped cuts can be made with contoured cutting tools. These machines also allow accurate placement of holes and features across a plane, for example a Picatinny rail with repeating castellations along its length interspersed with mounting holes. Milling machines can undertake drilling and boring operations and in this way complement the lathe when circular features need to be machined on parts that for one reason or another cannot be spun safely on the lathe. Accessories such as dividing heads, indexers and rotary tables give the milling machine further capabilities by orienting the workpiece in various ways. Some more complex milling machines, like the one shown in Figure 3 can have multiple spindles, sometimes one of

these can be orientated to point in any direction and extra joints allow the main X, Y and Z axes to be rotated so they move at angles other than 90 degrees to each other. The dividing head for this machine can even be geared with the machine X-axis allowing helical cuts to be made. This freedom of movement provides extra adaptability and allows the machine to cope easily and efficiently with a greater range of one-off jobs. The Toolroom Grinder Grinders utilise high-speed grinding wheels to remove metal and we employ them primarily for two main reasons; either the component we are working on is made of heattreated metal that is too hard to machine with conventional cutters, or we need more precision and sensitivity than lathes and milling machines can readily offer. Typically, grinding can finish parts to far greater precision than conventional machining, irrespective of the hardness of the material the part is made from.

The grinding machine shown in Figure 4 is a fairly typical, well equipped, small universal grinder and is used to grind the surfaces of precision flat items like trigger components and recoil lugs etc. as well as to cylindrically grind inside and outside diameters of round parts such as firing pins, scope mounts, precision pins, dowels, bushes, sleeves and rifle bolts. In addition we use this machine to sharpen milling cutters, lathe tools and engraving cutters, as well as making custom cutting tools for use in other machines. Milling, turning and grinding operations on machines like these make-up a large percentage of the metal cutting work in the Gunsmith’s workshop. There are of course a myriad of small powertools, hand tools, measuring instruments, oils greases, pastes and lapping compounds that are also invaluable to the Gunsmith – we’ll discuss some of these along the way as we explore more dark corners of The Gun Workshop, I hope you will join me next time.

Figure 4 - Cylindrically grinding a precision taper using the Brown & Sharpe grinder

For further information on this or any other gunsmithing subject please contact: Landrail Firearms Ltd Tel: 01583 431444 Figure 3 - An angled feature being machined on the Brown & Sharpe Omniversal milling machine


news MPs sign letter endorsing the work of the British Game Alliance

The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust supports gamekeepers, stalkers and ghillies throughout the UK and Scotland holds a significant population of those dedicated people who manage the varied and rich diversity of wildlife and habitat we treasure. We know, if others do not, how vital this knowledge and applied management is to the future of this unique landscape. We know too, that this is not an easy option in a quickly changing political environment which can affect everyone, from the working gamekeepers and stalkers, their families and their future and whole communities. The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust exists to support everyone affected, and is building a stronger presence to ensure availability and a rapid response as and when required, whatever the issue involved. Our “Raising the Game” project continues with Stag Training courses held throughout Scotland this Spring and will continue at the end of this season. We are also working with other organisations to achieve positive outcomes and ensure estates/shoots have the tools to provide support as well as individuals involved. We continue this

Alan Tweedie

work with the “Year of the Gamekeeper 2020” soon to be launched. Our presence at Game Fairs is bolstered by a presence at The Highland Field Sports Fair in 2019 at Moy as well as the GWCT Game Fair at Scone earlier in July. Furthermore we have asked Alan Tweedie, well known throughout the gamekeeping community through his career as a gamekeeper and later on as lecturer at the Borders College to join our team in Scotland which will strengthen our presence and ability to respond quickly and effectively as required. Alan says: I am delighted and looking forward to joining Helen and all the team in helping to spread the word and swell the support for all the excellent work they undertake in Scotland.

Tel: 01677 470180

For immediate release: A Call To Action letter has been signed by nearly forty Members of Parliament and House of Lords showing the importance of the British Game Alliance (BGA). Led by five MPs including Simon Hart MP, Rt Hon Richard Benyon MP, Rt Hon Sir Nicolas Soames MP, Rishi Sunak MP and Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP RICS, the letter urges every shoot in the country to join the BGA to help safeguard the future of shooting and the critical work that it does for the environment and rural economy. The MPs involved are shooting supporters and recognise its many benefits and, along with many of their colleagues, continue to promote and defend shooting in Parliament. They are calling on members of the shooting

community to work together to promote best practice, allowing them to point to proper selfregulation that investigates and acts on incidents of bad practice and assurance that game only comes from shoots adhering to the highest standards, by joining or supporting the work of the BGA. Rt Hon Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, said: “From where I sit in Parliament, I really feel shooting is in the last chance saloon. The BGA is about self-regulation and addressing some of the negatives that are thrown at us by our opponents and dealing with the current issues we face. The BGA is a lifeline for all, yes all, who love our sport. Those of us who face up to shooting’s many opponents really see how vital it is for the BGA to succeed.”

news Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has welcomed the BGA, saying: “Thoughtful management of game and the habitats it thrives in is crucial to our mission to protect, preserve and enhance our natural environment for future generations. The British Game Alliance does an excellent job in promoting ethically sourced British game and I would like to thank them for the work they do.” BGA Managing Director Tom Adams said: “As game shooting

has grown, so has the scrutiny under which shooting operates. We should welcome that scrutiny and hold ourselves to the highest standards of shoot management, and that is what the BGA Standards are all about. The BGA are thankful to the Members of Parliament and House of Lords who have crafted and signed this letter of support for the work the BGA are doing.” To become a supporter or sign-up a shoot, visit the website: www.

Statement by Leadhills Estate following death of hen harrier The estate where a hen harrier is believed to have been caught in an illegally set trap has said it is not responsible for the bird’s death. Leadhills Estate said the event is the latest in a series of suspicious activities on its land, much of which has been reported by the estate to police. A spokesman for the estate said: “We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, all forms of persecution against birds of prey. The manner in which this hen harrier has died is sickening and we want the police to get to the truth of what has happened. We have provided the police with detailed evidence to support their inquiry including evidence of someone we consider to have acted suspiciously on the estate on the date in question. “The estate has conducted a full investigation into the circumstances of this incident and is satisfied that no one from the estate was involved in the illegal setting of these traps. Employees have been individually interviewed by lawyers. This comes in addition to the full cooperation the estate has offered in the police investigation.” On the day the hen harrier was found, many estate traps, including fenn traps (the type of trap which the hen harrier was caught in) were removed, stolen or vandalised by an unknown

third party or third parties. The damage was photographed and the incidents were reported to the police. The spokesman continued: “Throughout April and May this year, we reported three separate incidents of theft, vandalism or interference to estate traps to police. “On the day when the hen harrier was found, Saturday 11 May, legally set cages and traps were checked in the morning without incident. Some of the traps require to be checked on a 24 hour basis and when gamekeepers carried out further checks on Sunday 12 May, they discovered a number of Fenn traps vandalised, a number of traps had been stolen and two crow cages had been damaged with the decoy birds let out. “This was reported to the police and photographic evidence and grid point references were recorded by the estate.” Leadhills said it has experienced repeated cases of trap vandalism and other crimes carried out on the estate over many years which have been very difficult for estate staff to cope with. The estate added that it was under intense scrutiny from third parties and recognised the ongoing controversy surrounding moorland management and bird of prey activists.

Protecting our way of life By Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman, Alex Hogg Despite all the political spotlight which is constantly trained on our industry, it is heartening to see the passion and dedication people still retain for our values and way of life. The GWCT Scottish Game Fair was a case in point and the same bonds will be on show at Moy Highland Field Sports Fair in August, I am sure. What encourages me and offers hope is to see the young people with such an interest in country sports having a sense of ownership about what good game management gives back to our environment and economy and being willing and able to communicate that. We were delighted to once again present our Young Gamekeeper of the Year award at the show. It is a poignant reminder that good people continue to come through the ranks; individuals who- in time- will take on the role of making the principled case for gamekeeping, stalking, wildlife management and ghillie-ing in today’s world. We are lucky, on our own committee, to be building our presence amongst the younger generation and it was really satisfying to see Ciaran Woodman-Robinson take the award at 22 years of age and surrounded by family and estate staff. By their actions, these people are demonstrating that our profession requires

endeavour, dedication and, increasingly, good communication skills in a changing, demanding world. In turn, this encourages others, who might consider a job in the great outdoors, to believe in the opportunity and the employment which go with our industry. Perhaps it will encourage people to remain in their villages and take pride in all we deliver. There are some professions failing to attract young people. That is not the case with us. If you spend an hour walking around the stalls at fairs like Scone you see, first hand, how many micro businesses have grown up around rural pastimes, whether it is the latest fishing reels, the new all-weather clothing technologies or even some of the more traditional carved sticks. It is not just about the shooting or the Spey casting. Every one of these companies contains a person who remains motivated by our way of life and what it offers to Scotland. More than that, they see it as central to the wellbeing of their own families and their futures. For me, there is comfort in that. It says we are well anchored in the culture of Scotland and will continue to be relevant for many years to come, no matter what our detractors think. Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Inveralmond Business Centre. 6 Auld Bond Road, South Inveralmond, Perth, PH1 3FX. Tel: 01738 587515

