Bloodless grouse-shoot

After 20 years walking on the Moor, I finally bag a brace of decent grouse photos.

I've been up on the Moor again. Wednesday afternoon was unseasonably sunny—it seemed churlish not to.

There were three grouse on the final rise up to the trig point. They spotted me from a distance, of course, I being the only vertical in the landscape. Go back! Go back! they admonished. Grouse are such cautious creatures. I can't say I blame them, what with blasting them away with shotguns for fun still being seen, by some, as a valid pastime. Their personal space seems to be around 100m. Get within that distance, and they either take off in an orgy of clucks, or withdraw discreetly into the heather and sneak away.

For some reason, though, on Wednesday, one of the birds that took to the air actually landed nearer to me than it had been when it took of. Schoolboy error. Actually, no: schoolboy errors are commonly made mistakes; I have never seen this happen before. Never look a gift grouse in the mouth. I headed towards the imprudent bird, camera at the ready, waiting for it to loose its bottle and take flight once more.

Guk————–guk————guk———-guk——–guk——guk—-guk–guk!

Click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click!

Twenty shots I took in just six seconds. Over half a film in old money. The joys of digital photography! And two of my shots were actually in focus:

Grouse in flight

Grouse in flight

Over 20 years, I've been walking on the Moor, and these are the best grouse photos I have to show for it. These, and the ones I took in the snow a couple of months back. Perhaps I'm starting to get the hang of this photography nonsense.

Come to think about it, bagging a decent shot of a grouse with a camera is considerably more difficult than bagging one with a shotgun. If the local ‘sportsmen’—and, yes, they do all seem to be men—want to show how truly skilful they are, perhaps they should down their weapons and take up their cameras.

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletter

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