It’s fun remembering my introduction to the European style of shooting apparel including those incredibly practical Wellington boots. In 1985, some friends invited my husband and me to join a group of couples on a trip to Scotland for driven pheasant shooting. Since they’d been once the year before and were wildly enthusiastic about returning, we followed their lead on all the arrangements. The plan was to spend a couple of days in London before moving on to the Borders in Scotland for shooting. We thought the London stop was for sightseeing but as the departure date drew nearer and our friends were advising us about what to take, it turns out the London waylay was all about getting my husband, Joe, properly attired for the shoot. “No way am I wearing pedal-pushers and knee-boots, with a coat and tie to go bird shooting!” he declared determinedly. “I’m a Texan and I’m dressin’ like one and that’s it.” As for my own wardrobe for the occasion of the shoot, I was feeling pretty good about the fact that at least my hunting coat wasn’t camouflage, but rather an acceptable shade of forest green that blended reasonably well with some wool tweed pants I had. Joe too had some wool trousers and a coat that we were sure would do, even though they’d be paired up with his Red Wing boots.
The gentlemen in our group had all done English and Scottish driven pheasant shooting before, so over cocktails upon arrival in London we saw some photos from their prior trips. Oh boy, were they ever decked out….head to toe! It only took a couple of exceptional single malt Scotch’s to have Joe in agreement to hit the fine English gun shops the next day. Harrods with the ladies was my destination of choice.
Somewhere along the course of the following day, whether at Purdy’s or Holland & Holland I’m not sure, Joe’s resolve to dress like a Texan for his first Scottish driven pheasant shoot was lost under a new waxed cotton Barbour coat donned over a tattersail shirt with a pheasant embellished tie, moleskin breeks, knee-high argyle socks and flashes under leather-lined
Le Chameau Wellies, topped off with a felt hat made by Her Majesty’s haberdasher. He was a most proper picture of the sporting sort which I’m sure contributed enormously to his exceptional shooting on that particular trip.
The whole Scottish driven pheasant shooting experience is so magical that it must be repeated time after time to ensure its reality and to give cause to wear those incredibly practical duds designed for the occasion. It makes sense: knee-high rubber boots for slogging through knee-deep bogs, wearing knee-length pants that don’t have to be tucked into your knee-high boots because your knee-high socks will close the gap. What makes equal sense is that the shooter’s companion should be suitably attired as well when accompanying the shooter to the field.
And so it happens that over subsequent trips across the pond I, too, became properly attired for the sporting life, right down to the tips of my Le Chameau clad toes. But understand, I did this only in order that I not embarrass my husband whose shooting skill makes me so proud.
On one trip for driven pheasant in the Scottish Highlands I reluctantly took a day off from the shoot to take one of the other shooter’s wives to shop for some appropriate field apparel at a nearby sporting store. She bought a practical coat she could also wear back in the U.S. while I, on the other hand, acquired a fabulous pair of tartan plaid breeks with a matching jacket and hat like nothing you’d ever see stateside. The next morning, we piled into a Land Rover with our driver, Morris, in route to the first drive site of the day, me wearing my new sporting apparel, of course. Joe was riding shotgun, I was in the backseat behind Morris along with two other shooters. Morris asked where I’d been the day before. I told him I’d gone shopping at Johnston’s and bought this new outfit. To which he charmingly replied in his lilting Scottish brogue, “Oh, Johnston’s, a lovely store, but verrry, verrry, verrry, expensive.” As he spoke I frantically waved to get his attention in the rear view mirror with the gesture to “cut, cut, cut!” But it was too late! Joe was already alerted by Morris’ assessment of Johnston’s. So I simply gave Morris an absolutely honest assessment of my own, “Yes, it was verrry expensive, but a mere fraction of the price of a shotgun!”Ann Kercheville is President of Joshua Creek Ranch. Located in the renowned Texas Hill Country just 45 minutes northwest of San Antonio and 90 minutes southwest of Austin, Joshua Creek Ranch occupies a uniquely diverse terrain including miles of Joshua Creek and Guadalupe River bottomland planted in fields of grain crops for prime upland and deer hunting habitats. You can visit their web site at http://www.joshuacreek.com.