As summer comes to a close here, we’re looking ahead to autumn. If you could take any one of the guns or rifles currently at HQ out into field during this spectacular time of year, which would it be and why?
My choice would almost certainly be the new 28-bore Rising Bite shotguns for some walked up grouse. They’re just such wonderful things to carry: they’re so nice and light. Paul Roberts always used to describe guns like these as ‘snakey’ in the hand. I think that when you’re used to handling big game and double rifles so much of the time the effect is even more impressive. You can comfortably carry guns like these all day and still have the performance you need to shoot a few brace of grouse for dinner.
How was your family expedition north?
Very good. The grouse have been very poor this year though. It’s actually been the worst year in a decade, so of course we reined in our day accordingly. As always, it’s vitally important that we respect and manage the wildlife in a proper, sustainable way, but we were lucky enough to be able to take a few brace for dinner. To share that experience with friends and family at such a spectacular, romantic location is always a real pleasure.
Why do you think the British uplands are such an iconic place for fieldsports, whether stalking in Scottish glens or shooting grouse on the moors of northern England?
I think our uplands have a landscape and topography unlike anywhere else in the world. For me, a lot of their unique fascination can be put down to the romantic view that grew up in the 19thcentury. The Victorians really started something. When Queen Victoria bought Balmoral and people began travelling up there, it became rooted in people’s minds as a truly special place. There’s so much history up there. We’re exceptionally lucky to have these incredible environments here in Great Britain. The only place in the world that evokes the same kind of response in me is Africa.
Autumn is also synonymous in the U.K. with the hedgerow harvest, with wild berries adding the perfect twist to drinks in and out of the field. Are there any favourite Rigby recipes to fill hip flasks and cut through the cold at the end of the day?
From what I’ve seen around, this has been a real bumper year for wild fruits. My granny always used to say it was a sign of a hard winter to come, but I’m not so sure. My preference is for sloes: sloe gin, sloe rum, sloe whisky … there are so many different variants. There’s just something about that berry: it brings such a distinctive flavour to anything. I can’t help but feel nostalgic whenever I drink it. I suppose it’s from being around it from a reasonably young age as one of the old traditions of British fieldsports. Personally, I don’t mind having a wee tot while out shooting, but always like to save it for the end of the day – sharing a dram or a tot is an important part of British shooting culture, but shouldn’t be the object of the whole day. When I’m shooting, hunting or fishing, I like to be fully focused on the shooting, hunting or fishing. We can have a few beers at any time but getting out into the field is such a privilege we should do justice to every moment.