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


The Gun Workshop Shooting Estates and Wildlife Conservation The twelve days of Christmas! Countryside Careers One man and his river Product Review Boss & Co. Guns with a Scottish History Dogtrace Dog GPS X30 Tracking System Classic Gun John Dickson Side by Side Shotguns

Country Woman Featuring Deborah Anderson

View Point With Niall Rowantree

Artworks The work of Richard J. Smith

The Interview Emma Christie, Auchterhouse Shooting Ground


The Shooting Instructor Stuart Cummings, National Shooting Centre

January 2020

Cooking with Game St Martin’s Greylag Goose Plus

Deer Management s Scottish Country Life The Ghillie s Gundogs s Rural Training Ladies Shooting s SACS s Gift Ideas Scottish Countryside Alliance s SCS Tourism Group and all our regular columns

contents editor's bit Looking to 2020

So what’s in store for us all in 2020 then? Political turmoil will no doubt continue like a never ending tunnel with no light at the end of it. That and Scotland’s’ national football team grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory yet again perhaps? Anyway, away from the doom and gloom, we can all look forward to our big summer events in like the Game Fair at Scone Palace and the Highland Field Sports Fair at Moy once again. We will be at both of course, promoting and handing out our magazine to as many people as we can – it’s all about promoting our wonderful rural way of life and the fantastic produce that we have, despite the detractors! We have decided to publish Shooting Scotland twice a year from next year, as this allows Christina and I to have a life outside of work. As many of you will know, we also publish Farming Scotland Magazine six times a year, so we have a pretty full on publishing timetable. Publishing Shooting Scotland twice a year will give me more time to build the content of each special issue. I say special because each issue be bigger with more news and stories than ever before, and each edition will have its own high profile at Scone and Moy. So, as 2020 beckons, Shooting Scotland Magazine is here to help promote your business throughout the country. All ya gotta do is call us! Slàinte, Athole.

All Editorial & PR enquiries to EDITOR Athole Murray Fleming Tel. 01738 639747 E-mail:

ARTICLES 8 Shooting Estates and Wildlife Conservation 24 Countryside Careers 30 One man and his river 46 Boss & Co. Guns with a Scottish History NEWS AREAS 4 & 68 CLASSIC GUN 13 John Dickson Side by Side Shotgun LADIES SHOOTING 16 Scottish Ladies Shooting Club 40 Gladrags and Cartridge Bags THE INTERVIEW 20 With Emma Christie, Auchterhouse PRODUCT REVIEW 34 Dog Trace Dog GPS X30 Tracking System THE SHOOTING INSTRUCTOR 42 With Stewart Cumming, N.S.C. Scotland FAVOURITE READS 52 Insurrection: Scotland’s Famine Winter SCOTTISH COUNTRY LIFE 53 With Linda Mellor THE GUN WORKSHOP 54 Very Seasonal Advice from Peter Davie! RURAL TRAINING 58 Scotland’s link to Norway COUNTRY WOMAN 62 Featuring Deborah Anderson COOKING WITH GAME 66 St Martin’s Greylag Goose ARTWORKS 67 The work of Richard J. Smith WHAT’S NEW 70 New Shooting Trailer and Fittings for everything REGULARS 14 View Point with Niall Rowantree 18 Deer Management 22 Habitat & Species Protection 33 Scottish Association for Country Sports 36 Gundogs 38 The Northern Shooting Show 44 Scottish Country Sports Tourism Board 60 British Shooting Show 64 The Ghillie COLUMNS 12 Scottish Gamekeepers Association 28 Scottish Countryside Alliance 38 The Deerstalker 47 Airguns 49 Gamekeepers Welfare Trust 51 Scottish Wildcat Action 60 BASC Scotland 63 World Pheasant Association SUBSCRIPTIONS 69 Get your magazine delivered to you All Advertising enquiries to ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Athole Murray Fleming Tel. 01738 639747 E-mail:

January 2020





68 FRONT COVER IMAGE: Gundog presenting its catch

ADVERTISING MANAGER Barry Tweed Tel. 01738 550157 Email:

ADVERTISING MANAGER Trevor Knights Tel. 01738 447378 Email:

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 New Meat on the Menu from Scotland’s Shooting Industry Estates across Aberdeenshire are joining together to introduce consumers to a Scottish food product they might not usually pick up on their weekly shop. The group, overseen by the Soil Association Scotlandled Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS), involves six estates working with SAC Consulting (part of Scotland’s Rural College, SRUC) and Fifebased processor Woodmill Game to explore new markets for game birds. Glenrinnes Farms, a private sporting estate which offers a variety of shooting activities, produces around 3,000 pheasants, ducks and partridges annually. But these game birds often end up being sold for pennies. Estate Manager at Glenrinnes Alister Laing says, “We’re getting less and less money from the game dealer. In certain situations they’re not even picking them up, which causes a major problem. So that inspired us to see if we could develop a market for these birds, which could benefit us and the whole shooting industry.” Glenrinnes and the other estates in the RISS group recognised that there is an opportunity to move from considering game birds a sporting by-product to viewing them as a marketable product from Scotland’s natural larder. “The challenge is trying to find the market,” says Alister, “because people look at pheasants and partridge and don’t see it as a meat they want to eat. A lot of people aren’t sure what to do with a pheasant these days. So we need to process it into a product people recognise. It’s trying to get people to try it and enjoy it! “We wanted to try and brand our own products to give people pies, pheasant breasts, sausages, burgers, or a whole pheasant to 4

try. It would also encourage them to eat a healthy meat, to utilise the birds we shoot, and have more money coming back into the estate.” The first trial of game birds goes to processing this week. SAC Consulting food and drink consultant Ceri Ritchie facilitated the group, connecting the estate managers with a processing unit in Fife who

turn the game birds into food products. Ritchie says: “We were initially approached by Alister Laing of Glenrinnes Farms. He and five other estates in the area offering shooting to tourists wanted to collaborate to develop a market opportunity for processing and selling estate game. The birds are a by-product of a shooting estate, so the estate

managers were keen to add value. “The RISS approach allowed someone active in the food and drink sector to bring the group together. We have the time to do the research and identify the opportunities to move forward with, which meant that the estates had the additional resource needed to make this project happen.”

European conservation accreditation awarded to highland estate A traditional sporting estate in the Highlands has retained a prestigious independent accreditation which recognises landowners who are committed to best practice in conservation, habitat and wildlife management.

The Reay Forest estate, Sutherland, in the north west Highlands, part of the Grosvenor Estate, has been reaccredited by Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) following a rigorous assessment by independent experts who

reported it was “clear that best practice management is undertaken across the estate”. Dougal Lindsay, Factor, Reay Forest estate, said: “Our purpose is for our activities to deliver lasting economic, social and environmental

news wellbeing in the communities where we operate. We are delighted to receive WES accreditation which recognises the positive impact of our management on the

environment, our collaboration with partner organisations and our communities while maintaining the highest standards. We were pleased to be noted in particular

for our extensive habitat impact monitoring which informs our deer management plan and helps focus our sustainable investment in improving the environment.” WES, which is supported by the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage and that is managed by Scottish Land & Estates, aims to promote the best habitat and wildlife management practices, build recognition and raise standards through the introduction of an objective accreditation system. Assessments are scored on commitment to best practice, community engagement, adoption of wildlife and habitat management plans, maintaining species and habitat records and conservation and collaborative work as well as their integration with other land management activities.

Accreditation is based on the combined score achieved for each of these sections, a qualitative assessment of management and site visits, all of which are conducted by an objective, external assessor. Caroline Pringle, Project Officer at Wildlife Estates Scotland, said: “Reay Forest estate has shown they continue to be committed to improving biodiversity and encouraging wildlife. Their Accreditation by Wildlife Estates Scotland is testament to their hard work and dedication. Estates, farms, campsites and other land-based businesses play a crucial role in conserving and protecting our environment and only those found to meet the highest standards can be accredited by Wildlife Estates Scotland.”

Top chefs Tom Kitchin & Nick Nairn champion rising demand for red grouse Demand for Scottish grouse is continuing to rise in the UK, Scandinavia and mainland Europe, as leading chefs champion its use in top restaurants and at home. 6

Michelin-starred chef, Tom Kitchin, Chef Proprietor of The Kitchin, said: “To me, grouse symbolises all that is great about Scottish produce. The game we have access to here in Scotland

news is so outstanding, I feel it’s my duty to share the passion I have for it. We serve grouse at my restaurant The Kitchin, our sister restaurant Castle Terrace and gastropub The Scran and Scallie and I hope that others can share in the enjoyment of eating wonderful Scottish grouse from the moment it comes into season. “The flavours of game can be really exceptional, and I’m excited that more people are getting into eating it. People are becoming more interested

in knowing where their meat comes from. There is nothing better, and more traceable, than birds straight from the Scottish moors.” Renowned chef and keen shot, Nick Nairn said: “I really value many different aspects of the grouse season but the pinnacle for me is being able to create a fantastic roast grouse dish. It has long been acknowledged that Scotland’s food and drink and country sports sectors are truly world class and it is heartening

to witness the increased demand and appreciation for Scotland’s wild grouse. Grouse is a sustainable and delicious food that Scotland leads the way on and I encourage as many restaurants and customers to cook with grouse as often as possible during the season.”

Part of Scotland’s natural game larder, the ‘hill-to-plate’ credentials of wild grouse and its sustainability are widely recognised. The availability of grouse has also increased, with new restaurants and farmers markets now selling oven-ready grouse and grouse fillets to the buying public.

Two-thirds of migrating salmon lost in the first 60 miles Two-thirds of juvenile wild salmon being tracked during their migration from Scottish rivers vanished within the first 60 miles of their journeys, according to new research. The smolts were tagged as part of the Missing Salmon Project aimed at establishing the reasons for a 70% fall in numbers in the past 25 years. But preliminary findings have shown two-thirds of the 850 tagged fish perished in the early stages of their migration from seven rivers in the Moray Firth to the open sea. The results were revealed ahead of the launch this week of the Missing Salmon Alliance, a collaboration working to conserve the fish. Mark Bilsby, chief executive of the Atlantic Salmon Trust, which has fronted the Missing Salmon Project and is a key part of the new alliance, said the tracking programme has been “by far Europe’s largest”. He said: “Two-thirds were being lost before they really got out to sea. Now we know where they died. “Next year we want to find out what caused that.” Wild Atlantic salmon numbers have fallen by more than seven ¬million since the

1980s, and 2018 was the worst on record. The crisis has been highlighted by The Sunday Post’s Save our Salmon campaign for action to reverse the decline. Young salmon leave their home river and spend up to five years at sea before returning to their birthplace to spawn. But only 5% now survive – down from 25% just two decades ago. Climate change, predators, fish farms, water quality and barriers to migration are possible reasons suggested for the huge mortality rate. The Atlantic Salmon Trust has been joined in the new alliance by Salmon and Trout Conservation, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Angling Trust. A forum will be held in London on Tuesday as experts meet to share resources and knowledge in the hunt for science-based answers. Forum chairman David Mayhew said: “Everyone who has ever held a rod has a theory. But it’s the science that matters. “We had four separate salmon preservation bodies and many more internationally not working as one group. Three years ago, I said it would be better for us and the fish if we banded together. Now we have.”

Nick Nairn


Shooting estates recognised for wildlife conservation

By Caroline Pringle, Project Officer Accreditation schemes can be found in most industries nowadays, from country sports and forestry to food production and health and safety. The Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) accreditation

Fallow on road


programme recognises landowners who are committed to best practice in conservation, habitat and wildlife management. The Wildlife Estates originated in Belgium and emerged from a desire to

illustrate levels of biodiversity on privately managed hunting estates across Europe. WES has taken things a little further with a much more holistic approach when it comes

to land use activities. Managed by Scottish Land & Estates and supported by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Government, WES has a hugely diverse membership including

Wildlife Estates farms, forestry, tourism businesses and nature reserves as well as land with a hunting interest. It allows landowners to exhibit their conservation efforts through this mark of quality, regardless of the land use activities taking place. Traditional sporting estate, the Reay Forest estate in Sutherland, in the north west Highlands, part of the Grosvenor Estate, has recently been reaccredited by WES following a rigorous assessment. The assessors reported that it was “clear that best practice management is undertaken across the estate�. Dougal Lindsay, Factor, Reay Forest estate, said: “Our purpose is for our activities to deliver lasting economic, social and environmental wellbeing in the communities where we operate. We are delighted to receive WES accreditation which recognises the positive impact of our management on the

Curlew with chick


Wildlife Estates

Common Blue

environment, our collaboration with partner organisations and our communities while maintaining the highest standards. We were pleased to be noted in particular for our extensive habitat impact monitoring which informs our deer management plan and helps focus our sustainable investment in improving the environment.� One estate in central Scotland, a little over 6,500 acres, for example, seamlessly integrates their farming and sporting activities with the protection of valuable breeding and wintering wildlife habitats throughout the year. In doing so, they have benefited countless species with an incredible 111 bird species recorded there in 2017. A farm in the Scottish Borders managed to increase their brambling population by 500%, from 40 to 200 birds, in five years following some strategic habitat restoration. Another sporting estate in the Cairngorms increased their black cock population from 16 to 35 and number of lekking sites from 1 to 3, again through careful habitat restoration. In addition to these specific successes, hundreds of acres of native woodland planting and wetland restoration has taken place, kilometres of hedgerow and riparian planting has been undertaken, countless collaborations between private 10

land managers themselves and also with conservation bodies have taken place. Now established in 19 countries, the Wildlife Estates label is gaining significant traction across Europe. The application process is no walk in the park, with a comprehensive online application form. Assessments are scored on commitment to best practice, community engagement, adoption of wildlife and habitat management plans, maintaining species and habitat records and conservation and collaborative work as well as their integration with other land management activities. Accreditation is based on the combined score achieved for each of these sections, a qualitative assessment of management and site visits, all of which are conducted by an objective, external assessor. Following the initial online application, a rigorous onsite inspection takes place which assesses the information provided on the application form. All 57 WES accredited landholdings across Scotland, from Islay to Angus and from Sutherland to Selkirk, speak volumes of the extent of work being undertaken by privately owned & run estates and farms in terms of habitat restoration and species conservation.

For those that are not yet able to be accredited, there is a level 1 membership which allows them access to advice, networking and workshop events offered

by WES to help them integrate the enhancement of biodiversity into day to day land use before stepping up to the Level 2 accreditation. Every five years,

Wildlife Estates landholdings are re-assessed, at which point they must undergo another rigorous site assessment. Improvement in levels of biodiversity is paramount at the re-assessment. For landholdings that have met the high standards to become accredited by Wildlife Estates Scotland, it is a great badge to show to their visitors, the local community and politicians the amazing work they are doing in conservation and biodiversity. Recently a highly successful workshop on pollinators was held in conjunction with Buglife and WES-accredited Balruddrie Estate. New avenues of collaboration were initiated and some unexpected species were found. We plan to hold these workshops at regular intervals across the country in 2020. These events are open to any land owner or manager, not just those with WES accreditations. All WES events are listed on the Scottish Land & Estates website. We would be delighted to see you at one in 2020!

