Whether you’re new to shooting, or you just always seem to forget one thing when packing for a day's shooting, this guide will help make sure you have everything you need for a successful day out.
Do I need a Game licence?
According to the British Association for Shooting & Conservation (as of November 2011):
“It has not been a requirement to hold a game licence to kill or deal in game in England and Wales since 1 August 2007.
Game licences and game dealers licences have been abolished in Scotland with effect from 7 April 2011 when the new Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill was passed. With effect from 13 June 2011 the requirement to have a licence to kill game or deal in game has been abolished in Northern Ireland. This came into effect with the passing of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011.”
For the avoidance of doubt, you should always have this with you whenever you shooting. You never know what might happen on the day and who might happen along and ask to see your certificate. There have been plenty of occasions where police have turned up at the pub during a shoot lunch and asked to see the certificates only to confiscate the guns of those who don’t have one until they can produce it.
Whilst on the legal side of things, make sure you keep your gun with you at all times. Take it into the house or pub for lunch and then again for tea etc. Make sure that the hotel you are staying in has a safe for overnight storage.
Obviously, the most important thing to bring is your gun. Carry your shotgun or rifle in style with the James Rambler Slip. This canvas and leather slip is insulated with high quality foam which gives the gun a large amount of protection. The leather handle and shoulder strap means the gun can be carried in comfort either by hand or on your shoulder.
Equally as important as your gun are your cartridges. Be sure to also invest in a quality cartridge bag. Having a bag keeps your cartridges in one place and protects them from damage. The James Rambler Canvas and Leather Cartridge Bag matches the slip we recommended above, with a stunning design and quality leather strap. Make sure you have plenty of cartridges – you never know when you might be on the hot peg all day and running out is just a complete disaster to say nothing of being a slight to your host.
Damage to your ears from the extremely loud sound of a shot can have long lasting effects – even if you don’t feel it at the time. Protect your ears with a set of ear plugs. We offer two options for full ear protection – The Decoy Earplugs are a simple, cost efficient solution to protect your hearing. Alternatively, we offer Decoy Sonic II Earplugs that block out the loud noise of a shot, but still allow you to hear quieter noises such as talking. These are the perfect solution if you would rather not take your plugs in and out throughout the shoot.
Particularly important if you are staying away from home. Like washing up, you gun is much better cleaned immediately after use. We have a range of cleaning kits all of which are perfect for packing into your gun case.
Whilst not essential if you are driving too and from a shoot in the day, we would still recommend transporting your gun in a case rather than in it’s slip. It will give your gun proper protection and prevent any damage if you have to brake suddenly or if something falls on it. There is nothing worse than getting to the shoot and finding your gun is out of commission!! A gun case is essential if you are taking the train and we have also have a selection of airline approved gun cases for those who might be flying – check with the airline that they will transport your gun before you book.
The Right Shooting Clothing
A pair of quality wellies will keep your feet warm and dry. Plus, the traditional appearance will add to the overall look, should you choose a traditional tweed outfit such as the one we’ve recommended in this guide. We recommend the Seeland Estate 18” 5mm Side-Zip Neoprene Lined Wellington or, if you want to go the whole way, then the Estate 18” Leather-Lined Wellington. Either would give you the confidence of knowing that your feet are going to stay warm and dry to let you get on with enjoying your day. We also offer a ladies version of the popular Seeland Estate Neoprene boots. These are shorter in height than the men’s version – perfect for not grabbing behind the knee.
And just because you can…
Most shoots will ask you to pick up your empties and, if they don’t, then it is good practice to do so anyway. Pack a Decoy Magnetic Cartridge Stick… no more bending over to pick up empty cartridges yourself! The magnet at the pointer end of the stick is strong enough to pick up 15 cartridges at one time.
Regardless of the day, you will need to tip the keeper. There will certainly be a very dim view taken by the keeper and your host if you are left standing there tapping your pockets!
Walked Up Shooting
There aren’t too many differences in what to pack for a day's walked up shooting. We recommend all the products above for any type of shooting with just a few differences:
Rather than a cartridge bag, you’ll likely find it’s easier to have a cartridge belt for quick access and less strain because you won’t need to carry it by hand or shoulder as you would a bag. The Alexander Neoprene Cartridge Belt is a high quality cartridge belt that is designed for extreme comfort. If you don’t like a cartridge belt, we recommend the James Rambler Cartridge Belt Box because it keeps your cartridges at close hand, but the design also prevents lost cartridges and is perfect for rough shooting.
Rather than wellies, on a walked up day many people prefer the hardwearing comfort of waterproof shooting boots. The Harkila Pro Hunter range is one of the most popular and durable ranges on the market, and the GTX 10" Reinforced Gore-Tex Lined Boots are no exception. Gore-Tex lined for the ultimate weather protection, they are also manufactured with the best shock-absorbing Vibram sole units and with a memory fit upper to give you added comfort. The GTX 10" gives you superb ankle support for really rough conditions. Kevlar reinforcing to the forefoot is included to protect the boot from abrasive heather. These are a fantastic pair of boots and are perfect for a walked up day.
Taking a Dog Along?
Bringing your dog along can certainly make things easier, but make sure to bring everything Rover will need to stay comfortable for the best result and behaviour from them.
Towel & Dog Carrier
A dog transport box doubles as an ideal dog bed for a muddy dog on the long drive home. The Rex Dog transportation box is spacious and comfortable for your dog while keeping your car as clean as possible. It’s always necessary to keep a towel at close hand too, as there’s no doubt that your gun dog will be covered in mud after a day's shooting.
Dog food, water & Bowls
One of the best ways to keep your dog on track and their energy up is to make sure they’re well fed and ready to work. Best to feed them at the end of the day, having dried them off. They can then digest whilst you have a cup of tea and are then ready for a quick walk before the journey home. It’s also critical to have a supply of water available to keep your dog hydrated, healthy and their energy levels up throughout the day. A clean bowl is also essential - seems obvious, but a lot of people do forget!
You should always be in control of your dog. Even the most well-behaved and trained dogs require a lead in certain situations, so have one on hand just in case.
A peg is the stake driven into the ground that indicates where the Gun will stand during a drive. Often you can tie your dog to the peg that is there but, to avoid having to otherwise tie it to your cartridge bag and run the risk of that disappearing at a critical moment, take a peg of your own to ensure your dog, however well trained, doesn’t embarrass you.
A whistle is far less disturbing to game than an owner calling his gun dog by voice, so train your gun dog with a whistle and bring one along on every day out. The Rex two tone Bone Dog Whistle is ideal for signaling your dog and it can easily be slipped into your pocket or looped round you neck.