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Hunting

La chasse est la traque d'animaux dans le but de les capturer ou de les abattre, les manger ou les détruires, en respectant une réglementation très stricte. De plus, il existe plusieurs disciplines concernant la chasse.
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    • A satellite-tagged hen harrier disappeared on the Glorious Twelfth and RSPB Scotland has pointed the finger at grouse moor managers.

      Photo by Tony Hamblin/FLPA/imageBROKER/REX/ShutterstockRural groups have rejected claims that grouse moor managers were responsible for the disappearance of a hen harrier.

      RSPB Scotland says a satellite-tagged bird, named Calluna, vanished over an Aberdeenshire grouse moor near Ballater when transmissions from the tag ended abruptly on the Glorious Twelfth.

      First day of the season
      Ian Thomson at RSPB Scotland said: “There is a depressing irony that Calluna disappeared on the first day of the grouse shooting season. This bird joins the lengthening list of satellite-tagged birds of prey that have disappeared, in highly suspicious circumstances, almost exclusively in areas intensively managed for grouse shooting.”

      Calluna was hatched at the National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge estate, near Braemar, in June this year. She was the result of only the second successful breeding attempt by hen harriers on the estate in living memory.

      A spokesman for the National Trust commented: “We are not going to let this stop our vital conservation work. We are going to carry on at Mar Lodge and our other properties doing what we can to ensure the survival and recovery of endangered species.
      “If Calluna’s fate adds to the body of evidence that raptors are being killed we need the Scottish Parliament to act swiftly and decisively to minimise the risk of this happening again at Mar Lodge and elsewhere.”

      Disappearance does not mean death
      Rural groups have dismissed speculation that Calluna’s disappearance is down to raptor persecution. The Countryside Alliance (CA) responded: “The disappearance of a tagged bird is not something new and certainly doesn’t necessarily equate to the death of a bird. Earlier in 2017 the national press reported the death of a hen harrier, Highlander, with the RSPB publicising foul play.

      “The reappearance of the bird, alive and well, 10 months later was the cause of some embarrassment for the charity. The CA is determined to see an end to the thankfully rare illegal killing of birds of prey, but we question whether sensational media releases followed by embarrassing U-turns are the way to achieve that.”

      NGO slams hen harrier accusations
      The National Gamekeepers' Organisation (NGO) has described the way in which gamekeepers were vilified in connection with the alleged shooting…

      Government publishes Hen Harrier Joint Action Plan
      It makes six recommendations to help restore the population of Britain’s endangered hen harriers, including the controversial brood management measures.…

      No charges over alleged hen harrier shooting
      No charges will be brought over claims two hen harriers were shot on the Sandringham estate, the Crown Prosecution Service…

      Land managers “dismayed”
      David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Local land managers reject the inference that the loss of signal from this tag is connected to grouse moor management and are now offering every assistance in searching the area where the last transmission was recorded.

      “They are dismayed that they were not informed earlier that the tag had stopped transmitting nearly three weeks [before it was reported] as this would have assisted the search.”

      Tags can fail
      Dr Colin Shedden, BASC Scotland director, commented: “Following on from the recent report on satellite tagged golden eagles it is of concern that this harrier has now ‘disappeared’, ironically on 12 August.

      “Tagging birds is a good way of monitoring activity and distribution, but tags can fail. We would urge anyone with any information on the whereabouts of this bird to come forward. BASC condemns all aspects of wildlife crime and works closely with partners in PAW Scotland to bring to an end all illegal persecution of raptors.”
      A satellite-tagged hen harrier disappeared on the Glorious Twelfth and RSPB Scotland has pointed the finger at grouse moor managers.

      Photo by Tony Hamblin/FLPA/imageBROKER/REX/ShutterstockRural groups have rejected claims that grouse moor managers were responsible for the disappearance of a hen harrier.

      RSPB Scotland says a satellite-tagged bird, named Calluna, vanished over an Aberdeenshire grouse moor near Ballater when transmissions from the tag ended abruptly on the ... See more
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      War of the words as hen harrier tag goes quiet
    • Sweet potatoes are very healthy and good for you. They're an excellent source of potassium, iron and vitamins and they taste particularly delicious with partridge. Recipe serves one but double the ingredients up for dinner for two.

      Partridge with chargrilled sweet potato If you’re trying to lose a bit of weight, then replacing potatoes with sweet potatoes is a satisfying way to do it. Sweet potatoes don’t cause blood sugar spikes (which are linked to weight gain and fatique) but release their natural sugars slowly into the bloodstream, so you get a balanced and regular source of energy.

      Combine with partridge cooked below and you’ve got a delicious and healthy meal on your plate.

      Spatchcocking involves breaking the backbone of the partridge in order for it to lie flat and then cooking at high temperatures, allowing the skin to crisp on the outside, whilst the meat remains juicy and tender.

      Easy-to-make recipe for a partridge pot roast
      Now the partridge season is well underway there’s going to be some delicious young birds coming your way. Well hopefully.…

      Partridge, pear and venison terrine with spiced pear chutney
      Chutney ingredients 3 pears 1 banana 35g sultanas 1 garlic clove 35g caster sugar 100ml white wine vinegar Pinch turmeric…

      How to spatchcock a bird
      To spatchcock a partridge, place the oven ready whole bird onto a board, breast side down. Take kitchen shears and cut it from base to neck on either side of the backbone and remove the bone. (You can keep it for stock or throw it away.)

      Turn the bird over so that it’s now breast side up and pull the sides out so that all the skin is facing upwards (which means it’ll become crispy all over, not just on the breast meat). Press down firmly on the breastbones to flatten the whole bird.

      Ingredients for partridge with chargrilled sweet potato
      - 1 oven ready partridge (spatchcocked as above)
      - 1 large sweet potato, washed
      - rapeseed or olive oil
      - salt, pepper 
      - 1tbsp honey
      - 1 peeled garlic clove
      - fresh chopped thyme or dried
      - green salad and creme fraiche to serve.
      Method
      - Preheat the grill and put the serving plates somewhere warm
      - Season the partridge on both sides
      - Cut the sweet potato into slices 1cm thick, brush with the oil and season
      - Place on a medium heat griddle pan (or barbecue), turning once, for about 10 minutes. Chargrill – but don’t let them burn!
      - Keep an eye on the sweet potatoes while you sprinkle the thyme over the partridge and then rub the meat with the garlic
      - Place the partridge under the hot grill and cook for 5-8 minutes on each side, until cooked through. (If you stand the bird up, the thickest part will cook faster as the heat will be able to reach it – but don’t let the top burn)
      - Put the partridge on the warmed plates and add the slices of sweet potato on the side.
      - This dish is particularly delicious served with a simple green salad and a dollop of creme fraiche.
      Sweet potatoes are very healthy and good for you. They're an excellent source of potassium, iron and vitamins and they taste particularly delicious with partridge. Recipe serves one but double the ingredients up for dinner for two.

      Partridge with chargrilled sweet potato If you’re trying to lose a bit of weight, then replacing potatoes with sweet potatoes is a satisfying way to do it. Sweet potatoes don’t cause blood sugar spikes (which are linked to weight gain and ... See more
      See more on line
      Spatchcock partridge with chargrilled sweet potato
    • What could be easier than a pot roast when you're short of time - and here's how to make one with the new season partridge. Serves four.

      The perfect feast to enjoy during partridge season.Now the partridge season is well underway there’s going to be some delicious young birds coming your way. Well hopefully. The partridge is smaller than the pheasant but has a wonderfully mellow flavour. Always allow one per person – just half or double the ingredients below to allow for different numbers.

      This is a partridge recipe that will happily simmer away in the oven whilst you’re getting on with something else and you can always prepare the vegetables in the morning of course. It’s from Game To Eat, which was set up by the Countryside Alliance to encourage the public to cook and enjoy wild game as an alternative to lamb, chicken, beef or pork.

       Ingredients 

      - 4 oven-ready partridges
      - 50g carrots, peeled and diced
      - 50g whole shallots, peeled
      - 200g smoked bacon, diced
      - 50g cannelloni beans
      - 50g borlotti beans
      - 1 litre game stock
      - salt and pepper
      Method
      - Sear the partridges in a stovetop casserole (with fitted lid).
      - Season well.
      - Remove the birds and set aside on a platter. Add the shallots, bacon and carrots to the pan and sauté for a few minutes.
      - Return the partridges to the casserole and add the beans and stock.
      - Replace the lid.
      - Cook in a hot oven at 180ºC for 30 minutes (depending on size).
      - Allow to rest in a warm place.
      - This dish looks very good when it’s served on white china. Place the partridge on top of the beans and then dribble a little sauce over the top.
      Partridge, pear and venison terrine with spiced pear chutney
      Chutney ingredients 3 pears 1 banana 35g sultanas 1 garlic clove 35g caster sugar 100ml white wine vinegar Pinch turmeric…

      Top 10 partridge shoots
      Whether they are presenting classic East Anglian hedge skimmers, high birds in the chalk downs of southern England or sky…

      Effortless recipe for roast partridge
      Here’s another quick and easy recipe for roast partridge to have up your chef’s sleeve for the season ahead. Serves two.