Slug and mushroom


Wildlife Estates There is so much good work going on with WES across the country that the European Wildlife Estates conference is being held in Scotland in 2020. This will see hundreds of delegates from across Europe gather to hear about good practice, integrated land use and how a programme that set out to target sporting estates is now a crucial part of land management on farms, estates, campsites and other landholdings. Chairman of WES and national delegate for the Wildlife Estates label, Dee Ward, who himself owns a sporting estate in the Angus Glens which has been accredited since 2015, sums up: “While there has to be a commercial aspect to managing

the land, there is plenty of space for nature too. As a landowner I recognise that the time has come to really push our management approaches to integrate with natural cycles and WES is an excellent mechanism by which to illustrate our efforts.” FIND OUT MORE If you would like to find out more about WES, please visit www. wildlife-estates-scotland or contact me at caroline.pringle@ For beautiful photos, news and updates, you can follow WES on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Testimonial from WES Level 2 Accredited Estate “Glenbervie Estate is unique in many ways, given its importance in our wider manufacturing business, but that has not diminished our commitment to following the best principles of land management. The award of WES accreditation is significant testament to those who have balanced our conservation goals with the demands of a demanding farming and forestry enterprise. We encourage best practice in all the different aspects of estate management but the accreditation scheme encourages us to not only set higher goals, but also ensure we record and can amply demonstrate the excellent work that is already being undertaken.” Alastair Macphie, Glenbervie Estate

Testimonial from WES Level 2 Accredited Estate “The award of WES accreditation is significant testament to the hard work of all the staff across the estate. We encourage best practice in all the different aspects of estate management, but the accreditation scheme encourages us to not only set higher goals but also ensure we record and can amply demonstrate the excellent work that is already being undertaken. The conservation and habitat projects we’ve been working on have been hugely beneficial to both the estate and to local wildlife and we’re delighted a scheme such as WES can help us document what we have been doing” Roddy Jackson, Factor, Roxburghe Estates


By Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman, Alex Hogg For some time, the SGA Deer Group has been working hard on a new Vision for deer and deer management in Scotland. After a lot of discussion, we are very close to announcing the results of our labours. There is an acknowledgement, across the board, that significant progress has been made at deer management group level. However, the men and women doing the hard work on the ground in Scotland have some concerns about how the status of an iconic animal is being eroded. Deer in Scotland, today, are hardly ever in peace. The rise in recreational activity, with more and more walkers and mountain bikers, is certainly welcomed in some quarters but the cold fact is that deer are moving into new areas as they seek refuge. Furthermore, the increasing reliance on out-of-season deer control licences from SNH and night authorisations for managing deer, particularly in forestry, is changing the way our native deer species

behave. Targeted all year round and increasingly at night, deer are rarely out of sight. In order to find peace, they are using already depleted body reserves. Those reliant on night and out of season licences don’t like to talk about animal welfare but, in our view, constant targeting and stress can’t do anything else but take its toll on deer health. There were studies done on this in Denmark which bear this out. In 2017/2018, night shot deer numbered 21, 861. That is a staggering statistic. Remember, some countries do not allow night shooting of deer for welfare reasons. Our Deer Vision, when it is announced, will be exactly that: an aspiration for how we feel deer should be managed in Scotland. It is not jargonladen. It is the views of the men and women who have culled over a million deer in the last decade. And it recognises that, while deer require evidence-based management, they are also a national asset deserving of respect. Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Inveralmond Business Centre. 6 Auld Bond Road, South Inveralmond, Perth, PH1 3FX. Tel: 01738 587515

CLASSIC GUN John Dickson & Son By Gavin Gardner

The future of Edinburgh’s most famous gunmaker looked uncertain recently when the firm closed its Edinburgh premises, but it now has a new owner and is looking to re-establish itself as Scotland’s premier maker. Renowned for its ‘round action’ side-by-side shotguns, long seen as the ideal gun for grouse shooting, there are new models in design and fresh investment to secure the future of this world-famous brand. Already the values of vintage examples has started to rise in anticipation of the return of this great gunmaker. This pair of round action grouse guns were built in 1927 with 27-inch barrels and reflect the quest for the lightest weight and fastest handling gun available.

Gavin Gardiner Limited, Auctioneers of Modern and Vintage Sporting Guns & Consultant to Sotheby’s Tel +44 (0)1798 875300 Email: 13

View Point By Niall Rowantree

A nation of animal lovers For many years, the British have enjoyed a reputation for being a nation of animal lovers more directly, UK households are home to 6 ½ million dogs, 8 million cats and somewhere in the region of 18 million goldfish. You would think with credentials like that, the wildlife of Britain was understood, cared for and in safe hands. However, for many in the countryside, the general feeling of disconnect by our urban cousins has led us to start to question this belief. Recently, in the Scottish press, we have seen attacks on the value and practices of farmers, crofters and gamekeepers. We may be left wondering what the cause


of this is and how we can rectify the situation before the divide becomes irrecoverable. For me, the cornerstone of this problem is a complete disconnection for a large percentage of the nation between the food on the plate and how it got there. There is no doubt that in the last 60 years we have seen a complete change in the way food is produced as traditional practices have been driven out by demand to become mechanised to produce food on an industrial scale. This, I believe, has created this disconnect. This move away from self-sufficiency in our rural

communities has eroded many of our traditional land uses and customs which in turn breaks down cultural links. For example, some may remember the ‘tatties holidays’ rather than the October break. As the separation has occurred, new terminology has come to the front. Now everybody in the land sector is fully conversant with terms like climate change and the need to control greenhouse gases and is toiling to enhance bio –diversity and re-wild some small corner of the croft or farm. What’s confusing for many of us is as we do this; our resource consuming urban societies seem to accelerate their appetite at pace whilst

looking toward the land and are eager to exercise their political rights. At the time of writing this article, we approach a general election with the elephant in the corner looming even larger. For the first time in my life, senior politicians are flexing their muscles by trying to outperform one another in planting trees and tackling their climate emergency. It is very hard to take them seriously, particularly when I noticed a small notice at an airport terminal congratulating themselves on planting a handful of trees when 10 tonnes of aviation gas flies past every few minutes. Though there may not immediately seem a connection, I think the recent introduction of a proposed ban on the import and export of hunting trophies (https:// intro/) brings the whole sorry situation crashing into focus. In the face of irrefutable science and the pleas of our African neighbours, the UK government has chosen a shoddily constructed consultation to take the spotlight off other issues at home. It is clear that with effective governance and management, positive impacts can be achieved. For example, in sub-Saharan

Viewpoint Africa where game numbers have expanded, an increasing human population is developing their own mechanisms to live shoulder to shoulder with some of the most outstanding and iconic species on earth. I think all of us, whether farmers or hunters, would not and do not support the abuse or unsustainable harvesting of any animal but people who have their hands in the soil understand that nature is red in tooth and claw and that the removal of one individual may be negative to it but can be positive to the species. What is interesting in the current proposal is that one of the options proposed for consideration extends far beyond CITES listed species and into your own backyard. The simply crafted statement offers a complete ban on the import and export of all hunting trophies for all species to and from the UK. This would include all bone, antler, horn, hide etc and would have a profound impact on Scotland’s rural economy. Not only would it remove a substantial chunk of the £180 million brought into Scotland’s economy from the management of natural resources but it would remove an appetite for those who assist us in harvesting around 20 thousand antlered deer in the autumn of each year. The whole principle is entirely at odds with the requirement to manage our natural resources and to secure low carbon food, short food miles and a sustainable environment. Only a small amount of scrutiny would identify that the nations healthiest and best cared for examples of the species, reside on Estates and areas where selected deer management is practiced and this is even the case on the nation’s national nature reserve on the Isle of Rum. The alternative is that the nation’s most iconic mammal is reduced to vermin; to be shot out of season and at night at a cost to the tax payer surely cannot sit well with this

perceived nation of animal lovers? Perhaps when tucking into religiously slaughtered beef/turkey/chicken or battery caged chicken eggs, the nation will take a moment to consider how the meal on their plate got there. Going forward, there is little doubt in my mind that there will policies coming forward from government to further expand the nations forest cover, to adapt agricultural practices further and to try and meet the desire of an element of the nation for a wilder Scotland. A clear land use strategy signed up to by all is essential and challenges lie ahead. Wildfire, feral pigs and changing climate, I believe in the coming years will make their presence felt and as forests establish, deer populations will rise. I remain convinced that large predators would generate more negative impacts than benefits and that the true controllers of populations, without the influence of man, will be starvation and habitat loss. We have taken this country too far in one direction to travel back towards the other by abdicating our role. Surely it is taken for granted that there is hardly a garden shed, byre or garage in the length and breadth of the Highlands that does not have a stags head adorning it somewhere to say nothing of our Castles, pubs and tourist hotels. It is woven into the very skin of who we are. Our hills, mountains and glens carry the names of deer, boar and hunters and many of us when wearing our national dress will have some part of a deer attached to it somewhere. Even highland dancing celebrates the stags head and its prowess. My concern now is the very essence of what is Highland is under threat and that we are fast becoming a minority. So please take time to make your views felt about this consultation. Cabar feidh gu brath

Shooting is not just for the boys! When thinking about shooting in Scotland, most people have an image in their heads of men clad in tweed with a Labrador or a spaniel by their side. However, this is changing with a growing number of women are getting involved in clay pigeon and game shooting. A couple of years ago there weren’t any ladies shooting clubs. You could go along to any of the various shooting ranges throughout Scotland and have a lesson or two, but after that there was very little to help you improve your shooting or meet other ladies to practice with. Thankfully there are now a few dedicated ladies shooting clubs in Scotland to fill the gap between starting out and competitive shooting. The Scottish Ladies Shooting Club (SLSC) was the first to start in December 2013. The club’s aims are straightforward - get more women started and involved in shooting in a friendly, supportive and safe environment without breaking the bank! Our monthly event fees range from £55 to £60 for 50 clays, cartridges, tuition (less clays and more tuition for beginners/ novices) and safety equipment including a light lunch, tea, coffee and cake. Ladies of all abilities; from complete beginners, novice, improver, intermediate and experienced ladies, are welcome to come along to club shoots,


which are generally held on the first Sunday of the month. We start with tea/coffee and a light lunch, which gives everyone a chance to get to know fellow attendees. Shooting is in small tutored groups with ladies of similar ability. After the shooting we finish with tea/coffee, cake and a further opportunity to chat and get to know the other ladies. All you need is outdoor clothing and a willingness to try something new, as the shooting schools can provide the gun, cartridges, full tuition and safety equipment. We have a full calendar of monthly tutored clay shoots, our annual Ladies Day, three simulated game days, a game day and a birthday shoot and party night. Our monthly tutored events are held at a variety of shooting school venues across central Scotland. In addition, the club lets ladies know about other opportunities to shoot fun events put on by other clubs or charities. The Club has amazing support from the Scottish shooting community. Everybody we met is keen to encourage more ladies into the sport. The Club is especially appreciative of the support we get from BASC Scotland, Auchterhouse Country Sports near Dundee, Cluny Clays near Kirkcaldy, Gleneagles Shooting School nr Auchterarder and the National Shooting Centre near

Falkirk. Bisley at Braidwood near Selkirk is also very encouraging, and a trip south is a great day out. The club has been going for almost six years and we now have almost two hundred ladies on our mailing list with a core of regular attendees. Our ladies come from a wide range of backgrounds – artists, teachers, tourist guides, estate agents, dog groomers, office administrators, home makers and self-employed businesswomen. Some ladies have been shooting since they were teenagers, but most have taken up shooting at some point in their 20s to 50s. Many attendees had never lifted a gun before coming along to a SLSC event, but welcomed the opportunity to try out the sport in a relaxed and friendly environment. Ladies coming along for the first time are placed into groups depending on their skill level to ensure they get the right level of coaching and support. We have a wonderful group of ladies coming along to our events, so you will get a warm friendly welcome and hopefully a fun afternoon making new friends. By the time the magazine goes to print, the Scottish Ladies Shooting Club will have held it’s sixth birthday shoot and party night at the National Shooting Centre and Airth Castle Hotel. This is one of the highlights of our

year. This gives the ladies a chance to remove the winter layers after an afternoon of shooting, put on a posh frock, enjoy a few cocktails made and dance off a fabulous three course dinner. A great way to end a fabulous year of shooting. We try to keep the social element to the fore at several events such as team fancy dress to support the Auchterhouse Charity Ladies Day in June, a BBQ at our end of June shoot and Christmas jumpers and hats at our birthday shoot. 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@scottishladiesshooting. • Telephone Lesley on 07971 547 826

Scottish Ladies Shooting Club events for 2020 - We are currently finalizing our calendar for 2020, so please check out our website and Facebook page for updates. Sunday 5th January 2020 Cluny Clays, nr Kirkcaldy - 11:00 Registration – 12:30 commence shooting. Sunday 2nd February 2020 – Gleneagles Shooting School, Nr Auchterarder - 11:30 Registration – 13:00 Commence shooting. Sunday 1st March 2020 – National Shooting Centre Scotland, Nr Falkirk - 11:30 Registration – 13:00 Commence shooting. Sunday 5th April 2020 – Auchterhouse Country Sports, Nr Dundee - 11:30 Registration 13:00 Commence shooting. Spring Simulated Game Day – Sunday 19th April 2020 (tbc) – Edradynate Estate nr Aberfeldy

- Meet for tea/coffee and hot breakfast roll, shoot five drives of simulated game of 200 birds per drive with a break for a light lunch and finish with afternoon tea. Full guns or half gun available. Sunday 3rd May 2020 – National Shooting Centre Scotland, Nr Falkirk - 11:30 Registration – 13:00 Commence shooting. Saturday 6th June 2020 – Auchterhouse Charity Ladies Day – There will not be a SLSC event on Sunday 7th June as the SLSC supports this event. Price and fancy-dress theme to be advised. Sunday 28th June 2020 – Scottish Ladies Day at Cluny Clays, Nr Kirkaldy – The aim of the event is to bring together ladies from across Scotland who love to shoot, as well as those who would love to give shooting a try. Registration with tea / coffee. Tutored sessions for beginners, novices, intermediate

and experienced groups. There will be a raffle, a goodie bag, a selection of guns and cartridges to test on our demo stand, selection of outdoor / shooting clothing and a fun Team Flush to finish. The event will close with afternoon tea and presentation of Top Gun prizes. Summer Simulated clay day – Date and venue to be confirmed - Meet for tea/coffee and hot breakfast roll, shoot five drives of simulated game of 200 birds per drive with a break for a light lunch and finish with afternoon tea. Full guns or half gun available. Sunday 2nd August 2020 – Gleneagles Shooting School, Nr Auchterarder - 11:30 Registration with tea / coffee - 12:00 light lunch - 13:00 Commence shooting. Saturday 5th September 2020 – Joint Ladies Improver Day with BASC - Auchterhouse Country Sports, Nr Dundee - 11:30 Registration - 13:00 Commence shooting. Autumn Simulated clay day – Date to be confirmed – Glamis Castle Estate - Meet for tea/coffee and hot breakfast roll, shoot five drives of simulated game of

200 birds per drive with a break for a light lunch and finish with afternoon tea. Full guns or half gun available. Sunday 4th October 2020 Gleneagles Shooting School, Nr Auchterarder - 11:30 Registration with tea / coffee - 12:00 light lunch - 13:00 Commence shooting. October 2020 - SLSC Ladies Driven Game Day – Glenericht Estate, Bridge of Cally, Perthshire – 10 x lady guns – Five / six drives with lunch at the Bridge of Cally Hotel. Date and price to be confirmed. Sunday 1st November 2020 - Cluny Clays, Nr Kirkcaldy – 11:00 Registration with tea / coffee – 11:30 light lunch – 12:30 Commence shooting. November/December 2020 – Date and venue to be confirmed - SLSC Seventh Birthday – 11:00 Registration – 11:30 Light lunch – 12:30 Commence shooting. Free time late afternoon to relax before the Party Night. Want to try clay pigeon shooting or looking to improve; come join us!


deer management

Red deer sector confident that three yearly review will show good progress and recognise significant contribution Scotland’s upland Deer Management Groups (DMGs) have now been assessed for the third time in six years with previous reviews taking place in 2014 and 2016. Some 45 DMGs effectively cover the majority of the red deer range, almost half of Scotland’s land area, and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has now submitted its latest review report to Ministers. We hope that the considerable progress made by the Groups will be evident, and that the important part that they play in safeguarding and promoting Scotland’s natural environment will be recognised. We believe that the Review will show that our sector is at the forefront of ecological and habitat regeneration, enhancing the landscape, and managing Scotland’s iconic deer herd sustainably – all a far cry from how, and too often, we are portrayed. Also, that this very detailed examination and analysis provides clear evidence of progress, both at national and local levels. The Assessment system is well established and a robust means of monitoring the effectiveness of deer management. The timescales over which environmental change can be brought about may be decades, but that process is well underway. In terms of deer densities, the James Hutton Institute report for SNH in 2017 based on SNH count data showed that, after a period of population growth, overall densities of deer on the open hill had been relatively stable since 2000 at an overall average of 18

Courtesy Glyn Satterley

By Richard Cooke, Chairman, Association of Deer Management Groups

deer management around 10 deer/km2 and are now declining due to culling pressure. This despite falling sheep numbers and more favourable climatic conditions leading to higher levels of recruitment. The voluntary principle and collaboration are at the heart of progress and through joint working even the smallest changes can make significant differences on a landscape scale. It’s clear that land managers have embraced the need to look forward and are responding to fast changing national priorities. This is evidenced in the evolution and implementation of deer management plans covering over 3 million hectares of the uplands and address a whole range of important factors such as habitat impact, woodland expansion, peatland restoration, and delivering demonstrable public benefit, including a major contribution to the Scottish Government’s climate change agenda. We need to build on this to ensure that this

considerable private and public investment continues to contribute in these areas, supports our rural economy, and is recognised for doing so. We await a response to the Review from the Cabinet Secretary, and thereafter discussion at the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee. We also await the findings of the Government appointed Deer Working Group which is due to report on the system of deer management in Scotland soon. The sector has shown that it can rise to the challenge, adapt to a fast-changing world and new priorities such as the climate emergency. There is however, we acknowledge, much more to do and the red deer sector will play its part. ADMG has undertaken its own assessment of the Upland Deer Management Sector based on the 101 agreed criteria forming the SNH review, and feedback from SNH to the 45 individuals DMGs.


