Fieldsports Britain - First grouse of 2011, 30lb salmon, 21 foxes

Uploaded by fieldsportschannel on 17.08.2011

Welcome to Fieldsports Britain.
Coming up:
20 foxes in a night. We ask: are vixens having two litters of cubs this year?
We're at a catering college teaching the chefs of tomorrow how to prepare and serve game.
First: the very best of Scottish sport.
It's a Subaru-sponsored Macnab of venison, salmon and grouse.
Ah Scotland - when better to embrace this land of sporting promise than August when
there are so many options to choose from?
There are the reds and the roe, the salmon and of course the grouse.
We've had a taster of all three in the past week. The stalking is for a future programme
but we've set ourselves the challenge of bringing all this fantastic game together in a brunch
on the Glorious Twelfth.
We want to prepare and eat the first grouse of the season anywhere in the world.
To do this we need a car sure-footed enough to get us to the river bank and the moor in
comfort and with speed. So Subaru have given us a sparkly new Outback to play with. But
no car achieves it's true potential without a gifted driver.
Some say he can eat a fruit pastel without chewing it, a deep-fried doughnut without
licking his lips, three shredded wheat is a breeze, his bloodtype is listed as tartan,
he can hurl a haggis further than Fatima Whitbread and he regularly flings Fatima across the
Firth of Forth - it's the McStig.
Otherwise known as Neil McGown, proprietor of the East Haugh House hotel near Pitlochry.
He has the challenge of trying to catch a salmon and shoot a grouse all on the Twelfth.
He then has to dash back to the hotel and prepare them before lunch.
Normally Neil wouldn't have bothered getting his waders on let alone his tackle out because
we've had 24 hours of non-stop rain and the river is high - very high.
Neil has travelled all over the world in search of the big fish - but it was here on his own
back door that he landed his personal best in the spring run.
Nice springer, 30lb, sealiced, caught on the fly and released as well, so it was a very
exciting half an hour / three-quarters of an hour with a beautiful fish. In actual fact
I saw the fish rise fully out of the water. I had a friend behind me. I said: "Did you
see that fish?" - He said "No no" - "It's got to be at least 15lb, or 25lb / 30lb - beautiful
fish. It looks as though it's on the run."
Anyway six casts further on - voop - we're in, we're in! And it was that fish. It must
have been that fish. So after about three-quarters of an hour Colin came up to help me land it,
took some photographs, and then released it. It was a great day.
Your wife says you travelled all round the world to fish and you get the biggest on your
Yes - I go to Norway, I fished the Namsen, I fished Alta, hoping for the really big one
and it's on my doorstep. Why do I have to venture to these places to fish when these
fish are now coming back into the river systems? - which is great.
It's a brave effort by the McStig but we go for the fallback plan. There are plenty of
salmon in his fridge back at East Haugh House, but there certainly aren't any grouse. We've
got to get one of those now.
These gathering guns are the guests of Alan Thornton who has been shooting the Glorious
Twelfth here for many years. We first joined him in 2009 for one of our first ever programmes.
Then it took two hours to bag our first bird. We'll need to have better luck this time if
we want to be eating grouse before anyone else.
On the moor, gamekeeper David gives us the safety briefing. He stalks the land but apart
from a bit of pest control this moor is wild and the birds are left to do their own thing.
No one knows what to expect.
We get lined up - those on the outside will walk much further than those tucked in the
middle and we will be walking for about four hours. It's hard work but surrounded by this
scenery and with the anticipation of some of the most challenging birds in the world
it's all worthwhile.
Incredibly we walk five yards and some birds get up. The signs are promising. Feeling confident
we decide that Neil needs to shoot the bird that ends up on the table. We don't have to
wait long. And he's off - taking a brace for good measure.
Neil slams on the brakes and ditches the waterproofs for the whites. Neil has to prepare a dish
incorporating salmon, red deer and our grouse. He starts with the salmon.
A fillet of salmon on a baby ratatouille with a prawn and white wine sauce and finished
with a lovely West Coast of Scotland langoustine.
Voila - looks good enough to eat - but we need to get that grouse on the heat. Neil
has taken the breasts off the bird exposing the heather in it's crop.
That's what it feeds on - heather.
No way.
That's why you can't hand rear grouse. They've tried to do in cages - young birds - and moving
the cages on the grouse moor and then trying to rear them that way but not been successful
at all.
Right here we go. A little bit of seasoning. I'm doing this hot, virgin oil, extra virgin.
