We're all a little bonkers!

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Scottish Sporting Gazette

No litany of adjectives can quite do justice to Mother Nature's temper on this particular shoot day - it was wet. And I mean seriously wet. A light dusting of pneumonia looked to be on the cards.

But this is when country sportsmen and women stand out from the masses - we're all a little bit bonkers, for no other reason than when ornery weather rocks entire woodlands and forces most to remain behind closed doors, cowering at the thought of being swept into the next county, we pull on our breeks, waders, boots and jackets and carry about our business as usual.

Fishermen, for example, are more than happy to take inclement weather in their stride. In fact, blazing sun is seen as the work of the devil to the salmon angler, spate river enthusiasts are known to indulge in the occasional rain dance and trout aficionados can't help but get psychotically giddy about hatches of ephemeroptera.

Hunters, having spent a ridiculous amount of time polishing brass buttons, plaiting manes and scrubbing boots, usually at highly antisocial hours of the night, happily return home with half a clay field embedded in their teeth, having earlier dragged themselves from a swollen ditch after falling at a hedge the height and width of Blenheim Palace.

Stalkers will not only persevere when the weather takes a turn for the worse, but use it to their advantage, getting the wind in their favour and crawling into areas where stags and hinds are seeking sanctity.

And don't even get me started on wildfowlers, possibly the craziest and most stoic of us all.

And here I was, crouched in the foetal position at the base of an oak tree on the second drive, camera buried under my jumper, witnessing a masterclass in sporting presentation. With the Guns spread out in a field of rape bursting with yellow flower, sideways rain smashing into their faces, pheasants were rising from cover and rocketing over the line as they were taken hostage by the savage wind. Their pace was biblical, with each bird seemingly needing the lead of a tennis court. Perhaps more.

The whole thing was barmy, but bloody brilliant. And it got me thinking. Who on earth in their right mind would be out in such rough conditions?

I discovered the true meaning of passion that day.

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