The Roxtons 2016/17 season round-up
By John Duncan
It is that time of year when we return to our desks after spending six months out in the field and have time to reflect on the customary highs and lows of the season which has just passed...
This was the first season since our merger with Ian Coley Sporting in August last year so we now have a ten-strong team of agents working within the group. We all try to practice better car-boot husbandry than one syndicate client who arrived for a day at Miltons in early November and pulled his kit bag out of the boot of his car at the usual meeting point. Three mice promptly tore from the bag as had been happily nesting there all summer and had made mincemeat of his jumper and gilet - an amusing start to his season!
As is the case with all of our fellow field sports, the weather plays an instrumental part in one’s day in the shooting field and this annual report consequently risks reading like a weather report. Whilst we would of course love every day to be remembered as outstanding, this can never be the case whilst we are at nature’s mercy, and it does us good to remember the words of one sporting gun who reflected that there is ‘never a bad day in the field, some are simply better than others’.
The grouse season started well in August; early counts looked promising and early season days were good albeit slightly hot and sticky. Parties enjoyed some great days in central Scotland with moors in the Perthshire areas shooting decent bags. On the eastern side of Scotland, the bags were slightly disappointing. Moving down into England, there were some excellent days at Wemmergill, Allenheads and within the golden triangle of grouse moors. On the east coast, whilst numbers were good, they were not as expected so later days and diaries were cut short.
Most moors have left a good stock for next season and reports say that they have wintered well. As ever, time will most certainly tell and we look forward to seeing them on the Glorious Twelfth.
As the partridge and pheasants started, our teams had some fantastic days across the country. We were keen to see how our new Gamebore Roxtons Black Gold cartridges would perform on the high partridges at Drumlanrig and the results were impressive. Essentially, we wanted to create a cartridge that produced a clean kill at extreme range without having to use 36g of lead or creating huge recoil. This cartridge seems to tick all the boxes and was proven throughout the season across the country.
The season was of course not without its highlights. Particularly topical at the time was the interesting means of arrival of one group to Drumlanrig who landed in Donald Trump’s helicopter. On Exmoor, the beaters kept it real for their day at the end of the season. The weather was unkind to them given that one member of the team had decided to shoot all day in a French maid’s outfit in order to raise funds for the Devon Air Ambulance. Over the last two years, Wellshead and Miltons have collectively raised an impressive £7,500 for the cause by such sponsored exercises and by dishing out penalties for shooting white pheasants. Unfortunately, perhaps, that no photos have emerged to date of their comedy attire!
We experienced good days across the country with teams consistently shooting their bags and a good number of game left into January. Some of our noted estates this season were Northwick, Faccombe, Conholt, Wellshead, Great Durnford, Rushall, Miltons, Challacombe and Drumlanrig.
Abroad, teams continued to enjoy the fantastic hospitality that has become synonymous with partridge shooting in Spain. Between Adam Bromfield, Mathew Latchford and Ed Darbyshire, we hosted parties at La Cuesta, La Encinilla, La Nava, Ventosilla and Las Barracas in Majorca. Feedback remains exemplary from all of our Spanish offerings; one of our roving guns at La Cuesta kindly wrote to thank us for his two days, describing it as ‘the experience’ of his 2016/17 season. Needless to say, rebooking has started for next season. Across the Atlantic, the Argentinian doves continue to appeal and we have organised trips to the Cordoba region for single guns and parties of twenty.
Our attentions are now fully turned towards next season and days are booking fast. We are grateful to be seeing a great demand again so please enquire to ensure your preferred dates. We look forward to seeing you in the field before too long.
A couple of seasons ago, on a wet Exmoor day, I greeted a team of guns at Wellshead, only to be taken to one side by the host who quietly explained that one of the guns was the last bad casualty from The Afganistan war and was in a pretty bad way...
We have just become corporate sponsors of The Country Food Trust, a fantastic charity which manufactures a pheasant casserole which is then donated to people living in food poverty...