Being invited to a shoot of walked-up grouse is a fantastic opportunity for anyone, and as the Glorious Twelfth has started, excitement for grouse hunting is at a fever pitch. A very calm, cool and relaxed fever pitch though – after all, we’re British.
Respect for the hunt, the wildlife and the other guns in your party is paramount, but above all, safety should always be at the forefront of your mind. A safe hunt is an enjoyable one, so here are our 10 tips for safe driven grouse shooting.
- Check your competitiveness, attitude and any aggression at the door. The most important part of any hunt is safety, and excessive aggression or the need to shoot more than your neighbour can lead to unsafe practices, so relax and enjoy your day.
- Make sure you do not encroach on your neighbours birds. Firing outside of your designated area is not only bad etiquette, but extremely unsafe. It is very easy to accidentally shoot your neighbour if a bird or covey of birds are going towards him. Only shoot within your area and only when it is safe to do so.
- Safety when closing your gun should always be a priority. Always keep barrels pointed down when closing your gun and bring the stock up to meet them. Under no circumstances raise the barrels to the stock. Accidents can happen to the most experienced shooters, and every year there are injuries due to carelessness.
- Always break your gun when you are walking and keep barrels pointing at the ground. This reduces any chances of guns going off accidentally. It can happen.
- If you have to climb a fence or style or alternatively if you have to hand your gun over to a loader or another person, always unload and break it first.
- Never ever shoot into woods or hedges, as this is where the beaters will likely be. Shoot only when you can see clear sky around the bird. This will ensure any stray pellets are fired into the air rather than towards an unsuspecting neighbour.
- If you are ever in doubt, do not shoot. Only ever shoot when you are absolutely sure that it is safe to do so.
- Guns should be broken and unloaded, and protected in their case or slip when you go indoors. Keep them away from your dogs as they may knock them over.
- Know your limits when it comes to alcohol. If you have been invited to a walk up grouse hunt, chances are you may be offered a nip of sloe gin on arrival, and possibly a drink over lunch. You know your own limits, so stick to them. A few guns will say they only find their aim after a few drinks, but even so, keep to your limits. You wouldn’t drive a vehicle whilst inebriated or under the influence, so take the same precaution when shooting.
- Follow all instructions to the letter and listen out for the horn. A horn will sound on each drive. This tells everyone that the beaters are in shot range and means that you must stop shooting forward immediately. Let your neighbour know that you have heard the horn by raising your gun vertically and holding it away from your body and wait for him to acknowledge back. On a particularly windy day it may be difficult to hear the horn so this acknowledgement of the horn to your neighbour is imperative. If in doubt, do not shoot.
- Bonus tip. It goes without saying that safety gear is a must. Eye protection, hearing protection and strong sturdy boots are imperative.
Got some tips of your own? Share them below in the comments!
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