Favourite reads

When I Heard The Bell The Loss of the Iolaire by John MacLeod It was New Year’s Eve 1918. The war was over and the young men from Lewis who had served as reservists for four years wanted nothing more than to be home. But the Admiralty had failed to make adequate arrangements for their return and that evening they poured from trains at Kyle of Lochalsh onto an overcrowded, badly equipped naval yacht – the HMY Iolaire – with life jackets on-board for less than a third of those it carried. A simple, devastating error of judgement in high winds and dark skies, coupled with the overcrowding and confusion on board, led to the loss of 201 lives as the ship approached the men’s home harbour in rough seas – and a century of pain and grief for the people of the small, island communities who waited to welcome their men home. The early weeks of 2019 saw, finally, public expression of a very private grief. The sense of devastation and anger had been suppressed by generations of islanders due to the overwhelming distress the merest mention of the Iolaire could cause. No-one living on the island at the time was untouched by the disaster – so they nailed down their emotions and never spoke of their loss. The centenary has seen a public recognition of the impact the disaster had on the communities and allowed 44

those who lost ancestors and witnessed the long-lasting human devastation, to grieve and to recount their stories through a programme of events: a national commemorative service held at the Iolaire Memorial, Stornoway; red carnations dropped into the sea by 201 young people from across the Western Isles; an exact replica of the hull of the boat created in wooden posts by Stornoway Harbour Authority; an exhibition at Museum nan Eilean in Stornoway (displaying the Iolaire panel from The Great Tapestry of Scotland) examining the impact of the tragedy on the island; An Treas Suaile (The Third Wave), a suite of Gaelic music commissioned

from Duncan Chisholm and Julie Fowlis, performed at Eden Court. But the story of this disaster is perhaps best told in words. The HMY Iolaire (Gaelic for Eagle), sank just yards from safety when the ship struck the rocks known as the Beasts of Holm. The small island of Lewis had already lost 1000 men during the war, a higher proportion of servicemen than almost any other area of Britain. Only 79 men survived this naval disaster. Of those who died, 174 were from Lewis and seven from Harris. 18 crew and two civilian passengers were also killed. This was the worst peacetime British disaster at sea since the

sinking of the Titanic and nothing since has come close. And yet, how many knew of it? How many without connection to the Western Isles had even heard of it until this year – ‘one of the cruellest events in our history and an extraordinary maritime mystery — a tale not only of bureaucrats in a hurry, unfathomable Naval incompetence and abiding, official contempt for the lives of Highlanders, but of individual heroism, astonishing escapes, heart-rending anecdote and the resilience and faith of a remarkable people.’ A number of books have now been written on the tragedy including Donald S Murray’s haunting, As the Women Lay Dreaming. But John MacLeod’s, When I Heard the Bell, The Loss of the Iolaire, reissued at the centenary, is held in very high regard. Picked out as ‘Forensically detailed’ by the Spectator and ‘Compelling... MacLeod superbly evokes the homeland of the men who died, and of the much diminished island their deaths left behind’ by The Herald, reading it now is almost as hard as researching and writing it must have been for its author. The pages of this book make you weep but the words it holds help those who cannot ever know, begin to understand. When I Heard The Bell is published by Birlinn, £9.99.





West End, 127 Main Street, Cairneyhill, Fife KY12 8QX 10 mins from the Forth and Kincardine Road Bridges

Tel: 01383 882222

Falconry Supplied by Stewart Robertson

By Linda Mellor

Orla coming in to land on Stewart Robertson

Falconry is generally defined as the sport of capturing wild quarry in its natural habitat with trained birds of prey. It is also known as hawking when hunting with a hawk or eagle. Austringer is a term used for someone who hunts with hawks, eagles and owls. Centuries ago, the birds of prey were kept as a necessary tool for hunting food. The birds were wild and trained but they are never tamed or kept as pets. Falconry has a rich and lengthy history, and a long association with royalty and has been known as the sport of kings. It is both a sport

and an art form, and has retained its world-wide status as one of the oldest fieldsports known to man. There is no fixed date surrounding the true origins of falconry but it flourished in cultures rich in tradition, and records indicate its roots lie in the far east sometime around 1700 BC, where falcons were given as gifts to royalty and used for hunting. It was a status symbol among nobility, the birds were so precious that severe punishments were dished out to anyone caught stealing eggs, destroying nests or harming the

The magnificent Orla, Golden Eagle at Loch Lomond Bird of Prey centre



Stewart Robertson getting up close with Golden Eagle Orla

falcons. If caught taking a bird from the wild the sentence was having your eyes poked out. The ‘Boke of Seynt Albans’ printed in 1486 was a compilation of hunting interests of gentlemen at that time, and was also known as ‘The Book of Hawking, Hunting and Blasing of Arms’, and it gave an interesting snapshot of the hierarchy of raptors and the social ranks for which each bird was associated. The book was written by Dame Juliana Barnes, Prioress

of Sopwell nunnery. If you kept a falcon above one’s station it was considered a crime which carried a punishment of having your hands cuts off. From, ‘The Boke of Seynt Albans’ it states: “Emperor: Golden Eagle, Vulture, & Merlin. King: Gyrfalcon (male & female). Prince: Female Peregrine. Duke: Rock Falcon (subspecies of the Peregrine). Earl: Peregrine. Baron: Male peregrine. Knight: Saker. Squire: Lanner Falcon. Lady: Female Merlin. Yeoman:

Goshawk or Hobby. Priest: Female Sparrowhawk. Holywater clerk: Male Sparrowhawk. Knaves, Servants, Children: Old World Kestrel.” Perhaps one of the most recognisable female names connected with falconry is Mary Queen of Scots. She hunted with a merlin: a bird known as the ‘lady’s hawk’. During her nineteen years of imprisonment she was allowed to fly her merlin from a window. Falconry was a medieval

sport many ladies enjoyed, and they featured frequently in art and literature of the time. In 1325 – 35 , The Taymouth Hours was produced, an illuminated book, named after Taymouth Castle where it was kept after it was acquired by the Earl of Breadalbane in the 17th century, it has many highly decorative pages of ladies taking part in falconry, and hunting rabbits, hares and ducks, and also hunting deer and wild boar with spears.


Falconry There are in excess of 20 species of bird of prey in Scotland, and depending on where you live some species may be a more common sight than others. Owls are often heard more frequently than seen, unless you know where to look, buzzards seem to be at home almost everywhere, golden eagles in the highlands, and red kites are more prevalent in some counties than others, and sea eagles mostly on the east coast (I have seen them on shooting estates in Fife). You’ll see a Kestrel hovering over the roadside verges, and a sparrowhawk lurking in your garden and taking smaller birds. Ospreys are can be seen over the rivers and lochs hunting for food to feed their young in treetop nests. If you grew up in the 1960s and 70s you may remember the Ken Loach Film, ‘Kes’ about young boy and his Kestrel. The film is based on the novel by Barry Hines, A Kestrel for a Knave (1968). Falconry is rare, it is an ancient, revered craft and there much mystique surrounding the raptors: their sheer size, power and

The talons of Orla, the Golden Eagle


Deer Management Training specialising in DSC1 & 2 courses at our facility or delivered at your location Full RFD services, including full bespoke stalking rifle packages with personalised set-up.

Approved Training Providers for the Cairngorm National Park Authority, we are dedicated to providing a professional, open and friendly service – ‘run by stalkers, for stalkers’ Contact John Allan

07833 535060 48

Falconry presence can be un-nerving. The intense bond and respect between them and the falconer is something that intrigues observers. The Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre is the place to go to witness the biggest, most majestic birds you are likely to meet, the sheer size of the golden eagles beak, eyes and talons are enough to make you think twice about getting too close. The centre is owned by Stewart Robertson, and is home to more than 30 birds of prey, including two golden eagles, Orla and Scout. Orla is a star in her own right, and has made countless TV appearances over the years, and the connection Stewart has with her is incredible to witness. Orla has a wing span of up to 96”, and weighs 10 -13lbs. Studying the bird you get an unmistakeable sense of a highly-tuned killing machine, powerful and strong. The large talons can grip with an estimated force of 1 ton with each foot. One of the first things Stewart will say to visitors when they are posing for photographs with Orla sitting on their gloved hand, is, ‘don’t make eye contact with her.’ If you look an animal or bird of prey in the eyes, they may perceive that as a challenge, and will act in retaliation. Stewart can look at her and the other hawks in the eye due to the trust built between them over the years but he doesn’t do this with new birds or other people’s birds. Stewart said, “everything she does is based on her instinct to protect the partner she has learned to trust, as she would in the wild. Me, being human, would love to think there was some emotion from her towards me, but it is only her instinct I am seeing. The relationship changes when we are flying, training, hunting, and then, she only tolerates me being there.” Stewart organises hunting days out (from October the dates will be posted on the website) on a local ground. The hunting day is a realtime falconry experience, and a direct insight into an ancient sport that’s barely changed over the centuries. “We take clients out to hunt using a Harris hawk because they are sociable birds, and can be flown by anyone. After some training and familiarisation, we walk the grounds, the client carries the hawk, releases it and sees the chase and the kill. They are

right in the middle of the action. Usually, we will go for rabbits and can be out for three or four hours. I may try our goshawk as she is very laidback and can hunt for pheasants (the bird is relative to the size of prey).” I asked Stewart about hunting with the golden eagles, he said, “we have ground with roe deer, I think I would probably use Scout because she has bigger feet than Orla, and I can see her instincts to kill are high by the way she studies everything.” The centre is laid out so every bird has its own space and an area so the public can view them, Stewart is in the process of finalising a flying arena. It is a large wooded area with a clearing extending to 70 metres with bench seating for visitors. He plans to conduct one, possibly two, displays per day. Owls are fascinating, it’s a treat to watch Oscar, a 15-yearold barn owl, sitting on Stewart’s glove. There was something mesmerising about the owl’s relaxed demeanour, and his pure white, almost luminous, plumage. Stewart said, “Owls have amazing hearing and fly silently to enable them to hear sounds while they hunt for food, but during wet spells their hunting abilities are affected because their plumage isn’t waterproof, and the sound of the rain hitting the ground makes a noise and consequently makes it difficult to hear prey.” There is a calm energy around Oscar, perhaps that’s why owls are held in such high regard, and are taken to hospices and hospitals to visit patients and used in charity work. “Owl brains are a third of the size of their skulls, and most of the owl’s brain power is used to analyse the sounds it hears when out hunting,” said Stewart. Stewart’s passion and connection with the birds, is very apparent, the birds’ good behaviour is a testament to how much time he has spent with them. “How they’re handled and treated in the early days is critical,” said Stewart, “and the reward is good behaviour and building trust.” Falconry is a huge commitment, and requires a long term investment of time, Stewart said, “I am often asked how I am able to come to work every single day without a break. I think if you have a passion for something,

Falconry takes its first free flight, the excitement when a hawk makes its first kill, or just witnessing some spectacular flights with the hawk fighting against the wind, or seeing the predator use its skill and determination to outmanoeuvre the evasive prey. Many visitors comment I must have the best job in the world, working with these amazing creatures every day. Maybe I do.� Central Scotland, on the east coast you will find Steve Brazendale, he is a knowledgeable

and experienced Falconer with Owls, Hawks and Falcons in his care and helps people connect or reconnect to the countryside. Steve is based in the East Neuk of Fife, and offers opportunities to handle and fly the birds of prey, and make falconry equipment. Steve is a lifelong countryman and deer stalker with a career edging close to four decades, you can also indulge in archery and fly-fishing with him, he caters for one-to-one and group experiences. Steve is the Scottish Countryman, he will

enthral and entertain everyone with his knowledge of the countryside and his skill with his birds. Some of the words used in the English language today originate from falconry. Mantle: to cover or shield the food by dropping their wings over. The cover over a fireplace is now called a mantlepiece. Hoodwink: to cover a bird’s eyes to keep it calm and relaxed. Fed up: A hawk is called fed up when it has a full crop (storage pouch) and therefore not interested in food or flying. Supplied by Steve Brazendale

it isn’t work. I meet so many interesting people and get to work with creatures that many people can only dream about. There are many days when there are the same routines, there have been days when I have questioned my decision to change my life so much by taking the centre on, but, even during those distant depressing days, there was always the thrill of seeing a rehab owl, buzzard or sparrowhawk take to the air again, fit and strong. The adrenalin rush when a hawk you have trained

Steve Brazendale and friend!


