Mother of two Lynsey Bellingham shares her insight into how she combines her love of country pursuits with family life. From tips on the best equipment and clothing to invest in, as well as how to make a hunting day accessible for youngsters, this article will help you inspire your children to love hunting.
It all began on my mom and dad’s combined 100th birthday when my brother and I gave my dad a hunting licence and my mom gave him a trip to Scotland. At that time, I had no idea that this would turn into a family tradition, but I’m so glad it did.
When were contacting hunting operators, we emphasized that we were looking for a ‘real’ and tough hunting experience in the Scottish mountains, far away from cities. They’d clearly listened when we found out there wasn’t even phone signal within a 15mile radius of the place.
“We were by a lakeside waiting for a flight of ducks when we were amazed by a loud roar from some red deer stags on the other side of the lake.”
My parents, little brother, uncle, great aunt and I set off in the late autumn and, having travelled in rainy weather, were all a bit tired when we arrived at the House of Mark in Glenesk, Angus. This was, however, quickly fixed by the hosts, Ian and June, who introduced us to true Scottish hospitality. After a few minutes of relaxing and warming by the fire, we received large quantities of black Guinness beers and whiskey as well as homemade butter cookies.
The next day we set off after sunrise and certainly got what we’d been looking for. My dad, who’d been suffering from pneumonia, had to take some breaks in the first walk. However, his troubles disappeared immediately after he hit a snipe with a very difficult shot. There were no more complaints from him, especially when he was served the whole bird (including all the innards) at a customised full-Scottish breakfast. For us, enjoying the feast of what we’ve hunted is an important part of the experience and our hosts excelled in preparing the most lavish meals for us.
Over the next three days, we experienced various types of rough shooting at Dalhousie Estates, where we were led by the Head Gamekeeper Garry and a few gamekeepers. Most of the time, we formed a straight line of hunters and gamekeepers with dogs and walked the forests and mountains . Every time an animal was shot, we stopped and the dogs started working. When the animal had been picked up, we continued the hunt. This added up to about 5-7 hours and 10-12 miles of tough walking a day. When hunting like this, it’s possible to hunt many different types of small game such as grouse, woodcock, snipe, pheasant, partridge as well as the rabbit, which is considered a pest in some parts of Scotland.
“He hit a snipe with a very difficult shot and then was served the whole bird (including all the innards) at a customised full-Scottish breakfast.”
On other occasions, we drove into the hills and hiked the heights but hunting like this is quite tough and cold. The reason to go up in the mountains – apart from the stunning scenery– is to hunt the snow hares, which are fast animals and always a challenge.
One day just before dusk, we were by a lakeside waiting for a flight of ducks when we were amazed by a loud roar from some red deer stags the other side of the lake. The roaring echoed through the mountains and around the lakes, while the sun set behind the mountains. Suddenly we heard the ducks take off and we managed to get a few. My uncle – who, probably on purpose, had some dog snacks in his pocket on purpose – got support from one of the gamekeeper’s dogs in fetching his duck that landed in the lake.
“To this day, these shots are still some of our greatest shotgun performances.”
The greatest accomplishment was to have Garry call: “Good shot”. This only happened to us a few times. Once when my brother managed to put down a rabbit on what seemed like rifle distance and another time when I was duplicating a brace of grouse in dense fog. To this day, these shots are still some of our greatest shotgun performances.
To sum up, trips like this are like a paradise for us with beautiful nature and delicious food as well as amazing hunting experiences and occasional good shooting. As of now, we are planning this year’s trip, which has indeed turned into a family tradition. We can hardly wait for the seasons to change and autumn to arrive, so we can get back and spend time with old friends.
‘Knæk og bræk’ to all hunters!
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