Walked-up grouse hunting tests more than your shooting skills, it tests your fitness, stamina and your patience.
Whether you’re a beginner about to make your first foray into the world of hunting or a seasoned shooter, your equipment should be top notch. So with the new season now taking place, let’s take a look at some of the equipment you’re going to need to make it a glorious season.
Dressing correctly for the moor is vital. Our British summer can be extremely unpredictable and all four seasons can seem to fall upon us in one day, but it’s still best to travel as light as possible. A walking-up day will probably see you traveling around the same hill at least two to three times, and chances are you won’t see your car or 4×4 for the remainder of the day.
It’s imperative that you strike the correct balance between travelling for all seasons and travelling too light. If you’re carrying too much gear, you risk tiring yourself out and ruining your day, and on the other hand if you travel too light and you run out of supplies or fail to pack the right wet weather gear and you get stuck in a downpour… well you know the rest.
Shirtsleeves are the clothing of choice for grouse hunters as it will keep you relatively cool whilst you tackle the hill – it can be very hot work.
Price – a good hunting shirt by Barbour or Schoffel can range from £50 – £70.
A shooting vest is a good idea as it can keep you cool whilst allowing for any breeze or wind that decides to flare up.
Price – shooting vests can range from £35 – £170 depending on your needs.
If the weather looks like it’s going to turn sour, pack a shooting jacket and take it out with you if necessary. If conditions are looking like they MIGHT turn sour, but you can’t be sure, lightweight is the best way to go. A lighter weight jacket can be rolled up and packed into your gamebag when necessary, and if it does rain, you’re ready.
Price – lightweight Jackets can range from around £70 to the more expensive Musto Westmoor jackets that can reach over £200.
Buy the best boots possible as you will be walking for hours on end. High-leg leather boots that provide superior ankle support are vital to a successful hunt – and by successful we mean enjoyable and safe. Trudging through deep heather, puddles and rocks pose a myriad of threats – a twisted ankle is an accident waiting to happen.
If at all possible try and purchase a pair of boots with a Gore-Tex membrane as these will keep water out. Heather will find its way into any open top boot (it happens) so a good pair of gaiters or a few spare pairs of socks at the very least should be brought along. We recommend heavyweight zippered canvas gaiters with a good elasticated instep strap.
Buy good quality equipment from a reputable seller the first time around and these will last you at least 5 times as long as those you’ve seen in the high street.
Price – Boots – good quality boots will cost anywhere from £100 – £250.
Price – Gaiters – Gaiters will cost around £50 for the likes of Le Chameau or as much as £85 for the higher end Harkila Pro Hunter X Gaiters.
Make sure you are carrying enough water for you and if applicable, your dog. You need at least 3 litres of water per day, and although this may seem impractical it’s vital that you have enough for the day. A strong sturdy water bottle or two is completely necessary.
A good quality water bottle that will resist being dropped or kicked around will set you back around £10 -£15.
If you are carrying your own gamebag rather than using the keeper’s, try and make sure it’s fairly light. You need to keep room for your jacket, your piece and of course the birds that you have successfully taken down. Some shooters prefer to use a shooting vest with pouch at the back.
Price – A good quality gamebag will cost around £30 – £50
A Mustos Retriever vest is widely used due to the fact it will hold up to three grouse without affecting your movement. If etiquette permits, perhaps ask a walker to carry your bag for you, but be prepared for some raised eyebrows if it’s not the done thing on your particular walk!
The right guns and cartridges
The longer and heavier shotguns in both 12- and 20-bore are exceedingly popular with walked-up shooters, but it’s best to get the gun that suits you. Once you’ve picked the best gun for your needs and the one that feels right in your hands, get as much practice in as possible to familiarise yourself with the gun.
Price – Anywhere from £300 to £2,000
A cartridge belt full of cartridges is essential, as is a plentiful supply of refills. It can be embarrassing having to ask for replacements and it can ruin your day if you run out of ammunition early into the hunt. Make sure you pack spares.
Price – £100 – £120
Eye protection and hearing protection are essential on a hunt. Although it’s unlikely you’ll be walking through thick hedges at eye height on the moors, suitable eye protection will help reduce any accidents. In addition, a long day of shooting will take its toll on your ear drums so invest in a pair of quality earplugs that won’t hinder your ability to hear a horn or someone shouting. Yellow shooting glasses will allow you to pick out the grouse against the background a lot easier.
Glasses Price – £50 – £550
Hearing protection – Price £20 – £50
You’ve either collected everything in the past few months in preparation or lovingly accrued over the years a selection of different guns and equipment to help your hunt – either way it could be extremely expensive to replace should the worst happen especially if you’ve spent thousands on getting the right stuff.
In addition to covering your equipment from theft, loss and damage, gunplan offers comprehensive public liability cover to grouse hunters and gun owners. If you’re not insured, you risk having to pay out thousands to replace your equipment should something go wrong. Why not take a look at our comprehensive gun insurance policies today? Safe hunting.