I'm doing this as I said before with a full reduction and wild mushroom sauce on a hot
radish mash.
With the grouse resting, time to get the venison fillet in the pan.
Just giving it a little bit of brandy.
The two meats will complement each other on the one plate.
Back on the moor and there are some interesting members in the party. Graham Mackinlay is
a well known Glasgow gunsmith and has a side by side that comes with some fascinating history.
It's a Boss of London and I've had it probably for ten years now. And probably regarded as
one of the best side-by-sides in the world. And London-built. It was built in 1918 and
it's got some interesting provenance in that it once belonged to the surgeon who photographed
the Loch Ness Monster for the first time. So it's quite an interesting one. But - super
gun to shoot with and, you know, I'll never part with it, so it will eventually go to
my son George. They're beautifuly made. I suppose the balance of them is spectacular.
Time check and it's 20 past eleven. We have to rest the venison. Neil finishes the dishes
Job done - the first grouse eaten in 2011 in the world - probably.
All shot and on the table by half past eleven.
But now the McStig is needed back up on the moor. The Argo delivers him to the line and
we're off again.
We are seeing lots and lots of birds which is great news - and a bit surprising for David
at the half way point.
Absolutely delighted with what we've seen so far. I mean, we counted this with four
or five pointers and to me it was just desperate.
But we've come out now and we've walked half an hour and I think we've flushed what 40/42
Good coveys of eights and nines - so very pleased, absolutely delighted
We've also been selective with what we've been shooting.
What we do - the first covey to get up nobody shot at which was excellent because I shouted
not to shoot because the grouse were too young - we call them cheepers. You can visibly see
they're smaller, they're not fully feathered, and we just let them be because again they'll
be either for later on or next year's stock.
Black grouse - they don't come in to the 20th of the month so, the wee black grouse, we've
seen one or two already this morning. We put up a grey hen with some youngsters again - there
were just some small cheepers. We don't shoot the black cock or the grey hens - we just
let them be.
Lovely birds to see and their nice to see on the hill on a shoot day.
With some welcome breathers we make it all the way round the moor.
Most of the guns have had a shot, if not bagged a bird. For Scott he's got his first ever
grouse. He won this day's shooting in a charity auction. So does he appreciate why people
get so intoxicated by grouseshooting?
Excellent, fantastic day. Didn't really know what to expect but it was a super day.
Four hours yomping around the hills made it all worthwhile.
Great bunch of guys, great craic, couldn't have done better. And to get the first grouse
on the first day on the first shoot was very memorable and a real privilege. I'd recommend
it to anyone
Thirteen brace.
It's been a fabulously gloriously, Glorious Twelfth thanks to the birds and to the company,
which is why Alan does this every year.
We were thirteen guns in the line and thirteen brace - the bag for the day - mainly all young
birds which is good to see. So, I think the boys did a good job as well. And it was spread
out throughout the whole day as well. It wasn't just a covey and then a long wait and then
a covey. Good shooting all round and an excellent day
Why is it important for you to do this? This is something that's obviously very dear to
I believe this is my twentieth yearcoming to this very moor. And some of the team members
have been coming all those years. So it's just a bit of tradition, first day of the
season, getting out and about, having some fun and that's the start of the season.
A few more grouse days to go, and then the pheasants and on it goes. We have fun.
Time to head back to East Haugh House, at a more sedate pace this time, for some food,
drink and analysis of the day.
In 2011 there's even enough birds for the guns to take some home. Let's hope other moors
are producing surprises too.
Now from the Scottish Moors to the Fieldsports Channel news stump.
This is Fieldsports Britain News.
We start this week with an exclusive and the League Against Cruel Sports has got egg on
its face this week after two of its investigators were caught on their own covert camera.
The hidden camera was discovered by local fieldsports enthusiasts who re-positioned
it to find out who the nosey-parkers were.
On the right is Paul Tillsley, who runs the controversial Baronsdown deer enclosure in
Somerset where animals have died of disease and starvation.
On the left is Paul Shephard, head of 'investigations' at the League.
The National Trust for Scotland, which carries out one of the bloodiest deer culls at its
Mar Lodge estate in the Cairngorms National Park, has admitted it hasn't done enough shooting
and so does not deserve its £126,000 annual grant from Scottish Natural Heritage.
It's believed SNH is forcing estates to shoot huge numbers of deer for what it calls 'conservation'
reasons, though many suspect it wants to make reduce deer numbers to a point that sporting
estates will no longer be able to offer deerstalking.