      Ingredients
      - 2 oven-ready partridges
      - softened butter
      - salt and pepper
      - streaky smoked bacon
      - onion
      - bay leaves
      - red wine
      Method
      Prepare the birds by rubbing the butter over them, then seasoning generously. Cover each with two rashers of the bacon and put a quarter onion and a couple of bay leaves into the cavity.

      Place in a roasting tin and pour half a bottle of red wine round the birds. Place in the centre of a very hot oven (230°C). After 10 minutes, remove the bacon and baste the birds with the juices in the pan. Return to the oven and cook for a further 25 minutes.

      Leave to rest in a warm place for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the gravy and finish off the bread sauce.

      For the gravy, remove the birds and place the pan on the top of the stove over a medium heat. Stir in a couple of stock cubes, a dash of water and a slug of red wine.

      Whisk gently over a low heat until the stock cubes have dissolved completely. If the gravy is too thin, add a teaspoonful or two of cornflour and keep whisking until all lumps disappear and the gravy thickens.

      Add a good twist of pepper (no salt – the stock cube will be salty enough).
      What could be easier than a pot roast when you're short of time - and here's how to make one with the new season partridge. Serves four.

      The perfect feast to enjoy during partridge season.Now the partridge season is well underway there’s going to be some delicious young birds coming your way. Well hopefully. The partridge is smaller than the pheasant but has a wonderfully mellow flavour. Always allow one per person – just half or double the ingredients below to allow for ... See more
      See more on line
      Easy-to-make recipe for a partridge pot roast
    • Joining some show-bred golden retrievers on the moors, David Tomlinson is surprised to find that they are impressive workers. So why not try training your show-bred dog to the gun?

      Show-bred gundogs are impressive workers, and perhaps better family pets.The rules of the gundog world stipulate that if you want a good shooting dog, you must buy a puppy from working-bred stock. But David Tomlinson finds that show-bred gundogs are impressive workers. And they may even be a better option for families that want a pet first and foremost.

      Considering show- or pet-bred stock over working is one thing, but how about considering a rescue dog? Many canine charities are looking to rehome gundog breeds, and you could end up with a fantastic shooting companion. Read David Tomlinson’s advice in how to rescue a gundog.

      SHOW-BRED GUNDOGS
      One of the inarguable rules of the gundog world is that if you want a good dog for shooting, then make sure that you buy a puppy from working-bred stock. Show- or pet-bred animals are unlikely to have the same flair, drive or ability, are going to be harder to train and will probably be less satisfactory once they have been trained.

      This is all sound advice that I wouldn’t dream of disagreeing with. However, over the years I have seen many excellent gundogs that were not bred from working stock, so just because your new retriever or spaniel puppy isn’t working bred, don’t give up. The hunting instinct is so deep in the genes of many of our gundog breeds that it is often easy to reawaken. It is also true that anyone who wants a shooting dog for perhaps a dozen days a year and a pet for the rest is almost certainly better off with a dog that hasn’t got any field-trial winners in its pedigree. Ferraris don’t make great shopping cars and, similarly, high-performance gundogs seldom make good pets.

      Some years ago I wrote some less than flattering comments about the potential working ability of the golden retrievers I saw reclining on the benches at Crufts. As a result, I received several letters from owners of show-bred golden retrievers pointing out that their dogs worked in the winter and went showing in the summer and they did well at both. As evidence, photographs were enclosed of the dogs at work; I had to admit that they were persuasive.

      However, to be convinced I decided that I really needed to see some of these dogs in action, so I asked one of my correspondents, Angie, if I could join her for a day picking up grouse on a top moor in the North Yorkshire National Park, where she had worked her dogs for several years. We met on a bright, sunny day in late August. Angie was accompanied by no fewer than eight show-bred goldens, plus one of mixed breeding and three of pure working stock.

      THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORKING AND SHOW DOGS
      It was easy to tell the working from the show dogs by their lighter build. Another reliable indicator is that show goldens tend to be much paler than their working cousins. Angie’s dogs, however, were all a wonderful rich shade of burnished copper. I was amused to hear that goldens prefer to be as dark as possible and that between drives they like nothing better than wallowing in the peat hags.

      It wasn’t so much colour I was interested in but how they worked. Angie told me: “Golden retrievers are much more air-scenting dogs than labradors, so many people mistakenly think that when they see them working the heather with their noses in the air they are just messing around. They’re not.”

      She was right. These dogs were seriously impressive workers, each one scattering at the end of the drive as they hunted for birds that had dropped in the heather, working instinctively with little or no handling. Who said that show dogs can’t work? Golden retrievers certainly can.

      Though a working golden retriever would be unlikely to win on the show bench, there’s not such a great difference between working and show lines as there is with English springer spaniels. Few owners of show-bred springers take their dogs shooting but there are exceptions. Some years ago I spent a day with the late Carolyn Muirhead, whose Shipden Kennel was renowned for breeding show springers that worked. Muirhead was picking up on a North Norfolk shoot with four big, handsome springers. They may not have had the pace and drive of their field-trial cousins but they couldn’t be faulted otherwise, hunting with enthusiasm and retrieving tenderly to hand.

      A DECLINE IN WORKING SHOW DOGS
      I’m told that in recent years there’s been a decline in the number of show springers that work, so I was encouraged to hear that last season Scottish-based enthusiast Diane Scott made up the first full champion English springer spaniel in 19 years. Her bitch, Islay, became a show champion in 2014 and went on to win best of breed at Crufts in 2015, before achieving her Show Gundog Working Certificate. To be a full champion, a dog has to succeed in both the show ring and the shooting field. Scott works Islay regularly during the shooting season.

      According to Scott, “Islay’s achievement has created quite a lot of interest in the show section and there are efforts being made to encourage other owners of show-bred ESSs to get involved in the working side – I know from experience they would be surprised at just how much pleasure they would get from seeing their dogs doing the job they were originally bred to do.”

      All breeds of gundogs were bred to work and, given half a chance, there’s no doubt most of them would like to do so. So if you have a show-bred dog, don’t be put off training it to the gun. You might be disappointed and find that your dog has neither ability nor potential but, on the other hand, you might be agreeably surprised. For further guidance, turn to The Pet Gundog by Lez Graham, which is full of commonsense advice.
      Joining some show-bred golden retrievers on the moors, David Tomlinson is surprised to find that they are impressive workers. So why not try training your show-bred dog to the gun?

      Show-bred gundogs are impressive workers, and perhaps better family pets.The rules of the gundog world stipulate that if you want a good shooting dog, you must buy a puppy from working-bred stock. But David Tomlinson finds that show-bred gundogs are impressive workers. And they may even be a better ... See more
      See more on line
      In praise of show-bred gundogs
    • Like a triathlon on horseback, three-day eventing requires a variety of equestrian skills, says Zara Tindall, as she prepares to head for the “unmissable” Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials

      Zara Tindall speaks ahead of this year's Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, an event she never misses.Growing up surrounded by horses, a career in eventing was perhaps the natural progression for Zara Tindall. From a good grounding at Pony Club to second place in her first four-star competition at just 22 years old, Zara Tindall shares her sporting story.

      In our new column, seriously sporting ladies write about their lives in the field and offer advice and encouragement. Rachel Carrie explains how she is taking on the misconceptions surrounding fieldsports and for Alexandra Baur, it all began when she got a labrador.ZARA TINDALL
      I was very lucky to be surrounded by horses when I was growing up. I always knew I wanted to ride and I can’t imagine what life would have been like without horses and riding. Why eventing? It was probably a natural progression for me, seeing as both my parents had successful eventing careers. But actually it goes deeper than that – eventing is the ultimate test of horsemanship. It combines three very different disciplines and so a horse and rider have to have a variety of skillsets to be successful. It’s quite like triathlon in that way.

      Out of the three disciplines, cross-country has always been my favourite. In the UK, horse-trials venues are often at country estates, such as Blenheim Palace, Blair Castle and Chatsworth House, so as a competitor you get to gallop and jump around some of the most beautiful parts of the British countryside. The cross-country at the London Olympics was an amazing experience and one that I will never forget – going round the course I couldn’t even hear my watch beep as the noise from the crowd was so intense. Not only is it a buzz, it’s completely addictive.

      The Pony Club gave me a good grounding when I was growing up. You are taught the importance of the horse coming first, which is what eventing is all about. Horses are so good for kids. It’s a great way for them to get outside, get used to animals and have something physical to look after. Competing for fun as a child gave me the foundations to build a career on. As a teenager, I progressed up the levels and I always knew this was what I wanted to do.

      The real turning point was competing at my first four-star competition, which was the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in 2003. I was 22 years old and riding what turned out to be my horse of a lifetime, Toytown. I had been going to Burghley ever since I was small, often watching my parents compete. But riding there myself – jumping the famous fences such as the Cottesmore Leap and Discovery Valley – was amazing. I came second and from that moment onwards there was no turning back.

