Few things are a as quintessentially British as a crisp autumnal shoot in the countryside. Standing on a vast field, weathering the elements in tweeds and wellingtons – ready to prove your olympic level of accuracy on an unsuspecting bird flying past… there’s nothing quite like it. And the whole adventure of it – the stunning country pile, the roaring fires, the brilliant supper prepared from the spoils of the day – make for ideal ingredients for an idyllic weekend.
Such is the love of the shoot across the United Kingdom that even current lockdown regulations unilaterally permit them. However, as with anything – there are shoots and then there are shoots; DDW takes a closer look at the very best ones out there to get yourself ready for this season:
The Barnes family have been managing some of the UK’s best shoots for over five decades. Maintaining six of the very best in the West Country across 300 acres (including the venerable Molland shoot and Manor House) is no small feat – nor is achieving the sterling reputation that precedes them amongst those in the know.
Further to their immaculately prepared shoots, Loyton are renown for their ability to weave in delectable food, parties, fine wine and a blissful nights sleep into their shooting weekends. It would be difficult to imagine anything better.
What better way to delve into the Scottish countryside than to go shooting with a Scottish Duke? The Duke of Buccleuch hosts a cracking shoot at his Queensberry Estate in Dumfriesshire – renowned as one of the best game shoots in the world. With 90000 acres, a magnificent castle and surrounding parkland with rolling hills – there are few more impressive locations to tackle the challenge of very high flying birds across 20 pegs for partridge or 25 for pheasant meaning you won’t shoot the same drive twice across seven consecutive days.
Conveniently located near London, this Cotswold shoot on the Stowell Park Estate takes place within 5500 acres of grassland, arable land and woodland on both banks of the river Coln. Owned and run by the Vestey family since 1921 the Estate offers pheasant and partridge shoots with ample accommodation for large and small parties. A perfect location for a quick day shoot during the season.
Set in the stunning backdrop of the historic grounds of Ugbrooke House (a Robert Adam and Capability Brown masterpiece) in the serene Devon valley, this shoot is personally looked after by The Honourable Alexander Clifford, the son of the 14th Baron Clifford of Chudleigh. Nominated by The Field as the ‘Kindest Host’, Alexander and his fiancée Dr Caitlin Blake-Lane welcome you into their home, the family seat for more than 400 years. From arrival you will be treated to a pre-shoot drink by their Butler Michael and hosted to a black tie dinner in Ugbrookes grand Dinning room before retiring to bed.
On the shoot day you will enjoy experienced gentlemen loaders, many of whom have shot and loaded at Ugbrooke for over thirty years (at no extra cost) alongside first rate elevenses of cherry brandy and sloe gin before finishing off the last two drives of the day and enjoying a lavish supper back at the house.
Lord Percy’s Linhope is proud to be one of the most challenging shoots in the UK and maintains a strong emphasis on grouse shooting (the crème de la crème of British game shooting) but also pheasant, partridge and wood pigeon shooting, on sea-trout fishing, and on salmon fishing on the river Tyne; a field sporting dream.
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