THE INTERVIEW When did you first start shotgun shooting? Shot when I was younger in my teens, but not seriously. I took up shooting DTL in 2015 as a way of giving me a break from work & make new friends What is your job? I am Director/Events Coordinator/ Shop Manager at Auchterhouse Country Sports. I deal with customers on a daily basis, deal with shooting competitions, organise events throughout the year.

up close & personal

Emma Christie Director/Events Coordinator Auchterhouse Country Sports

What shotgun, cartridges and chokes do you use? I use a 12bore Krieghoff K80 with Fiocchi FBlack 24gm 7.5

Who would you credit as helping you on your clay shooting journey? I would have to say my mum & dad, brother Drew for trying to coach me. Alan Rhone, Kevan Smith & Ivor McBay

What do you enjoy when you are shooting and what disciplines? I shoot DTL, I enjoy meeting new people & the social side of it all. After all it is my hobby.

What do you have in mind for your clay shooting over the next year or two? Just keep shooting & enjoy it.

Do you compete? Tell us about your first competition, and what successes have you had? Do you compete? Tell us about your first competition, and what successes have you had?


Your favourite shooting ground? ( haha!) Would have to be Auchterhouse Country Sports, other shooting ground would be Mid Wales Shooting Ground.

Do you have sponsorship? Auchterhouse Country Sports, I’ve also had some help from Alan Rhone, Krieghoff

You are surrounded by clay shooters, so what, or who, in particular encouraged you take up clay shooting? I just thought if you can’t beat them join them!

Biggest clay shooting moment, or your favourite clay shooting moment? I shot a personal best 99/294 at Mid Wales Shooting Ground at the Krieghoff championships in 2019, this will be something I will never forget. Another favourite moment would be working at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games at Barry Buddon for the shooting & watching my brother Drew

How often do you shoot clays? Not enough!

Any clay shooting dreams and big plans? Eventually one year I’d like to make the Scotland DTL Ladies Team

Christie win a Silver Medal in Olympic Skeet. A memory never to be forgotten.

I mostly practice on a Sunday on my day off at other shooting grounds.

How do you juggle your job and shooting? I practice when I can, people think you practice every day working at a shooting ground.

What shooting challenges do you face/have you faced and how do you resolve them? Shooting challenges – finding the time to practice is not easy.

What good advice would you like to share for other clay shooters or perhaps those thinking about giving clay shooting a go? Go to a good shooting ground with a reputable instructor; get a lesson to see if you like it. Ask plenty questions. It’s a good sociable spot with lots of interesting characters from all walks of life.

habitat and species protection The final Langholm Moor Demonstration Project Report brings important messages for maintaining moorland ecosystems into strong relief By Adam Smith, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust The Langholm Moor Demonstration Project recently published its final report. It highlights the successes and challenges facing managing moorland for game and wildlife conservation. The project was set up in 2008 to test whether a ‘winwin’ could be achieved, where breeding raptors and heather moorland co-existed and benefitted

from the investment provided by driven grouse shooting. This final report concludes more than 25 years study at Langholm. The Joint Raptor Study from 1992 – 1997 had shown how predation by raptors could prevent the recovery of a red grouse population. By the early 2000s, with no grouse to shoot, the moor’s gamekeepers were withdrawn and

many aspects of the moor went into decline – valuable habitats shrank in area, the mountain hare population vanished, and the numbers of wading birds and hen harriers had collapsed along with the grouse. The challenge for the partners in this final project, Buccleuch, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Natural England, RSPB

Scotland, and Scottish Natural Heritage, was to establish whether the moor could be recovered both as a national and local asset, support grouse populations for driven grouse, support birds of prey, and deliver other, wider biodiversity. Different approaches to management were explored that might benefit not just Langholm but other Scottish moorlands.


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 22

habitat and species protection In GWCT’s view parts of the project have certainly been successful – decades of heather loss have been addressed and overgrazed moorland has been recovered. Fox, stoat and crow control helped ground-nesting birds especially waders recover their populations despite declines elsewhere. The project has told us more about the economics of maintaining heather moorland, which has long been viewed as a national asset for Scotland. But, the game-keepering management that had promoted this reversal of fortune could not be afforded in the longer term. The grouse did not survive long enough to generate enough of an economic return through driven shooting to offset some of the management costs. The project allowed the partners and the wider public to gain profound, practical insight into what it takes to sustain our moorlands. In order to reach a balance that works for everyone,

which this project has not succeeded in doing, the overriding message is that our current policy framework must help managers adapt to the new higher levels of predation in our hills, and it must do this if we want to keep our heather-clad moors. The GWCT’s work over 25 years shows that there is not a

binary choice of red grouse or birds of prey, but that both need to be in balance if we value our Scottish moorlands and their ecosystems. A loss of grouse shooting jeopardises habitats and biodiversity, the very things that many birds of prey, along with many other species, benefit from. Curtailing grouse shooting will only drive a

decline in our moorlands ability to respond to climate change and continue its resistance to loss of biodiversity. Adapting grouse moor management must now be the watchword. The full final report on the Langholm Project can be downloaded at www.

Tarras Valley


Countryside Careers By Linda Mellor are vast: estate management, visitor attractions, arboriculture, wildlife projects, countless environmental roles, outdoor activity instruction/education for all ages, lecturing, falconry, horticulture, animal care, specialist animal training, pest control, ecology, rural regeneration, charity and associations: membership handling and administration, lobbying, PR and media (photography, writing, filming), printed and online media services, artists, designers and tailors, game fair and country show organisations and staffing. There are so many more! It is truly an industry with a considerable diversity of opportunities, and it employs thousands of people in permanent, parttime, contract, seasonal roles, as well as commissioning the services of freelancers. There are opportunities for youngsters (and older) as they

Photographs by Linda Mellor

Living and working in the countryside is regarded as an idyllic choice, with life and work in perfect balance. Imagine, your job meant being outdoors in the sunshine, breathing clean, fresh air into your lungs and taking life at a leisurely pace with a couple of dogs at heel? (I can hear the laughter!) A popular misconception about rural working life - it is easy and you are only outdoors in the fair weather. We all know the days of sunshine in Scotland are considerably smaller in number when compared to the days with cold, wind and rain. Working outdoors means you have to be prepared to do your job come rain, hail or snow. It requires a passion, dedication and commitment. Of course, there are options, a countryside career doesn’t mean you have to be outdoors 24/7. The choices of countryside roles and outdoors professions

Deborah Anderson in her shop Be Coorie


leave school to attend the rural colleges, campuses (for landbased skills see https://www. Locations in Thurso, Cupar, and Borders for Gamekeeping, Gamekeeping Modern Apprenticeship, and Gamekeeping with wildlife management courses, (links to websites at the end of the article). Ask people what roles are the frontline countryside jobs, specifically within country sports, most people tend to think about gamekeepers, deer stalkers and ghillies. They are the men and women who will greet you on a shoot day, guide you on a stalk for a nice buck, doe, stag or hind, or take you out on the river and get you into the pools where the fish linger. The land and wildlife knowledge of the keepers, stalkers and ghillies is incredible, they know their beats, estates, rivers and lochs, they can tell you what lives where and when it comes out from the

cover to eat, they can wax lyrical about events, and share epic tales and good advice handed down from generation to generation. They enrich your countryside experience, without them you’d most likely be lost. Years ago, gamekeepers, stalkers and ghillies were not the only ones with a dedicated interest in the wildlife. Poaching was a job, and poachers worked full-time across different parts of Scotland, and were a threat to the game on an estate. Today poaching is the biggest threat to wildlife, and is not the nomadic career choice of yester year. There is a romantic notion attached to the poachers of years gone by, many stories still circulate about amazing feats of taking salmon from under the noses of the water-bailiffs, poaching deer, rabbits and hares. In the olden days, the poacher was a man with big pockets sneaking on to an aristocrat’s land to steal game for his family, or ‘one for the pot’. But a good poacher was a worry to an estate as they were often difficult to catch because of their outdoor craft, cunning nature, and ability to blend into the rural landscape and disappear. One of the notorious highland poachers was Ronald, nicknamed the ‘bonnie poacher’ because of his handsome good looks, and height (doesn’t it sit well with the romantic theme attached to poaching?). He was a man whose life was spent hunting and in pursuit of wild animals. He was described as “hardy and active as the deer on the mountain, he slept in the heather wrapped in plaid regardless of the frost or snow, and commences his work at daybreak, with the earliest grouse -crow”. Poachers could make a good income during the shooting season. Another well known *poacher Alexander (Sandy)

Countryside Careers Davidson, or “Roch Saunie of Glenbucket” was another one described as though he was the leading character in a Mills & Boon novel, “ the stranger was a tall broad shouldered man standing fully six feet, finely built, with sinewy limbs and iron frame, inured by constant exposure to the elements to with stand cold and fatigue. Vigour and robust manhood were expressed in every lineament of the bronzed face of this shaggyhaired, black browed Celt, who looked as though he had been hewn into shape by the hands of a Greek sculptor, so perfect had Nature moulded him.” Shooting estates are run by teamwork, there are the gamekeepers and underkeepers on the frontline on a shoot day. But what about the inner workings of the shoot? The team of beaters, and picker-ups, and gundogs. Shooting guests need to be fed and watered. So there’s the catering to think about, who will cook, serve – where do the guests eat

their lunch, the bigger subject of hospitality and accommodation. Who takes the shoot day bookings, organises airport transfers, drivers and accommodation for shooting guests? Is there an estate or shoot website to be maintained and social media accounts to be fed regularly? What about the clothing? Estate workers Tweeds are made by a tailor. Countryside career choices do not have to be predominately outdoor jobs. Entrepreneur Deborah Anderson decided to put her passion for the countryside into a shop selling Scottish countryside-influenced gifts, and offers a home design service with Scottish countryside flair. Her shop, ‘Be Coorie’ is on Commercial Lane, Comrie, and stocks a range of lifestyle products – all with a connection to Scotland and the outdoors. Deborah has taken her love of the Scottish landscape and country sports and pulled them together under the ‘Be Coorie’ banner.

Another Perthshire countryside fan is Angler and Rod Maker, Simon Barnes, he turned his passion for fishing into a very successful business, called ‘Simba Rods’. Simon’s lifelong passion for fishing was past of his impetus for Simba Rods, he said: “It was my mother who instilled in me a love of well-made things. Anything from shoes to fishing rods – whatever it is, quality will shine through. With the huge increase in mass-made fishing rods, I felt that I would like to make rods, both for myself and for others and to take the time to make them as individual pieces that will give years of service and pleasure. The care, passion and enthusiasm that took me through years of trout farming and dealing with fisheries and anglers will, I believe, serve me well in my desire to make fly rods of quality. https:// Where do you look for vacancies? Where do you look for jobs? Regional newspapers often run situations vacant pages once a week, and these days, only a few country sports magazines feature a jobs page. There are a variety of well-known, generalist recruitment websites, but for dedicated countryside and estate roles take a look at the links below. It is also worth checking Facebook groups. Talk to people so they are aware you are looking, make new contacts, and widen your network.

If you volunteer with a local shoot you may be first to hear of opportunities as they arise, but giving up your time and being hands-on will help you develop skills, and build a worthy reputation within your shooting circles. Actual work experience, turning up early, being keen, reliable and helpful are all important elements needed for assisting shoot. Gaining practical experience is worth the effort. If you are still at school you can help out at weekends. Years ago, if you were still at school you had a Saturday job – if you didn’t, you were looked upon as odd! My career choice stemmed from interest in the outdoors and wildlife, I left a headhunting, city-based job in favour of a countryside career, to be a photographer and writer of country sports. I wanted to do something that made me happy, so, after some soul-searching I recognised my heart was in the open spaces and not looking at the four walls of an office. How many people can honestly say it is a joy to do the job they do, and how many of people get the biggest feeling of satisfaction from going to work each day? You are never too old to start a new career (I was 35 when I changed career), if you heart is in it, be courageous and seek your dream job. More than ever it is easier to be self-employed (lots of advice available), and there is potential to create a niche for yourself.

Gamekeeper left with picker ups on a shoot day

Deer stalker looking on as client takes shot


Gamekeepers Welfare Trust Helen talking to gamekeeping students in Thurso

Countryside Careers

Gamekeeping students and equine lecturer with Highland Pony used for deer stalking

The deer stalker leading the way

Prospects? Well, it is up to you! Someone who is good at their job, is not only respected by colleagues, bosses, customers and clients, they may also be on the radar of other companies and estates. I briefly switch over to my previous role as a head-hunter: everyone wants to have outstanding members of staff representing their estate or

subject you love and in a location that makes you feel good. The benefits are many: it makes you happy, it’s good for your health, job satisfaction etc., As we all know, we spend so much of our time at work, so why not choose a career that makes you happy? As job satisfaction goes, a countryside career is up there with the very best.

organisation. You never know, one day you may get a call from a headhunter wishing to introduce you to your next employer. If you do get that call, don’t dismiss it, listen, look into it and ask yourself if it’s something you are interested in, and does it offer career progression and match your vision for your future? There is something rather wonderful in working with a

Build your knowledge A great way of building your knowledge and gaining inspiration is by reading. There are many books on the subject of gamekeeping, running a shoot, countryside craft, gundogs etc., Amazon and eBay are good starting places for your search. There are many old books worth seeking out in antique and charity


Countryside Careers

Welcome to the latest from the Scottish Countryside Alliance By Jamie Stewart Director Scottish Countryside Alliance It has been a busy period with a series of party political conferences to attend across the country. It’s been rough. On the bright side, I don’t need bail I managed to attend a number of debates and fringe events, some with deceitful attempts to damn our land and species management practices, putting forward counter arguments where possible. I have heard firsthand the “radical” proposals from the REVIVE group and the Scottish Greens to replace moorland with forestry. If Patrick Harvie MP et al wish to review some of Scotland’s most recent land management disasters, they need look no further than the developments of afforestation on the Caithness and Sutherland’s moorland in the early part of the twentieth century. I was honestly appalled at the level of knowledge on show, or rather the lack of it. One bright spark suggested that we drain peat bogs in order more people gain safe access, while others thought we should stop rearing lambs and buy our meat from supermarkets like normal people... I kid you not! Having said that, the threat we face from ignorance is real enough. The malicious intent of the extremist animalrights agenda, magnified by

duplicity pedalled on social media is impacting more broadly now than just on hunting, shooting and fishing, it’s on livestock farming, wider agriculture practices and our relationship with the natural and managed environment. We expect this from them, that’s why we maintain a high level of engagement with politicians and decision makers to ensure claims made by LACS and other animal rights groups are treated with the utmost caution. We rely on science and best practice to dispel the misguided claims of the radical rhetoric. It usually works... The time for marches may be past but that doesn’t mean that we should not be vigilant and call out those who perpetuate fake or misguiding news. Indeed, we have responded to such items in the Press and Journal and Herald in the last few weeks. If you are aware of anything in your local news, please feel free to contact us to make a response. In all honesty, I enjoy my time at conference, if only to catch up with Ministers and MSPs for a quiet chat, away from the shield of civil servants. Sometimes, just sometimes, their candid and forthcoming comments can be edifying. Good luck for the season and thank you for your continued support.

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

shops (you may be surprised at the great books for sale for a few pounds). The 1900s – 1950s were a productive time for countryside book publishers, with a vast range of subjects printed when country sports were more mainstream. The old books are often a goldmine for long forgotten game preserving stories and tall tales. Looking for a countryside job? Job advice? Scottish Gamekeepers Association website is a good place to start. https://www.scottishgamekeepers. job-front.html The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) represents and unites Scotland’s gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies, wildlife managers and rangers. National association of beaters

Simba rods

and picker-ups. ‘NOBS help get you involved with beating and picking up regardless of whether they have participated before or are complete novices. We act as an active link between gamekeepers or shoot captains with beaters and pickers up.’ classifieds/beaters/wanted Guns on pegs have classifieds adverts with beaters wanted. https://www.countryside-jobs. com/index.html Countryside Jobs service. ‘CJS is an ethical small business publishing free & low cost information to promote countryside careers in the UK & environmental conservation worldwide.’ html Rural Recruits. A specialist recruitment agency dedicated to

Countryside Careers

The ghillie taking anglers across the Tay to fish

the country estate and country sports industry The long-running Lady magazine has a jobs section in the fortnightly magazine and also online, and although it is mostly housekeeping staff vacancies, roles do appear looking for gamekeeping, stalking and fishing jobs.