      In eventing, you are only as good as your horses and I was very lucky to have found Toytown as early as I did in my career. After we came second at Burghley we had another successful four-star, coming second at Luhmühlen in Germany before going on to win the 2005 European Championships. A year later we won the World Championships in Aachen. I owe him the world.

      High Kingdom is my other very special horse. I won team silver on him at the London 2012 Olympic Games and then two years later we went on to win team silver at the World Championships in 2014, which secured Team GB’s place at the Rio 2016 Olympics. He’s 16 years old now but still going strong, having come third at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event earlier this year. There is still plenty more to come from him.

      As with most sports, eventing requires a lot of hard work and dedication if you want to be successful. Not just the hours of training but caring for the horses. All those extra bits need to be done not just for their health but to create that trust and partnership.

      There are plenty of opportunities to have a go at eventing without having to take it too seriously. There are loads of unaffiliated horse trials for all levels throughout the UK, organised by riding clubs. British Eventing puts on grassroots competitions specifically for newcomers where the jumps start as low as 80cm. If you have a horse, a one-day-event is a really fun challenge to take on and a good way of developing your riding skills.

      Whether I am competing or not I never miss the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials [31 August to 3 September]. If I am not competing I will usually be working with Land Rover, for which I am an ambassador. Land Rover has been supporting eventing ever since I can remember and has become synonymous with the sport – not just as a sponsor but through providing vehicles to transport vets, doctors and officials around the cross-country course. It’s great to have a sponsor that gets actively involved.

      TOP TIP: Be prepared. Make sure you have thought about the course, your schedule, how you are going to deal with certain elements of the event and so on. But, most importantly, enjoy it and it’ll all flow from there.
      Like a triathlon on horseback, three-day eventing requires a variety of equestrian skills, says Zara Tindall, as she prepares to head for the “unmissable” Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials

      Zara Tindall speaks ahead of this year's Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, an event she never misses.Growing up surrounded by horses, a career in eventing was perhaps the natural progression for Zara Tindall. From a good grounding at Pony Club to second place in her first four-star ... See more
      See more on line
      Sporting Dianas: Zara Tindall
    • Read our guide to knowing which is which

      How to judge your bird“Is it my bird, or is it his?”
      Just because a dead bird lands in front of your neighbour’s peg doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have shot it. You might shoot a bird out in front of your own peg, but if it’s a crossing shot, or going down the line, then there’s nothing you can do about it. The bird will end up falling by your neighbour’s peg, or even beyond it. There’s little wrong in that, so long as it doesn’t hit anybody on the head.

      - In a flat landscape, you can see birds coming from a long way away, and the line of flight is easy to determine.
      - Birds driven over steep valleys can be less predictable, and the higher they are, the more difficult it is to be sure about whose bird it is.
      - If the pegs are set fairly close together then the situation becomes even more marginal.
      - It’s easy to swing on to a bird that might have been better left for somebody else to deal with.
      -  Problems start when people consistently poach their neighbour’s birds — drive after drive.
      - It can help to visualise a funnel stretching in front of you –  with you at the narrow end.
      - Make sure that the mouth of the funnel does not encroach on to your neighbour’s territory, and then shoot any birds that fly in to the mouth of the funnel — these are your birds.
      - If you think a bird going to make a better shot for your neighbour, leave it.
      25 etiquette tips for shooters
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      Game shooting etiquette: what does a “low bird” mean?
      Talk about a can of worms; this one landed on the in-tray with the pin out ready to drop me…

      How Guns can earn a gamekeeper’s respect
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      What about low birds?
      Taking low birds is not just unsporting and embarrassing, it’s downright dangerous, and the sooner you can nip it in the bud, the better.

      Hedgerows, woodland, individual trees or other objects are a great reference point for judging the height or range of a bird.

      On flat land,  keep your eye on the bird, and watch it climb. The higher it gets, the smaller it appears.

      Range and birds
      - Judging range and which birds to shoot, and which to leave, will become easier to judge the more experienced you get.
      - If you are unsure about the bird being too low, too high, or too far away, you will probably “poke” at it anyway — and miss.
      - Poking at birds could lead to wounding, and that is not acceptable
      - Play it safe and shoot only at what you are comfortable with
      Range and distance
      - Aspire to shoot the best sporting birds at the optimum range and distance for a clean shot.
      - The right gun, choke, size of shot and load are important when determining  at what you should, or should not, be shooting.
      - Remember the golden rule — respect for the bird comes first.
      - Shoot within your limitations.
      Hedgerows, woodland, individual trees or other objects are a great reference point for judging the height or range of a bird. These things give perspective and context to everything else in the landscape

      Birds not to shoot
      - Whether you can or cannot shoot woodcock is often covered in the shoot  briefing, but not always.
      - If you are uncertain, double-check with the shoot captain or host.
      - The other no-go area is grey partridge.
      - The beaters, keeper or shoot host will usually shout a warning if they see a covey of wild grey partridges coming over the line, but it’s also worth keeping your ears open for the distinctive Kuta, kut, kut call of a wild grey in flight — it is so different from that of redleg partridges.
      Read our guide to knowing which is which

      How to judge your bird“Is it my bird, or is it his?”
      Just because a dead bird lands in front of your neighbour’s peg doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have shot it. You might shoot a bird out in front of your own peg, but if it’s a crossing shot, or going down the line, then there’s nothing you can do about it. The bird will end up falling by your neighbour’s peg, or even beyond it. There’s little wrong in that, so ... See more
      See more on line
      How to know which is your bird – and which is your neighbour’s
    • A reader is concerned that youngsters aren't being shown how to behave correctly ...

      The Royal Berkshire Shooting School runs Young Shots workshops which include safety and etiquette briefingsQ: I have been part of 
a syndicate for four years and some of the other Guns have started bringing their children with them to shoot in their 
place. A lot of them seem to be unfamiliar with correct shooting etiquette as they shoot low birds and seem desperate to shoot anything that they see.

      Their fathers are engrossed in making sure that they are firing or aiming correctly so they are not telling them off for taking other Guns’ birds and showing bad manners. How can I address this without offending the other Guns?

      A: If someone is supervising 
a youngster, that supervision needs to be direct and very focused. It is up to the supervisor to tell his charge that he must not take shots at low birds, rather than concentrating on other things. A youngster who poaches the neighbouring Gun’s 
bird should not have been allowed 
to take that shot in the first place. There is no excuse for bad manners and a youngster who exhibits them probably has a parent who does too.

      Safety and etiquette for Young Guns
      There is a lot of merit in a shoot having a pre-season safety and etiquette lecture. Another way is for all youngsters to be examined and passed by the shoot captain or committee before they are allowed 
to shoot. That is particularly beneficial as most youngsters see this as a rite of passage, admitting them into the “tribe”. Someone who brings a child to shoot who is unsafe and behaves badly should be banned from bringing that child again until he has learned how to conduct himself. Ultimately, it is for the shoot captain to get a grip on the members of his shoot and enforce discipline.

      The shooting safety rules
      When going back to basics, the first rule of good shooting must always be safety

      25 etiquette tips for shooters
      Know the gun safety rules. You can read up on them here Respond to an invitation promptly -whether you can…

      Quiet words are all well and good, but they have little effect. There is no substitute for some public censure of a supervisor who has failed both his charge and his fellows. I do not care if I offend someone by drawing his attention to his failings. That may hurt his dignity but is far less painful than somebody being shot.
      A reader is concerned that youngsters aren't being shown how to behave correctly ...

      The Royal Berkshire Shooting School runs Young Shots workshops which include safety and etiquette briefingsQ: I have been part of 
a syndicate for four years and some of the other Guns have started bringing their children with them to shoot in their 
place. A lot of them seem to be unfamiliar with ... See more
      See more on line
      Etiquette for Young Guns in the field
    • Want to improve your hit rate this season? Expert instructor Mike Yardley shows what may be going wrong - and how get it right

      1. Stopping the gun
      This is the number reason for missing when you’re out on a driven shoot. Check and hesitate and you allow more of the quarry you are shooting to fly on than just about anything else. I am not the only Gun who thinks this. Lord Ripon famously noted in King Edward VII as a Sportsman (1911):

      “I will conclude these few remarks on the technique of driven shooting…with my favourite maxim: “aim high, keep the gun moving, and never check.”

      I have noted that too long a stock can check the swing, as can a far forward hold on the fore-end, head raising, and a failure to lift the gun well with the front hand and push through as the shot is completed. Concentrate on developing a stance which is comfortable and which allows you to keep moving on easily. For driven birds I favour keeping the feet quite close together and moving them whenever possible to facilitate the shot.

      2. Failing to keep the eye locked onto the bird’s head
      This is the second biggest reason for missing – failing to keep one’s eye or eyes locked onto the bird’s head. Remedy this and you will certainly improve your driven shooting.

      - It is crucial you develop this skill.
      - It requires developed eye muscles and awareness of its importance.
      - It needs training and practise.
      - Strive to achieve and maintain fine focus, locking onto the bird throughout the three seconds or so it usually takes to shoot a bird.
      - Do this and you will unlock phenomenal powers of natural hand-eye co-ordination.
      - Don’t do it and your  swing will become hesitant and jerky, and the wrong eye may take over if you shoot with both eyes open.
      - You may also raise your head, causing the gun to rise and stop.
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      Game shooting: You have to take risks if you want to improve your game shooting. Here are some top tips.

