Phil Spencer, the television property guru behind Location, Location, Location, tells us about his first pheasant and schoolboy heroes.
Shooting Gazette: What was your first shotgun?
Phil Spencer: “My first gun was an AYA 28 bore which was my reward for passing my Common Entrance exam aged 13.”
SG: Where was your first shoot day?
PS: “Two years later, on our family farm near Canterbury in Kent. The bag was about 15 and I can vividly remember my first pheasant. It was a left to right crossing cock bird, which I dropped neatly into a river – I was so pleased I jumped straight in to retrieve it myself.”
SG: Who was your shooting mentor?
PS: “My father was absolutely dictatorial about safety when shooting, so as a young lad that side of things was drilled into me from a great height. He was also passionate about nature, conservation and decent fieldcraft.
“I always stop to appreciate this when standing at a peg waiting for a drive to begin. I love that time – excited about the drive, but also having some peaceful moments to watch and listen to everything that surrounds you. There’s always something to learn about as nature goes about its business and it annoys me intensely when a neighbouring gun wants to have a loud conversation from 35 yards away.”
SG: What’s the one shoot on your bucket list?
PS: “There are just too many to choose from, but I think it comes down to anywhere with driven grouse. It wouldn’t matter if I was beating, loading or shooting – I just know it would be very special to experience a proper day on the moor.”
SG: Where do you go to practice your shooting?
PS: “My preference is to spend a busy day in a pigeon hide, but failing that I go to Greenfields Shooting lodge Canterbury.”
SG: What’s the best piece of shooting advice you’ve ever been given?
PS: “It’s all about the footwork. If you practice that and get it right everything else will follow.”
SG: If money were no object, what gun would you buy?
PS: “A couple of years ago I had a dozen shots with a side-by-side Purdey, which had interchangeable 20 and 12 bore barrels. Although it would not be strictly accurate to describe it as “two for the price of one” It was a beautiful gun and it meant that you did have both a 20 bore as well as a 12 bore. Aside from that I hit all 12 clays in a row so it’s always had a special place in my heart.”
SG: Who would you most like to share a peg with?
PS: “Sir Ian Botham. Not only would I love to chat to him about all things fishing and shooting related, I also play lots of cricket and he was my ultimate schoolboy hero.”