Falconry Mews: where birds were kept. Cadge: Falcons were traditionally carried out into the hunting field in a wooden frame. The person

carrying the cadge became known as the cadger. At the end of the day the cadger would go to the local tavern and recount the tales of how

A LICENCE TO KILL By Alex Stoddart, Director, SACS

Stewart with Orla

Every owl needs a wee tickle now and then!

Text message: “This is Alex from SACS. You left a message with us earlier. Due to an exceptionally high volume of calls and emails we were unable to respond until now. Conscious that it is near 11pm, if you are happy to speak just now let me know. Otherwise I will try you tomorrow.” Response: “Thanks Alex. You folks work too hard! I need to shoot pigeons for a farmer in Lincs tomorrow so will call you shortly.” And so the English General Licences fiasco continued apace. At the SACS office, we were just reflecting on what a busy year 2019 was proving to be when Natural England revoked the General Licences for pest birds such as Canada geese, pigeons and crows and with less than two days’ notice. In the aftermath of this idiotic decision we received hundreds of calls and messages from all over the country, from SACS members and others calling in anger and panic. For the first two nights I hardly got to bed – calls until and beyond midnight and thereafter catching up with email and internet message queries and other SACS work matters through the night. But every call and message was returned or replied to, and when urgent like the above message, sometimes in the depth of night. There’s that old saying: “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all”. SACS rarely wears its sleeves down. When things get heated, it is wise to look beyond from the immediate battle and maintain focus on the strategic objective. Although Natural England proved

their incompetence, the reality is that their boss, Defra, has now reinstated the licences and other UK regions are working to ensure that their licences are able to withstand another idiotic attack from antis driven more by their own warped ideology than the natural environment they purport to be protecting. So where now? In Scotland SNH responded quickly to emphasise that the General Licences here are worded differently and, should any change be thought necessary, this would only be after full engagement and consultation. That consultation is due to begin at the end of July. The current Scottish General Licences are based on a SACS format put forward by us during the last consultation in 2016. In support of its members and to protect necessary pest bird control, SACS will be fully involved again. The silly season doesn’t end with Packham; we now have Scottish Greens MSP Alison Johnstone running a public consultation exercise on – and no, it’s not a joke – making foxes and hares protected species in law. As mad as that may sound, as an MSP she is entitled to form a private member’s Bill on her proposals and it is our duty to take all threats to shooting, country sports and other rural interests seriously. Even if her Bill ultimately does not fully succeed, there may be political compromises which impact our members. It looks like the day off will have to wait! Whatever organisation you are a member of, give them your active backing and support. The challenges of 2019 are far from over yet. 51

Photography by Linda Mellor unless stated

Falconry the birds had flown and in turn expect money. If you are interested in Falconry, visit The British Falconers’ Club. It is the largest falconry club in the UK with around 900 members. “Established in 1927 the BFC is the oldest falconry club in the UK and maintains a proud tradition of excellence in the husbandry and management of the hawks we fly.” www.britishfalconersclub. Steve Brazendale: The Scottish Countryman https://www. Stewart Robertson: The Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre

Stewart and Orla at Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre


A range of birds are to be seen at the centre

Orla showing off her impressive wing span


by Linda Mellor

SCOTTISH COUNTRY LIFE The game fair and show season is in full swing in Scotland. In my countryside calendar, the year kicks off early with the Deer Stalking Fair in March, then the Royal Highland Show late June followed by the Scottish Game Fair at Scone and Moy Highland Fieldsports Fair on the Friday and Saturday of the first weekend in August. The last one on the show season calendar for some of us is the Galloway Country Fair, 17 and 18 August on the Drumlanrig Estate. The game fairs are all reachable, most of us have our favourites and make an effort to attend one or two, or indeed, them all. If there are any you feel should be highlighted please get in touch and let me know. Game fairs are excellent social events (if the weather holds out!), and a great reason to catch up with friends, take part in the clay pigeon competitions, spend some money on the trade stands,

enter your dog in the scurry, try out your casting techniques or drive a Land Rover. If you are working at the game fairs, you will be fully aware of the hours and work required to make the weekend a success. Setting up the stand on site before the gates open, display your stock and be ready to greet the general public with a smile is no mean feat. It is hard work, requiring stamina, a dose of humour and the ability to keep chatting and smiling for the entire duration of the show. There are the strategically placed catering trucks keeping people refreshed and fed, and food halls showcasing food and drink. Cooking demonstrations are always crowd pullers. A diverse range of activity takes place in the main arena, and is timed to perfection in a bid to keep the crowds entertained; happy people are more likely to linger longer and spend more money. It’s great to see lots of water bowls for dogs

outside stands, well-kept toilets and a wide selection of food available. The fishing and clay target shooting areas are very popular, in addition to the regular, annual competitions there are many ‘have a go’ opportunities. Over the years, I have interviewed countless men and women who said their interest in shooting and fishing started with a ‘have a go’ stand at a game fair. Clay shooting in particular. It’s a safe environment with an instructor (all trained and certified) coaching you. It’s all laid on so all you have to do is listen to the advice from the instructor and shoot. There are many competitions held at the game fairs, the gundog section at the Scottish Game Fair hosts a number of gundog tests over the three days. Handlers and their dogs have worked hard to qualify for their run at the game fair. It’s a sport that’s very well supported by sponsorship and by the crowds. Stand holders have had to deal with all sorts, from product theft to inclement weather damaging stock supplies and stands – just imagine the impact strong wind has on the tents, banners, flags and signage. The weather can also prevent people reaching the show ground, and pose problems with access and parking. I recall attending one of the fairs a few years ago, it was already waterlogged on the first day, it was cold and

rainy, and the only thought given to your outfit was, ‘is it waterproof?’ Understandably people stayed away, why pay money to walk around muddy aisles in the rain, but that’s the risk of outdoor entertainment, we don’t have any control over the weather, and even if we did have the right clothing, it doesn’t increase the enjoyment of a cold, wet game fair. I try to attend as many of the game fairs as I can, so I can enjoy catching up with my contacts, and meet new ones. At Scone, I particularly enjoyed the Chiene + Tait panel discussion surrounding the new legislative landscape facing Scottish Field Sports with Robbie Kernahan, Head of Wildlife, SNH, Keith Cowieson, Director of Song bird Survival, Eoghan Cameron, Chairman of BASC, Jamie Stewart, Director of Scottish Countryside Alliance, Megan Rowland, Deer Manager and Stalking Guide, and Rory Kennedy, Tax partner & Head of Rural at Chiene +Tait. It’s productive and thought provoking to highlight the issues and to collectively discuss a way ahead. We are all aware of the pressure on the industry and the need to reshape our futures, and not have them reshaped for us. We all appreciate the hard work and commitment required to organize the game fairs around Scotland, without them the gap in between the shooting season would be rather dull! 53

the shooting instructor

The difference between a Beginners Lesson and a Pro Lesson By Neil Silvester The National Shooting Centre, Falkirk In this edition, we want to highlight the differences between a beginner’s lesson and a Pro lesson, the reason being is that people often misunderstand. What I mean by this is we often have novice shooters booking Pro lessons with Stewart. And they think that because it is a Pro lesson, it will get them to a higher level of shooting in a quicker time scale. This is certainly not the case as you will see when we break down the differences between the lesson types. As with any sport, there are no shortcuts to improvement. You will only ever get out what you put in, and all the money in the world will never prevail over hard work, practice and dedication.

Beginners lesson The biggest differences between a beginner’s lesson and a Pro lesson are what is being worked on. In a beginner’s lesson for example, we would be looking to work on the basics and depending on ability and time shooting that could include things such as weapon handling, shotgun etiquette, maintenance and cleaning of the shotgun. We would then be looking at things like a consistent gun mount, keeping the gun moving through the target, keeping the head down/cheek on the stock, foot placement and foot movement and complete stance etc. The best way to think about a beginner’s lesson is that it is more of an allround session, it will be tailored to the individual shooters needs but will be covering multiple aspects of shooting rather than focusing on one specific thing. Pro lesson When it comes to a Pro lesson, rather than the instructor constructing a lesson for the client, the shooter would be coming to Stewart with a specific issue, the most common issue we see is being unable to hit a specific type of target. Whether it’s a left to right crosser or a springing teal, once you are stuck missing a specific target, it is difficult to self-diagnose the issue. If you are shooting competitively, this could be the 54

one thing holding you back from achieving higher scores. In this instance, Stewart would take the shooter straight to the type of target and watch how they approach it. He will then identify the issue that is preventing them from hitting said target, and offer a solution based on that particular shooters style of shooting. Stewart is not looking to change someone’s technique. He is looking to adapt it and give them the tools to move past the problem. Remember what works for one shooter, may not necessarily work for another. I continuously hear positive feedback from the clients following a Pro lesson. They seem astonished that he is able to offer them solutions without changing their fundamental shooting style. This is what sets Stewart apart from other coaches. Now that we have touched on the main differences between a beginners and a Pro lesson, let’s take a look at a case study that actually falls into both types of lesson. We wanted to include this short interview with one of our members to give you the client’s perspective on a lesson with Stewart. Russell Freeman is a fairly new member here at The National Shooting Centre. He joined us at the start of May this year. Although he is a new member, he is not new to shooting. As you

the shooting instructor will see in the interview, he has had a long break from shooting and is looking to make a return to his previous skill level. Having been out and shot by himself on our sporting stands a number of times, and entering a few competitions, he noticed that he was missing certain targets and couldn’t understand why. This will be down to skill fade. Skill fade can be a very frustrating thing to have, as it is too easy to focus on what you used to be able to do, rather than addressing where you are currently at. The best way to overcome skill fade is to return to basics and eventually your muscle memory will kick back in.

those points moving forward looking to make them a natural, unconscious part of my shooting. Following the lesson with Stewart, I now have a clear picture of how to go and work on these points and feel a lot more confident in my ability.