      3. Incorrect lead
      Another very common error in all wing shooting is applying the wrong forward allowance either in error, or, as likely, because the shooter has insufficient experience of the sheer range of sight pictures required for different driven shooting situations. This begs a question: should one be looking for lead deliberately on each shot? The answer, of course, is no. Usually, I prefer to take my muzzles to the tail feathers and push on instinctively. If the bird is high, I like to start a yard or two back from the bird rather than on the tail feathers. But in all cases I like to form some sort of muzzle-bird relationship with the selected quarry early in the process of shooting at it. If I look for a lead picture deliberately, as I do on occasion – for example when wildfowling – I keep in mind that a typical bird 40 yards away wants about six to eight feet or thereabouts. I do not, generally, look for lead deliberately, just as I do not routinely maintain a deliberate lead. A more natural approach to lead, based on well practised drills with regard to initial muzzle placement, seems to work better for me in most situations.

      Good shots use a consistent three beat rhythm to ensure accurate shooting on high birds.

      4. Misjudging the line
      - This is also a frequent cause of missing.
      - Don’t cant the gun relative to the bird’s line but make an adjustment by twisting, i.e. canting, the gun to help follow its line.
      - Get out an empty gun and practice some of the basic movements.
      - In simple terms, driven birds may be shot without any noticeable twisting of the barrels within a certain arc to one’s immediate front. As soon as the bird moves significantly to the right or left I adjust my barrels as I swing to match the bird.
      - The idea is to keep the barrels of a side-by-side parallel to the bird’s line and the barrels of an over-under perpendicular. This is an active, sometimes subtle process which I call ‘squaring up’.
      5. Poor range estimation
      - Often the height of pheasants is over-estimated, which may cause misses in front as well as a tendency to lose or fail to achieve any sort of adequate initial muzzle-quarry relationship.
      - It is also a fact that many close and apparently easy “I-wouldn’t-bother-raising-my-gun-to-that” birds are missed in front too.
      6. Poor footwork won’t improve your driven shooting
      Good shots usually have great gun mounts and good footwork too, coordinating their lower body movements with the mount and swing. They take delicate little steps, barrels and front foot moving together when required, and, they don’t get wrong footed on many occasions. We all do sometimes, and when it happens we end up shooting out of balance. Of course, the best thing to do, and by far the safest, is not to shoot if out of balance – but sometimes it happens at the moment the trigger is pulled. If you look at the typical pictures of driven game shooters you will note those who are in perfect balance at the moment the shot is taken are in the minority. The simple rule is: keep the front shoulder over the front foot – easier said than done in a hot corner! One thing I find helpful is to take some fast, unexpected shots to the right by bringing my weight deliberately onto the right foot – not something I would normally do or advise for right-handers.

      7. Being too tense
      - Some of us start to miss because we tense up.
      - To shoot well one wants to be bodily relaxed but positive of mind.
      - One must commit to every safe shot and once committed shoot decisively.
      - Maintain a positive mindset. You won’t be able to suppress all nerves, but you can use them in your favour.
      - The effect of anxiety is to disrupt focus and smooth movement. Concentrate on these and you are more than half way to conquering your mind as well.
      Maintaining good form and balance is essential for successful shooting.

      8. Bad timing
      Some days everything seems to go like clockwork, on others the wheels fall off.  Most people who shoot well shoot to three beats. The tempo changes depending on the range, angle and speed of the birds, but we should never lose that lovely, elegant, three beat timing. Do not poke and hope!

      9. Using wrong load
      Some miss birds because they are under or sometimes over-gunned. In recent years, I have increased my payloads significantly, 32grams being my norm, and gone up a pellets size to No.5 shot for most of my driven shooting. On tall birds big pellets in larger number and a bit of choke definitely help.

      I have managed to get this far without mentioned two of my favourite subjects much: eye dominance and gun fit.  A stock which is slightly too high, meantime, is much better to a game shot than one that is slightly too low, which may cause the wrong eye to take over in some circumstances.

      10. Finally …
      My final piece of advice to improve your driven shooting is this: stare each bird to death and keep the gun moving and on line.
      Want to improve your hit rate this season? Expert instructor Mike Yardley shows what may be going wrong - and how get it right

      1. Stopping the gun
      This is the number reason for missing when you’re out on a driven shoot. Check and hesitate and you allow more of the quarry you are shooting to fly on than just about anything else. I am not the only Gun who thinks this. Lord Ripon famously noted in King Edward VII as a Sportsman (1911):

      “I will conclude ... See more
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      10 reasons we miss when driven shooting
    • Venison is low in fat, high in protein, and full of vitamins and iron. It's also delicious. Here's a straightforward recipe which serves four



      Recipe for venison loin steaks served with cabbage & bacon
      by Byron Hayter, Ashdown Park Hotel

      Ingredients:
      Venison loin steaks
      - 4 venison steaks, each weighing 120g
      - 100ml rapeseed oil
      - salt
      - pepper
      - Handful of blackberries to serve
      Venison gravy
      - 1kg venison bones
      - 8 shallots, chopped
      - 1 garlic clove, chopped
      - 2 sprigs fresh thyme
      - 1 bay leaf
      - 190ml red wine
      - 500ml beef stock
      - 1l chicken stock
      - 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
      - 50g unsalted butter
      Carrot purée
      - 1kg carrot, peeled and cored
      - 500ml milk
      - 1/4 onion
      - 1 clove
      - 1 bay leaf
      - salt
      - pepper
      Cabbage
      - 1 Savoy cabbage, shredded
      - 100g unsalted butter
      - 150g smoked bacon
      - salt
      - pepper
      Bordeaux red blends to accompany game dishes
      Bordeaux‘s signature grape varieties have traversed the globe, to the extent that Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have risen to the…

      Venison Gravy
      - To make the venison gravy, pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Gas mark 6. Roast the venison bones in a heavy roasting tin until golden brown, then drain in a colander to remove any excess fat.
      - Put the roasting tin on the hob and continue heat gently. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme and bay leaf and cook until lightly golden brown. Add the red wine and reduce by three quarters.
      - Add the roasted bones, chicken stock and beef stock. Bring to the boil then transfer to a saucepan. Simmer gently for 30-40 minutes.
      - Add the red wine vinegar and cook for 5 minutes, regularly skimming any impurities that come to the top with a ladle. Pass through a fine strainer and reduce in a clean pot by simmering gently until you reach a slightly thickened sauce.
      Carrot Purée
      - To make the carrot purée, put the carrots in a saucepan. Add enough of the orange juice to cover. Stud the onion with the cloves and add to the pan with the bay leaf, then bring to the boil and simmer until the carrots are tender. Drain in a colander and discard the onion
      - Put a little of the cooking liquid in the bottom of a blender, and slowly add the cooked pieces of carrots, blending between batches, until a smooth purée forms. Pass through a fine sieve and season.
      Cabbage
      - To cook the cabbage, place the butter in a thick-bottomed saucepan, add 1 tablespoon of water and heat until it has all melted together.
      - Add the cabbage and bacon and cook gently for 5-6 minutes until the cabbage is tender, but not mushy and has not coloured. Remove the cabbage and bacon from the saucepan, season then drain on kitchen paper and keep warm.
      Venison Loin Steaks
      - To cook the venison, heat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Seal the venison steaks in a hot frying pan with a little rapeseed oil until golden brown all over
      - Move the steaks to the oven for 8-10 minutes for medium rare or longer for medium to well done. Remove from the oven and rest on a wire rack for 5-8 minutes, before plating with the carrot and cabbage, and serving with the venison gravy and garnishing with halved blackberries.
      Venison is low in fat, high in protein, and full of vitamins and iron. It's also delicious. Here's a straightforward recipe which serves four



      Recipe for venison loin steaks served with cabbage & bacon
      by Byron Hayter, Ashdown Park Hotel

      Ingredients:
      Venison loin steaks
      - 4 venison steaks, each weighing 120g
      - 100ml rapeseed ... See more
      See more on line
      Recipe for venison loin steaks with cabbage and bacon
    • Two readers have barking and noisy gundog puppies

      When the puppy is quiet, redirect its attention with something rewarding such as a toy Q: My four month old gundog puppy barks for attention and has started to whine when I’m training him (I’m trying to make him sit and stay, and to be steady when I throw a dummy). This is the first dog I’ve trained and I was told to start the gundog training exercises as soon as possible because he was the biggest and most dominant pup in the litter. What can I do?

      A:  The sort of training you have embarked upon is too much, too soon. He may have been a boss pup amongst his siblings but trying to enforce your will at this very early stage is only going to backfire.

      The most asked question is always “When do I start training?” There is no safe answer and those of us dealing with a steady stream of youngsters know how every gundog puppy is different and how each has to be dealt with as an individual.

      Teaching a gundog puppy to respond and to react to you, to be biddable and to develop a bond with you is absolutely critical. These are the foundations of training that can begin at the earliest stages of a gundog puppy’s life.