Scottish Rural Network. ‘SRN encourages rural development by sharing information, ideas and good practice. We work with, and for, anyone who lives, works or has an interest in rural Scotland.’ Maybe worth a visit for more general rural roles (although at time of writing, many roles on their jobs page were out of date).

The shooting coach with young shot

Gamekeeping Colleges Scottish Borders: http://www. North Highland College: https:// courses/nc-gamekeeping/

Scotland’s Rural College, Fife: gamekeeping_and_wildlife_ management_svq_at_scqf_5 *From the Glenbuchart Heritage Archive: http://www.glenbuchatheritage. com/picture/number417.asp

Permits available for local rivers 26 Allan Street, Blairgowrie, Perthshire, PH10 6AD Telephone 01250 873990 email:


One man and his river Sporting and wild life artist Richard J Smith talks about his country life south of the border down Hertfordshire way What started as a little project to re-establish a neglected fishery soon developed into a much larger conservation venture which could have some relevance to anyone anywhere in a similar situation. This is the story about my trout and my kingfishers and my river - well not really mine!

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have fished in many parts of the world through invites from some very generous clients but I have always liked the idea of having my own fishery so I could eventually return the favours. It all happened rather suddenly. One day the land agent from the estate payed me a visit to oversee the renovation work I had done to the barn which is now my studio. Over a cup of tea the conversation moved from the building work, my fish paintings and fishing in general. I mentioned the little river down in the valley, a chalk stream that runs through the estate. I just said it would be nice to see it managed properly. She said why


don’t we go down and take a look. So wellies on and ten minutes later we are on the bank overlooking what should have been golden gravel and beds of lush ranunculus. To our disappointment all we could see was an overgrown bed of silt and a build up of debris and rubbish thrown from passing human traffic. We looked at each other shook our heads and sighed. We continued our journey downstream. It was just about half a mile stretch but because of this now jungled wilderness, it seemed to take ages. I was glad to have taken my stick to fight our way through brambles, nettles and fallen trees. At one I point I thought we might meet up with Dr Livingstone. We

did eventually find some clear water though under a big fallen willow. The roots had uplifted into a large roundel. The water quickly trickled through the tangle of sunken branches, sounding like sweet lyrical music. As we approached for a closer look a family of kingfishers emerged from the dense thicket of greenery. They had tunnelled and nested in the earth in the roundel of roots. Two adults and five youngsters gleamed like little jewels in the sun. We were both quite elated at the sight of these little birds as they sparkled around our heads. Then after a few seconds they had disappeared. On the strength of this encounter I put an idea forward, for me to

help get the river working again. Three days later I had a contract in my hand. That half mile beat was mine. So what do I do now I thought. My initial ideas were for a wild trout fishery but I was to soon see it lead to be more than that. It was already late July and I had a couple of paintings to finish for a customer but I so wanted to get started on my river. So it wasn’t until September when I seriously got to grips my little stretch of chalk stream. It had been neglected for several years. I understood several other riparians had had a go at looking after it but had given up the ghost. I could see why. We are close to two major towns and a few villages

One man and his river needing water. Abstraction from the aquifers by the water company has left ridiculously low water levels causing large silt deposits Also the introduction of red signal crayfish, mink and various invasive non native plant species albeit sometimes accidental didn’t help. Not to mention the litter problem and possible poaching. But old mother nature has held on. No matter what happens to the environment somehow nature responds and tries to cope with it. In fact nature seems to thrive on neglect. First I cleared and collected several bin bags of litter. Then I started work on the river with no real plan and began to remove some of the fallen branches where the silt had built up at its worst. After a couple of days with what little water flow there was the silt started to wash away downstream eventually exposing that lovely golden gravel. Once it starts to move you get that snowball effect and nature takes over. I remembered the flow of water under that root bole so I started to try and emulate similar conditions. It started to work and a plan then began to develop. Next I cut back the over hanging branches to let some sunlight into the once ‘tunnelled’ stream. Now from the fisherman’s and artist’s point of view it began to look more like a pretty little chalk stream again. However I started to question my actions. Was I interfering with natures hard work and the way she was coping with a situation and has she got to now adjust to my new rules I thought. I’d been busy on the project for a few weeks and by now it’s mid November but still quite mild. One


day I cleaned and loosened some of the impacted gravel areas along the beat and after working several back breaking hours I decided thats enough and I’m going home. Now my car was parked up stream at the top end of the beat on the opposite bank behind some hedging which meant me wading across the river to get to it. But to my great surprise and wonderment there midstream on the fresh gravel were two little brown trout about ten inches long going through the actions of spawning in less that a foot of water I just couldn’t believe my eyes. Where had these little things been hiding and how have they survived I queried. Well, I couldn’t disturb them now could I so I had to take the half mile trek back down stream fighting my way through the brambles and nettles to the road bridge and then the half mile back along the road to the car. With my aching back and my now tired wadered legs I was about finished. Though back at car I was rewarded by looking over the hedge and seeing the little brownies were still at it. A few days later I discovered more fish showing in different areas. Now I knew I was doing the right thing. That was confirmed a couple of months later with the sighting of a kingfisher returning from its winter haunts. Since then a large population of bullhead have become evident as well as some unidentifiable small fry and as it turns out a myriad of fly life and other invertebrates. With the introduction of a few fly boards and judicially placed groynes and the plantings of some native water plants for cover things are really coming together.

Anyway one cold morning in mid March whilst sitting having a coffee break overlooking some of the work I had done and on whim I decided to make kingfisher nest box. Once the idea was in mind there was no stopping me. I had a collection of rubbish that I had hauled from the river. An old builders pallet, a length of down pipe, some pieces of discarded baler twine and a scaffold plank. With just the hand tools and a few materials I had with me I got creative. From the plank I made a cube shaped box with a removable lid, cut a hole in one side to fix the down pipe into and filled any gaps with sticky mud. Then I lashed the box to the pallet with the baler twine and secured the whole lot between two old pollarded willows that stood a couple of feet from the waters edge. I then gleaned some unwanted turfs from the neighbouring property to disguise the contraption and give the front the appearance of a cliff bank. Finally a couple of handfuls of sand was added to line the box and that was that. One month later April 24th I noticed some excavated sand outside the entrance hole. Cautiously I opened the box and was hit by a disgusting smell of dead fish. Inside on a dished platform of regurgitated fish bones were two little round pinkish eggs. My heart raced. A few days later the pair completed the clutch of seven eggs and four baby kingfishers eventually fledged. But thats not all they redecorated in June laying a second clutch of seven more eggs fledging two more youngsters. Result. It’s funny how these the ugliest of nestlings start life in a

dark smelly hole but turn out to be beautiful little mini me’s. I initially took on the river as a fishery but now its become a bigger project. Since those early days I’ve witnessed a host of different flora and fauna take advantage of this bantam sized waterscape such as dabchicks, water rail, egrets and assorted duck. Other nest boxes have accommodated grey and pied wagtails and I so wish we had dippers in this part of the country. Also cuckoos have returned because of the abundance of small passerines, like reed warblers that have taken up residence in the new reed beds. The list grows. Of course it has to be managed to maintain its rich ecosystem but believe me it’s worth it. I’ve already invited a few friends/clients to visit. I lend them my little six foot three weight rod, as any thing larger is over kill. and they try and stalk these little wild brownies but the water is so clear the fish usually see them coming a mile away. So after an hour or two it’s a pub lunch and then back to the studio to look through some paintings and who knows a possible sale. It doesn’t take a great deal of effort or funds to create a little paradise. But I know I would rather fish, or shoot for that matter, in a area thats rich in natural biodiversity than not, even if its just for my own wellbeing and somewhere to inspire my paintings. Footnote: I think natures great and gets things right in the end but sometimes she just needs that helping hand in the right direction. Contact: via website www. or call 01442 255743

2019: the year of the fightback By Alex Stoddart, Director, SACS In 2017 Scottish Government Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham initiated a group to review grouse moor management under Professor Alan Werritty. By the time you read this, we will likely have sight of the final report and any recommendations, whatever they may be. Whether or not you are fortunate enough to shoot driven grouse, any review of management practices affecting commercial or other large-scale shooting activities may have a knock-on effect for others down the chain. From perceptions of trophy hunting of deer and other UK ungulates to criticism of ‘big bags’ to ‘raptor persecution’ to appalling behaviour by a minority of wildfowlers in the north of Scotland, we as a community of interest are firmly in the media and social media spotlight. Bad practices and excesses threaten us all. Whilst much criticism of our community is both unfair and orchestrated, such as the nonsense over the General Licences in England, some is sadly with foundation. Being mindful of all the environmental, social and economic benefits to Scotland from domestic and visitor shooting from pest control to driven shooting and a shooting heritage the envy of the world, we must do more to purge bad practice from within. Yet, where attacks on shooting are entirely unfair, we must continue to stand firm and say “no”. As one example from many, up at Findhorn, before the

wildfowling season kicked off local wildfowling clubs agreed a basic code of practice and sensible voluntary restrictions. Whilst this was well-received and followed by the vast majority of wildfowlers, within a few weeks anti-shooting activists increased their sabbing activity to the point where we had to pull the voluntary agreement as a local concession and issue guidance on calling the police and gathering evidence on sabs. There were one or two early instances of poor shooting practice, but vigorously dealt with within our own ranks. Last week, this exemplary self-policing was tested to the max when some visiting shooters left piles of spent cases and wads on the foreshore for hardly a handful of geese killed outright and many

left wounded with no attempts at retrieval. On being challenged, these shooters went back out the next day and, ignoring appeals from local wildfowlers, did their level best to disgrace the entire shooting community as well as themselves. After years of difficult negotiations, countless hours in meetings and on calls, some within our own community will still happily spread their cheeks over their own nest for the fun of 85 ‘sky blasts’ at 90-100 yard birds. It is important to manage your frustration when others cannot manage their own stupidity. Thus, moving from anger to action, this is the first wildfowling season where not only have local and visiting Findhorn wildfowlers been working together behind the

scenes against the antis, including actively ‘sabbing the sabs’, but they have now taken it upon themselves to sab the ‘cowboy corner’ shooters as well. It really is a sad day for shooting when responsible shooters have to resort to the tactics of sabs to frustrate poor shooting practices in others. 2019 has been relentlessly busy, with opportunities as well as challenges. Where criticism is fair, we cannot continue to give anti-shooters ammunition against us, so please do what you can to discourage and challenge poor behaviour. Wherever and whatever in Scotland you shoot, be it fur or feather, alone or in company, I wish you a terrific season. Remember, if you are a member, if in doubt give SACS a shout. Health and happiness to you and yours.


Product Review

Dogtrace Dog GPS X30 Tracking System Review by Stuart Dunn, Caledonian Retriever Club

DOGTRACE X30 DOGGPS system supplied by the dog goodies shop, is one of the most up to date dog GPS tracking, systems, already available on the UK market. We have been testing the latest X30 model recently, and have to say its solid robust build quality and striking orange colouring, certainly makes it stand out. The first thing you realise about this tracker is that it oozes quality and strength from the braid reinforced wide neck collar, the stainless-steel buckles and securing rings, the robust flexible aerial and solid chunky transmitter all securely fixed and riveted onto the rubber coated collar/belt. The hand held receiver follows the same robust build quality as the transmitter in the same orange colouring. The display screens, strong black display characters are easily seen at arms length even at a slight angle. The aerial has a threaded fixing to the main hand set, and is more than capable of withstanding the usual bumps and thumps that aerials tend to get throughout their lifetime. The large green tinted display screen makes reading the display easy even in poor light conditions Four side mounted control buttons provide easy touch control, and a handy belt or pocket clip is mounted on the back to aid secure fixing. The main power on button is located on top of the handset next to the aerial. Both the transmitter and the receiver are fully waterproof, and the battery life is impressive. The device comes with battery charging leads and a very handy equipment and storage bag. 34

The tracker has a massive range of up to 20km (area and terrain dependant), and can be used for tracking or training dogs within the range. The device can be used to omit acoustic tone signals to aid training, and a beeper function to indicate movement. An electronic “fence” boundary area can also be set up, which will indicate whether

one of your dogs have exceeded the fenced area. The set up and ‘getting started’ procedure does require a bit of reading and some degree of basic button pressing, but as with most devices nowadays reading the well laid out instruction manual is a must before starting. Once some time is spent doing

that, then programming is fairly straight forward. The tracking transmitter and receiver have built in GPS systems, the transmitter sends positioning information about its location by means of a radio signal to the receiver, where the dogs direction and distance can be displayed on the handset.

Product Review The GX30 includes the ability to be wireless connected to an external mobile phone or other compatible tablet devices that operates on the android operating system.

Overall the Dogtrace GX30 product offers supreme build quality, and reliability, with numerous tracking and training options, ideal for an experienced

trainer or a relative newcomer. An excellent product well worth

looking at in the ever increasing electronic training aid field.


Does a trialling dog make a good shooting dog? GUNDOGS I recently took a phone call from a reader who asked me the very same question. She was looking to buy a shooting dog and had been looking through the various ads and web sites that now offer everything from pups to the odd Field Trial Champion these days. She had seen an advert in the “Fully Trained” section offering a 4 year old “Field Trial Winning” black Labrador. Her question was, if I buy it, will it make a good picking up dog? Having thought about it for a few seconds, my answer was a resounding yes! And it got me thinking that as a long time hardened trialler of many years, have we reached the stage in the UK now, that the run of the mill shooting and gundog owner looks at Field Trialling as part of a different world, far removed from each other, when this is actually so far from reality. Having asked her what type of shooting activity she needs a dog for, she replied walked up rough shooting, and some picking


Asks Stuart Dunn, Caledonian Retriever Club

up on pheasant and partridge shoots from time to time. True to form, I returned with a rhetorical question and asked her what do you think? Her reply took me by surprise a bit when she said well I’ve heard that trialling is a bit clannish and cliquish with dogs that would struggle to do a full days picking up or beating, and the dogs are very highly strung or wired to the moon!. During the next hour and a half I described stage by stage the process of training a trialling competition dog, the huge amount of commitment needed, the ability the handler has to attain in order to train a dog, shooting trialling or otherwise and the characteristics the dog itself must possess, such as drive, style, speed, desire etc but also one of the most important “temperament” At the end of the day a “ trialling dog” is only a very well trained, highly polished shooting dog, the basic requirements are the same for both hunting,

Gundogs control, marking, retrieving, steadiness, are all requirements for both, but as in all types of sport some are naturally better at it than others, some receive better coaching and training at it than others, and consequently might end up at being better at it than others. Rest assured ex trialling dogs in general will adapt to most future shooting situations, but handlers taking on an ex competition dog of high quality will also need to spend a lot of time early on in their relationship with the dog getting to know each other and understand each others mannerisms, this can take a lot of time and rushing straight out into a shooting situation within a newly acquired dog should be avoided at all costs, and gradual introduction to the shooting field even though it’s with a welltrained animal should be done slowly and with care.

Purchasing a fully trained competition dog will probably unless your very unlucky, end up being a fairly large financial investment, but done properly and matched correctly, there is no reason why both parties cant enjoy a tremendous relationship for many years, but remember that dogs are not machines and cannot always be switched on and off at will, the handler will need to put in the hard work early on in the partnership or it can be a very costly mistake. So, don’t be put off by the illusion that competition dogs will be too strong for the shooting field, or inexperienced handlers. My experience is normally quite the opposite, and most dogs will go on to provide their partners with many years of faithful service and long lasting memories. For some owners buying a trained dog can be a quick fix, it saves time, takes some of the guess work out of buying a puppy,

and spending the next year and a half, two years training it, and can also provide a tangible end result almost instantly. Which ever road you travel down to reach your goal of owning a fully trained gundog either by buying the finished article or starting from scratch

with a 8 week old pup, good luck and remember that either route will no doubt bring some lows but rest assured there will be a lot more highs, so prepare properly, plan for everything and every eventuality. Good luck and hope you enjoy the rest of the season.