RF; Yes, I will be booking a block of 10 lessons with Stewart. In between each lesson, I will be working on the points from the previous lesson and confirming the changes have taken effect before moving to the next improvement.

NSC; Would you recommend a lesson with Stewart?

In summary then, a beginner’s lesson is the perfect environment to work on multiple aspects of your shooting technique, somewhere to master the basics and build your confidence. During a beginner’s lesson you are more likely to see

RF; Absolutely. NSC; Will you be taking more lessons?

bigger jumps in ability as you are starting from scratch. A Pro lesson is designed to work on a specific aspect of your technique. This will give you that extra few percent you need to take you to the next level, achieve the next class or win that first elusive competition. All that being said, whether its beginners or Pro, you have to put the work in to see the benefits, you will only ever get out what you put in. In our next article we will focus on Game shooting and what to expect in a lesson.

Russell Freeman member’s lesson with Stewart Cumming NSC; How long have you been shooting? RF; About 30 years, I have attempted to enter the competition world previously. I then took time away from the sport (15 years) In the last 6 – 8 months, I have taken it back up with a view to re-enter the competitive side. My main focus is on the NSP and STR side of competition. I enjoy the squaded aspect of these disciplines as it allows me to meet new people and also exposes me to shooters of a higher ability to me. Everyone is always happy to help. NSC; What did you want to work on in the lesson? RF; I wanted to go back to basics, following the time off, I have found myself missing some targets and not understanding how. By going back to basics, I am hoping to iron out any silly mistakes and become more consistent. NSC; What were the main points that you learned during the lesson? RF; Stance, gun speed and muzzle awareness in relation to the targets. NSC; How much more confident do you feel after the lesson? RF; I will be working on 55

Airguns go starwars Electronic airguns Airgun Tech

news Scottish Land Commission seeks community views

By Davie “Barndoor” Scott

If you haven’t used an airgun for a while you may be surprised by the technology that has become mainstream over the past few years. Some UK manufactured airguns now come with digital displays that show power levels, air pressure, shot count and much more. You can if you choose set your airgun to “bleep” when it needs a refill or even handier when you only have one pellet left in your magazine. More importantly though the electronics which are fully waterproof


can also control the power of each shot giving you a consistency far above the established norms and on a windless day allows you to shoot one hole groups at 50 yards and even further for firearms rated airguns. There are also electronic “fly by wire” trigger systems that send signals to the firing mechanism and this makes the triggers incredibly smooth and easier to shoot than normal mechanical trigger systems. Digital shot processors and solenoid air valve monitors provide consistency and can provide increased accuracy at your target. Easy to use menu systems allow you to change the “crispness” of the trigger to get it feeling exactly the way you want it to as well as turning off backlighting and sounds. The school of thought that the more technology the more there is to go wrong is now behind us as these modern airguns are now very reliable but do they help you to shoot better? They can indeed but it’s still down to the skill of the shooter and a good well practised shooter with a 20 year old spring powered airgun can still be more accurate. Many airgun club members have these air rifles and you can go along and try one. You might be pleasantly surprised.

The Scottish Land Commission has launched a new survey seeking views of communities across Scotland about community engagement in decisions relating to land. The Commission wants to make sure that all people in Scotland have the opportunity to be involved in decisions about land that significantly affect them. The Commission is supporting communities, land owners and land managers to work together to make better – and fairer – decisions about land use with the publication of its first Protocol on Community Engagement in Decisions Relating to Land. The Commission’s Protocol supports the Guidance on engaging communities in decisions relating to land, which was published by the Scottish Government in April last year. Over the next couple of years, the Commission will review the effectiveness of the guidance, and recommend improvements if needed. The survey will establish a baseline against which progress can be measured and identify where further support needs to be developed by the Commission or other organisations. Individual residents and community organisations in both urban and rural Scotland are being asked to complete the survey. The Commission hopes to: • learn more about how the way

land or buildings are managed impacts communities • know what opportunities people have to influence decisions made when land use changes • hear what type of support is needed to make engagement more effective. Clear and open communication is increasingly a key part of public life, with organisations creating mechanisms for ordinary people to be involved in decisions that affect them. A key area where people want to have their say is about local land use and management. Helen Barton, Community Engagement Advisor at the Scottish Land Commission said: “We want to hear from communities in both urban and rural Scotland, to find out what level of community engagement is taking place around decisions related to land. In the survey, the Commission will also be looking to find out how many respondents are aware of the Scottish Government’s guidance as well as the Commission’s own Protocol for Community Engagement, which sets out general and specific expectations for owners and managers of land. The survey will be open for responses until the end of September 2019 and can be found here: scot/communityengagement

“To try on also see the fuller range of LADIES, FLY FISHING, GAME SHOOTING and PICKING UP clothing please visit us at GAME FAIRS in summer. NomadUK also offers a bespoke and estate outfitting service” For full range visit or call 07736 25 5100

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Federation Internationale de Tir Aux Sportives de Chasse

F.I.T.A.S.C. Sporting Clay shooting ideal sport for the game shooter By Marcus Munro

What is “FITASC”? FITASC Sporting, is a shooting discipline which forms part of the ‘Federation Internationale de Tir Aux Sportives de Chasse’ based in Paris. FITASC as it is more commonly known, is an international form of Sporting Clays and enjoys a following the world over. Many would argue that it is the ultimate challenge or “Formula 1” of sporting clay target shooting. What format is used? The competitions are mainly shot over 100 targets made up of four layouts of 25 targets, or “Parcours”. GB selection shoots will have 150 – 200 targets, shot over 2 days, whilst the European and World Events have 200 targets, shot over 4 days. There are two variations in the format, known as “old system” and “new system”. The new system accommodates more shooters but requires considerably more traps, whilst the old system is still more favoured as the purest form of the sport. The old system comprises five traps on a layout with three different shooting positions. The positions are marked by a 1 metre diameter hoops placed on the ground. A squad of six shooters shoots the sequence of targets from Peg 1 and then moves on to Peg 2, then Peg 3. The downside of this system is that only one squad can be ‘in action’ on a particular layout at one time. The new system will have three or four shooting positions on each layout,(it has been known for five shooting positions at European or World

Shooting from inside a hoop

Championships),but each position will have its own set of traps. This means that a squad can be shooting from each position at the same time. This system allows more shooters to compete in a day but ground costs are increased considerably. World and European Championships will always be set on the new system with up to 8 parcours being used. On arriving at the stand, the squad is shown the targets they will shoot as per a printed menu placed in front of them. The first shooter will shoot all their singles from that stand and will then step off to allow the next shooter to move forward. The doubles is then shot with shooter number 2 starting, number 1 having dropped to the

last person to shoot. On the next layout, number 3 shooter will lead off and so on. This means that a different shooter starts each time. Double targets can be simultaneous, on report or following, “raffael” in FITASC terminology. On single targets, full use of the gun is allowed and a kill is recorded whether the first or second shot breaks the target. For the doubles, there is no requirement to fire one shot at each target and a competitor may fire both barrels at one of the targets if they wish. There is no penalty for doing so and the target will be scored if broken with either shot. The gun position Gun position until the target

appears, is strictly monitored. The heel of the stock must be touching the body below a horizontal line, 25cm down from the top of the shoulder. This line is always marked on the shooters vest to aid the referee. If the shooter moves his gun before the target is visible they will be warned immediately by the referee. Repeated instances will result in targets being deducted. Shooting takes place in a 1m hoop, the shooter has great freedom of movement and is not restricted in any way. Safe gun handling is of the highest importance. FITASC targets are not limited to standard clays and you will see all types, battues, 59

Federation Internationale de Tir Aux Sportives de Chasse

The gun position

rockets, rabbits, midis and minis, and variable colours in use. The variety adds considerable interest and makes accurate reading of the target more difficult. Cartridge load is restricted to 28 gram, but this reduction has not noticeably affected scores. FITASC can be shot with a regular Sporting Clay gun but many will opt for the longer barrel lengths like 32�.


There are regular F.I.T.A.S.C. shoots around Scotland

There are many makes and manufactures of guns and cartridges that are suitable for FITASC type shooting before best to talk to grounds or people whom actually shoot this discipline, even your old favourite game gun can be very effective as gun mount is key to good shooting. There are FITASC registered shoots all over Scotland throughout the year organised

through the Scottish Clay Target Association. To find out more and to book into shoots contact the SCTA Rep for Scotland Edith Barnes as pictured on 07710 749618 or email edithr. Due to the growing interest in this shooting sport there are

now some grounds in Scotland that are setting up layouts by appointment so you can come and try this style shooting to see what you think. I really believe many game shooters will really enjoy this discipline as the targets are just so variable great for perfecting

Federation Internationale de Tir Aux Sportives de Chasse gun mounting skills and the closest thing to practicing for game type shooting you can do. So why not investigate your local areas and clubs to see where you can try this sport. Here are a random selection of Scottish grounds and contacts where you might get some help and guidance: Northern Area - Highland Shooting Centre - Sutherland Contact Name: Marcus Munro Email: info@ Tel: 07977667746 www.highlandshootingcentre. com Central Area - National Shooting Centre - Falkirk Contact Name: Stewart Cumming Email: Tel: 01324851672

