What's your gun bus like? Smooth and comfortable or rocky and rickety? Here are your legal obligations ...
What makes a good game shoot?
- A visible host on arrival, and preferably someone with a sense of humour who greets everyone with a big smile.
- A bacon sandwich and a coffee on arrival
- A functional game shoot room. If it’s raining and cold a cowshed with a hole in the roof is disappointing. A warm cowshed with a few bales and some friendly faces on the other hand can be perfect.
- The opportunity to meet the gamekeeper at the beginning of the day. It can be odd when the first time you meet the keeper is when you say thank you and goodbye.
- A good atmosphere. Friendly and enthusiastic beaters and pickers-up really brighten the day. It doesn’t take much on either side. A big smile and a “good morning, how are you?” opens the communication and reminds everyone it’s supposed to be fun.
- Quality of shooting. Generally we go shooting because we want to shoot some good birds and we want them to be spread up and down the line.
- Shooting for a full day i.e. four to five drives minimum lasting more than 10 minutes.
- Spacing pegs out properly. The old guideline was 40 yards between pegs and this seems sensible. Too close and it’s almost impossible to tell whose bird it is, leading to all sorts of problems. Too far away and some cracking birds will slip through the line.
- Decent transport (see previous page)
- Catering. Some say. “Lunch is key. Not shooting through.” And: “I like to shoot through so good long elevenses are important to break the day.” This remains a divisive issue but whichever way round it’s done if it’s good then it works.
- Respect for and proper treatment of shot game, from the field to the chiller.
- Efficiency, neatness and tidiness. This suggests that the planning and execution of the day will be good.
- A good explanation of the drives on the way to the peg and the efficiency of the beating team are also important.
- An adept host and keeper on issues such as problem solving, a willingness to help with enquiries, flexibility to change and efficiency before, during and after the day are all factors which will lead to teams enjoying the day and making a prompt booking for next year.
- Money. In the world of commercial shooting all teams seek a friendly and traditional approach. We might be paying for the day but we don’t want to be reminded of that. Not being charged for a handful of birds over the bag.
- All guns with dogs love to see the pickers-up working, but not under their dogs’ noses at the end of the drive, or even worse during the drive. “Everyone wants to see pickers-up who are sympathetic to those with dogs and prioritise picking pricked birds rather than the ones around the guns’ feet.”
- A cheerful farewell from the host
When going back to basics, the first rule of good shooting must always be safety
Know the gun safety rules. You can read up on them here Respond to an invitation promptly -whether you can…
And on the gamekeeper’s wish list…
- Guns who kill birds cleanly out in front.
- Guns who put a second barrel into a wounded bird and don’t just move on to the next one.
- Guns who know their limitations and do not shoot at anything beyond their capabilities.
- Guns who mark down wounded birds and link with pickers-up at the drive’s end.
- Guns who sleeve their shotgun at the whistle then spend time collecting their dead and watching the pickers-up.
- Guns who enjoy the complete spectrum on offer and enjoy the whole day, not just the shooting.
- Guns who thank beaters, pickers-up and keepers at the day’s end.