Stuart Dunn, Caledonian Retriever Club

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The Deerstalker By Megan Rowland, Land Manager and Deer Stalker Anyone who has been to a Deer Management Group (DMG) meeting will have heard the phrase “Business as usual”. But ‘business as usual’ hides the fact that the deer sector is undergoing enormous changes. Such a simple phrase covers a multitude of changes, many unseen by the wider public, but dealt with in their stride by those operating in the sector. Whilst we’ve had deer management groups for some 40 years, it is over the last decade that the deer management sector has drastically evolved to suit the requirements of government, ‘public interest’ and the climate. Beyond simply stalking deer, land managers are now key players in delivering carbon sequestration, restoring peatlands, planting forests, safeguarding woodlands, producing high quality food, supporting access and providing for tourists. The sector is waiting on two reviews to be published. The first is part of a regular check-in, conducted by Scottish Natural Heritage (or


NatureScot as they now want to be known); this review is carried out every three years, using 101 criteria to measure the progress of each DMG against their plan. The general feeling from SNH is that progress is positive, and this is echoed by the Association of Deer Management Groups following their group “health checks”. The second review comes from the Deer Working Group. This was set up by Scottish Government to examine the structure of Scottish deer management and to recommend changes based on other available models. This review, combined with both the current Scottish and UK consultations on ‘trophy’ hunting, have the potential to very rapidly change the face of the sector, the landscape of Scotland, and the lives of people who live and work there. We live in interesting times and I would strongly urge everyone to be proactive and respond to consultations to safeguard the wellbeing of our deer.

The Northern Shooting Show 2020 8th & 9th May It’s not long now until the shooting community descend on Harrogate in North Yorkshire to make it the UK shooting capital for the weekend of 8th and 9th of May for the Northern Shooting Show at the Great Yorkshire Showground. The show has grown to be the UK’s largest indoor and outdoor show in the UK In it’s fifth year it now boasts even more top exhibitors in the exhibition halls with the added bonus of outside demonstration areas to try optics, airguns, and other accessories. There is also a huge 500m clayline allowing you to try shotguns from many of the top manufacturers as well as a game shooting workshop from BASC and clay shooting instruction from CPSA. Hazel

Bank Shooting Ground will be running the competitions if you fancy having a go. You can even try muzzleloaders for the thrill of black powder guns. It’s really is a one stop shop for anyone looking to buy a shotgun, rifle or airgun or indeed any shooting accessory or item of specialist clothing for the season ahead rather than spending days visiting multiple shops. Most shooting organisations are attending with free advice for members and non members alike. If deer stalking is your thing then a visit to the Deer Focus Area with everything deer related including hunting, stalking and deer management is a must. The area also aims to

The Northern Shoooting Show educate visitors, and associations will be there offering best advice clinics and answering questions. For gundog enthusiasts there’s the huge Gundog Field with great competitions whatever your skill level and with generous prizes, together with Stoneycairn Gundogs offering their full popular gundog clinic and demonstrations. There’s also everything from feeds, dog beds, training aids, to quads and 4x4 vehicles and a multitude of game products in the Gamekeeping Area.

Kids are not excluded with airgun and archery ranges as well so you can make it a family day out and under 15’s GO FREE courtesy of BASC with a fee paying adult.

Advance ADULT Tickets are still on sale at £13 with FREE booking, FREE parking and FREE show guide so book now before they go up in price. Go to www.northernshootingshow.

Glad Rags & Cartridge Bags 5 years old and still going great guns! The sound of laugher, cheers and applause could be heard echoing around the striking grounds of Raemoir House in Aberdeenshire as the ladies of Scotland’s premier ladies shooting club celebrated their 5th birthday by doing what they do best shooting clay pigeons. This momentous occasion saw a weekend of festivities and rejoicing in style with exclusive use of Raemoir House. A relaxed dinner on Saturday night with ladies enjoying an overnight stay in the exquisite Georgian mansion. The following day 41 ladies of all abilities from never held a gun before to the more experienced shot undertook a morning of clay shooting under instruction. It was as always, a nail-biting exciting finish in the Country Ways Glad Rags Challenge. Throughout the year the more competitive ladies entered their four best scores from the events they attended, the birthday event was the final day to enter scores or improve on scores. At all Glad Rags events ladies are allocated groups according to their ability, experienced plus,

experienced, improver or beginner, the competition mirrored these groups, with fantastic prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each category. Helen Malcolm, Fiona Macpherson, Fiona Miller and Tricia Schooling coming first in their respective categories with Lois Moyes, Vicky Sell, Kim Shearer and Jenna Humphrey runners up. Prizes included vouchers from Country Ways, day at the races for 2 people from Weatherbys Private Bank and bottles of fizz from MHA Henderson Loggie. Kathleen O’Connor who looks after ladies shooting for BASC, British Association for Shooting and Conservation attended the event and presented the Glad Rags 5th Birthday Bash trophies to the high guns on the day for each of the 4 categories. The lucky winners were Lois Moyes in the experienced plus, Marie Archer the experienced shots, Barbara Lumsden the improvers and Rosie Morton in the beginners. Mhairi Morriss owner of Jomm Events and founder of Glad Rags and Cartridge Bags

Glad Rags & Cartridge Bags 5th birthday


said she would have laughed five years ago if anyone had suggested they would be celebrating such an impressive milestone for the club. Mhairi is obviously and quiet rightly very proud of how glad rags has developed. “It has been the most amazing 5 years; we are unique unlike other shooting clubs Glad Rags does not hold its clay shooting events at traditional shooting grounds instead we are like a roving syndic holding our shoots at stunning exclusive venues. Over 1900 places have been filled at the 70 events at our 21 amazing unique venues, raising a staggering £10,000 for local charities” explained Mhairi. The club is going from strength to strength, with events continuing to sell out and new ladies attending each month. This year saw the addition of two new sponsors Country Ways and MHA Henderson Loggie coming on board. “Country Ways and Glad Rags & Cartridge Bags are a perfect fit” smiled Mhairi. Rosemary Michie, manager at Country Ways, beamed

as she said, “I’m really passionate about encouraging women into the sport, so to have the chance to work with and support Glad Rags is fantastic!” Lucy Crow, tax manager at MHA Henderson Loggie says “It has been a joy to be involved with the superb events that each and every Gladrags day is. It has been wonderful to meet all the women who are so passionate about the sport and support each other to learn and improve throughout the year. At MHA Henderson Loggie we are proud to have been a sponsor for 2019 and are very excited for 2020.” So, the question must be asked what exciting plans are in place for 2020? Mhairi enthuses, “I am really looking forward to collaborating closely with our brilliant sponsors and new venues to offer the ladies a calendar of fun and exciting events. Children 1st is our chosen charity for the year and I have no doubt that we will reach are 500th lady to shoot with us, we are ending the year on 497. The 500th lady will come as my

Glad Rags & Cartridge Bags guest, I am in no doubt that this will happen at our first event of the year Blast away the January blues on the 12th January at Pittodrie House” Mhairi is also very excited to announce a further two sponsors for 2020 Weatherbys Private Bank and Station Garage Mitsubishi Torphins. Duncan Gourlay, Head of Weatherbys Private Bank Scotland office, “We are delighted to be supporting Glad Rags in Scotland. We look after clients right across the Country from our Edinburgh office and eager to encourage women into the sport. Glad Rags approach to tailoring the event to accommodate participants / ladies of any ability is very similar to our approach to Banking, treating each and every one of our clients as an individual and priding ourselves on exceptional levels of personal service.” Mhairi grinned “I can’t lie Glad Rags and Cartridge Bags happened a bit by accident. The very first clay shoot 5 years ago at Raemoir House started out as a fun day out for friends but as soon as it was planned I had requests from so many ladies

Jenna Humphrey, Lucy Crow, Hazel Dingwal,l Barbara Lumsden, Kim Shearer and Alex Porter

wanting to join us, one press release later and a few posts on social media and the clay shoot was sold out with 30 guns joining “my day out for chums”. Under the umbrella of Jomm Events her event management and marketing business Glad Rags and Cartridge Bags was born. “ Ladies who have never held a gun to the more experience

shot are all welcome. The emphasis is always on safety while learning how to shoot properly in a supportive and relaxed atmosphere. There is no joining fee and ladies dip in and

out going along to the events they can manage. For more information www. or call 07841 393 155, Glad rags is also on Facebook and Instagram

Cara Richardson, Lynette Ross, Kathy O’Connor, Dawn Hughes, Helen Malcolm and Lois Moyes


the shooting instructor

What you should expect from a Game shooting lesson By Stewart Cumming, National Shooting Centre

Stewart Cumming

Having just shot at a prestigious high pheasant shoot with a large number of experienced guns, I would like to start the article by looking at a shooter’s expectation versus reality. As with all Game shooting, each and every day is different, be it the height of the birds, the terrain in which you are shooting, the lighting and weather conditions. All of these factors are variable and in turn have an effect on the success rate of the shoot. As I mentioned, having just shot a day with some very experienced shooters, our success rate was down at 1 in 11. This is by no means a reflection on the shooter’s ability, more so the difficulty of the shoot itself. The birds on this particular day were upwards of 60 metres, these would require in-field instruction, a high level of experience and an ability to adapt a learned technique on the day. Now let’s take a look at what you should expect form a Game shooting lesson with me. Mastering the basics In order to succeed in any sport, you must first of all master the basic techniques and principles that apply to that sport. With regard to Game shooting, we are specifically talking about; Gun Mount – consistent and correct, butt of shotgun in the soft pocket of the shoulder and cheek on the stock. 42

the shooting instructor Cheek on the stock – lift your cheek and you will miss the shot. I have reiterated this due to its importance. Stance – correct weight distribution in order to maintain balance and allow for free gun movement. Do not stop the gun - stopping the gun as you pull the trigger will 100% result in a miss. Keep the gun moving with and through the target. Target acquisition – identify the target, lock onto the target, then move in front of the target or “Lock and Push”. Building the technique Once you have mastered the basics, it is now time to start building your technique so that it becomes second nature and gives you a foundation from which you can adapt, if necessary when faced with

different types of targets/birds. In order to achieve this, I would initially start you on a target that is easy to hit, something fairly low and slow. This builds up your confidence and allows you to trust your eyes and be confident that when you pull the trigger you are going to hit the target. This is the baseline form which we build. As the targets gradually become higher and faster, your lead will increase as you “push through” the target. Having built up to this stage, the natural progression means that it will not feel strange or alien to you, it will almost happen without you consciously thinking about it. Now that you have achieved consistency in hitting the higher and faster targets, it is just a matter of adjusting this slightly to suite the requirements of the Game shoot. Remember, Clays slow down as they fly through the air, Game Birds don’t!


Hind Stalking Dates Available

Contact: 01876 500329



The Boxing Day Shoot By Andrew Grainger Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group Forget the negative media attention focused on the Boxing Day Hunt Meetings. We as shooters will be thinking positively of the Boxing Day Shoot. Since its inception our syndicate and many others around the country meet on Boxing Day for an informal family and friend get together on our shooting ground. This is not something that many visiting guns get to enjoy but I am sure they would, whether they come from France or Finland. More relaxed than a normal walked up or driven day it offers an opportunity to get out and get some fresh air and exercise. An opportunity to let non shooter family and friends see what a ‘shoot day’ involves. It is an opportunity to introduce a younger audience to all that is great about being out in the countryside, on hopefully a crisp, cold, sunny day. There is great pleasure in watching handlers work their dogs in the drives, flushing,

picking up and generally being well behaved. As shooters we are all well aware of the social aspects of our sport, as well as the positive impacts on our mental well being and physical health and let’s not forget the conservation benefits we bring to the countryside. Pest control to protect ground-nesting birds, improvements to help maintain and create habitats, such as hedgerows, wetland and copses. The countryside would look very different but for our efforts. Elevenses have always been a highlight of our syndicates’ Boxing Day – sloe gin or a bull shot for non-drivers, a bacon roll with any number of additions such as black pudding, potato scone, egg, sausage and/or (generally and!) one of Carol’s famous pheasant sausage rolls. Who would have thought you could eat any more after Christmas lunch! Food always tastes so much better eaten out of doors.

Not forgetting that if you are fortunate enough to bag a couple of brace, whether it be pheasant, partridge, pigeon or other game, you can look forward to a great tasting, wholesome, sustainable meat with low cholesterol and minimal food miles. Perhaps the relaxed Boxing Day shoot is

a model that could be adopted for visiting guns, and their partners, to extend the range of sporting opportunity available in Scotland. So here is a toast to the traditional Boxing Day shoot with all best wishes for the festive season from Team SCSTG.

Please follow our social media accounts and check our website for further information. 44


Boss & Co. The best London guns, with a Scottish history John Robertson, arguably the most famous of the Boss & Co forefathers, was a proud Scotsman born in Haddington, East Lothian. We explore how Scottish heritage shaped the most famous of London Gunmakers.

John Robertson at gunmaker’s vice. Circa 1805


Boss & Co, a name so highly regarded it has become the gun of choice for those seeking the very best money can buy. Thomas Boss was the name behind the company, Boss being a common surname in the 12th and 13th centuries, but while Thomas is rightly credited with the foundation of Boss, in this story we will concentrate on a Scotsman called John Robertson. John’s father, John Ireland Robertson founded his own gunmaking business in Haddington, East Lothian in 1830, situated at 1 Hardgate, an address that still exists and the building remains largely unchanged. Robertson senior had a reputation as a master gunmaker who made guns with incredible accuracy and precision and, according to the Donald Dallas book ‘Boss & Co Best Gunmakers’, Robertson was also the first to fit a telescopic sight atop a rifle during the 1830s. In 1839 John Ireland Robertson and Jean Dudgeon had their third son, christening him John Robertson, a child who would later become the owner of Boss & Co. As he grew, John was immersed in his father’s renowned and highlyregarded gunmaking business where he leant his own craft under the direction of his father. In 1858 Robertson made the decision to leave Haddington for Manchester to join gunmaker Whitworth. This decision was taken for a number of reasons, one being the fact that his father’s gun business was seeing a steady decline, as provincial demand for guns waned. The second was a feeling that he had to move South to be at the forefront of the gun trade, despite there being a number of highly-regarded Scottish gunmakers at that time.

Air Rifle shooting with a disabilty

Boss & Co.

By Davie “Barndoor” Scott

Workbench at the Boss & Co factory, London

After 4 years at Whitworth, where he gained a huge amount of experience in gun and rifle manufacturing, Robertson left Manchester in 1862, moving further south to Westley Richards in Birmingham. Robertson spent a short 2 years in Birmingham, his interest captured by their development of breech-loaders, but the lure of London was too tempting to ignore. 1864 saw Robertson finally make the move to London where he found work for James Purdey. At the time Purdey, like Boss, produced high quality guns and welcomed skilled journeymen like Robertson. During his 9 years at the company he became the right-hand man of James Purdey, a position that afforded him the opportunity to develop his skills in business leadership while continuing to be a hands-on gunmaker. After many years as an indemand journeyman, he longed to run a business of his own where he could unleash his knowledge and skills while feeding his neverending passion for innovation. In 1873, aged 34, he went his own way and rented premises in London where, rather than create his own brand, he used his reputation to gain work as an outworker for the leading gunmakers of the time. Unsurprisingly his reputation and experience meant he was soon working for most of the leading gun manufacturers of the time, and his business expanded rapidly. Across London Boss & Co was being run by Edward Paddison, a nephew of Thomas Boss who apprenticed to Boss in 1838 and

owned the company from 1872. In 1890 he sought a partner to help reinvigorate the company as he had aged and found managing the business a struggle. Robertson has long-supplied skilled work to Boss and had sent plenty of large bills, some of which remained unpaid. Having had first-hand experience of his work, Paddison had little hesitation in offering Robertson a half-share in Boss. The deal would see outstanding debts cleared, leaving a sum of £600 to be paid by Robertson to complete the deal. Upon the death of Paddison in 1891 his half share was passed to a nephew who had little interest in anything other than drawing his share of profits. Eventually, in 1893, Robertson bought out the other half share and became the sole owner of Boss, having had to re-mortgage his home to release the required funds. Boss & Co was now, finally, under his sole control. Robertson maintained his trade business alongside Boss & Co, but soon the Boss business expanded rapidly. This expansion was accredited to his new approach and innovations at Boss attracting more interest and more sales. To cope, many staff had to move from the trade business across to Boss to keep up with the increased demand Robertson had attracted. Before his ownership Paddison had continued to make guns in the same way he had done for years, with reliability taking the lead over style. Robertson changed that almost

Scottish air rifle clubs have many members with disabilities as members and facilities are constantly being upgraded. A fine example is Cloybank APRC near Cumbernauld which has taken the following steps to help shooters with mobility problems. They have installed wider doors on all their ranges and have installed low thresholds to each door. Hanging shooting benches are installed which allow wheelchair users to get a proper shooting position as there is nothing below

the bench to get in the way and blue badge holders car parking is available both at the range and at the cafe. They even have a shuttle service from the cafe to the range if required and trained instructors and safety officers are available should anyone need help getting their gear in from their cars. Shooting with a physical disability is often very possible to do with the right help and no matter if you just want to have a quiet day shooting or take part in competitive shooting you will be made very welcome. You will of course be subject to the usual laughs and banter and apart from being helped with equipment that you may need you will be treated the same as every other member. You will not be treated as “special” and that’s the way it should be. Not all disabilities are physical and trained instructors are available to help in all circumstances and you can have a great day out and perhaps find a new sport that you can compete in or just enjoy. Give it a go. You never know! You might just turn out to be the new Commonwealth or Olympic champion. At the very least you will have a great day out.