Eastern Area Lindertis Wood - Kirriemuir Contact Name: Stewart Elder Email: Tel: 07723609527 Eastern Area - Auchterhouse - Dundee Email: Info@ Contact Name: Emma Christie Tel: 01324851672 South Area – Auldgirth Shooting Ground - Dumfries Contact Name: David Collins Email: dccollins49mot@gmail. com Tel: 07376411919 West Area - North Ayrshire Shooting Ground – Dairy Contact Name: Tom Young Email: tom@ Tel: 01294 833297 28 gram cartridges


news Four Scottish landholdings gain prestigious wildlife conservation accreditation Four Scottish landholdings have gained prestigious international accreditation to recognise their ongoing work in wildlife management and conservation. Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) is a national version of the European Landowners Organisation’s Wildlife Estates (WE) accreditation scheme and is driving forward best practice in land management throughout Scotland’s farms, estates and other rural landholdings. At the recent Scottish Game Fair, accreditation was presented to: • Glenquaich (nr Aberfeldy, Perthshire) A landholding of more than 2,500 hectares of mixed habitat including upland moorland, rivers, lochs, woodlands and

pasture. Interests include arable, livestock, sporting, renewables and tourism. Glenquaich home to some of the rarest birds in the country. Over past 15 years, Glenquaich has participated in an annual bird survey and in 2017, 111 bird species were recorded. • Allargue (Corgarff, Strathdon) Originally accredited in 2013, this 2,300 hectare estate in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park has undergone reassessment following significant changes in land management. There has been significant woodland restructuring, including the removal of old spruce, which has been replaced by a mixture of natural regeneration and

native species planting. This has been critical in opening up corridors between the lowland and the upland which has benefitted multiple species but particularly black grouse. • Threepwood (Blainslie, Galashiels) Originally accredited in 2014, the 425ha landholding farm won The Nature of Farming Award for Scotland in 2010 and in 2013 it was Highly Commended in the Purdey Award for Game and Conservation. Owner Colin Strang Steel heavily involved with Soil Association, Working for Waders and the Nature Friendly Farming Network. Over the past five years, Threepwood has enjoyed a significant boost in the number of brambling birds on its land.






• The Hopes (Gifford, East Lothian) Originally accredited in 2013, The Hopes comprises 4,200 hectares of land, primarily open hill and moorland. Over the past five years the estate has been heavily involved in significant peatland restoration and woodland creation. In 2016, Hopes won the Golden Plover award which celebrates the best of integrated, sustainable upland management. Since being developed by Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), with support from SNH, more than 1.26 million acres of land in Scotland has qualified for WES certification. In Europe, Scotland sits second in the league table of wildlife estates accredited land, with only Spain ahead on approximately 1.6 million acres.

Training A Working Dog GUNDOGS One of the most common questions I am asked, is when and how do I start to train a gundog, is it at 6 months, 9 months, a year? The short answer is primarily when it’s ready! Training my own dogs starts as soon as they arrive basically, this is always done in a playful manner, whereby the pup doesn’t even realise it’s being trained, this will involve very simple things like throwing a ball, a rolled up sock, a toy, something that it’s happy to pick up and run back to you with, a lot of

retrieving and delivery issues in later life, stem from what has happened in the early stages of training. My first aim is to create the idea in the dog’s mind, that I am the centre of it’s world. I am a great believer in ensuring the dog is happy in what it’s doing, and what you ask it to do, getting your dog to do things it’s capable off first of all, is a must. Don’t ask it to do something that is to far out it’s comfort zone, confidence building between you and your dog is a must at all stages of it’s development.

By Stuart Dunn Caledonian Retriever Club The very basic training requirements, of walking on a lead, sit and stay, recall when off the lead, delivery to hand when retrieving, can all be installed within the dogs mind at a fairly early age, obviously every dog is different, and some will take things on board quicker than others, but things like picking up a thrown toy, dummy or ball and returning it back to you, can all be done in the house, garden, or around the dogs kennel. It is also very important not to overdo training at all stages of

your dog’s life, knowing when to push on with training and knowing when to slow down or even stop for a while, is an acquired skill on the handler’s part. I’ve seen too many handlers push their dogs on too early expecting their dog to cope, not realising the problems they are creating now, or later on for the dog. Like most things in life, moderation is a key aspect of turning out a well-balanced, happy to please gundog, who enjoys his/her work. Therefore,


Gundogs don’t do too much of anything training wise to early on, simply sowing the “seeds” of what you want is just as important, and remember the finished gundog will be around two to two and a half years old, possibly even older. So, don’t be in a massive rush to get what you want installed in your dog’s mind, forced upon it too early, this will only create problems along the way. For the handler who wishes to possibly compete in tests and trials, one thing that I think is neglected by a lot of handlers is what I call the “magic metre” around your feet. This is where the early stage training develops into good tight heel work, tidy return and delivery of dummy or game, good marking and steadiness to shot, sound or movement. For this part to be right, the early stage training

must be in place, once that’s right putting it all together becomes slightly easier, and with the modern day Labradors if you can get your dog to be steady and comfortable around your feet, it will mark better, hopefully retrieve better, and return and deliver to hand with pace and desire, and will require less handling when looking for its retrieve. Mindset training is another huge topic with me, too many handlers assume dogs think like humans, they don’t! So treating them like humans will only have limited benefits. We will do a separate article on this soon, so keep watching. Introducing a dog to “others” is another topic we get asked a lot about, I’m a firm believer the more socialised a dog is, the better it will accept that not everything is for him/her, and that patience has to be the

requirement. This pays dividends in later life particularly for working/competition dogs where there can be a lot of “waiting around” while other dogs are tried on retrieves, but again be careful, because placing a young dog in a training class to early when it’s not quite ready, can create problems with steadiness, making a noise, and lack of control. So tread carefully, make sure they are gradually introduced to the next training level, and if you feel it’s not quite ready stop. Go back a step and start again. Here at the Caledonian Retriever Club we run training classes throughout the summer on a weekly basis, this consists of between 7-8 handlers per class, with dogs of varying ages and ability levels. It’s a great way of extending the dogs all round ability to gain vital

experience of a whole host of training requirements from water work, land work, walked up or safari style test situations. This stage of training I would suggest really suits all dogs that have mastered the early stage training requirements, which are sometimes better achieved on a “1-2-1 basis” to start with. The training class set up done correctly, will very quickly improve most dogs all round ability, temperament, and the handlers sense of what is required of your dog as a shooting, picking up dog, or a competition dog. Please also remember its not only the dog that needs training, handlers should also be open minded on how they handle their dogs, and many would benefit from training lessons aimed at the handler as much as the dog. Its very easy to have a bad handling technique, that

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sometimes leads to confusing signals, lack of understanding of what’s required, and subsequent poor performance.

So as a general rule, take things slowly, get yourself the best advice and help as you can if you’re not too experienced, introduce your

dog to training at a higher level only when it’s ready, and don’t be in too much of a rush, and hopefully you and your dog will have a fantastic

relationship at whatever level for many years to come. Keep up the training and good luck!!

Stuart Dunn, Caledonian Retriever Club


country woman

Caroline Campbell By Linda Mellor

Caroline Campbell was born and brought up in a small village called Uphall in West Lothian, surrounded by the countryside. Caroline said, ‘the family house was as nearer to the village of Eccelsmachan than it was to Uphall. It was very rural so growing up surrounded by countryside meant I would spend lots of time outdoors. Not very far away was Oatridge farm (now Oakridge Campus), I found myself there a lot, other favourites were the Binny Craig and the surrounding fields.’ After leaving school, Caroline went on to college to train as a hairdresser, she said, ‘the place to be was in Edinburgh. I got myself a really good job there in a successful salon, but I never wanted to live in the city or have a city lifestyle, so I was happy to commute.’ 66

Caroline was 26 years old when she was diagnosed with lupus. ‘My life changed drastically. I had to give up my career as the illness effected my nervous system. It was extremely hard coping with the disease, but my positive attitude made me focus and identify my real love, the Scottish countryside. Looking back It makes you realise that life’s journeys are all significant, as my life now may not have been possible if it wasn’t for my determination and positive attitude.’ Caroline developed an interest in dogs, and started looking at pedigrees and going to watch dog shows so she could see what went on and what was involved. ‘In 1996, my then husband, and I, boång to take my chance, and hoped that my eye and gut were right. That was the start of the Binnaig

Kennel (this was a shortened version of my childhood haunt - Binny Craig). In 2010, life changed once again for Caroline when her marriage broke up, ‘I left with my car, 6 dogs and £70. I knew I was never going to go back so my positive attitude had to appear again. I rented a house in Eccelsmachen then six weeks later I found my country cottage on Hopetoun estate.’ Hopetoun Estate became Caroline’s home, ‘I not only live there I also work there too. I work for the Marquess of Linlithgow, he lives in the big country house surrounded by beautiful gardens and countryside. My job varies each day, the running of a country house suits me, I feel content and happy. It really is the best job.’ Caroline’s two passions worked together seamlessly,

‘my job fits in with my dogs. I show them to a high standard now mainly at champion show level’. There are only four championship shows out of 42 in Scotland so Caroline spends a great deal of her weekends travelling. ‘I have made up three champions, all homebred, and also judge at a championship level. The making up a dog to become a champion is not easy, labradors have a healthy entry and you must win three challenge certificates to gain ‘Sh Ch’ in front of their name. From my last litter I kept a dog and a bitch, Mani, Binnaig Benavie, and Mo, Binnaig Eskimo Blonde (Blonde always features in my bitches’ kennel names). I really loved Mo's conformation and outgoing way, and there was always something I loved about Mani, and he has a great head.

country woman

Do you know your pheasants? By Ian Clark Summer means show season. I’ve already caught up with many of you at Scone Game Fair and the Royal Highland Show, and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at Moy Estate for the highlight of the countryside calendar here in the north the Highland Field Sports Fair on the 2nd and 3rd of August. As some of you know, I work part time with Scottish Land and Estates, this year at Moy we’ll be sharing our stand with the Association of Deer Management Groups. With the deer management review publication dates just around the corner, please do

come along and talk things through. These reviews – one into the deer management group structure, and one into the efficiency of deer management as a whole – potentially impact on all upland deer managers, and I would advise everyone give them a look when they come out. With that in mind, in a few weeks it’s back to the hill as the first clients start to arrive for the stag season. This year would struggle to be more of a contrast to 2018. When I think back to the droughts, the heat, the struggling crops, the stress for livestock and

wild animals, and compare with the lush hay fields, pastures and hills this year, it’s quite a relief! The cooler weather and good grazing should see us with a rut that resembles something closer to normal. Both hinds and stags should have put back on the condition and weight lost in the winter of 2017 – and that they failed to regain in summer last year. This year’s calves will have had a great start too, with good weather, milky hinds, and few flies. So while it’s not been a warm summer for us, it’s been perfect for deer!

