Winter newsletter 2018

Winter 2017-18 

Welcome to our Winter Newsletter as we leave behind a fun-filled 2017 and look forward to more exciting country sports in 2018.

Well, what a season the 2017-18 shooting season has been so far! The grouse started off in numbers not seen for many years and at least on the larger moors, shot well until season close on 10 December. Partridge and pheasant continue to provide excellent sport and look like doing so right through till the end of January in the UK and February in Ireland. 

BCS are very pleased to have well known country pursuits photographer George Gunn providing this Newsletter’s grouse report. George has spent numerous days on the English and Scottish moors this year and has the ear of many very experienced moorland keepers. 

This edition in our English gunmakers series we look at Watson Bros. Watson Bros are one of the few traditional London gunmakers still operating as a privately owned and managed business, manufacturing exquisite handmade guns. 

We also review Quiller Publishing’s Servants of the Lord – a very suitable present for British country life historians, students and enthusiasts – especially at the discounted price Quiller offer BCS clients with free P&P thrown in as well. 

We also have a quick look back at Abu Dhabi’s ADIHEX 2017. Gary and Laren enjoyed their time there once again this year and are already planning something new for ADIHEX 2018. 

We hope you enjoy the read and please feel free to share the link with your friends and colleagues. 
From all the staff here at British Country Sports we wish you and your families a safe, happy and prosperous 2018.   

Gary Creighton
January 2018
Wiltshire

With early spring counts looking very promising especially across the northern English moors, the 2017 grouse season got under way as usual on 12th August – The Glorious Twelfth.

With near almost perfect end of summer weather, most moors in both England and Scotland reported good shooting throughout August.

As September rolled around, the more northerly moors over the Pennines and Scotland saw the grouse regularly heavily “packing up” making shooting more challenging especially with the high winds coming off the series of hurricanes experienced in the Mexican Gulf. Speed gun testing at that time showed that birds were often flying through the line at 80 mph – that is fast in anyone’s book.

For those estates still maintaining plenty of birds throughout October and November, shooting continued without worry of over shooting stock. Weather conditions stayed fair meaning days cancelled due to fog and snow were kept to a minimum.
A dry spell in November allowed some Yorkshire moors to get on with early season heather burning - a real plus for moor management. As usual, the end of grouse shooting season on December 10th rolled around way too soon. For most, the 2017 season lived up to the high expectation of Estate managers and Guns back in Spring. I wonder what 2018 season will hold in store for us?  

BCS Guest writer and photographer 
George Gunn

Shoots large and small, commercial and DIY from the four corners of the UK have consistently reported excellent partridge and pheasant shooting so far this season.

In fact, the season has been so good that most shoots have been able to squeeze in extra days during November and December and as long as the weather remains moderate for January, they are confident of being able to shoot right through till 1 Feb.

Partridge shooting has once again been plentiful throughout most parts of the UK and often challenging with the birds being whisked along at incredible speeds on prevailing winds or curling tantalisingly away as they neared the line of Guns. 

Partridge shooting purists with shorter-barrelled side by side guns were treated to some excellent days as the birds flew low and fast, lifting only slightly to clear thick hedgerows.
Pheasants have been in abundance on all well managed shoots and appear to have been in excellent body and flying condition. 

With the warmer, clear weather carrying through to late in the year, it was generally mid November before trees lost sufficient leaf to allow pheasant shooting to be carried out in wooded drives. 

Once that happened, the shoots with good woodland shooting have provided excellent sport. 

Shooting availability 
- still a few dates for January 2018 

Even at this stage in the season, if you are looking for driven partridge and pheasant days for teams of 6-10 Guns or even smaller groups, within 1 to 2 hours driving time of Central London do contact us.

Our exciting driven shooting packages in the beautiful English countryside include: 200 – 300 mixed partridge and pheasant days, shotgun hire, cartridges, safety equipment, compulsory shooting insurance, full hospitality and a loader/coach for each shooter.  Transport and accommodation can be arranged.   

The benefits of an excellent bird season are that some estates are able to provide extra days of shooting beyond those planned.  

 +44 (0) 203 642 2251 or enquiries@britishcountrysports.co.uk

The London Wing Shooting Fair  
24 & 25 Mar 2018

The inaugural London Wing Shooting Fair will be held in its own hall, on the same dates and adjacent to the London Fly Fishing Fair at The Business Design Centre, 52 Upper St, Islington, London N1 0QH.

The London Wing Shooting Fair is centrally located, catering for all aspects of UK wing shooting. 

It will host a great collection of exhibitors who will display guns, equipment, clothing, footwear, estates, lodges and more.

There will also be the opportunity to meet with wing shooting outfitters from across the world.

As well as exhibitors, there will be interesting talks, films and demonstrations on various shooting subjects, from an array of influential speakers.

Don't miss this unique opportunity and join the shooting community for a great event in the heart of London.

We always say that it is never too early to book your shooting for next season, and this remains true. Get in early and you get the pick of locations, dates and bag limits. 

The same goes for deer stalking and fly fishing on the premium estates and waterways. Grouse moors will have their dates and bird costs out by January/February. To ensure your team’s position on a reputable, consistently well-performing moor, teams should be looking at booking soon thereafter. 

We normally start taking pheasant and partridge bookings in March for the seasons starting in September and October. With driven pheasant and partridge shooting gaining in popularity each year, there is increasing competition for days on the premium estates. 

Don’t be disappointed – book early in 2018. 

Need a refresher on shooting? Or haven't shot before?  No problem. We can organise coaching for you - whatever your level - so that you face the birds feeling both competent and confident.  