Boss & Co.

Boss & Co continue to make Best Guns by hand in London

immediately and set about streamlining their guns, adding grace, shape and form with no loss of reliability. This desire for visual appeal led to him designing

the Boss Hammerless Ejector in 1897, a mechanism that had beauty as well as reliability and is an action still in use at Boss to this very day. The invention of

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the Hammerless Ejector led Boss to be known as the racehorse of best guns, their sleek appearance giving similarity to the lines of a muscled thoroughbred horse.

The lithe beauty and form of the Boss Ejector allowed Robertson to create the now world-famous Boss Over and Under gun in 1909. Robertson did not invent the O/U

Boss & Co.

A completed pair of Boss guns presented in bespoke gun case

but he created an Over and Under gun that was elegant, shapely, strong and far lighter than any other on the market. Immediately it set the standard and became the benchmark, a celebrated design that remains unsurpassed. So good, the Boss O/U is one of the most copied gun designs in history, but nobody builds one better than Boss. Robertson is also credited with the invention of the first reliable single-trigger in 1893, an invention that enabled both barrels to be fired with one trigger, rather than the more commonplace two. Robertson had studied the single trigger since 1890 and defied press and customers alike who said it couldn’t be done with the required reliability. Not only did he show a working double-trigger, that he allowed media and customers to fire, he also built a triple-barrel gun to further demonstrate the effectiveness of the single-trigger. Once again, it fired perfectly during a non-stop test. The singletrigger was produced from that day forwards and has since been heralded as the last development of importance in modern guns. Boss now had more to offer than ever before, reliability and quality mixed with innovation and style. A winning combination that would set Boss on a fast-track to be the very best, setting a standard the company would follow for years to come. Today Boss is owned by Arthur DeMoulas, a man we featured in a previous issue when he shared with us his love of Scotland. DeMoulas has a strong connection to our country, regularly to be found

on hills and moors partaking in shoots but also through his strong association to Scotland through Boss. While Boss are known as Builders of Best Guns Only, the best gun being a London gun, it was a Scotsman who elevated Boss to be the best in the world. DeMoulas is a man who understands the importance of history and the value of heritage and is as determined and driven as Robertson was to see Boss become innovators and pioneers once again. Long before his acquisition of the company, DeMoulas was a Boss passionate having fallen in love with the guns, the story and the quiet progress they had made for over 200 years. His desire to own the company was born of a longing to see Boss run as it should be and to recreate the excitement of the 20s and 30s heydays. Today at Boss, each skilled worker is inspired by the legacy of the great men that went before them, DeMoulas leading and reigniting a strong passion for the company and the guns they produce. They are, once more, a gunmaker that is open for business, where off-the-peg is not available but bespoke, unique guns are in production. Each Boss is created using traditional methods and truly handmade construction, fast becoming a rarity with the increased popularity of machinemade guns even at the top of the market. With such an illustrious history to look back on, Boss are able to reintroduce actions that have not been seen since the 20s. They are able to remanufacture a gun that was built in the past as

The “Year of the Gamekeeper 2020” is a multi-organisational initiative which aims to raise the profile of gamekeepers and celebrate their unique position as custodians of the countryside as well as support and sustain the long term future of the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust. Following on from “Raising the Game” which continues to encourage keepers, stalkers and ghillies and their families to consider their own physical and mental health, talk and support for those who are struggling. Stag Training courses and mentoring, are amongst the projects which are aimed to encourage everyone think about their own situation, their resilience and increase communication in their professional and personal lives. Gamekeepers, stalkers and employers are in a unique position, very often in being able to create interesting ways of raising funds for charities and causes close to their hearts. These include clay shoots, simulated game, social evenings etc. We hope

that in 2020 you may consider doing one thing for GWT – whatever that may be. Our ability to support gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies and their families– past, present and in the years to come depends on a sustainable future. We hope you can help us to achieve our aims to build on the support we can offer and celebrate who and what we represent. Thank you. To demonstrate our own commitment CEO Helen Benson is undertaking her own GWT Royal Challenge in April 2020 which sets off from the Castle of Mey down to Braemar and on to Holyrood and on to Wales, Cornwall and finishing at Sandringham. This is over 1500 miles and will be undertaken in every type of transport gamekeepers and stalkers have used over the years from boots to bicycle to pony, quad, landrover and argo! Please help us to help our gamekeepers, stalkers and ghillies. Scotland’s rural future depends on them. campaign/GWTYOTG2020

Tel: 01677 470180 49

Boss & Co. a one-off. They can create fully bespoke guns for clients as their gunmakers have the rare skills needed to create any element from raw metal. We today, like our ancestors, can walk into Boss & Co Gunmakers and feel the history in the room. We can order a bespoke handmade gun that will be built with love by craftsmen devoid of the distractions corporate ownership can bring. They are in the business of making guns, nothing else, and have a desire to make their forefathers, the likes of Boss, Paddison and Robertson proud. When you next walk the moors, or towns of Scotland think of this story. You may or may not own a Boss gun, but it is here in Scotland that John Robertson, the man who made Boss what it is today, was born. A best gun will always be a London gun, but the best guns in the world carry a piece of Scottish history within them.


An example of the intricate artistry offered by Boss master engravers

The presence of rodenticides within Scottish wildlife Photograph by Pete Cairns

By Lydia Peters, The Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies

Rodents are attracted to farms and estate buildings by food stores, where they can spoil feed and transmit diseases. Although rodenticides represent the most efficient and the most commonly used method for rodent control, they also pose a threat to children, pets and wildlife through the significant risk of primary and secondary poisoning by ingesting poisoned carcasses. Earlier this year we examined the levels of rodenticide in the livers of 49 wild-living cats collected mostly as a result of road traffic accidents. We detected rodenticides in 61% of the cats and at levels known to

cause illness or death in other mammals. Older cats had higher levels of the toxins, suggesting repeated exposure over time and not just from one-off events. Rodenticide levels were similar irrespective of the hybrid status of the cats, which isn’t surprising given that previous work by Scottish Wildcat Action shows wildcats live in and around estates and agricultural land, visiting farmyards and outbuildings. The health risk posed by these toxins is a threat to domestic cats and our critically endangered wildcat. Many other studies have provided evidence of these toxins within Scottish wildlife,

including the red kite and the barn owl. Rodenticide residues have been found in 90% of tested barn owls. These findings indicate that rodenticides need to be used in a more measured and considered manner in outdoor spaces. Second-generation rodenticides were developed in response to growing resistance to firstgeneration rodenticides and present an increased toxicity and greater ability to accumulate within living tissues. Secondgeneration rodenticides are almost exclusively used to control rodent populations around farms and estates, even though firstgeneration rodenticides would

be appropriate in most cases and pose a much lower threat to non-target species. The Health and Safety Executive strongly recommends owners call on pest control professionals to ensure rodenticides, including secondgeneration rodenticides, are only used when necessary, and measures are put in place to help decrease the risk to non-target species. Furthermore, preventive measures can be undertaken, such as keeping gamebird and dog food in sealed stores and repairing leaky pipes to make out buildings less attractive to rodents. Visit for more advice.

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. 51

Favourite reads

Potatoes – not just the lifeblood of Ireland By James Hunter Edinburgh based publisher, Birlinn Ltd, have released what may well come to be considered one of the most profound books on Scottish history to have been written in decades: Insurrection: Scotland’s Famine Winter by emeritus professor of history at the University of the Highlands and Islands, James Hunter. You may well recognize Hunter as the author of the Saltire Society’s History Book of the Year, Set Adrift Upon the World. He is an award-winning journalist as well as historian and in his review of Set Adrift Upon the World, David Ross of the Herald commented ‘his scholarship is breathtaking’. Scotland’s potato crop of 1846 was ravaged by blight. For a nation reliant on this humble harvest, the result was both social and economic crisis and led directly to an uprising by ordinary folk. For those in the crofting communities of the Hebrides and the West Highlands – already suffering from absolute poverty – the crisis turned to imprisonment, starvation and death. On the island of Barra, it was ‘the sort of crisis a later age would call a humanitarian catastrophe.’ Barra, like many other crofting communities had given over nearly all the arable land to potatoes. It had nothing to fall back on. No alternative 52

the famine-threatened people living on their properties’. The deadly typhoid spread. Hunter presents the human face of those living and dying in the worst effected areas. Entire towns and villages rose up in protest and riot at the rising cost of the meal that replaced potatoes as people’s basic foodstuff, women protested against the imprisonment of their men-folks (some sentenced to transportation to penal colonies in Australia for their role in riots), fathers and mothers feared – with good reason – for the very life of their children ‘falling-away’ before them. Harbours were blockaded, the grain trade brought to a standstill and the army, sent in to restore order, turned on the protesters. Jim Hunter’s remarkable and inspirational book brings the dramatic events of these forgotten times back to the reader. He has produced a moving, wellresearched work of micro-history with lessons for our time. Slowly the protesters demands for cheaper food won concessions but the price they paid was high indeed. foodstuffs were available in the quantity required. Cockles and a very small amount of meal were often all the people had to eat. Potato blight

‘reduced field after field, plot after plot, to a sickeningly reeking mass of blackened, rotting vegetation’. Landlords ‘showed next to no concern for

Insurrection: Scotland’s Famine Winter by James Hunter is available now. Birlinn Ltd, £20 hbk.

Busy, busy, busy! It’s that wonderful time of year when the shooting season is in full swing: birds are strong and high-flying, beaters are full of life, dogs are keen and the guns are shooting well (hopefully!). The country sports industry is continually being bombarded with criticism, much of it ill-informed verbal diarrhoea, light on facts and heavy on spin. What are we to do? Take it, listen out and wait for more? Nope. I don’t think so. We shouldn’t be sitting back and waiting for the next attack. We need a CTA – a call to action. Sing the praises about the work we do, the days out we enjoy, let’s talk about it, be proud of it, share ( doesn’t everyone own a smartphone these days?), open it up and invite people in, and encourage them to have a go. The country sports industry is no longer the closed, classdriven world it used to be – there are open doors everywhere and it welcomes everyone. No matter who you are, where you are from, novice or experienced, curious and interested, unsure or confident – you are all welcome! Go on, give it a try! You may find you have a hidden talent for shooting clays, be the luckiest angler on the river or discover a passion for deer stalking and conservation. There are many people working within Scotland’s country sports industry, the numbers run into thousands

by Linda Mellor

SCOTTISH COUNTRY LIFE with full-time, part-time, seasonal, contract and selfemployed roles. The span of the types of jobs is much wider though, if we look at the hotels, catering, accommodation, transport and vehicles, clothing, writers and photographers(!), videographers, PR and Marketing companies, estate staff (office based as well as outdoors) who make it possible for shoots to take place, land owners, bailiffs, sporting agents, boat builders, equipment manufacturers, gundog breeders and trainers, vets, fly-tiers, web and graphic designers, magazine editors and publishers, distribution networks, local newsagents (stocking rural magazines), butchers and game dealers – the list goes on. There are lots of livelihoods and more at stake if the country sports industry is continually disrupted by criticism and takes a downturn. How about seeking out and highlights all the positives hidden within all the negativity?

Could there be an opportunity to create additional jobs? More people involved and employed within the industry and able to promote country sports to a wider audience, help educate people and encourage participation. There is much to be done, a lot of ground to cover to show people the reality, and not how it is portrayed by the opposing groups and TV ‘personalities’. There are so many benefits to an outdoor lifestyle: exercise, social life, skill and wild food. Put the facts out there, and support people in using their intelligence to question everything. 2019 has to be one of the most frustrating years for businesses with the general unrest (I refuse to use the ‘B’ word!) in limbo land. Many businesses found themselves at the mercy of indecision, and suffered as a result. Within our hunting community there’s a good deal of trade between UK and Europe (think rifles, shotguns, stalking clothing and accessories, shooting coats, boots, wellies …etc.), orders are placed in advance, budgets and campaigns planned and deals made. Many country sports fans visit Scotland from Europe, and, of course, we many of us regularly travel to Europe to enjoy country sports. Have you met or visited the Best Fox Call and Best Deer Call (links at the bottom of the page) stands at the

game fairs or bought their top notch products online? If you haven’t, look them up! Rob kindly sent me a cherrywood roe deer call for my deer stalking adventures, and I am looking forward to using it. When I go out looking for roe deer on my own with a camera, I use a long Canon 100-400 L lens (generally, I only use two lenses), and stalk in as close as I can. It’ll be very interesting using the cherrywood roe call to bring the deer in to me, and capturing new images. Social media can be a positive environment for business and making connections, that was the case when country loving Deborah Anderson from ‘Be Coorie’ got in contact wishing to stock my book, ‘For the love of country sports’ in her shop in Comrie. I delivered the books in person, and enjoyed meeting Deborah and seeing her shop, it’s a ‘must visit’ if you are a country sports and countryside fan, or if you adore beautiful things, it’s stuffed full with lots of gorgeous goodies. Deborah is an active sporting women, and enjoys shooting, deer stalking and fishing (see Country Woman) and has a flair for creating beautiful spaces – go see for yourselves! A happy, healthy 2020 to all! 53

The Gun Workshop by Peter Davie ‘Tis the Season to be jolly and at this time of year the Gun Workshop is full of winter jobs for customers who want their firearms and shotguns repaired or serviced during the holidays. In addition, it’s the perfect time to treat yourself to that custom-build you’ve always talked about - so have a seat by the fire, pour yourself a wee dram and enjoy our very own 12 Days of Christmas...

The Twelve Days of Christmas – a Gunsmith’s view Perhaps the ultimate Gunsmith’s Christmas gift for his client is a custom rifle, built to suit an experienced shooter who already knows exactly what he wants! The customer for the particular rifle described here is a professional deer stalker who

works to control deer numbers in commercial forestry around SW Scotland. His remit was that he wanted a solid, heavy, deadly accurate .270 Winchester rifle, built on a Sako 85 action with a precise trigger, an adjustable stock, great optics and a rock

solid bipod (oh, and a gun bag big enough to hold it for safe transport) So, here’s how we made it (with sincere apologies to any music lovers out there) This Christmas tale takes the form of a musical countdown, loosely following the sequence

of work required to build a custom rifle from scratch. On the twelfth day of Christmas my Gunsmith gave to me – Twelve: Parts for Choosing Here are twelve of the main items we had to tie down for this

Figure 3 Action and bolt with lapping fixture attached

Figure 1 The action mounted on a truing arbor

Figure 2 Freshly machined bolt lugs 54

Figure 4 Barrel end before being trimmed

The Gun Workshop build: Stock – A fully adjustable laminate stock from Form Rifle Stocks. Action – A stainless steel Sako 85 action and bolt assembly. Barrel – A Bartlein 5R heavy varmint contour, 26” stainless steel barrel with a 1 in 10 twist. Chamber Reamer – A standard .270 Winchester, floating pilot reamer from BBT in the Borders. Moderator – A Wildcat Predator 12, reflex style, fully strippable unit from UK Custom Shop. Trigger – The original Sako unit,

blueprinted and rebuilt. Scope Base - A Contessa Picatinny rail from Alan Rhone. Scope Mount – A short saddle Monomount from Tier One. Scope – A Nightforce NSX with zero-stop. Bipod – A B&T Industries Atlas V8 with leg extensions. Sling – A Niggeloh Titan II backpack type sling. Gun Bag – An AIM 55” tactical drag-bag (it’s a big rifle) Now we’ve chosen all the parts we can get underway with the machining work…

On the eleventh day of Christmas my Gunsmith gave to me – Eleven: Action Truing The Sako action is mounted on a truing arbor to re-cut the barrel mounting face exactly perpendicular to the bolt axis. The arbor is then swapped for the spider and the bolt lug recesses are re-cut ready to receive the freshly

trued bolt lugs. The bolt face and action threads are also checked for perpendicularity and re-cut if necessary. These steps form part of the foundations upon which accuracy will be built. On the tenth day of Christmas my Gunsmith gave to me – Ten: Bolt Lugs Lapping

Figure 7 Action being screwed onto the barrel

Figure 5 Threaded tenon

Figure 8 Pre-drilling the chamber

Figure 6 Action face with blue dye

Figure 9 Boring the body section 55

The Gun Workshop The newly machined bolt lugs and bolt lug recesses are now lapped against each other using diamond lapping compounds to achieve a perfect sliding fit. Lapping preload is applied by a special springloaded fixture with a large bolt to adjust the pressure. The close tolerance obtained by this method ensures that the boltface pressure is carried exactly on the bolt centre-line back into the action; this in-turn helps to ensure repeatability.