Copyright Paul North

Copyright Jean Howman

Pups are eligible to show at six months so the two Binnaig babies went to Manchester champions show in Jan. This show was their only chance to qualify for Crufts in March. Mani qualified and that was the start of a truly wonderful career for this young lad. My proudest moment being when he won Best Puppy in Breed at Crufts 2019. He has won countless Best Puppy Dogs, Best Puppy in Breeds and also three Best puppy in shows at Breed club champion shows. My aim has always been to try and breed on a quality labrador, keeping up the consistency and holding on to this precious line that has taken me 23 years.’ Involvement with the working side of labradors was something that found its way to Caroline, she said, ‘I sat on The Labrador Club of Scotland Executive Committee and there was a new field trial committee appointed in 2010 so I quickly got involved with training classes and soon became the field trial secretary’s assistant, carrying game at trials, and stewarding. Enjoying the moors and the hills in whatever weather is another passion, ‘it’s amazing to be outdoors making the most of our countryside. I never wanted to compete in the working side, I just wanted to help out and enjoy the freedom. Training young dogs is a great achievement, again something I found I wasn’t too bad at. My dummy throwing skills are excellent for a woman, so I’m told (LM: I can vouch for that, I’ve seen Caroline in action at dog tests!). Seven years ago Caroline started beating. ‘The shoot keeper moved and started up on his own (CC sporting) on Kippendavie estate. I soon got a season up there and helped out with the cooking, and my speciality, baking cakes, they were truly appreciated by everyone. All sorts of jobs came from that, feeding, making bird pens, again experiences I will truly treasure.’ Caroline said, ‘I have recently been appointed as President for the Labrador Club of Scotland, so I think I can safely say, my life involvement in dogs, be it showing or working, will carry on!’

Himalayan Monal

Reeves’s Pheasant

Ring neck pheasant

Middle, Ninebanks, Hexham, Northumberland, NE47 8DL 67

And the prize winners are? By Stuart Blair

If interested, call us now on: 01847 889000 or look at our website:


July is a busy time for us, as new students get settled into their work placements. For many students, it is probably the first time that they have lived alone and with the added complication of starting a new career, it is a challenging time. Many people joke about the ability of gamekeeping students to live on a diet made up of baked beans, pot noodles and Red Bull, but it’s a busy time; with birds going out to wood, young grouse on the hill and fox dens needing to be cleared up. Long hours are the order of the day and it is important that keepers eat well and catch up on much needed sleep – when they can! It is also a stressful time for Headkeepers and even College Lecturers, who do their best to keep an eye on trainees, intent on burning themselves out! Without sounding like an “old fart”, loneliness wasn’t a recognised feature when I started out and “mental health” hadn’t been invented, however, nowadays awareness of such issues has

increased and it is crucial that not only trainees but everyone involved in our industry continues to be vigilant, to ensure that no one suffers in silence. Despite the pressures that the Industry is under, it is doing well and for the 5th year running at North Highland College we have 100% employment for our graduates and a list of employers looking for staff. It’s a good time to get into the industry as we also see increased investment in Estates. As usual, we had our annual College clay shoot and prize giving in June. MA student of the year – Eoin Urquhart (Strathconon estate) NC student of the year – Richard Deans (Tressady Estate) HNC student of the year – Alasdair Davidson (Conaglen Estate) HNC most improved College student – Euan MacDonald (Braulen Estate) High gun of the day (keeper) – Jim Carter, Holylee estate

High gun of the day (student) – Finnley Struthers (Glen Dye estate) Many thanks to Rothiemurchus Estate for hosting the shoot and our sponsors, Bidwells, SGA, BASC, Rovince, Highland Game, Holland and Holland. As mentioned many times before, Gamekeeping has changed dramatically over the last 25 years and the College system also has to keep in step. At UHI we are launching a new online system in August 2019 which should allow our students to access their college work more easily from remote locations and deliver a wider curriculum with less requirement to travel to learning centres. Working closely with estates, we see this type of “flexi-learning” as the way forward and hope to be able to deliver Continued Professional Development to the wider industry in the near future too. This year, I have also been very fortunate to have been involved in the Holland and

Holland Bursary scheme, for young people in the Land Use Sector and was delighted to attend the launch at their London shop in early July. The applications were

of a very high standard and I was very excited to see the progress of the two winners; Sam Kilduff and Iona MacPherson. The passion and dedication shown by all of

the finalists was quite humbling and if these are the people that are going to be taking us into the future, then the industry is in a great place.


By Jamie Stewart Director Scottish Countryside Alliance In November 2018 Green Party MSP Alison Johnstone reported that she had witnessed a fox running for its life, pursued by a pack of foxhounds. Mrs Johnstone had joined employees of the League Against Cruel Sports on a chilly November morning as they hid in bushes to spy on the lawful activities of the Lauderdale foxhounds. Alison Johnstone’s report of the incident followed the general modus operandi of the LACS, record selective footage of foxhounds, make vexatious complaints of law breaking and provide footage to the BBC ahead of any Police complaint. Rather than apologies, eight months later, Robbie Marsland, Director Scotland for the League Against Cruel Sports voiced his disappointment that the COPFS don’t accept the law had been broken. On Monday June 24th 2019, I joined fourteen people (most of who seemed to be employees of animal rights groups) outside Holyrood to as the shameful Alison Johnstone MSP (Green Party) launched a public consultation on her proposal to ban the use of dogs in fox control and many other wildlife management activities.

She directly contradicts the findings of the Scottish Government’s review into the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 carried out by Lord Bonomy. He concluded that further restrictions on the use of dogs in fox control “could seriously compromise effective pest control in the country. Mrs Johnstone’s plans are completely illogical and totally unworkable. They have no justification on the basis of evidence or principle and would remove the rights of farmers across Scotland to effectively control foxes and protect their livelihoods, with no justification whatsoever. I am only sorry that the COPFS robbed us of the opportunity to question her understanding of the law... An MSP can progress a bill, but they cannot ignore the rights of people in rural Scotland. The consultation will run for a twelve week period, closing on 15th September. You can find the Consultation, here: https:// WildMammals/ Please feel free to contact me on this on any other countryside related issue.

Jamie Stewart Director Scottish Countryside Alliance Tel: 01890 818554 Mobile: 07825736903

news New book celebrates the love of country sports

‘For the love of country sports’ by Linda Mellor, published via Amazon on 12th August, 2019. The book celebrates our passion for country sports and the outdoors. Linda, a long-standing country sports writer and photographer, said, ‘In recent years, there was an increase in companies donating products to be shared on social media in the hope a young, attractive face and slender body increased sales. The market was saturated with pouty, eyelash fluttering images and carefully co-ordinated outfits. No one spoke with heartfelt emotion or shared authentic stories.’ ‘For the love of country sports’ shares 40 stories of men and women talking passionately about their involvement, from childhood memories to life changing achievements. It’s not about looking good in your colour co-ordinated gear, or catching the light for your best pose with a shotgun over your shoulder. It’s about the love of country sports… Buy the book from 12 August on Amazon.

Readers Competition

WIN one of NomadUK’s unique multi purpose “CABER FEIDH” Stalking Smocks The Most unique Deer Stalking Smock to be launched at SCOTTISH GAME FAIR a very innovative Highland Deer Stalking Smock with numerous features. A silent, waterproof, windproof and breathable Fleece. Coming in a camouflage beating lightweight tweed pattern (Argyll) which disappears on the open hill and features a zip in anti-midge veil with fabulous un-interrupted vision. Other features include an upper zippered pocket with “D” ring for smoke indicator, roe calls, radio, etc... The veil zips into place on the front of the hood and rolls up under a studded flap when not in use. With further binocular pocket and interior pocket for telephone and car keys as well as further pockets for drag ropes. Deep side hand pockets and a zippered pocket on the back ( for drag ropes etc ) are featured along with a back longer than the front to protect when sitting down . There are 2 x zippered side vents with mesh lining to allow a breeze through whilst still keeping the midges out! “Mossies will drive you mad ... for further complete protection in warmer months ... try on the “Anti Mosquito Quadrider”


Answer two simple questions where answers can be found at: 1) The date of Andrew’s testimonial? 2) How long have people been wearing NomadUK garments? Email your answers to: (leaving your name and contact number) Competition closes on 30th October, 2019. Winner will be announced on magazine facebook page. GOOD LUCK!

“To try on also see the fuller range of LADIES, FLY FISHING, GAME SHOOTING and PICKING UP clothing please visit us at GAME FAIRS in summer. NomadUK also offers a bespoke and estate outfitting service” For full range visit or call 07736 25 5100

Great expectations! Never has so much been expected from our Scottish countryside By Dee Ward, vice-chairman of operations, Wildlife Estates Scotland

As a nation, we collectively look towards our delightful rural landscape and expect it to produce food, employment, a space for recreation, clean air and also a space for wildlife to grow. All of the land in Scotland is managed for a specific purpose and how we offset many of the competing demands can be a challenging balancing act, especially where the management should also make commercial sense. Yet, that does not mean we shouldn’t try our best to get the balance just right. 72

Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) is a national version of the European Landowners Organisation’s Wildlife Estates (WE) accreditation scheme and is driving forward best practice in land management throughout Scotland’s farms, estates and other rural landholdings. Since being developed by Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), with support from SNH, more than 1.26 million acres of land has qualified for WES certification. For a scheme which made its first accreditation in 2013, this is an impressive achievement and

places Scotland second in the league table of wildlife estates accredited land in European nations, with only Spain ahead on approximately 1.6 million acres. However, WES has plans to grow further – we want to double the number of accredited areas to 2.5 million by 2023 and have recently appointed a new project officer, Caroline Pringle, to help us in pursuit of that goal. But why does a voluntary accreditation scheme such as WES actually matter? In truth, there are many different answers to that question.

