The Duke of Northumberland

theduke_partridgeArguably the finest grouse Shot of his generation. Should you find yourself as the filling in a Percy sandwich (the Duke in a butt on one side, his brother Lord James Percy on the other) it would be a never-to-be-forgotten experience. The Duke of Northumberland is also an award-winning conservationist.

How old were you when you started shooting?

I was nine when I first shot.

What was the quarry?

It was a redundant bird box (no birds on it)! First live quarry was a rather fat mallard.

Who taught you to shoot?

An old gamekeeper (turned poacher – usually it's the other way round) called Albert Thomson. He could guarantee to nab a trout or salmon if he wanted one for supper and taught me many useful tricks apart from shooting.

Did it come easily?

I think shooting came pretty naturally and I was dead keen straight away.

Did your father shoot?

My father was a keen Shot although he preferred to go out with his foxhounds.

Your first gun?

My first gun was a non-ejector, double barrel .410, made by Frederick Hadfield. 

What do you shoot with now?

I use either a Purdey or Grulla (Spanish sidelock). 

theduke_shootingBarrel length and choke?

Both guns have 30" barrels. I have Teague chokes in the Grulla, and use ¼ and ½ for most things.

Which gun for which species?

I use the same guns for grouse and pheasants. 

And cartridges?

RC Sipe or Gamebore Black Gold 32g no. 6s and 5s.

Favourite quarry

Grouse, grey partridge, pigeon, pheasant – in that order.

Favourite moor  

West Arkengarthdale and Linhope in England, and Phones and Invercauld in Scotland.

Favourite pheasant shoot 

Alnwick.

Pet hate?

Truly greedy Shots.

After winning the Purdey Award for a hugely successful partridge project, have you been able to maintain a good stock of greys?

We lost a large number of our grey partridges in the monsoon summer of 2012 but, with careful management and restraint, we are now back to a reasonable spring count of around 300 pairs.

Do you practice before the beginning of a new season?

I try and shoot a few clays before the season starts.

One piece of advice which will improve performance, particularly for driven grouse

Move the feet.

Would you say that the overall standard of shooting today is better or worse than 50 years ago?

Hard to say if it is better than 50 years ago. The heroes of my youth never seemed to miss, but I suppose more people now have the opportunity to shoot on a regular basis, and equipment and cartridges are better.

If a Gun is unsafe on a shoot day do you say something to him/her or to the shoot captain?

If a Gun is unsafe on my own shoot, I will deal with it. On someone else's, I will say something to the owner or shoot captain.

How do you feel about the future of the sport?

I feel reasonably positive about the sport's future but we need to get rid of any existing bad practices and continue to try and improve the public perception of shooting.

theduke_theduchessDream team?

This would just be my family - Jane (my wife), Katie, George, Missy and her husband Tom, Max and his sporty Bavarian girlfriend, Nora.

 

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