      Expensive working dog insurance for my puppy? Yes or no?
      I am about to buy an eight-week old gundog puppy and have been wondering whether I should take out insurance…

      Puppy won’t deliver dummy
      A: This is an indication that he is being possessive and if this is allowed to continue with dummies it could have…

      Let the pup be a pup
      Abandon retrieving and any enforced sit and stay exercises for the time being. Take your gundog puppy out into the garden or into a place where the two of you can concentrate on each other and interact. He won’t think he’s being trained but this is how you start to build up his education and attentiveness.

      Simply getting the gundog puppy to come the moment he is called, to follow you and even possibly to sit to the pip of the whistle is invaluable for future training. Most of all, you need the gundog puppy to listen and be watchful towards you. Instil these basics and you will have a gundog puppy that is keen and ready to move up to the next level when the time is right.

      Just let the pup be a pup, but be mindful that he must start to respond to you in a very basic and simple way. His brain and ability to retain instructions will not be in a condition to start coping with even the most basic of gundog training until he is at least six months old.

      Starting to bark for attention
      Q: We have a five-month-old puppy that is starting to habitually bark for attention. 
We don’t want this to become 
a habit and have a noisy gundog puppy,  do you have any advice 
on how to prevent it?

      A: Dogs will usually bark for 
one of the following reasons; 
as a warning, when it is excited, as 
a form of attention-seeking, in response to anxiety and boredom, or finally as 
a social behaviour in response to other dogs. The puppy must learn when it is appropriate to bark and when it needs to be quiet.

      - If your puppy is barking for no good reason and, as you say, simply in order to get your attention, start working on the problem as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the harder it will be 
to stop this behaviour.
      - Give your puppy adequate interactive exercise so it has less pent-up energy. Avoid over-exercising a young dog; the aim is to simply burn off excess energy, not exhaust the puppy.
      - Avoid leaving it alone for long periods of time. Train the puppy to 
be left for increasingly longer amounts of time; initially for very brief periods. Don’t increase the length of time you leave the puppy until it has learned 
to settle quietly for shorter periods.
      - Never comfort or feed the puppy when it is barking for attention — this is rewarding unwanted behaviour. Don’t shout at it to stop barking, as this may cause it to bark even more. Try getting its attention with a clap or use the whistle. As soon as the puppy is quiet, redirect its attention to something productive and rewarding (like a toy) and after getting its attention, practise simple commands, such as “sit” or “down”, in order to shift its focus.

      Two readers have barking and noisy gundog puppies

      When the puppy is quiet, redirect its attention with something rewarding such as a toy Q: My four month old gundog puppy barks for attention and has started to whine when I’m training him (I’m trying to make him sit and stay, and to be steady when I throw a dummy). This is the first dog I’ve trained and I was told to start the gundog training ... See more
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      Why is my gundog puppy so noisy in training?
    • Have you received an invitation to pick up on a driven shoot? Never done it before? Here's what to expect, what to do on the first drive and that all-important etiquette.


      Read our guide to picking-up for beginners and you can proceed through the forthcoming shooting season with confidence. It is a privilege to do it and you will see some beautiful parts of the country.

      The basics
      - You must know where the meet is, what time it starts.
      - Arrive 15 minutes early. Don’t be afraid of inconveniencing the host by being prompt.
      - Late arrivals are irritating for all and may result in your not being invited again.
      - Learn beforehand who’s in charge of the pickers-up, how you will travel around the shoot and whether you will be given lunch.
      - If you are being given lunch, take a change of footwear so that you don’t traipse dirt into the house.
      - Pack everything your dog will need — a lead, water and bowl and poo bags are essential, as is a towel for drying off afterwards.
      - A cage is a good investment against the damage an excited young gundog can do to upholstery and makes the dog feel secure.
      - If you’re sharing a ride, check that the car owner’s dog isn’t overly territorial when it comes to canine guests in “its” boot.

      Is your gundog ready for picking-up?
      - It should be patient and quiet if left in a vehicle.
      - It should be accustomed to being in company and not be over- friendly or, on the other hand, aggressive or noisy.
      - It must have excellent recall and sit where told until released.
      - It should have picked cold game and should bring it gently and reliably to hand.
      - Go roughshooting before the big day if possible. This could give your dog the opportunity to have the useful experience of picking warm game.
      - Tell the shoot captain if you have a young, inexperienced dog.
      - Do not bring out more than one young dog at a time. A new recruit needs to be reliably steady and well-behaved.

      Guide to picking-up on the first drive
      Do’s

      - Have everything you’ll need with you — extra clothing, leads, lunch, whistle, stick, priest, paper and pencil to note where game falls and leave messages for other shoot members if needed.
      - Wait until everyone in your vehicle is ready before you let the dogs out.
      - Put your mobile on silent during the shoot and don’t make calls.
      - Make sure you know where the next drive is so that you don’t allow your dog to cause trouble in the next covert.
      - Always return to your assigned vehicle. If you change your plan or will be a long time looking for a lost bird, leave a note on the vehicle to say what you are doing so that others aren’t left waiting around.
      Gundog etiquette – picking up birds
      Many novice handlers aspire to be part of a picking-up team, but few are fully aware of the responsibility that comes…

      Which gundog breeds are best at picking-up? Labradors or springers?
      Dog breeds: When it comes to dog breeds, which is best for picking-up: labs or spaniels? We ask two experts.

      Don’ts

      - Do not drive in front of the Guns, and always park as discreetly as you can when you reach each drive.
      - Never leave game with dogs.
      - If you have been given a radio, only speak when spoken to or absolutely necessary. A picker-up is usually alone so it is reassuring to be able to have contact with others if needs be.
      - Don’t let your dog go into the pens. There will be many unshot birds, especially at the beginning of the season, and it would do your young dog no good at all.

      Do

      - Be polite, quiet and unobtrusive.
      - If a nearby Gun has his own dog, ask him before the drive begins if he wants to pick runners during the drive or not. Usually, they say they do not want to work their dog during the drive, but would like to pick birds after it.
      - Check around the pegs and make sure that all birds reach the gamecart.
      - If you are required to stand a long way back from the Guns, put yourself out of sight (and shot). Make sure you will know when the drive has ended — there should be a horn or whistle signal. You do not want to start working forward if there is a danger to you or your dog.
      Don’ts

      - If you are required to stand in line with the Guns,  do not chat too much.
      - Do not pick birds in front of the Guns during the drive.
      Have you received an invitation to pick up on a driven shoot? Never done it before? Here's what to expect, what to do on the first drive and that all-important etiquette.


      Read our guide to picking-up for beginners and you can proceed through the forthcoming shooting season with confidence. It is a privilege to do it and you will see some ... See more
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      A beginner’s guide to picking-up
    • Use up the last of the summer bounty for the first game suppers of the season, with Philippa Davis' crispy buttermilk fried partridge

      Early season partridge is incredibly tender, so eating the whole bird is a must.Make use of the last of the summer produce for your first game suppers of the season. Tomatoes are at their best now, and the first partridges are tender and must be eaten whole. Try Philippa Davis’ crispy buttermilk fried partridge, hasselback potatoes and pear, tomato and feta salad.

      Partridge works perfectly with vibrant flavouring. For more inspiration, read the 10 best partridge recipes for everything from pot roasting to paella.

      CRISPY BUTTERMILK FRIED PARTRIDGE, HASSELBACK POTATOES AND PEAR, TOMATO AND FETA SALAD
      At the start of the season partridge can be particularly tender and so eating the whole bird is a must. The pear salad adds lovely freshness in contrast to the crispy meat, which can be eaten hot or cold.

      Serves 2 as a main

      Crispy buttermilk partridge

      - 200ml buttermilk
      - Pinch of cayenne
      - 2 partridges, jointed into legs (bone in) and breasts (bone out)
      - 50g cornflour in a bowl
      - 60g panko in a bowl
      - Frying oil
      Thyme & Garlic Hasselback potatoes

      - 400g waxy potatoes
      - 2 tbsp butter
      - 2 tbsp olive oil
      - 2 tsp chopped thyme
      - 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped in half
      Pear, tomato & feta salad

      - 160g tomatoes (a mix of varieties is good), chopped into 1cm pieces
      - 2 spring onions, finely chopped.
      - 2 dsp chopped parsley
      - ½ pear, cored and cut into 1cm cubes, skin on
      - ½ lemon, juice only
      - ½ green chilli, finely chopped (seeds/membrane kept in if you like it hot)
      - 80g feta, cubed into 1cm lumps
      - 1 tbsp olive oil
      To make the crispy buttermilk partridge, in a bowl, season the buttermilk with salt, pepper and the cayenne. Toss in the partridge pieces. Leave in the fridge for 4-8 hours.

      When ready to fry, pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Remove the pieces of meat from the buttermilk and dip into the cornflour bowl then the panko. Using a deep frying pan, heat 2cm of oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking (it should turn a cube of bread golden in a few seconds), fry the partridge pieces both sides until golden then place on a metal rack over a tray – I usually use the grill rack and tray but remove any handles.

      Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the meat is just cooked through. Serve hot or cold with the hasselback potatoes and pear salad.

      To prepare the potatoes and salad, pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Wash the potatoes then make slits all along them without cutting right the way through. Place them cut-side down in a roasting dish.

      Spread over the butter, olive oil and thyme then season. Roast for 40 minutes until cooked then turn them cut-side up, coat the garlic in the butter and oil at the bottom of the dish and cook for another 10 minutes or until the garlic is soft and golden.

      Just before serving, toss all the ingredients for the salad together and season.
      Use up the last of the summer bounty for the first game suppers of the season, with Philippa Davis' crispy buttermilk fried partridge

      Early season partridge is incredibly tender, so eating the whole bird is a must.Make use of the last of the summer produce for your first game suppers of the season. Tomatoes are at their best now, and the first partridges are tender and must be eaten whole. Try Philippa Davis’ crispy buttermilk fried partridge, hasselback potatoes and pear, ... See more
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      Crispy buttermilk fried partridge
    • Now the game season is kicking off, we thought we should investigate some delicious reds to accompany your bag. Here are some of the finest wines from around the world, made outside Bordeaux, that would be a fitting centrepiece to any dinner party.

      Bordeaux‘s signature grape varieties have traversed the globe, to the extent that Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have risen to the summit of the world grape planting league in the past two decades.

      What’s in a Bordeaux red blend?

      A Bordeaux red blend usually combines two or more of the classic Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon,†Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, CarmenËre†and Malbec. A white blend would most likely include at least two from Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris†and Muscadelle.

      It is not a legal or technical term
      There are no specific rules on percentages in the finished wine, yields when growing or planting regulations as found in Bordeaux itself. It is simply a term for the grapes used.

      Meritage
      However, some wines made in the USA may use the trade marked term ‘Meritage’ on labels, if they are a member of the Meritage Association. This means that the wine must combine two or more of the five red varieties above, and can also use†St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and CarmenËre. No single variety can constitute more than 90% of the finished wine.

      Five quick game recipes to cook in under 20 minutes
        1. Pigeon and wild mushrooms Here we’ve used chanterelles, but you can use whatever mushrooms you have handy. You’ll need…

      Game crumble and bread sauce by Simon Hopkinson
      Here is how Simon Hopkinson creates his game crumble – and you can click here to see his roast grouse…

      Are they just copies of Bordeaux wines?
      It’s not as if winemakers on Tuscany’s Bolgheri coast or on the gravel soils of Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand are seeking to make carbon copies of Bordeaux wines. Climate, as well as vineyard and cellar techniques, differ within and between areas.

      And it’s completely up to the winemakers themselves whether or not to use the term ‘Bordeaux blend’ when describing their wines.

      Yet, there is a sense, too, of paying hommage to what Bordeaux has achieved in terms of structured wines that are built to last – sometimes for many years.

      While the existence of Bordeaux blends, even as a term in itself, underlines the maritime French region’s enduring position as a benchmark for fine wines, it also says something about the versatility of the grapes themselves.

      The fine wines below have all been reviewed by Decanter†experts.

      Words by Jim Button and Chris Mercer.

      Have you tasted any of these wines? Let us know what you thought in the comments section below
      Seven fine Bordeaux red blends from around the world:
      Ridge Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains, Monte Bello, 2013
      A Monte Bello for the ages, the 2013’s brooding bouquet unfolds to reveal notes of black raspberry, juicy blackcurrant, burning embers…

      POINTS 100

      Tenuta San Guido, Bolgheri, Sassicaia, Tuscany, Italy, 2006
      To be honest I gave the Sassicaia 1985 a 100 points at the same tasting, but those notes have already been published, and it’s a…

      POINTS 99

      Voyager Estate, Margaret River, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot,
      Pre-release. Few young Cabernets display such effortless grace and relentless endurance. Pure, perfumed, immaculately poised and…

      POINTS 97

      Te Mata Estate Winery, Coleraine, Hawke’s Bay, 2013
      Both 2013 and 2014 were excellent vintages, yet totally different in character. 2013 was extraordinarily dry – the driest for 70 years – yet…

      POINTS 95

      Cousino Macul, Lota, Maipó Valley, Chile, 2006
      More than a wine, this is a vehicle; it takes you to the heart of the Alto Maipo, at the foothills of the mountains in the outskirts of…

      POINTS 96

      Cheval des Andes, Mendoza, Argentina, 2012
      Founded in 1999 as a collaboration between Terrazas de los Andes and Cheval Blanc, focussing on a traditional Bordeaux style blend…

      POINTS 92

      Ao Yun, China, China, 2013
      A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc, this is a bold, dramatic and compelling debut wine from winemaker…

      POINTS 94
      Now the game season is kicking off, we thought we should investigate some delicious reds to accompany your bag. Here are some of the finest wines from around the world, made outside Bordeaux, that would be a fitting centrepiece to any dinner party.

      Bordeaux‘s signature grape varieties have traversed the globe, to the extent that See more
      See more on line
      Bordeaux red blends to accompany game dishes
    • A new petition has called on tougher measures to prevent and treat Lyme disease.

      Mandatory Credit: Photo by Samuel Atkins/REX/Shutterstock (4251603at)Wemmergill Moor, Teesdale, Co Durham. The 13,900 acre moor is one of the worlds best grouse shooting moors. It is owned by the Earl of Strathmore and KinghorneVarious BritainThe Scottish Parliament is considering improvements to testing and treatment for Lyme disease, thanks to a petition supported by gamekeepers and grouse moor managers.

      The Tick-borne Illness Campaign Scotland seeks to limit the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. It calls for medical professionals in Scotland to be fully equipped to deal with infections, and also recommends a public-awareness programme.

      Severe impact of Lyme disease
      The campaign was set up by Lorraine Murray from Montrose, who contracted Lyme disease from a tick bite while out walking her dog during the summer of 2014. The infection took her from “super active to seriously ill” within months and kept her in bed most of the day.

      “I just thought how on earth could this happen?” said Ms Murray: “How was it that I went from super active to seriously ill within months? I now spent most of the day in my bed, just myself and all my symptoms. It was a scary and lonely place. I would get up and get the kids out the door and go back to my bed.”

      The severe impact of Lyme disease cannot be overstated. Recently, rugby star Matt Dawson has discussed his own struggle with it in the press.

      Lyme disease symptoms – what you need to know
      A growing prevalence of tick-borne diseases – including Lyme disease – has put them high on the list of public…

      What are the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs?
      What are the symptoms if a dog contracts Lyme disease and what does the cure entail? Is it usually successful?

      Keepers on the frontline
      Gamekeepers are on the frontline in fighting ticks through the management of deer and hare numbers on grouse moors, and are in full support of the petition.

      Carrieanne Conaghan, co-ordinator of the Speyside Moorland Group, said: “It is important to carry out tick control — which includes sheep dipping and bracken spraying — as part of our wider moorland management practice. This not only benefits the grouse but additional bird species and reduces risk to members of the public enjoying the countryside. Moorland groups around Scotland fully support this petition as anyone who contracts Lyme disease can be severely affected.”
      A new petition has called on tougher measures to prevent and treat Lyme disease.

      Mandatory Credit: Photo by Samuel Atkins/REX/Shutterstock (4251603at)Wemmergill Moor, Teesdale, Co Durham. The 13,900 acre moor is one of the worlds best grouse shooting moors. It is owned by the Earl of Strathmore and KinghorneVarious BritainThe Scottish Parliament is considering improvements to testing and treatment for See more
      See more on line
      Scottish gamekeepers back new Lyme disease measures
    • A reader wants to know what's best for accuracy

      Q: I have been told that I need to keep my stock and scope screws at the correct torque setting for best accuracy. What is this and how do I achieve it?

      A: Tightening rifle and scope screws to hold or grip an item securely can greatly influence the way a rifle performs. To maintain correct tension on the screws, I use the Brock and Norris adjustable torque driver. The simple tool uses the standard 1/4in hex bits used in most power tools at home.

      - Separate the two pieces of the hex tool holder and locate one of the six available holes in the torque driver handle. Each represents 25, 30, 35, 
40, 45 or 50in/lb settings.
      - Decide on the torque setting 
for your rifle. For example, you need 
15lb-20lb for scope screws, so use 
the 25lb setting or 30lb torque for 
scope bases. For rifle stock screws 
in a wood or fibreglass stock use 40lb or up to 50lb for bedded stocks with synthetic materials (aluminium requires less torque).
      - Place the hex bit in the 
screw you are tightening and hold 
the torque driver only by the grey handle. When the desired torque setting is reached the handle disengages and rotates 90° so no 
more force is exerted and the exact torque setting is reached.
      Norman Clark Gunsmiths also 
sells the Wheeler torque setter, 
which is a more typical ratchet-
type torque wrench.

      Get your eye in
      The device that corrects eye dominance

      Our shooting technical expert Mike George adds his thoughts on torque setting:

      In the days when I performed all the new gun tests for Sporting Gun, I always reckoned that Miroku employed a retired sumo wrestler as their stock-bolt fitter.

