Grouse Over Pointers

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For most of us, the opportunity to shoot grouse is one of those pipe dreams, a distant possibility for that day when all the bills are paid. The classic and sustainable way of shooting the king of game birds, grouse over pointers can turn dreams into a reality. With a history that goes back to the very first days of sporting grouse, shooting Lagopus lagopus over pointers offers a transcendent sense of history and incredible bang for buck.

GOPO-Boys-at-Drumochter
Landscape and luck can play a big role in the size of bag achieved, whether the grouse in question is Hebridean or Highland. A group of two to four guns walk together with guns broken or in slips behind the quartering dogs. The joy in this arcane style of shooting is in the collaboration between handler, dogs and guns. Watching pointers and setters quartering the landscape in sweeps of five hundred metres either side of you and their handler is a gorgeous sight. In the right conditions, it’s possible to leave a dog on point while enjoying one’s piece (packed lunch), before assuming position either side of the dog. Each and every point must be ‘acknowledged’…no matter how awkward its position on the slope.
Equally, only pointed and flushed birds are shot. Fortunately, the pointers do the bulk of the hard graft, locating the proverbial needle in the haystack and engaging in an impromptu game of statues to let you know exactly which clump of heather a grouse is sat beneath. While bird and dog duel it out in frozen poses, the pair of guns take its place on either side of the dog. Once you’ve caught your
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breath (arriving at the point inevitably seems to involve an uphill climb or downhill scramble), loaded cartridges into your gun and steadied your nerve, the handler will send the dog in to flush the grouse.

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Watching a covey propel itself out from beneath the pointer’s nose and your feet is like watching a firework explode: colour, noise and motion in several directions all at once. Grouse over pointers sounds an easy proposition. Walking the gorgeous autumnal moor with spectacular views until the pointers find the quarry.
Standing there waiting for the dog to push birds into the air from a narrow target area in front of you. Indeed, it’s one of the easiest forms of walked up shooting for a novice, as the dog warns you when it has found the quarry, giving you time to collect yourself, a luxury not often afforded in walked up shooting. And yet for the overconfident it’s astoundingly easy to find yourself recounting tall tales of near misses, almosts and could have beens.
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Identify the safe area in which to take your shot and commit it to memory. Avoid distraction and pick a single bird, following it from initial airborne arabesque into shot and pull. Have confidence in your ability. Don’t wait to see the bird down, or you’ll only manage one bird in a covey at best – by the time you’ve seen it on the ground, its comrades will have taken cover in heather on the hillside opposite.
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Outside Days offers grouse over pointers in  Scotland

SEASONS

12th August- 10th Dec

KIT & CLOTHING

Traditional clothing is tweed suit including breeches: more relaxed than driven days walked-up shooting is still an event worth dressing for. You will be walking for much of the day so ensure clothing is suitable for the prevailing weather conditions.

Lightweight rain wear that can be screwed up into a tight ball and carried in the pocket is useful, but if you are shooting on a warm August day you might just prefer to get wet if a shower occurs. Whatever you decide, the best advice is travel light. You might be lucky enough that the estate will provide an argo or even a pony to carry spare clothing, waterproof leggings  and your lunch, but normally you will be expected to carry it all yourself. You might be lucky enough that the estate will provide an argo or even a pony to carry spare clothing, waterproof leggings  and your lunch, but normally you will be expected to carry it all yourself.

And talking of warm August days, don’t forget to look at the forecast, you might find what you need is midge repellent, sun cream and sunglasses.

Footwear, good strong walking boots are recommended as the terrain can be steep and uneven,  gaiters will keep the heather (and the midges) out of your socks

Gun

Double barrelled shotgun, normally 12- 28 bore
Semi-autos and pump actions are not allowed

Twelve bores are fine, but a light 20 or 28 bore is even better…if you are used to shooting with it. After a day on the hill that saving a few pounds in weight will really help. And as long as your aim is true, either will be perfectly capable of killing your quarry.

Cartridges

Cartridges are personal choice, due to the nature of the shots taken heavy loads are rarely needed: an ounce of No.6 shot is a good starting point.

Make sure you have a cartridge bag or belt as often you will nor return to the vehicles for some time.

Group Size

Two to four guns

VISAS & LICENCES

Travelling to the UK from within the EU needs no visa
Travel from outside the EU may require a visa at the port of entry

You will need a licence to bring a gun into the UK and Outside Days can arrange visitor’s permits for you or provide rental guns on your arrival.

MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS

None

INSURANCE

We require all our guests to have third party insurance, this can be obtained by membership to any of the British sporting organisations, for third party and shoot cancellation insurance we recommend the policy offered by Hiscocks.

TIPS

It is standard practice to tip the gamekeeper at the end of a day’s shooting. Standard for a small walked-up day would be £30 per gun. We believe the tip should also reflect how well you believe you have been looked after and how much fun you’ve had.

CURRENCY

GBP sterling

TIME ZONE

GMT

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We welcome guns bringing their own dogs on these days, but please only well behaved and trained ones. In no other form of shooting are you so reliant on the ability of the dogs to provide your sport or quickly ruin the day for everyone. You need to honest with yourself about your dog’s ability: what makes it a pleasure in the house might not be what makes it a pleasure on the hill.

If you have brought your own dog along to retrieve, please remember to keep it at heel while the pointing dogs are running.

If you are not confident your dog will stay steady when grouse are rising and guns are firing, then keep him on a lead until it is time for him to retrieve or ask another member of the team to hold him if you are shooting.

The time to retrieve is not as the first grouse hits the heather: often not all of the birds in the covey will rise as one. Allow the pointer(s) time to fully hunt for any single birds left from the covey.  If your dog runs in or is sent too quickly there is the possibility it might get shot as another bird takes to the air.

Your host/dogman will let you know when it is safe and prudent to send your dog in for the retrieve.