For Howard Day, and other keen shots, the summer solstice marks the countdown to the most anticipated date in the sporting calendar: the Glorious Twelfth.
It's time to prepare your grouse shooting clothing for the first day of game shooting since February 2nd! It’s always a treat to be out among the heather, bees and birds on the opening day of the season. And, of course, there’s the incomparable allure of the fastest game bird, the red grouse. Driven, walked up or shot over pointers, these denizens of bucket lists the world over have earned their place with aeronautical aerobatics and an exclusivity driven by their status (and availability) as an entirely wild population.
The sport of kings historically saw the great and good relocating their households north for a month or more in pursuit of red grouse, Atlantic salmon and red deer. From the overnight sleeper trains, long processions of carts and then cars would ferry sportsmen and their entourages to lodges across the highlands and islands of Scotland and northern England. While sleeper trains are still a possible and amusing form of conveyance, albeit exceedingly unglamorous, modern transport renders flying or driving far more efficient. The sport remains as diverse, diverting and challenging as ever.
And remember, grouse aren’t just for August. With the season for the king of game birds extending into December, it’s possible to combine woodcock or partridge with grouse.
Access to this pre-season warm up couldn’t be easier: a short haul flight from London finds you in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Split on the Mediterranean coast. Turn inland, leaving the sea (and sun-bathing non-sporting partners and families) behind, and the true sporting glory of Croatia unfolds in mountains and plateaus that climb upward.
While the mountains offer a reprieve from coastal climes, it’s still too hot to work dogs (nevermind shots) in the middle of the day. Shooting the three to four hours after dawn and a couple more in the evening as dusk approaches leaves plenty of time to relax and unwind (aka nap) or explore. There’s no better way to get your eye in for the season ahead while accruing a late summer tan.
Farlows' shooting ambassador Howard Day's company, Outside Days, is a sporting agency born out of one man’s sporting passions and his drive to share the joy of a great day out with others. In true Farlow-esque style, Outside Days is a one stop shop for all your shooting and stalking aspirations from Argentina to Zimbabwe and the entire sporting alphabet in between.