      In practice, the bolt needs only be tightened sufficiently to prevent its shaking loose during prolonged shooting. So how tight is that?

      I have only ever seen one recommendation, and that was in the instruction book for an American-built Ruger. Ruger said the ideal was 6ft/lb of torque, which is the equivalent of 6lb of pressure on the end of a lever a foot long.

      In engineering terms, that isn’’t very much. You tighten the wheel nuts on your car to 10 times that!
      A reader wants to know what's best for accuracy

      Q: I have been told that I need to keep my stock and scope screws at the correct torque setting for best accuracy. What is this and how do I achieve it?

      A: Tightening rifle and scope screws to hold or grip an item securely can greatly influence the way a rifle performs. To maintain correct tension on the screws, I use the Brock and Norris adjustable torque driver. The simple tool uses the standard 1/4in hex bits used in ... See more
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      How tight must the stock-bolt on my shotgun be?
    • A reader wonders what the situation is

      Q: We are hoping to have a litter from our springer spaniel bitch and were wondering what the situation is regarding the removal of dew claws. Does this need to be done by a vet?

      A: No, not necessarily. While the mutilations clause of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it illegal to carry out a “prohibited procedure” 
— one that involves interference 
with the sensitive tissues or bone structures of a protected animal (other than for medical treatment) — certain “permitted procedures” are listed in the Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) Regulations 2007.

      Anaesthetics for removal of dew claws
      Schedule 1 of these regulations lists the removal of the dew claws of dogs as a permitted procedure. Schedule 9, however, requires an anaesthetic to be administered, except where the dog is a puppy whose eyes have not yet opened.

      Therefore, legislation in relation to dew claws is unchanged and it remains legal to remove them. This need not necessarily be carried out by a veterinary surgeon but, if not, the person must know what they are doing, so it causes the least pain and little harm.

      How to reduce stress for your dog at the vet
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      Is it necessary?
      Some people question the need for dew claw removal and I have the impression that doing it for purely cosmetic purposes is becoming far less common.

      Left intact, dew claws, particularly those on the front feet, cause few problems, and if you examine prints made in soft ground by a dog turning at speed you will notice that the dog might use its dew claw for this and similar purposes.

      Unlike a dog’s other nails, those on dew claws don’t normally make contact with the ground and consequently aren’t worn down in the same way; so dogs with dew claws may require these nails to be trimmed periodically. Some dew claws, especially those that are rudimentary and unattached with little bone, can be more problematic and become caught up and injured, and these might be better removed.
      A reader wonders what the situation is

      Q: We are hoping to have a litter from our springer spaniel bitch and were wondering what the situation is regarding the removal of dew claws. Does this need to be done by a vet?

      A: No, not necessarily. While the mutilations clause of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it illegal to carry out a “prohibited procedure” 
— one that involves ... See more
      See more on line
      Should dew claws be removed?
    • Richard Negus investigates and wonders why some wildfowling clubs struggle to retain new members

      Cold and wet mornings on the marsh are not for everyone Joining a wildfowling club
      My path to education came about thanks to the BASC wildfowling permit scheme, which provides a “suck it and see” opportunity for novices to try their hand at fowling. Luckily for me my local club, the Great Yarmouth Wildfowling & Conservation Association (GYWCA), is a keen participant of the scheme.

      A phone call asking if I could 
have a go on the marsh led to my 
4am wake up and a glorious morning on the East Anglian fowling Mecca that is Breydon Water under the knowledgeable eye of long-standing club committee member Terry.

      Richard Negus, ready for his first day at wildfowling school

      My introduction to wildfowling comprised nothing more than watching wigeon flighting at near-supersonic speeds miles out of range, retreating hastily inland to the safety of the seawall as a record high tide arrived an hour earlier than expected, and finally witnessing the watery rising sun accompany 
500 or so pink-footed geese as they streamed on to the stubbles to feed.

      I was utterly hooked
      Not one shot did I fire — yet 
I was utterly hooked and absolutely smitten. The next day I posted my completed club membership application form and a few months later — following an interview in 
the Great Yarmouth Football Club club house — I was enrolled and 
on probation.

      Have I been singularly fortunate in the ease with which I have forged a path to the foreshore? Are the rumours true that in some quarters “newbies” encounter something 
akin to a muddy masonic lodge?

      Wildfowling for beginners
      An essential guide to getting started in this challenging sport

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      Lincoln Premier Wildfowling Gun As the name suggests, this fits the bill for a gun that’s dedicated to wildfowling –…

      Waiting lists?
      To get the answer to this and many other questions I contacted BASC’s wildfowling officer Mark Greenhough for his views. Mark was quick to emphasise that I am indeed fortunate to live in wild and sparsely populated East Anglia. Some novice fowlers who live in larger conurbations encounter clubs whose membership number many hundreds. This makes places for aspirants less readily available 
and waiting lists can abound.

      Richard Negus’s introduction to fowling was watching widgeon

      In some other clubs, prospective members are required to undertake rigorous tests on wildfowl identification from photographic images or practical gun safety testing.

      Major issue facing wildfowling
      However, the major issue facing wildfowling, it seems, is not the difficulty in newbies finding and joining a wildfowling club but the clubs retaining their new members. Mark’s research revealed that for every new member joining a club another one leaves. The leavers tend to be those who have been members for less than three years.

      Why do they leave? Perhaps the reality of a wild, wet, muddy marsh with birds flying miles away from your location doesn’t match the expectations raised by the books of BB, Eric Begbie and James Wentworth Day? Is it that new members find their loved ones get fed up with early mornings and ooze-covered clothes littering the house? Are the new kids ignored by the big boys?

      Pink footed geese coming into feed

      Rentention and engagement
      I suspect the answer may be 
more mundane. Retention and engagement happens when wildfowling clubs foster a mentoring ethos towards those of us who are new to the sport; equally the wildfowling student 
must get involved, ask questions 
and become part of the team.

      My involvement with the 
GYWCA has consisted of one day 
out and a meeting in a bar, yet I feel 
a welcomed part of a brotherhood. I text questions to my mentors and receive patient and full answers to queries on such matters as: “Will that bull that guards the path to the marsh at Burgh St Peter kill me?” or “My mallard feeding call sounds like flatulence — is this normal?” and so on.
      Richard Negus investigates and wonders why some wildfowling clubs struggle to retain new members

      Cold and wet mornings on the marsh are not for everyone Joining a wildfowling club
      My path to education came about thanks to the BASC wildfowling permit scheme, which provides a “suck it and see” opportunity for novices to try their hand at fowling. Luckily for me my local club, theSee more
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      How easy is it to join a wildfowling club?
    • Camouflage coats, caps, gloves and waders are a common sight across every foreshore in the land. As well as keeping us warm and dry, they also help cover our skin and give a similar tone and shade as the surrounding environment. But fieldcraft out on the marshes is also crucial to success.

      Wildfowling camouflageBack in the day, wildfowlers wore plain dark or light coloured clothing which seemed to stand out from miles away. Nowadays you’re more likely to see image-printed outfits although some traditionalists will choose plain drab colours by preference.

      But is wildfowling camouflage really necessary?
      It will help you conceal yourself more easily but positioning, keeping movement to a minimum and breaking up our outline is far more important.

      Wildfowling for beginners
      An essential guide to getting started in this challenging sport

      TOP FIVE: Wildfowling gear
      Tom’s wildfowling gear is good to go for September 1st. Here he gives a run down on the wildfowling gear…

      11 of our favourite semi-automatics for wildfowling
      Lincoln Premier Wildfowling Gun As the name suggests, this fits the bill for a gun that’s dedicated to wildfowling –…

      Field craft when wildfowling
      - Get into a position on the marsh lower than the background, to reduce the chance of approaching birds spotting a human silhouette.
      - On high ground, an outline is projected against sky or water and any movement is instantly spotted.
      - Digging pits into the marsh is one way of keeping out of sight but this practice is rightly banned by many wildfowling clubs as the holes can be dangerous to grazing livestock which might fall in and become trapped.
      - Although they make fantastic hides to shoot from, digging a pit is very time consuming and labour intensive.
      - Pits have to be bailed out every time the tide comes in, or if filled with rainwater.
      A post shared by Tom Sykes (@tom_sykes_photography) on Sep 11, 2017 at 4:07am PDT

      Creating a scrape

      Instead of a pit, make a shallow scrape against the side of an open gutter or channel with a small collapsible spade. This is quick, easy and gets you low down and out of sight.

      The scrape must allow you to manoeuvre out of sight into a comfortable position from which to shoot.

      A scrape also keeps bank erosion to a minimum.

      Nets for camouflage
      - If there are no suitable gutters on your marsh a net hide may be the best option to conceal yourself.
      - Pick the colour of the net very carefully – go for something as light as possible and avoid old military-style nets because they are often too dark.
      - Modern lightweight nets are compact, less susceptible to rot and dry quickly.
      - Prop up the net hide against strong winds with a set of purpose built adjustable poles with a ‘V’ shaped notch in the top.
      - These can be easily raised or lowered.
      - Hazel sticks or bamboo canes are an effective and cheap alternative
      - The netting needs to drape over the poles and not be strung too tightly. This would make the edges look sharply unnatural.
      - But too slack and the net will flap in the wind,  spooking birds.
      - Get the hide right first time because some flights can last many hours.
      - Allow sufficient space for your dog and any bags or equipment.

