Although I have had the shotgun out and about quite frequently over the last few weeks, remembering to take everything for the opening shoot always seems to involve a tremendous amount of rummaging around in search of cartridges, gunslips and that most important piece of kit, the hip flask.

I pulled away from my house on a frosty morning last Saturday in a car loaded with unnecessary and novel pieces of kit that had been picked up over the summer when the memory of what you actually need on a cold December day becomes distorted.

I checked the time and put the pedal to the metal.

My first invitation of the season was from an old family friend who insists that punctuality is the most important quality in the universe, and several of his guests often find themselves missing the first drive thanks to a three or four second delay in their arrival.

When he says that the day starts at 10am, that is when he expects the first shot to be fired.

It wasn?t far to go, and I pulled into a yard of labradors and beaters with only a few seconds to spare.

I met my host and happily chatted to some of the other guns for the few short moments allowed to us before the day began.

For the first drive, I put on the possum skin shooting gloves that I bought at the CLA and adjusted the gaudy garters from the game fair at Scone.

Both had seemed quite sensible in July, but now they looked decidedly silly in a field of dead thistles.

Pulling my shotgun from its sleeve, I found that, although I had remembered all the accessories, I had overlooked one thing.

I?d left the forestock at home. The gun couldn?t be fired, and for the half hour duration of the first drive, while pheasants came spiralling out overhead, I hung my head in shame.

The views expressed on Patrick Laurie’s blog are the author’s and not the views of Shooting Gazette, ShootingUK, IPC Media or its employees. www.gallowayfarm.wordpress.com