Castle Gunmakers, Norham, Northumberland


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Castle Gunmakers, Norham, Northumberland

Driven game shooting

About 25 years ago I was with ‘Hendry, Ramsay and Wilcox’, Scotland’s premier shooting agents. I recall that on one occasion we were booked to entertain a party of influential Americans for Abercrombie and Fitch, for a weeks driven game shooting in Perthshire.

We would normally pick guests up from the airport by coach and then drive them around the shoot in a couple of Land Rovers. A breakdown in communication between the UK and US meant that instead of flying into Edinburgh, our guests private jet was bound for Prestwick, leaving us no time to arrange a coach to pick them up. Left with no other choice, Headkeeper Denis and myself drove the two Land Rovers and Major Ramsay was entrusted with David’s new Range Rover. All the vehicles sported our smart maroon and gold company livery, and dressed in our estate tweeds we cut a very fine dash.

We met our guests, complete with all their shooting paraphernalia needed for a week’s shooting, although they seemed to have enough for a month! The luggage was distributed amongst the vehicles, with the bulk being loaded into the Land Rovers. This in turn led to a rush for the more comfortable Range Rover and the front seat was commandeered  by a large jovial man who introduced himself as Peter (I later discovered that he was a senator of some repute!). The convoy started off and Denis and I were immediately left trailing as ‘The Major’ took off in the Range Rover as if the hounds of hell were after him. By the time we arrived at the hotel in Auchterarder the Major had dropped off his passengers and was long gone.

Now in order for the reader to fully understand the story it is necessary to mention that the Major had lost an eye whilst serving in Malaya, and it had been replaced with a glass one. This did not affect his shooting ability and indeed was part of his enormous character!

The following morning the Major and I drove the Land Rovers to the hotel to collect the Guns and with some haste Peter immediately levered himself into the front seat of my vehicle.

“What’s up?” I said to my new co-driver, “Decided on a change of scenery today or did the Major upset you?”

“Gee no” he replied, ” He’s some guy, but I’d like to be here for the whole week!” I asked him what he meant by this and he said – “Well, he keeps his good eye on the girls and his glass eye on the road!”

We had a wonderful week of sport and repartee and I would like to think that we added just a little more to those strong Anglo-American relations.

Barry ‘Gramps’ Wilcox

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