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Some Friendly

Advice

It is always nice to go into any situation prepared and knowing what to expect. The shooting sports have their own set of guidelines created to make everyone feel comfortable so that the day is enjoyable as possible. We have tried to provide a general outline of tips and thoughts. However, if you need additional guidance for your trip to Blixt & Company or abroad, we are always happy to answer any questions.

What truly defines driven shooting from other types of game bird shooting is the finest quality and presentation of pheasants and partridge, while maintaining the highest standards of sportsmanship and etiquette. This includes quality of environment for the birds as well as their flying qualities on the day.

 Birds are released many weeks before the beginning of the shooting season. This enables them to acclimatize, and more importantly, to orientate them in their surroundings.

A professional gamekeeper’s job is to ensure the health and welfare of the birds and to encourage them to remain in the shooting area. This is not accomplished by pens or fences but by good animal husbandry, habitat and environmental enhancement on the ranch or estate.
Birds are traditionally “driven” over a waiting gun line. Tradition has always been 8 guns/team. These guns wait patiently in a predetermined place, usually spaced between 30 to 40 yds apart depending on the particular drive.

The Gamekeeper and his team of beaters drive the birds by tapping sticks and using flags to encourage the now “wild” birds towards a flushing point — someway short of the guns. This space enables the birds to gain height and speed before they fly over the facing gun line. The shooters/guns now have the birds flying over their heads in front of them. This presents a very different target than the traditional “American Walk Up”.

With numerous birds in the air at once, a member is expected to shoot only the best birds suited to their personal ability. With this combination of beating and shooting, a client gets a unparalleled sporting experience.

Etiquette is a critical part of the driven shooting tradition. This includes the use of traditional break open guns in this classic style of shooting, traditional English dress and the highest level of sportsmanship, like conduct, towards the game and fellow shooters.

 Traditional driven pheasant and partridge shooting is an unique experience for every sportsman!

Guidelines for

ETIQUETTE & DRESS

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Shooting Advice
ETIQUETTE

As with any social and sporting endeavor there is a set of guidelines and etiquette associated with Driven Shooting. Don’t be alarmed, Emily Post will not be watching or will you get a slap on the wrist. But as with any etiquette, it helps everyone know what to expect and what is expected. The essential guide for field etiquette: Be Safe and Be Sporting.

One thing to keep in mind is the effort that has proceeded your arrival. The head gamekeeper and his team will have spent the best part of the preceding year building up to your shoot, at times working 18 hours a day, seven days a week. If you have the chance, take the opportunity to thank the keeper and his team for their hard work on the day.

Pulling Pegs
THE INVITATION

Regardless of the formality of the invitation, you should try to respond as quickly as possible and in writing if you can. As you might expect, there are many logistics to arrange in putting a team together, and thus the sooner you can let your host know if you can attend the better. It goes without saying, but if you accept, you should only cancel in case of an emergency. It is common to return the kindness of the invitation in the future. Even if you can’t host a day’s shooting, reciprocate in some way.

WHAT TO WEAR

It is important to come prepared and dress for the shoot. Each shoot is different, but it is best to bring clothing that will keep you comfortable, warm and dry, with an eye to earthy colors and NO CAMMO or BLAZE. Driven Shooting attire should not be confused with duck hunting gear. Tweeds, wools and earthen colors are expected and you should avoid bright colors that will flare the birds. Blaze orange is required for upland or walk up hunting but should be avoided on a driven shoot as the birds flying overhead can see it and will quickly divert their course.

In addition to considering the weather, make sure that you can comfortably mount your gun and that you are not impeded by what you are going to wear.
A traditional Tweed Shooting Suit usually consists of the following: Breeks, Long socks with flashes, Shooting Vest, Sport Jacket, and a Field Coat or other outerwear.  Additionally matching or coordinating trousers can be included. You certainly don’t have to wear all of this, but if you are asked to dress traditionally, consider what you pack. You should also ask your host how formal dinners will be. On some English and Scottish Estates you are expected to wear black tie.

Shooting Sportsmanship
SPORTSMANSHIP

Safety is the cornerstone of good sportsmanship and should be your first priority at all times. Nothing will get you banned from an estate, or not asked back, faster than poor gun handling or god forbid, an accident. Always keep in mind what the beaters and gamekeepers might see from their perspective.

Judging your ability and following some basic rules will be the best place to start when considering sportsmanship. Commonly it is considered very bad form to shoot a low bird or to poach a bird that would be considered your neighbor’s. If you are a skilled shot, be generous and let a few birds fly over your neighbor.

Know your ability. Don’t shoot a bird that is out of your range as you may only cripple the bird. If you think you have fallen a wounded bird, make a mental note so you can mention it to the dog handlers.

Additionally you shouldn’t shoot a bird a close range. “Pillow-casing” a bird will garner sideways looks particularly on English estates that sell the shot game to a game dealer.

Aim for good, clean kills. If you are having an off-day, stay positive. Of note, it is commonly thought of as unsporting to ask how many birds your fellow gun took in a drive or boast of being on a truly hot streak.

Picking Up
PICKING UP

If you bring your dog, be certain that the dog can be quietly on peg without distracting you or other guns. Once the drive is over, you can help the dog team pick the down game. You can politely ask a handler if there is an area that many need additional picking, and at some estates you are expected to have marked your birds down to help guide the picking team.

Always carry the game by the head, not the feet and treat the quarry with respect.  In England and Europe most estates sell the game, so treat it carefully, as not to bruise the meat.

TIPS & GRATUITY

It is customary to bring your host a gift and you should be prepared with cash to tip those that made the day. You should also look after your loader as he has looked after you all day. Ask your host what he recommends as a gratuity guide.

Shooting Safety
SAFETY

As we have mentioned before, safety should always be first in mind. With good gun handling and diligent mindfulness will benefit all. Listen carefully to the shoot captain for all instructions.

Always carry your gun in a slip between drives as well as to and from any vehicle. You should break the gun before completely removing it from the slip.

If the gun is not in a slip, break the gun to show everyone it is safe. When the gun is closed, it should always be pointed in a safe direction and NEVER POINT A CLOSED GUN, LOADED OR UNLOADED AT ANYONE. This includes the beating line. Your barrels should never be in the zone of the beating team. This includes where the beating line has been, as you are never sure that there isn’t a stopper or blocker still in the area.

Give the birds ample time to clear the ridges to ensure that there is 360 of sky behind the bird. If you have any doubt, don’t shoot. There will be another opportunity, but you can never take a shot back.