On the ninth day of Christmas my Gunsmith gave to me – Nine: Barrel Trimming The barrel needs to be prepared by cutting a small section off each end to avoid using areas potentially affected by the manufacturing process. It is then mounted in the lathe ready for machining; great care is taken to align the bore perfectly with the axis of the lathe, this set-up is another foundation that underpins the rifle’s eventual accuracy.

On the eighth day of Christmas my Gunsmith gave to me – Eight: Tenon Threading The first part of the barrel to be machined to size is the thread tenon. This area is turned down to the appropriate diameter ready to have threads cut on it to match those in the action. These threads need to be a precise match to the action in order to maintain alignment, as well as containing the considerable forces present when the gun fires. On the seventh day of Christmas my Gunsmith gave to me – Seven: Action Fitting Once the tenon threads are cut and finished to be a snug fit in the action-threads, the alignment is checked by using a

microscopically thin layer of blue dye to verify there is good contact between the barrel tenon shoulder and the previously machined action face when this joint is handtightened. Any mismatch here will potentially ruin the rifle’s accuracy. On the sixth day of Christmas my Gunsmith gave to me – Six: Chamber Cutting Now we know the action and barrel are an excellent fit, we can proceed with creating the chamber for the .270 Winchester cartridge to fit into. This tightly controlled area is first opened up with an appropriate sized drill to get rid of the bulk of the material; at this point we can introduce a long-nosed dial test indicator to check bore concentricity ahead of

Figure 10 Reaming the chamber to size

Figure 13 Checking Headspace - 0.0015”

Figure 11 The floating reamer holder

Figure 12 Checking Headspace - zero 56

Figure 14 Finished muzzle thread

The Gun Workshop what will be the neck area of the finished chamber. The body area of the chamber is then machined with a tungsten carbide boring bar to ensure concentricity with the bore axis before being finished to size with a chamber reamer held in a floating reamer holder. On the fifth day of Christmas my Gunsmith gave to me – Five: Headspacing… It is critical that with the bolt closed, the bolt face holds a standard cartridge in the chamber with just the right amount of free space. The process of achieving this fit is called Headspacing. For the .270 Win chamber, the

reference dimension is defined from a point on the shoulder of the cartridge back to the bolt face. Special gauges are used to check this vital dimension is correct once the action is fully tightened onto the barrel. Free space is verified with a sensitive indicator whilst the joint is still only hand-tight. On the fourth day of Christmas my Gunsmith gave to me – Four: Muzzle Threading We covered muzzle threading fully in the June 2019 issue, but to summarise; the muzzle threads need to be perfectly aligned with the bore and the moderator

should screw-on smoothly with no slack and stop abruptly when it meets the thread shoulder. On the third day of Christmas my Gunsmith gave to me – Three: Trigger Tuning The trigger components are held in accurate fixtures and precisely ground on a machine that can reproduce the factory spec’s, but more accurately and with much better surface finishes than can be achieved in a production environment. This process is called “blueprinting” and with a little care it can often turn a mushy, creepy, heavy-feeling factory trigger into a crisp, predictable, safe and robust trigger that is an absolute joy to shoot. At this point the barrelledaction is sent off to the Proof House for testing and marking-up with the all-important proof mark. Once this mark is applied the assembly is officially classed as a saleable firearm. On the second day of Christmas my Gunsmith gave to me – Two: Finishing Once the barrelled-action arrives back from Proof, the job accelerates towards the finish

line. The stock has already been precisely cut-out to fit the action and barrel contour, so this work has simply to be checked. A few finishing-off jobs such as adding a section of rail under the forend for the bipod and a strong rear slingswivel mount are soon done. To finish the rifle, a high quality rail is added on top of the action and the one-piece scope mount attached before installing the customer’s chosen optic. The eye relief is then set correctly and the scope reticule is adjusted to be absolutely perpendicular before the rifle is test fired and zeroed. And a custom rifle made for me! Well, I hope you participated in the festive sing-along and found this very much abridged description interesting and informative. As ever, join me next time when more flickering candlelight will be illuminating dark corners of The Gun Workshop. With all good wishes for Christmas and every happiness in the coming year from Landrail Firearms

Figure 15 Trigger components after blueprinting

Figure 16 Stock, scope and bipod all fitted

Figure 17 The finished rifle

For further information on this or any other gunsmithing subject please contact: Landrail Firearms Ltd Tel: 01583 431444 57

Forging links between Scotland and Norway By Stuart Blair

If interested, call us now on: 01847 889000 or look at our website: We are well into our 1st semester at North Highland College, our students are all settled into their Work Placements throughout the Country. At North Highland College we are delighted to have a close working relationship with

Evanstad Campus in Norway, which allows us to facilitate study tours between Norway and Scotland. Forming a faculty of Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, the courses in Evanstad are varied; forestry and wildlife management; hunting,

Norwegian students visiting Scottish School of Forestry


fishing and nature guidance, bioenergy and applied ecology. At the start of November, we were delighted to welcome a group of Norwegian students to the north of Scotland, keen to learn about hunting and land management and compare it

with their own Hunting Guiding course. This year the focus was on woodland regeneration, upland management as well as gamebird management. On the 1st day, half of the students took part in a local pheasant shoot which

Norwegian Students taking part in deer lecture at Scottish School of Forestry

gave them a great insight into driven shooting in Scotland, while the others visited an upland woodland regeneration project. On day 2, some of the group went red hind stalking, whilst the others visited a local grouse moor. The moor visit allowed the students to learn about predator control and gain an understanding of the planning that goes into running a moor. It also included an explanation of how white hares are counted and cull figures set. The Norwegians enjoyed the opportunity to take part in a White Hare drive and some of them managed to shoot their 1st hare. The cull of 6 hares was gladly received by the larger group of students, who later dined on the spoils of the day. The visit also included a joint day with students from the Scottish School of Forestry, where everyone took part of a deer movement day. The objectives for the day were to get a feel for deer numbers within a fenced native pine scheme, cull some of the deer within the area, and get an estimate of Capercaillie numbers. The day was a great success, with a good count of Caper - although down on previous years. The trip, the third of its kind, was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone involved and we look forward to our return trip to Norway with Scottish students in May 2020. This year some students at the NHC are also looking forward to the introduction of some new delivery modes, such as part time options for “flexi”

learning. To suit the requirements of both the industry and students, we are now running a “flexi” HNC in Gamekeeping and Wildlife Management as well as our ever-popular full-time course. In current times, despite efforts to extend learning out of the classroom and work with partners from different countries, such as Norway, the Game management Industry is still under a lot of scrutiny, not only from the public but also Government too. It is vital that as an industry, we strive to maintain standards and keep up to date with all of the changes in legislation and best practice that abound.

Heading into the forest

Scottish and Norwegian Students taking part in a deer movement day


Trophy hunting – it affects us all Dr Colin Shedden is BASC’s Director in Scotland and Chair of Lowland Deer Network Scotland I have just read a fascinating article on trophy hunting in the recent BASC magazine by Dr Dilys Roe, who is chair of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) “Sustainable Use and Specialist Livelihoods Group”. Before you turn the page, thinking that this is of no relevance to a Scottish game shooter, stalker or wildfowler, could I just ask you to consider one quote from the article. She said that the IUCN – the world’s largest conservation organisation of which the UK is a member – “recognises that trophy hunting is a form of wildlife and land use that, when well-managed, can make a valuable contribution to conservation”. The reason that I use this quote is not because trophy hunting, in Africa for example, is under direct threat, but because there is a current UK consultation on the import and export of hunting trophies. In summary, the consultation offers four options: a. A ban on the import and export of hunting trophies from certain species; b. Stricter requirements for clear benefits to conservation and local communities to be demonstrated before hunting trophies from certain species are permitted to enter or leave the UK; c. A ban on all hunting trophies entering or leaving the UK; d. Do nothing - continue to apply current controls based on internationally agreed rules. 60

The option that clearly stands out is c. – a ban on all trophies entering or leaving the UK – and this is the one that is currently causing a lot of us in Scotland great concern. Brexit has the potential to complicate the lives of estate stalkers and sporting agents trying to get their clients’ “heads” sent to EU destinations, but the potential of a ban is alarming. As we all know, there is a demand for hind and roe doe stalking in Scotland, but this is nothing, financially, compared to the demand for stag and buck stalking. I am afraid that the inability to retain the head of a stag as a lasting memento of a week’s stalking in the Highlands would see many sporting estates and associated businesses suffer or collapse. This would then have a massive impact on our continued ability to manage open hill red deer. BASC’s position on this is likely to be one that supports the sustainable harvest of wildlife in the UK and overseas as well as supporting the import and export of trophies from such hunting when proven to be from a sustainable source. Hopefully, the majority of consultation responses will support this. (The Defra consultation runs until the 25th January 2020 and can be found at wildlife-management/trophyhunting-consultation/)

Once a year and it’s almost here! The UK’s largest trade and retail shooting event is set for a spectacular return to the NEC Birmingham on the 14th – 16th February 2020. For three full days the might of the shooting industry come together at the British Shooting Show to present visitors with the greatest retail experience of the year. Exhibitor trade stands will be brimming with quality shooting products including shotguns, rifles, airguns, optics, ammunition, country clothing and thousands of shooting accessories. Many companies from the UK and overseas will also be launching brand new products at the show giving you the chance to be amongst the first in the world to see and handle them! And the visitor experience doesn’t stop there! With many other attractions such as the demonstration arena, airgun firing lanes, shooting simulators, gundog demonstrations, and private arms collections there is everything to make your visit enjoyable and memorable.

For visitors travelling to the show, it couldn’t be easier. The NEC is positioned in the middle of the UK’s motorway network and for 75% of the UK population that means less than a three hour drive to the show. The show organisers have prepaid the cost of car parking at the show making it free for all visitors. The NEC has its own railway platform with links to mainline rail networks making it a popular alternative to driving. Visitors choosing to fly will also find their journey to the show a lot easier with nearby Birmingham International Airport and its connecting monorail, taking visitors from the airport directly to the NEC in ninety seconds. Where else can shooters meet up in such great numbers? We hope you can join us! Please visit www.shootingshow. for more information and to book your tickets (accompanied 15 years and younger go free)

country woman

Deborah Anderson By Linda Mellor

Deborah Anderson was born in Renfrewshire. Her family owned an antiques centre and her dad was an avid munro bagger and they often travelled to Perthshire and further north into the Highlands. It was around the age of eight when Deborah became aware of her love for the outdoors and a desire to spend as much time as she could outside. She said, “every weekend away, if I wasn’t able to do the munro with dad, I would look for the nearest country park or trekking centre where we could go horse riding. Riding was my first passion from a young age.” 62

When Deborah was ten years old, they moved to Monzievaird (between Crieff and Comrie), Perthshire, their house had a forest behind it, and this gave her the ideal location to develop her love of the outdoors. “I played for hours, I headed up through the forest into the hills behind. I fed the pheasants, we had chickens and rabbits, I would make dens in the woods and spy on roaming deer from my dens. I also can recall many walks to the River Earn and, watching otters. I was an animal lover from an early age,” said Deborah.

“My beloved pony, Brady, was a huge part of my childhood. I would ride him up and over all the surrounding hills, returning back in time for tea. I was only eleven years old when I was dropped off at the stables in the morning. I would be out all day and return by 5pm. All before mobile phones! I learned from my riding experiences: when you fall off, sometimes alone or in the middle of nowhere, even with broken bones, you need to get back up and be determined if you want to get back on and home.” If you grew up with ponies you will recognise this, and recall the

challenging times when you’d get back home black and blue, covered in mud. “I always felt so lucky and appreciated every moment I had, and would often voice it to my mum, that I was so happy out on my horse roaming the hills and that she couldn’t stop me. Thankfully, she never did, as I think she realised it was where I was drawn to.” Competing at Gleneagles was another way of spending time outdoors for Deborah, she would often take part in the local cross country and show-jumping events.

country woman “I love the Scottish countryside for what it has to offer, it is all right there on our doorstep, from the ever changing landscapes and the seasons, the mountains, hills, forests, rivers, lochs, we have it all so close by.” In Perthshire you are rarely that far away from the wildness of the outdoors, Deborah said, “minutes from us we can get to an untouched spot and it is a heavenly place: the colours, the freshness and the feeling it evokes inside. It is a paradise, and my meditation.” “One of my favourite spots is right at the end of the single track road in Glen Lyon. The long glen with the river running through it, the serenity, the roaming deer, wildlife all around, it’s untouched. This makes it special, it excites me just driving there. When I’m there, I feel like a child again, in the wilderness and free. I should love to retreat there one day!” Embracing Scottish country traditions is a lifestyle choice, “if you take on as much as you can in every day life, then living in Scotland becomes magical.” Recently, Deborah went deer stalking, “I had an amazing traditional stalking experience with the highland ponies in Glen Artney. It conjured up a great deal of emotion, and taking in the power of the surrounding hills with views over to Ben Vorlich and St Fillans, makes it a truly special place.” “I spent some time on an estate in Argyll, by Loch Fyne, and have very fond memories of fishing there and learning about the importance of salmon hatcheries, shooting and stalking. I remember fishing for mackerel, smoking it over barrels and, on the odd occasion, ate handdived scallops if we were lucky enough.”

A day’s stag stalking at Glen Artney captured the true essence of country sports for Deborah. “It was as much as about the comradery and the craic as it was about the hunt for the stag and creating memories. It wasn’t an easy day, with the wet weather, fully waterproofed and soaking through. We waited for the mist to clear, then the sun came out and the mist lifted. We walked nearly 10 miles up and down the hills. It was a struggle, but, because of this, it ended up the perfect balance as I was in position, six hours later to take my shot. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. It was so rewarding and hugely memorable because of the mixture of the elements, the team, the ponies, and the picnic. it really echoed to me what country sports is all about and that why I’m back in Scotland living this lifestyle choice I have chosen.” Debbie opened her shop ‘Be Coorie’ in Comrie. “Be Coorie is a theme inspired by the way of life I have chosen in Scotland, it’s interiors and lifestyle products. Whether it’s to be coorie by a fire after a wild swim in Loch Earn or a day’s shooting in the rain or frost, a long hill walk and wild camping by a river, I like to come back to a warm, cosy and inviting home. My interiors are inspired by our surroundings here: the colours of Perthshire, and the country sports on our doorstep”. Be Coorie is a wonderful blend of Deborah’s creative flair, mixed with her passion for the Scottish outdoors and country sports. Be Coorie, Commercial Lane, Comrie, Perthshire PH6 2DP Hours: Open Mon/ Thurs/ Fri/ Sat 10.00am-4.30pm Follow on Instagram and Facebook


Do you know your pheasants? By Ian Clark Readers will think they are familiar with pheasants – but are they? All of the game pheasants we see in the countryside are a mix of subspecies of a single type of pheasant – often called the common pheasant, Phaesanus colchicus. ‘Colchicus’ came from ‘Colchis’, the old name of the area where our western civilisations first encountered these beautiful birds, east of the Black Sea where Russia meets Turkey. In fact, not only are there around 20 different subspecies of the common pheasant, there are around 60 other species of true pheasants, many of which look nothing like the ones we see in the UK. Pheasants occur naturally mainly in Asia, and range from the hot, humid tropical forests at sea level right up to the high barren slopes of the Himalayas. At that high altitude are found Monals, Tragopans and Blood Pheasants, some of the most beautiful birds in the world with

irridescent plumage, dramatic colours and markings, and well adapted to survive in that harsh environment. As we move to lower altitudes, forests take over, and these are home to a multitude of other pheasant species, all with their own individual adaptations to allow them to survive in their specialised environments. Sadly, human pressure on these areas has resulted in the loss of millions of acres of forest to agriculture and urban expansion, and almost all species of pheasants are now threatened with extinction from their natural ranges. The World Pheasant Association (WPA), based in the UK conducts and finances research and conservation projects to help save these birds for the future, and you can help by joining us. If you have an interest in pheasants and would like to learn more, the WPA website is full of useful and interesting information – www.pheasant.

