The Field

The timeless appeal of grouse

Every grouse butt possesses a personality of its own. However good the shooting, I feel a touch deprived if I find myself taking up position on a moor behind a mere shield of wooden slats. Give me, instead, one of those works of the keeper’s art, a drystone wall semi-circle, topped with a couple of decks of peat and heather. A concrete floor seems a shade overdone. But settling down to begin a day high in the hills, deep inside one’s own little sporting rampart, gets the whole occasion off on the best possible footing.

I also like a butt with a short horizon. The longer I have to look at those oncoming birds, soaring and dropping with the contours across a mile of hillside, the more sure I am to miss them when they reach me. It seems easier if they burst over the ridge, 30 yards in front, and the challenge is simply that of pulling up the gun and firing instantly,

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