Britain's handful of anti-gun campaigners are trying to change the name of Birmingham's
Gun Quarter, once the gun-making centre of the world.
Birmingham City Council announced the name change after receiving a petition of just
50 names from antis.
Shooters have now gathered nearly 4,000 names and the council is having a rethink.
To add your name to the petition, visit
You're now up to date with Fieldsport Britain news - stalking the stories - fishing for
facts. Back to Charlie.
Thank you David. Get a haircut.
Now, foxes. Have they had two litters this year? We're out with the legendary Roy Lupton
on a red-letter night.
Roy wants a big bag today and and he's got the kit to do it. This is a newly converted
Land Rover Discovery - created not by BA Baracus but Brian.
Brian was given the Disco and spent a couple of hundred quid getting it an MOT and putting
in a new sun roof - not to increase daylight into the cab but to provide a perfect position
to shoot those pesky foxes.
"Do you want it," he said, "because it's worth nothing". So I said: "Yeah, I'll have it".
So I took it, got somebody to cut a hole in the roof. The seat is an old centre seat from
the back of a Land Rover 110 that I owned years ago and that I took out for the same
Yeah – so it's really come together for vurtually nothing - only the cost of having
the hole in the roof.
I'm a bit longer in the body than Roy and I can sit on the seat and I can shoot off
the roof. But Roy also like to use a bipod on his rifle so that means another four or
five inches up. And he's a bit shorter in the body so we have his booster seat here
all ready for him.
Is it working for you?
This is going to be our first time out, so hopefully we're going to christen it well.
It's not the easiest carriage to get yourself seated but once you're in it's the best seat
in the house.
The fox numbers have been extraordinary this year and the land we are going to tonight
is Fox Central.
There are two pieces of land we'll be shooting over but Roy wants to go all night and he's
set himself a goal.
I'm hoping for a good night. We've got about 3,000/3,500 acres that is half way through
cutting and we did one field the other night and got six on there and that was just about
250 acres. So if we've got that sort of fox density all over it then we could be in for
a bit of a bumper night tonight.
It would be nice to get twenty. We'll go for that and see how we do.
It all depends whether our cameraman fades away a little bit. He's a bit of a jessie
when it comes to staying out all night.
We arrive and meet up with another of Roy's friends, Alex.
As it's Brian's baby he'll christen the vehicle and will shoot first. Roy will drive and handle
the lamp.
We'll start off with the white light. If we've got a fox that's jumpy then if you pick him
up with that. We've got an amber filter and a red filter to work with.
As I say if we pick one up or pick a set of eyes up and he starts moving then we'll just
use the amber filter on him.
We mount up and the first field shows promise, but Roy has been here already as this was
the first crop off this farm.
They're a bit spooked here. We don't waste time and make our way to what he thinks will
be the land of plenty.
This is more like it. Brian opens his account but realises the shot can only be taken with
the engine off. The V8 petrol is pretty steady but the diesel is not stable enough.
Some of the foxes are keeping their distance.
Others come right in.
We soon have to stop to drop off the foxes we've shot.
We have a pause. Already we've had a successful night with Brian's seven - and he's happy
with the Disco's performance and his own.
The best night I've had out on the foxes is six. And that was on a small area - only about
150 acres - but seven in this time that we've spent tonight is fabulous. I'm really pleased.
And we stand the chance of shooting plenty more I think.
One thing we are hoping to do by keeping on top of these animals is to improve the biodiversity
of the local area. Apart from foxes we aren't seeing much else.
We came in on this field and I've never ever seen foxes like it. It's just ridiculous.
We've had seven so far and I don't know how many more we've seen. We just going round,
shooting, pick up another one, carry on.
We've had two foxes coming in from different directions at the same time on the squeak.
As I say, I've never seen a field like this. There's just foxes coming in from everywhere.
And as we've seen as we're driving around that's meant there's hardly any other wildlife
on it.
We're seeing very few skylarks, we've seen no partridges, very few rabbits, no hares
left. And that's just down to a huge population of foxes.
Time for Brian and Roy to swap over.
We go to the second field and Roy gets two within a matter of minutes.
As well as foxes there are loads of badgers about too.
It 's been an incredible night and we lose count.
When we lay them all out there are 21 carcases on the ground.
Tired but satisfied Roy has delivered once again.
He feels these fields had the potential to deliver and they have.
He has surpassed his goal and achieved a personal best.
Yeah - not a bad night's work. Bearing in mind we started at what? 10 / 10:30 and we
finished up at half-past-two with 21.
Some of them came in really, really well.