Fly fishing

With trout and salmon fishing now closed until the New Year and the weather turning rather wet and chilly, the more hardy fly anglers have been out chasing grayling and the occasional pike.
Until more recent times, grayling were considered a nuisance by many anglers and river keepers were often inclined to try to remove them from their beats. 

Nowadays, grayling are regarded as the UK’s fourth game fish, and for many fly fishermen, an equal to the salmon, brown trout and sea trout.

In spite of the inevitable winter rains, southern chalkstreams generally still run clear, and are most suitable for sight fishing with flys such as the red tag, the grayling witch, shrimp patterns and killer bugs.

If you are new to fly fishing and would like to learn this amazing “fish hunting” sport or maybe sharpen up your skills, or you would like to be guided by one of our highly experienced guides, please contact us on +44 (0) 203 642 2251 or enquiries@britishcountrysports.co.uk

British Gunmaker series: Watson Bros

Watson Bros' roots can be traced back to the Swiss born gunmaker Durs Egg who set up his business in London in 1172. 

The company was famous for manufacturing firearms of the highest quality and in 1820 became gunmaker to George IV.

Thomas Watson was the son-in-law of the renowned gun and revolver maker William Tranter and in 1875 acquired the company and premises of Durs Egg in Pall Mall. In 1885 Thomas’s sons, Arthur and Thomas took over the company, hence the eponymous Watson Bros, as the company is still proudly known today.

When Arthur and Thomas Watson took over the company they decided to actively create and promote a small bore market.  Watson Bros soon become renowned as the maestros of small bore gun production in London. As their worldwide reputation grew, so did their client base attracting Royal Warrants from Turkey and Persia. 

Over a 100 plus year period, Watson Bros have built in excess of 17,000 guns of which all the records are still held.  
Following on from the success of their side by side guns, clients were soon asking for similar fine sidelock ejector guns in over and under configuration. 

This took two years from design to production and were well received.

Today Watson Bros. continues to be creative with a modern sidelock ejector, self cocking hammergun and big bores as well as over and unders and side by sides, all made in their City of London workshop.

For more information on Watson Bros. and their new and used guns go to: www.watsonbrosgunmakers.com (from where this article was derived).


ADIHEX 2017 & enquiries

It was a great pleasure for both CEO Gary Creighton and our UAE representative Laren Munchenberg to catch up with many old friends at ADIHEX - Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibitionin last September and to make lots of new ones.

BCS fielded a stream of game bird shooting and deer stalking enquiries from UAE nationals, fellow GCC country residents and expatriates working in the region.  We are now taking many of our new friends out to the British countryside to introducing them to our unique field sports and culture. 
We are also looking forward to preparing for ADIHEX 2018 which will come around in September this year.  We are moving our stand into the Gun Hall this year where we hope to attract even more passers by. 

Book Review: 'Servants of the Lord'

Quiller Publishing Book Review
'Servants of the Lord – Outdoor Staff of the Great Country Houses' by David S.D. Jones 
Published by Quiller 2017

In my brief time as a book reviewer (I would never be so pretentious as to call myself a “book critic”), 'Servants of the Lord' by David Jones has drawn the deepest response from me.

I, like many here in Britain, and for that matter, around the world, have a great interest (bordering on voyeuristic curiosity) for life in the Great Country Estates of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods.

Over the years we have been treated to great novels and movies on what “upstairs life” in these great houses was like with Evelyn Waugh’s epic Brideshead Revisited, television dramas like Upstairs Downstairs and the globally popular Downton Abbey. 

But rarely were we accurately informed about the lives and duties of the small armies of outdoor staff that each Estate had to maintain. 

 Jones’s book fills that void for us. In fact this book spans the “Golden Age of Queen Victoria, past Edwardian times (1900-1910) through to World War I – the period when the Estates were in their full bloom.

Jones has extensively researched every facet of Estate outdoor life in those times and provides his readers with almost encyclopaedic detail of the type of people who filled these jobs, their extraordinarily difficult working conditions and their spartan living situations etched out on meagre wages.
To support Jones’s in-depth, dare I say almost all-encompassing text, the book is full of fascinating black and white period photos – many never published before. 

Hours can be lost poring over them to extract all the detail and information of the era that they contain.

The subject matter is fascinating and well presented.  While the book is not a light read, the subject matter drew me in readily. 

So who might enjoy or benefit from this book? 

The inside dust cover summary sums it up nicely, “ anyone interested in family and social history and country house/estate life in a bygone era”.

Servants of the Lord is available now on line from Quiller Publishing at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Servants-Lord-Outdoor-Country-Houses 
at a discounted price and free UK P&P with the BCS purchase code (BCSSL 17). 

Gary Creighton

Featuring George Gunn, Photographer
George Gunn is an internationally renowned lifestyle and rural photojournalist and is widely regarded as one of the UK's leading field sports photographers.

George's portfolio demonstrates experience and supreme expertise, covering a diverse range of settings; varying from weddings in Dubai, grouse shootings in Scotland and hunting events in Ireland.

George has the passion, professionalism and meticulous attention to detail to capture a variation of scenarios in a unique and natural way.

Regularly featured in magazines and newspapers such as FieldSports, The Field, The Telegraph, The Mail, PoloTimes, Polo Magazine, Horse and Hound and luxury editorials such as Tatler, The Spectator and The Gentlemans Journal; George has built an extremely successful and widespread client base.

To contact George regarding bookings for a shoot or to document a shooting or hunting day, please email 

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