Shooting Times – January 2015

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January 2015

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As we welcome in the new year and say goodbye to the old,we are now into the last month of the current shooting season.

January is always my favourite month to be out in the field, despite it heralding the closing stages of the game shooting year. What sort of a year has it been in terms of both the sport that we have enjoyed and the pressures brought to bear by those who would rather curtail some of our pastimes?

There have been some very positive reports, as well as a few that still give us some cause for concern. The first big plus was the independent report by Cambridge based Public and Corporate Economic Consultants (PACEC) that shooting is worth £2.5 billion to the British economy and supports 74,000 full-time jobs. This not-insignificant figure really brought to everyone’s attention the huge contribution that shooting and field sports in general make to the wellbeing of our wonderful British countryside, all those who both live and work there as well as all those who visit to take part in the sporting activities on offer.

Shooting in Great Britain is widely recognised as being able to offer the epitome of all that is best in terms of tradition, quality, hospitality and service to the visiting sportsman, either from this country or abroad.

I am very fortunate that my involvement in shooting allows me to sometimes meet overseas visitors who have come here to sample some of what we have to offer. Many come from America as well as Europe and they frequently give me a unique insight into why they come back time and time again to spend their money here in the UK.

On the downside, a DEFRA led initiative to help conserve the magnificent hen harrier is struggling to get off the ground; it is supported by all the major shooting and conservation groups including the RSPB. Everyone accepts that the hen harrier can cause problems on upland grouse moors; the well managed moors that engage in predator control (hen harriers nest on the ground) have a surplus of birds and it has been agreed that the best course of action is what is known as ‘Brood Management’ – this is when chicks are relocated to other areas where they are in decline. This has been very successful with buzzards, red kites, sea eagles and ospreys. Sadly this is being opposed by the very organisation that has used it so successfully with these other species, namely the RSPB.

The shooting season to date has in the main been very good in terms of game numbers, with record bags of grouse being recorded as well as bumper numbers of both pheasants and partridges.

So what will the last weeks of this season hold? By now pheasants are at their best, with birds being at their peak of fitness and able to provide the greatest challenge to the gun on his peg. As i said at the beginning, January is my favourite month of the shooting season, not least for the very reason I have just mentioned, plus the fact that the leaves are off the trees and the chance of frosty mornings makes days out shooting very special and eagerly anticipated.

If you get the chance to get out and follow one of our county hunts over Christmas or the New Year, you will be assured of a warm welcome. The annual Boxing Day meet at the Lincolnshire Showground just seems to get bigger and bigger, with ever more people making the effort to come and see the spectacle and show their support for hunting with hounds. The sport continues to flourish, despite the constraints put upon it.

A recent sale suggests the unusual

A crescent shaped hip flask by Sampson Mordan (an important maker) in solid silver, London hallmarks for 1934 – as useful now as it was eighty years ago. It made £200.
Purdeys, that famous maker, produce some wonderful items. Lot 7 was ten glasses, cartridge shaped with caps in .925 sterling silver, each individually numbered 1–10 but of course filled with your favourite tincture. You can only look underside to discover your number on the day when it is empty. Beautifully presented in a leather, suede lined case – yours for £420. On a culinary note, a pewter and brass salt and pepper set also by Purdey made £160.

A Cosmograph Daytona by Rolex in steel: this was the watch made famous by Paul Newman. Set the hand and do your lap and it shows your speed. Mechanical and special, it made £5,000.

Another hip flask in silver crocodile-effect made in 1884. The provenance says it all: made by Heath for Princess Alexandra and, as engraved on the collar, given to Colin Campbell 1892. She later became Queen when her husband Bertie succeeded in 1901. This is still available – £900 should secure it.

Guns of course remain our business. A pair by Italian Luciano Bosis, perhaps the ultimate current maker, engraved by Galeazzi achieved £82,500 before commission, with surprisingly unfashionable 27 1/2” barrels – not great for those tall birds at Whitfield or Chargot. We sold the 10th Duke of Northumberland’s easy opening Boss made in 1973 for £10,000, Lot 1405. This gun new would now be around £90,000 plus VAT.

I am valuing this month at Belvoir Castle on the 28th January and Haddon Hall in Derbyshire on the 29th. Do call for a free valuation. Simon Grantham 07860 300055.

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