      - The net needs to be big enough to manoeuvre in but not too large inside.
      - Attach marsh vegetation to give the set up a more natural appearance.
      - The golden rule with net hides is to always look through the netting where possible, rather than over the top of it.
      - Even the most experienced ‘fowlers get overexcited and raise their head in order to get a better view of the birds (which scares them away).
      Ghillie suits
      - Carrying, setting up, adjusting or re-positioning a net hide can hamper operations.
      - It can also reduce shooting time.
      - A 3D leaf oversuit can be a good compromise. Here is the Jack Pyke LLCS ghillie suit in a greener ‘English Woodland’ pattern that matches the colour of marsh grass tussocks.

      - The ghillie suit works almost like a portable hide with its frilled jacket and balaclava hood breaking up the unnatural outline of  head and shoulders.
      - Go for a slightly more ‘generous’ size  of ghillie suit so that it fits easily and comfortably over usual waterproof clothing.
      - Ghillie suits can also be used deer stalking, airgun hunting and pigeon shooting!
      Camouflage coats, caps, gloves and waders are a common sight across every foreshore in the land. As well as keeping us warm and dry, they also help cover our skin and give a similar tone and shade as the surrounding environment. But fieldcraft out on the marshes is also crucial to success.

      Wildfowling camouflageBack in the day, wildfowlers wore plain dark or light coloured clothing which seemed to ... See more
      See more on line
      How to get wildfowling camouflage right
    • Sir Edwin Landseer’s famous portrait of a stag has been secured for the nation but, finds Janet Menzies, this famous 12-pointer is still being shot at

      The Monarch of the Glen has been secured for the nation for £4 million.The Monarch of the Glen has been secured for the nation and is setting off on a tour of Scotland. But the painting by Sir Edwin Landseer remains as controversial today as it was over 150 years ago, as Janet Menzies discovers.

      For more sporting artists, Michael Parker owes his artistic technique to plastering. And John Skeaping’s work has become more widely accessible due to a chance encounter at Cheltenham.

      SIR EDWIN LANDSEER
      Sir Edwin Landseer’s triumph of Victorian romanticism, The Monarch of the Glen, has recently been bought from the Diageo drinks conglomerate for £4 million by the National Galleries of Scotland.

      From October, the magnificent 12-pointer will be exhibited in Inverness, Perth, Paisley and Kirkcudbright. It is appropriate that the painting begins its tour of Scotland in the Highlands, at the peak of the red stag stalking season, because it seems that it is indeed up there to be shot at. Sir John Leighton, director general of the National Galleries of Scotland, explained why he felt he had to move quickly to buy the painting. “We wanted to work with Diageo because we couldn’t have competed had the painting come up for auction. To the people who are regularly in the Highlands for their sport, this is very much a ‘trophy painting’.”

      Leighton won funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund, the Scottish government and private trusts and individuals to save the work for a moderately grateful nation, moving The Guardian to question: “Is an elitist celebration of hunting in the Highlands, ignoring the displacement of working families in the 19th century, politically unpalatable?” The Scottish artist and critic Lachlan Goudie was slightly more balanced in his response, describing the painting as a “potent, visual evocation of Scotland’s impact upon the popular imagination – it’s right up there with bagpipes, tartan and a mouthful of shortbread”.

      Yet the Scotland Goudie describes – the biscuit-tin world of Highland glens, swirling mists and equally swirling kilts – was invented by Landseer himself, in partnership with Sir Walter Scott and, most importantly, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. When the royal couple created their Highland love nest at Balmoral, it fell to Scott and Landseer to chronicle their vision. Scott narrated it in his Waverley novels, while Landseer not only illustrated the Waverley series but painted the royal family living their Highland idyll.

      Landseer’s brother, Thomas, was an engraver and his engravings of Landseer’s paintings became bestsellers. Most middle-class Victorian homes would have one and the waves of migrants to America took Landseers with them to remind them of an idealised version of home. Art historians like to dismiss Landseer’s work with a single word of scorn: “genre”. Certainly his moral and often sentimental paintings of animals do seek to tell a story – as genre work is prone to do. Yet, as Goudie points out, this doesn’t make him a lesser artist. “Landseer’s painting is also technically brilliant. Within the genre of animal painting he has never been surpassed. His ability to spirit up the physicality, the presence and even the character of any given animal marks him out as a virtuoso.”

      More than 150 years later, we are all Landseer fans without even knowing it, so strongly has his imagery shaped our imagination. Think of a dog being noble and a heroic Newfoundland will come to mind, poised upon a crag, its thick black and white fur blown by the gale. Newfoundlands didn’t commonly have black and white fur until Landseer’s paintings – now there is a popular strain called the Landseer Newfoundland.

      While Landseer was the darling of Victorian pop culture, he was as controversial in his day as he is now. When he completed The Monarch of the Glen in 1851 to hang in the House of Lords refreshment rooms, Parliament refused to pay for the commission. In 1861, his painting The Shrew Tamed was criticised. While the public saw a charming painting of a beautiful lady lying down alongside a fierce but gentled steed, The Times ranted: “For horses read husbands, and the picture is a provocation to rebellion addressed to the whole sex!”

      Recognising that Landseer’s work can be interpreted on many levels, Leighton is pleased at the interest the tour is generating. “It had almost become an image you could no longer really see because it is so widely exploited. Don’t blame the painting for being such a powerful and popular work.”

      Landseer’s sporting art is indeed gorgeous and satisfying to look at but what I love is that his stag, for all its traditional appearance, is today even more out there than Damien Hirst’s cows in Mother and Child (Divided).

      The Monarch of the Glen is at Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, 6 October to 19 November, before moving to Perth, Paisley and Kirkcudbright.
      Sir Edwin Landseer’s famous portrait of a stag has been secured for the nation but, finds Janet Menzies, this famous 12-pointer is still being shot at

      The Monarch of the Glen has been secured for the nation for £4 million.The Monarch of the Glen has been secured for the nation and is setting off on a tour of Scotland. But the painting by Sir Edwin Landseer remains as controversial today as it was over 150 years ago, as Janet Menzies discovers.

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      Sir Edwin Landseer, sporting artist
    • Here are some of the questions about eye dominance we've been asked lately - it's always a top subject for conversation

      Your dominant eye should be the one you use to look along the centre of the gun's ribQ: I have to close my left eye because of eye dominance, so sometimes I lose sight of high driven birds. What can I do to stop this? 
      A:If you’’re losing sight of the bird in this way then it suggests that your gun is too low in the comb, and needs raising.

      When the gun is mounted and brought to an ever-steeper angle, your right eye drops below the line of the rib causing you to either lift your head from the stock or open the left eye in an attempt to regain sight of the bird.

      You might even slow/stop the swing of the gun with the same result. A  missed target. Raising the gun’’s comb height means your one good eye remains on the bird throughout the mounting process allowing you to pull off a successful shot.

      Often you only need to lift the comb by a quarter of an inch to achieve a remarkable transformation. It’s worth experimenting to discover what suits you best. You’ll find rubber comb raisers in different sizes in most good gun shops.

      Q: Will a foresight bead help my eye dominance problem?
      A: Yes. And no. The thinking behind these  is that when a gun is correctly mounted, the bead aligns with the master eye allowing you to focus better on the target.

      The makers and importers claim that the beads help correct eye dominance problems and there are plenty of people out there who’ have tried them and would agree. On the other hand there are others who have not found foresight beads as helpful.

      My view is that these foresights do have a lot to offer but they really come into their own when used with a gun that fits, and the shooter knows how to mount a gun properly in the first place.

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      Q: Will bad eyes mean I have to learn to shoot left-handed?
      A: There are two solutions to your problem – which is one of the frequent questions about eye dominance we’re asked.

      At one time, such an issue would have been solved by having a cross-over stock fitted to one’s gun. This allowed the gun to be mounted on the normal shoulder, but brought the barrels over, so the dominant eye could sight down the rib.

      In my experience it was never a very effective solution and was invariably costly, as the stock had to be bent dramatically or a new one fitted.

      It is probably not readily adaptable to modern over-under guns because of the long bolt that secures the stock to the action. Guns with cross-over stocks sometimes come up for sale, but they tend to be expensive and there is no guarantee one would fit you.

      It is far better to learn to shoot left-handed.

      This may sound daunting, but with the help of a good coach and plenty of practice it can be achieved.
      Here are some of the questions about eye dominance we've been asked lately - it's always a top subject for conversation

      Your dominant eye should be the one you use to look along the centre of the gun's ribQ: I have to close my left eye because of eye dominance, so sometimes I lose sight of high driven birds. What can I do to stop this? 
      A:If you’’re losing sight of the bird in this way then it suggests that your gun is too low in the comb, and needs ... See more
      See more on line
      Three questions about eye dominance