Black Necked Pheasant

Middle, Ninebanks, Hexham, Northumberland, NE47 8DL 63

The Ghillie

Looking back at the 2019 salmon fishing season By Bob White Ghillie on Catholes, Pitlochrie, Benchil and Luncarty on the River Tay

The 2019 salmon fishing season has drawn to a close and everyone has put away their rods for another year. Everyone asks the question, has it been a good year? Well, we had far more water and catches were more spread out but in the cold light of day catches have not improved from 2018’s very poor returns. Yes, it has been another difficult year. The spring was very disappointing on most rivers


despite the cyclical change theory of warming seas meaning that the spring should improve due to salmon spending more time in the sea due to food sources moving further away from us. A few seasons ago we saw suddenly more spring fish returning for 4 seasons from 2013 to 2016 but that has been dashed over the last 3 years to everyone’s disappointment. Maybe it will recover again and consistently produce in the years

to come as it did back in the 50’s and 60’s. Everyone certainly hopes that will happen as these fish are certainly the prize everyone wants to catch. The summer seems to be the best time to wet a line and that was certainly the case this year with more water in the river and quality summer salmon to catch. June, July and August were productive and there seemed to be reasonable runs of Grilse as well. On the Tay

that certainly was the best time in the past season. Hopefully this will continue in the years to come as it is certainly a lovely time to spend on a riverbank. The autumn catches are flattering to deceive as catches are reasonably good, but the quality of salmon caught is not great, being increasingly coloured as the season goes on and very few clean genuine autumn salmon running the rivers. This has certainly been the case

The Ghillie in recent years with everyone still failing to recognise the scenario. Still on a lot of fisheries they put their prices up at this time of year as it used to be the best time but that is not the case now and it should be recognised. Some of the rivers that have late closures in November should be seriously looking at that to protect their spawning stock. What is for the future and prospect for next year? There is no doubt something is going on to the detriment of our iconic salmon returning to our rivers in the sea. No one still seems to be able to come up with answers to enable us to do something about that despite all the current ongoing research. We are certainly aware that there are less adults in our rivers so it follows that there must be less juveniles. Predation is therefore having a greater effect on them going to sea. We have to protect what we have to keep good numbers going to sea and hope something goes right in the sea to see an increase in adult return. Stocking is another tool to help augment that in desperate times assuming it is done in the best possible way. Marine Scotland’s policy in that field has not helped with no consultation with the stake holders. The politics do not help the ghillies at the coal

face trying to keep anglers coming back to our rivers. Owners and their Ghillies are always trying to increase the experience for anglers in difficult times. The improvement of facilities on the beats has become paramount as it is no longer about a certainty of catching as the saying goes a salmon is a bonus nowadays. At Stanley have been looking hard at modern fishing trends and how they can improve the experience of visiting anglers. As a result, we have decided to reduce the number of rods fishing our beats at any one moment from 6 to 4. This will increase the time that individual fishers spend on the productive pools, give our fishers more time in the boat and give the pools more time to rest. We are confident that these measures will increase the catches per rod per day and elevate the experience of fishing our beats to a new level. Fishing is increasingly an escape from the pressures of the modern world and the reduction in rod pressure has been greeted with great enthusiasm by our regular rods. It is now certainly about delivering an enjoyable experience. Let us hope 2020 is a far better season and we all start to see improvements.


cooking with game

St Martin’s Greylag Goose By Wendy Barrie

Ingredients: 1 Greylag goose (3-4kg) 2 apples, diced 8 plums, halved & de-stoned Fresh thyme Freshly milled salt and pepper For sauce… Water to make approx. 500mls stock (by deglazing roasting pan) 200mls apple juice 2tbsps J Gow Spiced Rum 2tbsps blackcurrant / bramble jelly Freshly milled Isle of Skye Sea Salt and pepper 1tbsp cornflour

Sweet & Sour Cabbage… 1sm spring cabbage 4 rashers of Ramsays streaky bacon 1 apple, finely chopped 2tbsps Orkney Craft Vinegar 1tsp local honey Freshly milled black pepper 2 crushed juniper berries 2 bay leaves

Recipe & photography © Wendy Barrie

The symbol of St Martin of Tours is the goose for it is said he once hid in a stable of geese where their cackling gave him away and to this day Swedes celebrate with a special autumn feast. We sourced our wild goose from Orkney where they have permission to hunt Greylag Geese, much to the farmers’ relief! If you would rather someone else did the cooking why not join us for our Goose Dinner evening?

Method: s 3EASONGOOSEINSIDEANDOUT lLLCAVITYWITHFRUITANDTRUSSUPLEGS0LACEGOOSEWITHBREASTDOWNWARDSONATRAYANDROAST for 1hr at 150°C. Cook for a further 2hrs breast upwards, covered loosely in foil. s 2AISETEMPERATURETOª#ANDOPENROASTFORTHELASTMINSTOGIVEACRISPYSKIN"ASTEWITHGOOSEFAT7HENTHEGOOSE is cooked the juices will run clear with no blood. s 3ETASIDEGOOSETORESTFORMINSBEFORECARVING-EANWHILEUSEPLUMANDGOOSEJUICESFORYOURGRAVYSTOCK2EMOVEANY remaining fat by spooning from surface. s 5SETHEGOOSEFATFORROASTINGPOTATOESANDFRYINGVEGETABLES s &ORGRAVY BLENDINGREDIENTSINPAN!DDSLAKEDCORNmOURANDWHISKTHROUGHBOILUNTILTHICKENEDANDSMOOTH4ASTETOADJUST seasoning. s -EANWHILE COREANDSLICECABBAGElNELY s (EATALITTLEGOOSEFATINAFRYINGPANWOKANDFRYBACONUNTILCOOKED!DDCABBAGEANDCOOKOVERAMODERATEHEATFORMINS with apple and remaining ingredients until cabbage tender, adding a little water to release some steam for final cooking if necessary. Remove bay leaves before serving. Serves 6 with sweet & sour cabbage, apple butter, butter toasted breadcrumbs and roast potatoes. 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. 66

ARTWORKS Sporting and wildlife artist Richard J Smith talks about his country life south of the border I live on The Gaddesden Estate in Hertfordshire in the old keepers cottage. I help out with the shoot, do the deer stalking (fallow and muntjac mostly with the occasional roe) and look after our tiny chalk stream. Unfortunately this little waterway has seen better days due to abstraction but I have had great success with kingfishers taking to a purpose built nest box, so things are looking up. Just outside my studio there lies a small wood of about eight acres. At it’s highest point I have

a high seat leaning against a commanding Scots pine which gives me a pretty good view of most of it’s ground, the flight ponds, a couple of rides and the plantation. It’s haven for wildlife. Apart from the deer, I sit there quietly and it’s surprising what comes close. A stoat stalking a rabbit, a sparrow hawk taking a pigeon, a tawny owl staring from an opposite branch or even a tiny treecreeper working it’s way in a spiral up a tree trunk. During the winter months if you were

to look over my right shoulder through the frosty pines down the valley at sunset you could be in Scotland. Imagination plays a big part in my work. I usually start new pieces with a strong abstract design but it is important to me to study my subjects first hand. I am an avid fisherman. I’m trying catch as many different species on the fly as possible although I’m not too clever with the double hander but I am probably best known for my paintings of fish and water.

Over the years I have been lucky enough to travel the world but now with my new little terrier I am quite content staying at home and ‘painting from my doorstep’.

For further details view or call 01442 255743


news Birds of prey benefit from moorland management, finds study

A long-term study of moorlands has suggested that birds of prey fare better on moors that are managed within the law by the grouse shooting industry than they do if those moors are left untended. The hen harrier – a bird that has been mercilessly persecuted by gamekeepers – benefited from legal moorland management while populations of curlew, golden plover and snipe, all of which are declining nationally, also improved. Campaigners against the persecution of hen harriers have longed called for grouse shooting to be outlawed. However, the study suggests that, if the land is left unmanaged, and there is no form of control of other predators, such as corvids and foxes (which can predate hen 68

harrier chicks), the ground nesting birds would The findings emerged from the 10-year Langholm Moor Demonstration Project in southwest Scotland which monitored the relationship between birds of prey, red grouse, other predators such as foxes and corvids and the state of the heather moorland. The aim was to see whether any combination of these factors would find a way to allow birds of prey to flourish while at the same time running an economically-viable grouse shoot. The report included a major caveat: the benefits of lawfully-managed land were outweighed if illegal control – gamekeepers killing birds of prey and other predators, which is widespread across

grouse moorlands – occurred. “One of the reasons hen harriers have done well at Langholm is the absolute adherence to the law,” says Professor Jeremy Wilson, Head of Conservation Science, RSPB Scotland. “There may be a sweet spot where the land is judiciously and legally managed to support a small number of driven grouse and is conducive to managing heather moorland and in a way that helps birds.” The RSPB’s latest report on bird crime found that in 2018 there were 87 confirmed incidents of birds of prey being illegally persecuted/Credit: Getty Images Wilson believes that, were the grouse shooting industry to reduce the scale of shoots, a compromise might be

found. “Thirty years ago, the number of grouse that were driven in any shoot was 6080. Nowadays, the shoots deem 1,000 to be an acceptable number. They need to reduce their expectations.” However, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has no appetite for reducing the scale of shoots. “Setting a lower target would be economically unsustainable,” says GWCT spokesman Andrew Gilruth, who says his organisation’s approach is guided by environmental, social and economic principles laid down by the World Conservation Union. “Those that manage nature reserves are blessed that they don’t need to balance those three but communities making a living from their land face these compromises every day.”


Get your very own copy delivered to your door every June and August. Also makes an ideal gift.


2 WAYS TO GET YOUR OWN PERSONAL COPY sent directly to your home or office. 1) Visit our website @ Go to the SUBSCRIPTIONS PAGE and follow the instructions.


a year *Includes £1 per issue towards postage

2) Card payment over telephone. (Call us on 01738 639747).


Get your very own copy delivered to your door six times a year. Also makes an ideal gift.


2 WAYS TO GET YOUR OWN PERSONAL COPY sent directly to your home or office. 1) Visit our website @ Go to the SUBSCRIPTIONS PAGE and follow the instructions.

£27 a year

*Includes £1 per issue towards postage

2) Card payment over telephone. (Call us on 01738 639747).


what’s new New Tractor Drawn Shoot Trailer from Access Trailers Access Trailers have developed a new Tractor Drawn Shoot Trailer. This is a heavy duty unit fitted with a fixed drawbar, hydraulic brakes, accessible emergency passenger handbrake, agri tyres and leaf spring suspension. Available on either a single or tandem axle chassis with a carrying capacity ranging from 20 to 30+ people. Visit: email: Tel: 07854085880

Everything you need, fitted out for the perfect day’s shooting Lintran, with over 30 years experience in design and manufacturing provides a super solution for the shooting enthusiast. Following on from award winning pick up solutions in their range, they are now able to offer new designs for popular 4 x 4 vehicles which offer limited height for dog on top of a storage unit. You can now achieve a sensible, safe and comfortable dog space at the side of your storage unit. Not only that, but an extender unit is available which means your gun can fit in the unit in 1 piece between drives, which is something that has often been on the wish list from shooters. 70

With 1 single seat put away for the shooting day only, other seats are still usable, and after shooting the drawers work neatly, just in the boot area. Hospitality units and glassware available if required to suit individual needs. Many choices of finish available from silver or black checker plate to hardwood fronts or deluxe burr finishes. drawers can be lined if required and options regarding security locks available Please contact Lintran on 01673 885959 to discuss options for your vehicle and quote Shooting Scotland for a special deal price.

gift ideas Stalkers 3 piece set from Ogdens

Rifle Cleaning Kit

Made from quality leather this set comprises of double licence holder,7 round bullet wallet,bolt holder all costing £30 each. But when bought as package £69.99 for all 3, (post included).

The perfect gift for anyone who owns a rifle this Proshot universal rifle cleaning kit from Viking Arms is just perfect! SRP £60.00


“Celebrates a 25th ANNIVERSARY” 25 years ago we received the first batch of our uniquely amazing waterproof, windproof, breathable, silent, light but robust “STEALTH” fleece. We then spent 2 years trialling different designs in a variety of good and bad weather before introducing initially Deer Stalking Smocks to the general public We wish to share this celebration with a “CELEBRATORY SALE” of the first Smocks designed with our customers and friends as a way of saying “Thank you” for their support Not only is there 20% off RRP of “HILL ZIP SMOCK”, “HOODED SMOCK” and “BUSHRANGER SMOCK “ saving between £70:00 to £100:00 but we have made it even easier as these goods are available through Pay Pal Credit on a “buy now, pay later” basis . Celebratory Sale closes 30th January 2020 ..... Check these and rest of NomadUK Lady and Gents clothing at where retail prices have already been adjusted to CELEBRATORY SALE Price .... contact 07736 255100 for further assistance



gift ideas Sasta Ladies Hetta Jacket

Alpaca Country Socks

The feminine cut of the Sasta Ladies Hetta Jacket is a great dry option for the field. Soft hand polyester suede shell fabric with separate Gore-Tex® Woodland Liner with detachable hood included. £399.00

Shotgun cartridge cufflinks

Unique and bold, each pair of Shotgun cartridge cufflinks handmade by J Boult Designs is guaranteed to be of the highest quality. Perfectly suited to the gentleman who prefers a day on the moor or at the clays. Available in either 12, 20 or 28 bore. Each pair of cufflinks comes in a smart gift box.

Plain 75% Alpaca Country Socks are as soft as cashmere but very hardwearing. Alpaca fibre repels bacteria and odour so can be worn for a week. Low prickle factor means that people who cannot normally wear wool can happily wear alpaca.

Price: £25



gift ideas Waxed Canvas bags and holdall collection New Heritage Waxed Canvas Collection - This brilliant new collection from Fur Feather & Fin are made of hardy 100% waxed cotton canvas with leather trim and detailing. Available at:

Just the ticket!

It’s just six months to go until the UK’s largest indoor and outdoor shooting show. Once again the main exhibition halls will be packed with major manufacturers, distributors and retailers along with acres of outside areas packed with exciting and interesting things to see and do…all shooting related! Don’t forget our huge clayline where you can try out shotguns from all the major manufacturers free of charge too alongside our clay shooting competitions and have a go area. Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or a newcomer to the sport of shooting this is the show to attend, Why not treat that loved one to a ticket to the show. An adult ticket is just £13 by clicking on the link below. There’s no booking fee and parking is free and the showguide is also free courtesy of Leupold Optics. Kids Go Free once again courtesy of BASC. 73

gift ideas Socks Appeal!

Whatever your outdoor activity, these Le Chameau long shooting socks are the perfect accessory to wear with your rubber boots. Made from a soft lambswool blend that is naturally comfortable and insulates the foot whilst wicking moisture away.Exclusively available from our online store and beautifully packaged in a Le Chameau gift box.` £45.00

Fancy something a little tasty? Hot Smoked - A great introduction to using wood smoke flavour on a BBQ, includes wood chips, stainless steel smoker box, spicy rub and recipe booklet. Gift boxed. Available at : 74

‘For the love of Country Sports’ by Linda Mellor

A perfect festive gift for country sports fans! Published on The Glorious 12th 2019, has received many 5 star reviews, and contains 40 heartfelt, entertaining, experiences from passionate country sports lovers. From shooting to stalking, gundogs, ferreting and fishing, the stories cover all aspects of country sports.

Profile for Athole Design & Publishing Ltd

Shooting Scotland Magazine (December - January 2020)  

Shooting Scotland Magazine (December - January 2020)