Farmers and landowners want to run their businesses profitably and efficiently but many also recognise that they have stewardship of the wildlife and habitat around them. This is a theme that is becoming ever more important as we look towards how land will be managed following our departure from the European Union. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) currently supports farming production across Europe and this is likely to be replaced by a new form of public

Great Expectations! support for land management as we move into the mid-2020s and beyond. South of the border, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has hailed the future of a ‘Green Brexit’ where financial support for landbased businesses would be more closely tied to delivery of public goods. By that, we mean landowners supporting strategies such as carbon capture, provision of clean water as well as flood mitigation, and, naturally, the enhancement of biodiversity. Whilst there is currently less detail in Scotland on what will replace the CAP, the Scottish Government has ambitious climate change targets and with land managers already supporting the government on delivering these policies, it means WES accredited properties are already well-placed to help the Scottish Government meet these targets. There is no archetypal landholding that goes through the accreditation process. The scheme covers farms and estates with a wide variety of land uses, including sporting, forestry and conservation. One of our most recently accredited properties is Glenbervie Estate in Kincardineshire. It is a diverse 2,000 acre estate and sits at the heart of the Macphie food business, the UK’s leading, independent ingredients manufacturer. Roxburghe Estate received its accreditation shortly after Glenbervie and it covers 52,000 acres in the south of Scotland where land management encompasses agriculture, forestry and sporting activities. Recent conservation projects undertaken by Roxburghe include a fiveyear programme to enhance biodiversity and habitat on

moorland at Byrecleugh and Rawburn, benefiting birds such as curlew, lapwing and snipe and in particular, black grouse. The estate has also been developing a project to restore grey partridge numbers on lowground at Roxburgh, with 43 pairs in 2012 building to 127 pairs by 2017. Different forms of land use achieve distinct outcomes for biodiversity and conservation and there can often be conflicts between those. Species that thrive on certain forms of land do considerably less well on others, such as wading birds which flourish on moorland but are becoming a far rarer sight on other land types. This can often lead to tricky balancing acts for land managers but all of the WES accredited properties have a shared resolution to enhance biodiversity, on a landscape scale, while maintaining their livelihoods. WES has recently assembled a new Advisory Board and Technical Committee which has a broad spectrum of representation from organisations including the Scottish Government, SNH, the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Angus Glens Moorland Group, the RSPB and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust as well as a number of representatives from private landholdings. It is hoped that this will build a broad consensus on how best to manage all the different forms of land we have in Scotland and that the range of skills and knowledge available to WES will ensure that it is the standout accreditation scheme for land managers who are serious about conserving and enhancing biodiversity. As we move forward into the next decade and whatever the future holds for our rural areas, it is incum

Subscribe to SHOOTING SCOTLAND MAGAZINE see page 58

By Andrew Grainger Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group Recently VisitScotland published the results of their Industry Barometer for the first quarter of 2019. Visitor performance indicators showed 67% of tourism businesses felt numbers were similar or had increased in the period with 66% of tourism businesses experiencing an increase in numbers from overseas. Very positive signs despite the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit. Interestingly the survey showed that the majority of tourism businesses were pretty ambivalent when it came to preparing or planning for Brexit. What the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG) must do, however, is evaluate what impact Brexit could have on our sector. The low value of the pound against other countries’ currencies may well be playing a part in the apparent increase in visitor numbers. This, in value for money terms, should likewise make Scotland an attractive country sports destination for tourists However, depending upon what sort of Brexit deal our next Prime Minister negotiates, EU Firearms Passes (EFP) may no longer be recognised by the UK authorities, including the police. Their sponsors will still have to apply for a UK Visitor’s Permit if they want to travel with their own shot guns or rifle but it could be no longer acceptable to produce a copy of their EFP

to support their application. This does not weaken current firearm controls as the police will continue to assess an applicant’s fitness to hold a firearm as part of their consideration of the Visitor’s Permit application. It just means that additional documentation such as national hunting licenses or firearms certificates will have to be produced. We understand that the Home Office hopes to avoid this additional complexity. The UK has been given approval to continue exporting animals and products of animal origin to the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, exports of animals and their products would need to go through an EU border inspection post (BIP) and be accompanied by an export health certificate (EHC) obtainable from a vet or local authority inspector. This, obviously, would apply to deer heads and possibly other trophies. Separate from Brexit the provisions of the large mammal hunting protocol currently being drawn up by sector representative bodies will have an impact on the country sports tourism sector. This group was established under Scottish Government direction following ‘goat gate’ and is intended to create a framework for best practice, ethical and sustainable hunting in Scotland.

Please follow our social media accounts and check our website for further information. 73

Discovering and experiencing the wonders of Scotland Ossian, a bespoke travel service, has been launched by Galbraith, offering international visitors an unforgettable experience in Scotland The service builds on the firm’s extensive expertise in field sports over the past five decades but will also offer a wide range of new experiences reflecting Scotland’s unique culture and heritage. Robert Rattray, a partner with Galbraith and head of Ossian, said: “Scotland’s appeal is based on its unrivalled combination of heritage, the beauty of the natural landscape, world class sport and culture. “Many people from London, the US and further afield come here to enjoy shooting, fishing and stalking in majestic settings. This will continue but there is also a significant and growing demand for other sports, or a cultural or historic taste of Scotland. I have been asked to help people to access these experiences many times over the years.

“The idea behind Ossian is to cater to this demand and formalize what we have been doing in the past on an ad hoc basis. “Some visitors from overseas have ancestral family connections which they want to explore, but more often it’s about experiencing the timehonoured traditions of Scotland which are celebrated throughout the world.” Ossian will offer exclusive grouse shooting experiences, salmon fishing and stalking tailored to the demands of the relative newcomer or the seasoned expert. Field sports arranged by Ossian are always accompanied by expert knowledge and great hospitality. In addition to exhilarating outdoor pursuits, guests may choose to sample Scottish culture and heritage, go on a

Hill walking in Wester Ross with fantastic views


wildlife safari or travel to parts of the Highlands and Islands which are off the beaten track. Private transfers, fine dining and exclusive accommodation are all part of the Ossian service. Robert Rattray continued: “You only need to look at the success of the North Coast 500 to get a sense of the insatiable demand out there for new and authentic experiences that touch the imagination. “A Scottish holiday is now about more than just the sport; with experience-led holidays increasingly popular. “Galbraith has an unrivalled understanding of the rhythms of Scottish field-sports and a close relationship with over 100 Scottish Estates. This breadth of knowledge will continue to be critical to our day to day business. Demand remains strong for more traditional sporting activities. If

you want a day’s hind stalking, a week’s fishing, or a sporting lodge then we are still the people to call. “However, we are moving with the times and Ossian offers a wide range of extraordinary experiences across Scotland. Stay in a sporting lodge, but take a wildlife safari to catch a glimpse of Scotland’s Big Five, search for the Northern Lights in the sky, learn how to cook your own freshly caught lobsters and langoustines, island hop to remote beaches by seaplane, try your hand at water sports or archery, drive the North Coast 500 in a classic car, or gallop through the Great Glen on horseback.” The combination of tradition, history and culture combined with the beautiful great outdoors makes for a perfect Scottish holiday.

The Hebnrides boast many wonderful beaches

A wake up call?

A salmon season to forget, or the final wake up call? PART 2 By Ian Gordon

Final part of the Jigsaw I feel privileged to have spent a lifetime visiting different salmon rivers around the world, speaking to and learning from those working on them all. This summer, a summer of very low water and trying conditions for salmon fishing was no exception. You never know it all at this game. In fact, paradoxically, the more you find out, the more you realise there is to learn. What a fantastic game this salmon fishing is! Some of the best fishing I had with clients this summer was on

a river that had closed to fishing since 1979 due to the parasite Gyrodactylus Salaris (GS). How can that be I hear you ask? Well, because the river had nothing in it there was no resistance to restocking using hatcheries. Smolts were introduced to the river which, due to hydro dams, is only three miles long. However, over the three miles divers counted 300 fish, 100 per mile or the equivalent of the “fishable” part of the Spey with 10,000 fish in it. A figure it’s not seen for at least 5 years, and in all probably, much more than this!

Without being exceptional, the fishing on this river was good. Every guest caught salmon (something that very few people could boast this summer) my goal for my fishing parties all the time, and some really nice fish amongst them. One of the main reasons I go to those rivers is, although they don’t have masses of salmon, the hatchery ensures they normally have enough to meet angling expectation. By that, I mean there are a few jumping around and you feel like you are actually fishing over something; you

have something to aim for. 100+ salmon per mile of Hatchery fish. Without the hatchery this river would have none. So, the fact of the matter is I’m taking guests from the UK to fish rivers with just a few hundred fish, however, 100 per mile represents what we had here on the Spey between the late 1990s to 2010. This river also provides those fishing it with some good sport and a chance of a big one too. Otherwise, as someone with a massive passion for Speyside and Scotland, why would I be taking people there? So, given

Atlantic salmon smolt


A wake up call? that this is obviously creating good fisheries in those rivers, why is this not even trailed here in Scotland? It would seem our Biologists think we should have zero fish remaining in our rivers before anything like this should be trailed! But why? And, for that matter, when I think about it, we do have rivers with no fish in them, so why not spend some money on something we “know” works elsewhere!? It’s my own opinion that those working and having success with stocking in Iceland should be taken in to help fix the “fishing” problem here. Everyone involved with stocking programmes which have produced little or no result here in Scotland should step aside as obviously their methodology is useless, outdated, and poorly implemented. If this can work in one part of the world, at least let it be trailed by people with a track record over those who have failed miserably but continue to talk a good line. The situation here is actually worse than people think. Surely we deserve a final throw of the dice without interference from those who have quite obviously failed to help over the last 40 years and, on the face of it, look to be more interested in having one true “wild” (whatever that means

Salmon race


now, we’ve had hatcheries for decades) fish rather than a few thousand hatchery reared fish in a river commercially devoid of salmon. On some rivers this is exactly where we are, yet still nothing happens. Still more of the same! An experiment carried out in Late August on the beats directly below the Craigellachie bridge involving divers and an Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), or underwater Drone, reinforced all the concerns. Numbers of fish in those pools, instead of being counted in 100s were counted as a few pairs or single fish, a fact that, other than those of us with a keen interest, no one would quite believe! The facts were, in this very good area our river had a maximum of between 30 and 40 fish per mile, which, going on the above, at best, meant a max of 3000 fish in the river system! Personally, I’d say this was an over estimate and I knew at this time, when trying to catch fish for the hatchery later this year, they’d struggle to find enough. Knowing this to be the case, those fish from the 2017 broodstock still in the hatchery at this point should have been treated as gold dust, kept on until 2019 and what remained of the wild fish left alone to spawn naturally.