We started squeaking and we had we had one group of three on the trot that came in. And
others that weren't quite so obliging - we had to hunt them a little bit
You could see the ones that knew the game of the lamp and knew what they were doing.
And then we had some inexperienced ones as well.
Just phenonomenal. I still can't get over how many foxes were over on basically two
Mindboggling the amount of foxes that are here.
How many do you reckon we saw? So we shot 21. How many do you reckon we saw?
21 in and I suppose we probably saw about another 10 or 12 easily, so a good number
of foxes out there.
As I say, all of the agencies and rescue centres and whatever else that say that you only have
a very small amount of foxes holding on territory: absolute pish. I mean, the amount of foxes
that we saw out there tonight, I've never seen anything like it before.
And the Land Rover worked well too.
The vehicle did well. Brian's conversion did well.
I think we've had a cracking night - a bit of a red-letter night. Time to go to bed.
We've got to get out and do some stalking in the morning.
Roys thinks the number of foxes is high this year.
There is talk of foxes having two litters thanks to the warm weather.
Certainly cubs of different sizes have been seen all over the country.
We'd like to know what you think. Drop me a line and we'll
give you an update next week.
Now to Hertfordshire where the restauarant chefs of tomorrow are learning how to dazzle
restaurant-goers with game recipes.
Lee Maycock faces two tough problems.
The kids he teaches about cooking game meat are generally tough, urban kids who wouldn't
know a partridge from a pigeon.
And the few of them who have tried game before have found it tough, because the world is
bad at cooking game.
Sponsored by the Countryside Alliance Foundation's game marketing programme Game To Eat, Lee
runs one-day courses at catering colleges, teaching the chefs of the future about game.
We join him on a course at Hertford Regional College, Broxbourne in Hertfordshire.
Just a few miles from London, this as far from game habitat as you can get.
The idea of today is try and give the students an understanding of where game comes from.
What they tend to get when they order game is they will get it in a plastic tray covered
in cellophane.
What we're doing is bringing game in it raw state, so it will be fur and feathered game,
for them to get to look, understand, touch, feel, and essentially cook with, so they get
a better understanding of obviously where it's come from originally.
These students are not country lads and lasses. Only one of the 18 on the course today has
used a gun before, out rabbit shooting with his uncle.
They might see the odd woodpigeon, they might see the odd muntjac and possibly a pheasant
if they get out into the countryside, but no they don't see a great deal - hence the
reason this workshop is to try to give them an insight into what is out there, what's
They've all wanted to see more.
We did skinning they were very interested in.
We just cooked three or four dishes, and they absolutely cleared everything and said they
enjoyed everything they tasted.
That's the first time for a lot of them.
They've never seen a deer skinned, they've never seen a pheasant plucked. They've not
tasted game So, for them it's all new - but they were very open-armed about welcoming
the whole thing.
Lee grew up in rural Oxfordshire. He now lives in Hertfordshire which is much more urban.
If one or two - just - it makes them sit up and think this is something I could get interested
in, this is something I would like to pursue and go and join a local gun club or something
or just get themselves in the countryside a bit more.
We're not going to tell everybody but all we need is ones and twos in these large groups
and it will make a huge difference.
Then there's the matter of how to cook game.
You talk to anybody in the street and they will tell you that game comes across as - you
know - tough, dry and overcooked a lot of the time. And that's the big message we're
trying to get across here is that it doesn't need to be overcooked. It's that just-cooked
we're looking for. If you eat your steak rare, eat your piece of venison exactly the same
Here's Lee's recipe for a carpaccio using any venison fillet. He uses a lean piece of
red deer meat, which is not considered as good as roe or, the best, sika. It still turns
out delicious.
Roll it in juniper dust, smoked sea salt and cracked black pepper.
Roll it tight in clingfilm.
Put it in the freezer for a couple of hours to let the salt start to do its work, to break
down the enzymes.
You can then eat that piece of meat like cured meat.
No cooking by heat at all.
Lee also demonstrates for the students a pan-fried pigeon breast with lemon crushed peas,
a pheasant breast wrapped in bacon and served on a bubble-and-squeak
and a loin of venison served with butternut squash and black pudding bonbons.
Countryside Alliance - it's their campaign to promote British game - to promote consumption.
Game was consumed last year on 57 million occasions, so it's definitely on the increase.
If we can keep these workshops going, and educating youngsters, they can obviously carry
on this tradition and we can all keep eating game for a long time.
Well we're back next week as usual from 7 o'clock on Wednesday night.
This has been Fieldsports Britain.
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