Practices and Etiquette

Scotland has delivered country sports to guests and paying visitors for over 250 years, and over the course of that time various traditions and etiquettes have been developed surrounding some of the activities.

VISIT SCOTLANDACKERGILL TOWER NEAR WICK CAITH NESS  IMAGES 0To a newcomer these few practices may seem confusing when first encountered but after a few experiences they will start to become familiar and will add significantly to your enjoyment of the day.

Below is some information relating to these practices to help with that familiarity.

Rule of Thumb

Modesty and humility in the field, particularly if you are a newcomer, will serve you well.  Remember sporting visitors have been enjoying sport in Scotland for hundreds of years and that those who have gone before have upheld the traditions and have achieved very great things. Having respect for those who have gone before will also serve you very well when enjoying the company of those around you.

Sporting Shooting Etiquette

Etiquette is most prominent within sporting shooting circles, with driven shooting of particular note. If you are familiar with the practices and etiquette involved you will undoubtedly enjoy your day more, purely because you can relax in the comfort of knowing how those around you are likely to react to circumstances during the day and how you can act appropriately also.

It is very important to at least be aware of the various aspects before you book a day’s sport, otherwise you are likely to feel out of place amongst others who know what they are doing. As a beginner you will not be expected to be expert at them when you start out by any means, but others will warm to you far greater if you are at least aware of how the day is likely to proceed and any etiquette points involved. The shoot captain and fellow guns will always prefer it if you ask questions regarding it on the day if you are new rather than remaining silent and feeling awkward. They were once where you are and will often take pleasure in helping you throughout the day.

Safety for his/her fellow guns and then for him/herself comes before anything in a shooter’s mind. All else falls in behind and is of less significance. Find out how to act safely in a sporting shooting context (links to books, videos, or other sources of information to be found) and never jeopardise your safety principles whatever the situation.

Ask at your local gun shop for advice on the subject. They should be able to help you with the information directly or point you towards helpful literature. It is also worth asking anybody you know who already shoots to sit down with you and go through things to help put you at ease.

Below is a basic outline of a day’s Driven Shooting. It is also similar as for a day’s Walked Up or Rough Shooting.

  1. Meet promptly at the designated meeting point.
  2. Introduce yourself to the Shoot Captain/Manager.
  3. Change into appropriate outdoor clothing and boots ready for the day.
  4. You are offered to choose a Peg Number.
  5. Safety talk given to the guns by the shoot captain.
  6. Depart by foot or vehicle to the first Drive.
  7. Drive 1 after which move by foot or vehicle to Drive 2
  8. Drive 2 followed often by a mid morning refreshment break of 20 mins
  9. Drive 3
  10. Lunch
  11. Drive 4
  12. Drive 5
  13. Drive 6
  14. Honour the game that has been shot and usually offered to take some home
  15. Day’s end and depart.

Different shoots operate differently and may have lunch earlier or later and may have more or fewer drives, but the above gives a general outline of the day’s activities.

Etiquette for other activities can also be important. See below for information:

Deer Stalking Etiquette

Unlike sporting shooting and angling where you often have contact with others during the day, deer stalking is a solitary activity and the likelihood of meeting or even seeing others on the hill or in the forest can be slim. Consequently the need for etiquette between sporting visitors is much less pronounced and so no specific information has been given on it here. Nearly all visitor-related deer stalking in Scotland requires the services of a professional deer stalker or guide who will be aware of any local etiquette that is customary and will make sure that all goes smoothly.

A few helpful tips to ensure an enjoyable day:

  • A level of  fitness is required for deer stalking on the open hill,  it is not uncommon to walk for 15 miles in one day and this is often over rough terrain and up hill.
  • The Stalker must be followed at all times.
  • Keep low and quiet at all times.
  • Having a stick and binoculars will make your day much more enjoyable.

Final tip  – always be sure which beast the stalker is pointing at before you go ahead and shoot.

Angling Etiquette

Much of angling etiquette is really common sense and, as with all country sports, is about having a sense of respect for one’s fellow sports person who might be fishing the same area or pool on a river that you are.

Below are some basic rules of thumb to help you enjoy your fishing:

  1. If you arrive at a pool on a river or a spot on a loch and somebody else is fishing there, try to find another place to fish until they have left the pool/spot. Like you, they value space, freedom and solitude whilst fishing so respect this at all times. If the options are limited and it is the only place to fish, make sure to always ask the resident angler if he/she is happy for you to come in and fish the pool.
  2. Never go in and start fishing downstream of another angler in the same pool. The water downstream of an angler is theirs to fish first by common code and it is almost certain you will create an angered response if you do this. After asking permission, it is perfectly acceptable to enter the pool well upstream of the other angler and to start fishing down, maintaining a good distance from him/her at all times.
  3. The above sentiments are directly appropriate for when fishing from a boat on a loch when other boats are also out fishing.
  4. By nature, fish can run upstream and downstream hundreds of yards in a river in a matter of minutes and therefore if you approach a pool where an angler is playing a fish do not enter the pool until the play has been concluded. If an angler hooks a fish whilst you are both fishing the same pool it is always courteous to wind in your line and wait until the play has concluded before re-entering the river.
  5. Always be aware of people passing behind when casting, especially on river banks where public paths pass close by. Make sure the way is absolutely clear before casting again as nasty accidents can easily occur if attention is not given to this.
  6. Take all tackle, discarded nylon and rubbish away with you as you move on.

Being aware of the above will add to your enjoyment when angling in Scotland.