My return from Norway to the Spey in August this year found a level of frustration much greater than I’d seen in previous years. Ghillies wondered if we would finish with “2000” fish on the river! My god, wasn’t long ago, when trying to point out the decline and the fact we needed to do something, we were told to “stop scaremongering”, the river still averaged 10,000 per season, most of which were killed, which meant few double captures! One beat I know caught the same fish 3 times in one week, so officially counted 3 times, now call me a scaremonger if you like, but do we have to wait until we have “none” before we raise the red flag and say, Huston, we have a problem!? As per normal, heads were firmly fixed in the sand with people blaming the drought, low water and cycles for the lack of fish. OK, following this mindset, how does this year compare with say 1976, the last really low water year? Or 2003, when mega low water conditions in the autumn, not only on the Spey, but most rivers, should have also been the reason for a poor run. A quick look at records for those years, along with the fact that rivers such as the Helmsdale, which had a decent run of fish this year show this “theory” to

be yet more nonsense nothing more than living on “hope”. It never ceases to amaze me, even when armed with the “facts” a great many people want to simply ignore them in favour of, hope! The next thing to think about here is that old classic – “After all, the “main” problem is at sea”!! Really!? Let’s have a look at this more closely – 1. In that case why would rivers such as the Helmsdale/ Naver, have such a stable return? My thought on this is the land through which it, and other northern rivers flow has never changed to the degree that those others have. Another great example of this are the rivers of the Kola Peninsula in Russia. Anyone with open eyes and has made the helicopter trip across the tundra will see nothing, no influence from man, a land as god had made it, much of Iceland is the same, thus juvenile production remains pretty much as it always was. An idiot could see this, but not it seems those eternally looking for “other reasons”! Look at any other east coast river and everyone and their granny can see can see that this is simply not the case. The basic hydrology of all those rivers south and east of the Ness has changed dramatically. Water abstraction, agricultural drainage, forestry drainage, Dams and Distilleries have all taken their toll, and somewhat interestingly, the insect population has notably declined and changed too, any research? I’m sure it won’t be long!!. All this is before we mention the number of “people” staying in those areas and their washing habits. How much more detergents now enter the river? Treated water is bacteria free, not so in the past. The population of the Spey Valley has risen by 5-fold over the past 60 years. Anyone who thinks all those things won’t have a significant effect on the rivers ability to produce juvenile salmon is simply, well, I won’t even go there!! Ours and other “affected” rivers simply don’t produce enough juvenile fish to provide us with a return of 60 – 100,000 fish! However Other than the anecdotal observations of Ghillies and Anglers, there

A wake up call? were no juvenile surveys at this time of plenty. 2. Predators – We all know there are more of those and everyone bar no one realises something must be done here. I’m sure if the scale of the problem is realised then a good strategy can be formulated. 3. Think about the statement - “After all, the main problem is at sea”!! Once smolts reach the sea their survival/abundance has “always” been out-with our control. Given that we don’t know how many adult fish are either in the river, or Juveniles leave the river, we can’t simply keep guessing and making assumptions based on this incomplete data. People forget just how vast the Atlantic Ocean is and there “are”, and have always been, so many natural problems for salmon that we have absolutely no control over. Obviously, those determine, and have always determined good, bad or indifferent years.

Man’s meddling in the ocean adds to this too. A quick look at rivers such as e.g. the Helmsdale or Naver, where the numbers of adult and juveniles are less affected by man than that of most rivers, provides us with a much better indicator as to high or low marine survival, and this year, it would appear marine survival for this particular age class was fair to good. I’m sure the joined-up research being conducted by various river boards, the AST and Others, tracking Smolts will help clarifying this, although some concerns over the tags being used seem to be justifiable. This said, as this stage of the game we really need all the questions to be properly answered in order to make a proper presentation to the pathetic government and their wishy-washy advisors we have here in Scotland protection of, not only the “protection” our most Iconic fish, but the economic

value it provides for so many in both Scotland and the UK. On a very positive note, although numbers of fish in some rivers seem to be well in decline, those small rivers I fished and others I looked at had enough fish to make fishing both pleasurable and viable. For sure it would take a monumental effort with a serious number of smolts over a few years to provide an extra 10,000 salmon in rivers such as the Spey at this time, however, smaller/shorter rivers, where smolts are unaffected by fish farms will have the potential to provide the salmon angler with decent sport if, of course, their hatchery is run in the correct way by people with a positive track record and not someone still in short trousers who’s only experience comes from a book or report written by someone of similar ilk and with a similar track record. No other business I can think of would wear this type

of pathetic management. This, along with a first-class voice on a strong video presentation to those decision makers calling for a reduction in predator numbers is crucial at this stage of the game. The “facts” are, the tank is almost empty and we need to try something different. What about rivers such as the Spey, Tay and Tweed? Well, those running such rivers will continue to as they’ve always done, “Hope” things will get better. This said, personally, I’ll never stop fishing those rivers because, irrespective of numbers of fish, there will always be a chance of a fish, that and the fact they have some of the best Ghillies, beautiful fly-fishing pools, wonderful infrastructures and services. As long as you come with realistic expectations, the discerning fly fisherman will have the most wonderful time here. Article originally published in Fieldsports Magazine

Fishing at Craigellachie Bridge on the Spey


The Ghillie

Salmon fishing Ghillies need to unite for Job protection and security due to catches dropping dramatically in recent years By Bob White Ghillie on Catholes, Pitlochrie, Benchil and Luncarty on the River Tay

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association Fishing Group in recent weeks held a constructive meeting in Perth with ghillies about the crisis facing salmon, jobs and action needed NOW.


Things discussed were predation and stocking policies. In the west, fish farm regulations. Every river has a problem, for the workers and the anglers. These, and more, must be tackled.

All agreed there is a need now to unite under a banner which has infrastructure, support, political voice and backing. Time left for building organisations from scratch is gone.

Negotiations took place about how the existing SGA Fishing Group could now be expanded to give ghillies and anglers greater political voice. If new members and concerned

The Ghillie anglers were to join, countrywide, this could create finance to pay for dedicated time/personnel devoted to saving salmon fishing. If it is backed, this group would be run by ghillies, river workers and anglers FOR ghillies, river workers and anglers. Its tasks would be decided by its members, as working people and people who love their pastime. No top-down structure, it would be ground-up delivering work the group sets for itself. The meeting attendees acknowledged some see SGA as a gamekeeper-only body. The SGA Fishing sub-group, formed only a few years ago, now has 18 sitting members and wants to build its activity. In 1997, the SGA’s keepers and stalkers came together as a group of working people in Scotland to fight for the future of THEIR industry. They carry weight today, with public and politicians. The fishing section would be separate from the SGA Committee, but would come under the organisation’s established banner, as a subgroup. It would be starting the

way the SGA’s keepers started in 1997, but with structure behind it. If this is to be taken forward, we are looking for genuine pledges of support. That would give an indication of the numbers keen to get involved, so decisions can be taken soon on viability. Please reply as soon as possible to info@scottishgamekeepers. saying you read about the Fishing Group and want to pledge support to join. If it is decided to move forward with the plan, that pledge can be turned into a membership of £40 per year. No money needs to change hands until any decision is made. As well as tackling the problems within fishing, SGA membership (£40 a year) gives Public Liability indemnity cover worth £10m, access to discounted legal and employment/HR advice, membership vehicle and clothing discounts, quarterly magazines, access to training and more. If you shoot, the insurance also covers this. See: https:// www.scottishgamekeepers. Please get involved and make the commitment. The

time for sitting on the side lines are over. One powerful voice

could make all the difference in troubled times.

79 81

rural style

“As Scotland’s oldest bespoke tailor, Stewart Christie & Co Ltd, we have looked back through 300 years of design and textiles to dress estates across Scotland and the UK. Now bringing classic shapes and silhouettes from our historic archives, we dress the 21st century man and woman, ghillie and gamekeeper, family and friends to bridge the gap between generations and to keep Scottish tweeds, woollens and textiles alive.”


rural style


cooking with game

Roast Mallard with Rhubarb Compote & Hasselbacks By Wendy Barrie

Ingredients: 1 pair of Mallard Ducks Isle of Skye Sea Salt and crushed black pepper 4-6 new potatoes per person 4 slim sticks of rhubarb

Recipe & photography © Wendy Barrie

With mists of mellow fruitfulness in the air it is a time to think of game birds and rich harvests from our fields, hedgerows and rivers. Border Country is a great place to experience such riches and at Burts Hotel in Melrose they will arrange your shooting and fishing – then even cook your catch for you! Come the autumn Burts features game dishes on their menus or, if you fancy cooking yourself, source from Macbeths of Forres, Butcher & Game Dealer https://www.macbeths. com as I did for this roast Mallard recipe. The carcasses will make a great stock too.

2tsps of Orkney Meadowsweet Vinegar A generous pinch of ginger 2tsps muscovado sugar A knob of butter Summer Harvest Rapeseed oil

Method: s 0RE HEAT OVEN TO °C. Place ducks in a lined roasting tray. Prick with a skewer and season. Seal for 15 minutes then cover with lid/foil and oven roast for 40 minutes, less if you prefer your duck pink. Set aside to rest for 10-15 minutes after cooking. s -EANWHILE PREPARE YOUR POTATOES BY SLICING lNELY PARTWAY THROUGH IN READINESS TO ROAST IN THE OVEN n ) LIKE TO BRUSH WITH A little of the duck fat before seasoning. These will take about the same cooking time, depending on their size, until golden and tender. s 4O MAKE COMPOTE SLICE MOST OF THE RHUBARB AND PLACE IN A PAN WITH A SPLASH OF WATER GINGER SUGAR AND VINEGAR 3LOW COOK swirling occasionally. Stirring breaks up the rhubarb unnecessarily. Set aside. s 4HE REMAINING STICK OF RHUBARB CAN BE SLICED LENGTHWISE AND CARAMELISED IN A KNOB OF BUTTER WITH A DRIZZLE OF OIL AND A SPRINKLE of muscovado. A lovely garnish over the duck breasts. Serves 4 Scottish Thistle Award Regional Ambassador (2018/19) for Central, Tayside & Fife, Wendy Barrie is a highly respected campaigner for local sustainable food, popular cookery show presenter and food writer. Founder & Director of award-winning & Wendy is Leader in Scotland for Slow Food Ark of Taste & Member of Slow Food Cooks Alliance. 82

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